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July 2006

Dear Madrone, What is the correct thing to say when someone asks you who you think the baby looks like? What if it doesn't look like anyone? Or worse, what if it looks like someone who the resemblance would not be polite to bring to people's attention, if you know what I'm saying? The Milkman, Port Jervis

Dear Milk, There is only one safe response in either case, in fact, in any case. It is as follows: You look carefully at the infant in question, puzzle for a while, like you're really thinking it over and then without exception say: Well, the baby is perfect mix of ______________ and _______________. In the blanks, insert the names of the people who have publicly claimed the child as their direct genetic material.. In the case of only one person claiming, then there is only one blank. Fill it with that name. Use my reply and that will be the end of the conversation, trust me. If by chance both the genetic claimants are not in the picture, the question won't come up. You don't even have to manage all that much sincerity, even though it's a nice touch. The person asking already knows what they think, and is only looking for confirmation or a reason to pick a fight. This is known as a trick question. God bless, Donna

Dear Readers-- I would like to take issue with everyone who wrote in telling me that my response to Letty from Levitown was off base. You're, all of you, out to lunch. If she was as on the bean with the green as all that, she wouldn't have to be crying poormouth and asking the cousins for a loan, I don't care how good the odds are at the track, or the stock market. Family and money do not mix, unless one family member is giving it to another because they want to, and don't expect diddly back. Truth.

Dear Madrone, Down the block, a neighbor owns three dogs that howl all night. We've called the dog catcher, and the police, but the neighbor is connected, and nothing gets done. How can I get some sleep? Too Much Pooch, Too Little Sleep, Cape Ann

Dear Too Little, Well, this depends. Is this ruining the health of your family? Are ear plugs out of the question, or annoying? If yes, it's that bad, then there are a few options-

. Move is one.

. Legal means is another, depending upon how connected and to who.

. Poisoned meat can work, but what goes around comes around and even if no one ever found out it was you, you might end up with botulism from a dented can of tuna or tetanus from a rusty nail. Believe me I've seen that happen more than once

. Delegations can work. Anyone else aggravated? Get a crowd, it's harder to make life difficult for an entire block, than just a neighbor.

Before you try ANY of these: Get some attitude, I'm smelling doormat. God bless, Donna





Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

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