It Came From The Search Terms: Endless Summer

Video: Snappy dance music, Polish soccer, what’s not to love?

It’s that time again, when we answer the things people typed into search engines like they are questions.

1. “Dating a Midwestern man”

High probability of at least one of these things going on: beer, cheese, beards, & warm, burly hugs. What’s not to like?


2. “My crush doesn’t make a move even though I feel we have chemistry. Why?”

There is literally one person on earth who can answer this question for you. (Hint: It’s your crush) If you like this person and feel like you have good chemistry, why aren’t you making a move?


3. “friendsporn???” 

??? If this is porn based on the 1990s TV show “Friends,” HARD PASS.

If this is you trying to make porn with your friends, make sure you have clear consent –  like “signed release-forms!” clear.

4. “How to sabotage someone’s teeth.”

Teeth are useful and important. Please don’t do this.

5. “Girlfriend is over emotional and oversensitive.” 

Better break up with her and find someone with your exact level of cool, logical detachment!

6. “I impregnated a girl whose parents and mine are not in good terms please am confused what do I do?”

Be kind to the ‘girl’ in this situation and ask her what she wants to do about it all. She’s the one carrying the heaviest load here.

7. “How to knock your fucken dad out because he is a fucken asshole.”

You know I’m gonna suggest “no violence” but the phrasing of this made me laugh and reminded me of the fan-generated ad campaign for this brand of liquor that’s popular among my Chicago dirtbag friends:

Image = ad for Jeppson’s Malört with a photo of the bottle and the text: “Tonight’s the night you fight your dad.”

(Don’t drink this, it’s repulsive)

8. “He blocked me and I have no way to contact him.”

Yes, that is the general idea.

9. “My weight loss captain.”

Is piloting another ship, far from here.

10. “How to get rid of my son’s girlfriend before he goes to college.”

You don’t.

Look, I get it on some level. At my teaching job I see a lot of college students who spend more time Skyping and texting with their sweethearts back home than making friends and engaging fully in their classes or campus life. We, who are older, want to say “You have your whole life to be in love and only a limited time to be in college, so seize this opportunity with both hands!” But your son gets to decide who he loves, and any move you make to separate them will probably only drive him away from you. Let them be. If it’s true love, it will shine through no matter what you think or do about it. If it isn’t, The Turkey Drop will take care of it on its own without any help from you.

11. “Very dangerous when girls chews dicks of boys for serious.”

Much dangerous, many serious.

Reminds me of this video I saw once. Video description: Comedienne Ellie Kemper plans to give the worst head ever.


12. “I love my boyfriend but my mother doesn’t like him because he is abusive, what do I do?”

As reasons not to like someone go, that’s a super good one. What’s the worst that could happen if you listened to your mother?

13. “Estranged friend’s mother died should I reach out.”

Think about whether a grieving person who doesn’t talk to you anymore would find a card or email or text comforting or intrusive right now. Is your desire to reach out right now about them or about you?


14. “If someone texts a message when drunk is this the truth?”

“In vino veritas” the saying goes, but there are so many caveats here! If you’re looking at drunk texts for proof of something that’s important to know, why don’t you try asking the person about it when they are sober?

15a. “How to defend yourself when caught with the wife of a married man you dating.” & 15b. “I fell in love with a married guy and I’m not really into apologizing.”

Sometimes these things just go together like magnetic poetry.

#15a: If you mean how do you defend yourself physically, leaving the situation as soon as possible seems like a good idea?

If you mean how to defend yourself verbally, maybe…don’t? What could you even say? “I’m dating your husband! I have really good reasons that I think you’ll want to hear about right now!”

#15b Is this the new “I’m not here to make friends?”

16. “When she won’t watch the shows you like.”

Watch them by yourself or with friends who do like them?

People can have good love without overlapping pop culture tastes, as long as everyone is respectful.

17. “Is there any point visiting someone in mental hospital?”

If the person is allowed to have visitors and wants them, and you can make the time, visiting can be a great thing. It can be so isolating in the hospital and seeing a familiar face of someone who loves you can be such a lifeline. Keep it light, let the patient guide the conversation.

18. “Neighbor won’t answer doorbell.”

If I’m not expecting someone and I don’t smell smoke or hear screaming, I don’t answer the door. Your neighbors might feel the same. Try calling, texting, emailing, or slipping a note under the door with whatever you wanted to tell them.





120 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: Endless Summer

  1. re: #14. “If someone texts a message when drunk is this the truth?”

    The thing about alcohol is it’s a depressant. It depresses your inhibitions. Sometimes that can take the form of convincing you the Very Valid Reasons you have for not doing something you want to are irrelevant!

    As an example that happened at my work’s christmas party last year, coworker A got v. v. drunk and hit on coworker B. It had been obvious for A While that Coworker A liked B, but his feelings were NOT RETURNED. Prior to the party, he’d actually seemed to get this message. After the party, I had to get my Managerial Hat on and Take Official Notice. Everyone involved was embarrassed by this (except for A, who thought that a declaration of like/lust meant B had to fall into his arms.)

    So: while whatever they texted you, there were probably reasons why you never heard it before. If it’s something you want to follow up on, do, but accept that in the cold light of day they may have regretted their choices. If they choose to deny or say “Yes it was true but it’s not going to happen because of Reasons” then go “OK.” and move on. Respect their autonomy!

      “while whatever they texted you may or may not be true (if regarding pantsfeelings, it may have been something they said because it seemed like a good idea at the time)”

    2. Thing I learned in my twenties: my inhibitions are a good part of me! The part of me that says, “no, don’t say that out loud, that would be stupid / funny but cruel / pointlessly argumentative / uncomfortable for all concerned is just as much veritas as the initial impulse!

      1. Yes indeed. Taking away someone’s inhibitions doesn’t mean that person is now more true to themself. It just means you’ve taken away their inhibitions.

  2. From the search terms are seriously my favorite posts. Always happy to see one come up 🙂

  3. Hilarious Malort story for you: So, I live in another Midwestern city, and a bunch of us were hanging out at a local park during Easter, including a friend from Chicago (M). He had brought Malort with him. One of the friends (C) had no idea what it was, so we made him take a bottle cap shot, and he shouted “OH GOD!”

    While we were there, there was a person dressed as the “Easter Squirrel” (in a white squirrel costume, and we asked them what they were dressed as and they said Easter Squirrel) walking laps around the park. The fifth or so time they were passing us, C said to M, “I will give you twenty bucks if you get the Easter Squirrel to take a shot of Malort.” M went up to the Easter Squirrel, they talked for a few seconds, and then the Easter Squirrel took a bottle cap shot and did not so much as FLINCH. C very happily paid up the twenty bucks and we were all impressed that someone could taste Malort without pulling a face. The end.

        1. If the Captain told us that the Easter Squirrel took a shot of Malort at her wedding, I would happily believe her, because that’s just a great image.

    1. I can do that, and here’s my secret: when I was young, I had frequent bacterial infections but was unable to swallow pills, so my parents would have to grind up my antibiotics and mix them with fruit juice to get me to take them. This tastes pretty foul as you might expect, but I became inured to it. Anyway, as it turns out, the aftertaste of Malört is almost identical to that of Cipro mixed with pineapple juice.

  4. As regards 4… sometimes I *really* wonder why people type the things they type into search engines.

    6: Not so much commentary on the question, but the librarian in me is going “You will probably also get better advice on this if you rephrase your search term as something like ‘pregnant during family feud’. The search engine doesn’t handle fully-formed questions that well.”

    9: Oh, I was just weeding the weight loss section at the library. The books there are *all the same*. (And are about how you will totally live forever if you just do this one simple thing that doesn’t even make sense.) But you may consider going to your doctor, or possibly getting your librarian to help you find a book on this that isn’t some kind of strange scam.

    There are two fourteens. For second fourteen, I initially misread it and thought the writer was having an affair with both parties and the husband was the one catching her in bed with his wife.

    1. I also read that they were having an affair/poly/open relationship sex with the husband and got caught by him having secret, boundary breaking sex with his wife.

      1. Same. Advice still kinda applies. Don’t justify. Walk away. The apple cart has already been upset. Let them sort out their communication concerns/reset boundaries/divorce without you in the mix.

    2. My dad called to talk at me last night and said that my mother is on the paleo diet (next she’ll be joining a crossfit gym and I’ll just have to put her down, for the good of society), which is, he said, an improvement for him because when she did South Beach for two weeks she made him do it too and it’s going to be years before he can stare another plate of vegetables in the face.

      Dad does Eat Right For Your Type and has been following it carefully for years through a couple of editions of the book.

      My sister is a vegetarian verging on vegan, plus occasional forays into a diet comprising mainly mail-order powders mixed with water, but this is still a vast improvement over her prior orthorexia.

      This is all to say that, as a mostly-recovered anorexic with a million food allergies, I am still the only member of my family who doesn’t live in the Self-Hatred section of Barnes & Noble.

      1. Ah, the Self-Hatred section of Barnes & Noble. Once upon a time I knew it well. (Well, I knew the one at *Borders*, back when Borders was still around.) My choice of poison was always more in the dating and relationships part of it than the diet section, though.

        My mother at least never tried to inflict her diets on the people around her. Also, I don’t think she was doing it out of one of those books; she made it up herself. My sister has been a vegetarian since she was ten and is more recently a vegan, but for her it’s got nothing whatever to do with health; it’s “Meat is murder!”

  5. I live in an apartment building, and I often ignore my doorbell too, if I’m not expecting anyone. If someone is supposed to be here, and I don’t know about it ahead of time, and they don’t have a key (from building management), or a way to reach me and say “hey, are you home? I need to come in” they have no real business here. If it’s a delivery guy, either I’m expecting them, or they can leave a note and I’ll go to the post office later. I live in the city, people often use buzzers to gain entry to buildings, to either peddle some scam or straight up rob someone.

    Also, sometimes I’m still in my pajamas and I don’t feel like putting proper clothes on.

    1. All of this, except I’m in a duplex and can’t see who’s at the door until after they’ve watched my legs walk down the stairs to the door. I recently added a no solicitation sign that has improved my weekends 200%.

      Oh, also? Unless I expect to see someone (rare) I’m not wearing pants. So there is a delay between hearing the bell and opening the door that discourages most unwanted visitors.

      I want to live in a world where there are text messages an hour+ in advance of a visit rather than a doorbell mere seconds before I have to Be a Social Human.

      1. The last person to drop by my old apartment unexpectedly was a little startled when I unlocked the door and invited her in while wearing only a t-shirt. It was one of my grad school professors. She texts first now.

      2. I want to live in a world where there are text messages an hour+ in advance of a visit rather than a doorbell mere seconds before I have to Be a Social Human.

        Good news! You already live in that world, if you’re in the developed world and are not yourself someone/not friends with many people who cannot afford a cell phone. People showing up unexpectedly are being rude by contemporary norms in ubiquotous-cell-phone society.

    2. At my complex the maintenance guys use a specific kind of knock. I love them for it.

      Still got scramble to put pants on though. Life is rough.

  6. Why on Earth do you want to sabotage someone’s teeth? I mean, we all hate someone in our lives, but even Awkward people (I’m one of them) learn to channel this rage in a more productive way, like writing an angry letter that is never sent, or drawing a stick figure of the Hated Person in a piece of paper that is destroyed in some private and dramatic way (my favorite one is to tear the papers in tiny pieces and throw it in the toilet and flush, but burning it in the fireplace or putting in the office shredder ate just as valid.)

    #pleasetellmeimnottheonlyone #atleastineversabotagedonesteeth

    1. Maybe they’re trying to avoid a Teeth Blowjob like the one described in the video? In that case, saying “no thanks” would seem like a better strategy that leaves everyone’s body parts intact.

    2. “How to sabotage someone’s teeth” sounds like (possibly fan-) fiction writer googling to me!

      I keep seeing a lot of jokes on tumblr about how many watchlists my writer friends have ended up on by now, and I like my faith in humanity, so that is what I will believe now =^_^=

      1. Considering the things I have Googled for fiction (including: detcord, sucking stab wounds, why you can’t ship nitroglycerin by rail, and coal mine fires among other things)….yeah. I’ll buy this theory and hold it close to my shriveled misanthropic heart.

          1. @SylviaMcivers well, I haven’t done a spit take in a while, so thank you. 😀

        1. I don’t even have the excuse of writing for the time I Googled “deadliest poisons”. (It was for City of Heroes.)

          1. Yeah, but sometimes you just want to know a thing. Doesn’t matter what triggers that want. 🙂

            It’s just that writers frequently look at their lives and go WTF, why do you have tabs open that include searches for “detcord”, “Frostbite,” “Wizard’s Island,” “Trigger Volcano,” and “1918 Influenza”. Or maybe that’s just me.

          2. I’m hoping to find good news about Thylacine/Tasmanian Tigers so I keep googling search terms about them.

      2. Librarians’ search histories are similar, because we end up answering question for writers. Usually on our work computers, yes, but sometimes someone on the floor will pull out their personal cell phone to do a quick search for someone.

    3. I once broke many dishes
      I threw them out the window
      Third floor

      It was very satisfying

      I’d like to say I went outside and cleaned up but I don’t remember.

      1. This is just to say

        I have broken
        the dishes
        that were in
        the cabinet

        and which
        you were probably
        for breakfast

        I regret nothing
        it was so satisfying
        so heavy
        and so loud

      1. If they were, one would hope that they already know how to destroy someone’s teeth? (Else, what was all that tuition for, anyway?)

    4. Channeling rage: I was once very mad at someone when I found a check I’d forgotten to void. So I methodically tore that check to smithereens. Then I reduced those smithereens to even tinier smithereens. I don’t even remember what I was mad about, but I vividly remember how satisfying that was.

    5. I like the “could be a writer” option but I guess my most generous “honest” question interpretation would be maybe they suspect someone is sabotaging their teeth? Like suddenly their teeth have gotten bad or hurt and the want to know if someone is hurting them?

      But yea, this one really threw me

    6. For some reason, I read that question from the POV of a person paranoid about being tooth-sabotaged…perhaps by the coworker with the Ever Larger bowl of candy on their desk…or the housemate who suddenly begins buying the off-brand, tingly toothpaste.

      1. Yeah, that one actually made me think “what the heck?” and crack up first… and then get really paranoid because what if someone tries to sabotage my teeth? Creepy!

    7. When my girlfriend was a preteen/teenager, her mother had a horrible, abusive, cheating, asshole boyfriend (who ended up one day drunkenly choking my girlfriend, who proceeded to beat his face to pulp… but that’s another story). Girlfriend would be so angry that this asshole would be in their house, eatimg the food and drinking the booze (both mom and boyfriend were alcoholics) that her mom bought while also spending his days on the phone with his sidechicks and running off to be with them while her mom (a nurse) worked. Girlfriend would take the asshole boyfriend’s toothbrush and scrub the toilet with it. Regularly. He ended up loosing his teeth fairly young due to nasty gum disease. Can’t be sure if it was the toothbrush, the drinking and tobacco, or the lack of self care, but I’m sure using a toilet germ infested toothbrush for years didn’t help.

      1. Dear sweet god I hope the tooth-sabotage writer doesn’t see this. Whether they’re paranoid or vengeful, it can’t be good.

  7. Just in the vein of Malört: I used to be a chef in Madison, WI (about 3 hours from Chicago), and whenever one of our own would go get a job in a real city, I mean move to Chicago, the tradition was to have a going away party with shots of Malört and/or Frenet on the house for industry folks. I think 50% to acclimate the person leaving and 50% to traumatize the rest of us into staying. (But like around 12 AM even the sharpest culinarian just wants to be drunk and doesn’t care if it comes in the form of acetone-fennel-clove-gasoline shots.) (Basically what I’m saying is how many cooks are you friends with, Cap, because we are the core Dirtbag Malört-Guzzler demographic.)

    1. The Venn diagram of dirtbags/restaurant industry folks/Malort lovers in my life has some overlapping circles.

    2. I’d question whether we have to note the location of the capital of our state, but one of my best friends was on band tour in Amarillo, TX one time and couldn’t buy cigarettes because the gas station cashier didn’t believe that Wisconsin was a real state (no word on why he thought someone would fake an ID from an entire fake state, other than a lot of people in Texas just straight-up distrust “Yankees,” because apparently that’s also still a thing; last time I was visiting a friend in Bastrop, the locals’ only reference for the culture of the Upper Midwest was the Metalocalypse character from Minnesota). So, good call.

  8. Wikipedia tells me: Malört makes up half of the Chicago tavern offering called the Chicago Handshake; the other half is an Old Style beer.

    Sounds like what we’d call a Citywide Special here in Philadelphia (or just a Special at the bar where it was invented): a shot of whiskey and a can of PBR. Shots vary by bars; usually it’s well whisky but I think the original was Jim Beam bourbon.

    1. Except whiskey, even cheap whiskey, is a far more pleasant experience than Malort. I was once tricked into doing a shot of Malort. It tastes like hairspray and death and that, friends, is a taste that *lingers*. I saw the image of Malort in the post and let out an actual, out-loud screech of horror. It’s been almost a decade since that single shot and the memory haunts me to this day.

      1. “It tastes like hairspray and death…”

        “I once broke many dishes…”

        “…(in a white squirrel costume, and we asked them what they were dressed as and they said Easter Squirrel)…”

        It Came From The Search Terms seems to bring out the poetic side of the Awkward Army.

      1. My friend once told me that she was told to only serve good-tasting things early in the party, before everyone is drunk.

        Because afterward, no one cares.

          1. True! My senses actually get more acute when I drink, which sucks at parties with loud noise. However, I always know when I’ve had enough, as the drink no longer tastes good. This has saved me from many a hangover…

        1. “Everyone serves the fine wine first, and then the cheap wine after the guests are drunk…”

          Brilliantly, quoth the Gospel of John – this clearly ain’t a new thing….

        2. Actually, that advice is Gospel. The Steward at the Wedding in Cana said that to Jesus.

  9. “Sporn” is also the name of a company that makes mesh harnesses to stop dogs from pulling too hard when you walk them on a leash, so perhaps this person was just innocently looking for a friendsporn, as one does. Nothin’ weird about that.

    1. But… doesn’t that mean he’s looking for a friend to put a sporn on? Or a leash? It seem porn-adjacent, at least.

  10. #17 – yes, if the person is accepting visitors, please go see them. A relative of mine has been in inpatient psychiatric care a few times (they’re doing much better now and haven’t been hospitalized in several years) and found that the isolation from regular life took a toll – we visited weekly and talked, brought books and dvds, jigsaw puzzles (um, make sure the person likes these – my relative, like me, loves the ones with a kajillion tiny pieces, but many people don’t), pictures of the kittens… It’s important for patients to focus on their treatment and not have to worry about their regular lives, but for a lot of people inpatient treatment is also very isolating.

  11. #17:

    If the person has asked you to visit, is allowed visitors or is accepting visitors PLEASE go see them.

    I was in mental hospital earlier this year.

    For six weeks.

    The first five days were on a closed ward. Over the weekend, no less. Then they found a bed for me at one of the open wards.

    The mind numbing boredom on the closed ward was terrible.

    Luckily I was allowed to keep my e-reader. Don’t know what I would have done without it!

    Visitors and the two half hours a day I was allowed to leave the ward were very important for me.

    Things on the open ward were better.

    I could have done without the two suicides, though.

  12. #18: Also double check around the door. The number of people who never seem to notice a “bell out of order” sign is surprisingly high.

    1. My sister, who used to work at a major theme park, was of the theory that all signs say ‘no smoking’ to most people. Except the ones that actually do say ‘no smoking’. She never did figure out how those read.

      (This theory formed during one summer when she was working the flume ride and people complained bitterly about getting wet, despite the signs saying “you will get wet” throughout the queue.)

  13. Hello, I think it’s my first comment here. I am surprised about the comments saying you do not open the door — is it a cultural thing? I mean, in the condo where I live now (in Belgium) I haven’t really made the acquaintance of my neighbours (I failed to make the effort and so did they), but where I grew up (Hungary), ringing the neighbours was the norm, whether it was “are you free on (…) for dinner?”, “do you happen to have a spare onion? I’m cooking and seem to have run out of them”, “is the electricity out at your place as well as mine?” or “can you please turn down the volume, it’s past 10pm and I’ like to sleep”. I find it rather sad that at my current place only the latter one works :-S

    1. It’s definitely a cultural thing and a regional thing! I would not knock on a neighbor’s door unless it was something that needed to be addressed right now, like, “your cat has escaped, here she is.” If I wanted to invite someone to something I’d leave a note.

      1. I live in a house in a small town in the Midwest, and unless there was something scary about the situation or the person knocking (and there aren’t many scary things in my little town), I would invariably answer the door.

        But that might be a live in a house vs. live in an apartment difference as much as anything.

        1. If I had compelling reason to believe that Leaflets Would Be Distributed, I would probably not answer the door (small town in the Midwest.)

          These days my parents generally answer their door, but back in the old days, when my father’s business was on the same property as the house and we had a motion detector to warn us when cars drove in, outside of business hours a car we didn’t recognize meant we all dropped to the floor and crawled to the nearest hiding spot (my room, the two bathrooms, and the computer room were pretty safe, but nearly everywhere else could be seen through one or more windows.)

          1. Vet clinic. People get VERY INSISTENT and VERY ANGRY when you won’t look at their dog RIGHT NOW, and significant numbers also have a gap in comprehension around the whole “if the vet is not here, the vet’s wife is not able to offer professional medical advice” concept.

          2. Woah! That makes sense though. People love their pets and when their pets are in distress they want a 24 emergency vet that is always open.

      2. Besides regional, I think it can also be a neighborhood thing – I live in the greater-Chicago exurbs, and not answering the door in our small, quiet, (partially by fluke of road configurations) neighborhood would be strange. In toward the City, or even elsewhere in our village, it may be different.

        1. Right! There is no universal rule about it, so, if they are not answering the door when you knock, consider a note.

      3. “Please tell your child to not practice their tap dancing pogo stick routine in your second floor apartment at 11pm.”

        They didn’t answer the door but the thumping stopped, so I called it a win.

        1. Oh, you’ve met my upstairs neighbours! They’ve moved on to pogo stick ten pin bowling now. Still at 11pm precisely though 😀

    2. I think it’s partly cultural and partly patterns. I wouldn’t expect someone to start with a dinner invitation or even “do you have a spare onion?” (because I’d think about that, and then think that I didn’t want to interrupt this so-far stranger while they were cooking their own dinner); in the places where it was normal to ring the neighbors’ bells, we started with chatting while waiting for the elevator, or in passing on the sidewalk. Back in Manhattan, that led to “would you like the rest of this takeout pizza?” and even “could you please come to our apartment and talk to my wife, she’s confused and you’ve lived here long enough that she may remember who you are.”

      In Bellevue, Washington, on the other hand, we barely spoke to any of the neighbors; that may have been because it felt like much less of a neighborhood in general, or how new the building was, or the more car-based culture.

      The other thing is that one of the things that some people like about living in a city is that they can be anonymous, and not worry about whether their neighbors like or approve of them—or just not have to talk to anyone before noon. or after a stressful day at work.

      1. re: talk to my wife — I hope she was okay.

        I’ve lived in a number of apartment complexes, from a very small one where we were probably 90% college students and joined in our hatred of our landlord and the sorority next door to the complex the size of a football field.

        The only time I can remember going to a neighbor’s uninvited was the day I sliced my finger open (tried to remove the side, not the tip) on a really sharp bread knife and I had literally no bandages or anything in the house and so I went to the neighbors across the way (who I knew were an older couple and nice people I’d exchanged hellos with), bleeding profusely, with my finger wrapped in a blood-soaked towel.

        Fortunately, the lady did not take one look at my hand and slam the door screaming. She took me in, cleaned it off, and bandaged me up tightly.

        At my current complex, I didn’t even meet the neighbors until they set the fire alarm off in the building with rice steam.

        So I guess the short version is: IMO it’s a regional thing. I can’t imagine going to a neighbor (who I didn’t already know) for anything short of an emergency.

      2. To make it clear: the neighbours we’d bother about spare onions were ones we knew from previous interactions 🙂 what I meant is more that if someone knocks or rings, I probably think it’s one of my neighbours, or the post, and come for something legitimate. If they turn out to be someone who just wants access to the postboxes to put flyers, I don’t let them in, but I cannot know it before I actually answer and ask who’s there.

        1. Ah. If someone was knocking, or ringing the doorbell of my apartment, they were already inside the building, and could have distributed flyers, asked me to sign a petition, or wanted to talk about religion. That also included been the neighbor who wanted to give me extra pizza, or climb out my kitchen window to get their cat off the fire escape.

          The people who were trying to get into the building had to ring a buzzer and say “pizza delivery” or “it’s Mark” in response to “who is it?” With over 100 apartments in that building, and dozens in the building next door, anyone who wanted to borrow a cup of sugar would be knocking on a door in their own building, or given up and walked to a store.

          On the other hand, I once ignored the doorbell at 6 a.m. A few minutes later the phone rang. Both of those were neighbors trying to let me know there was a fire in the building. At the time, a good friend of ours lived immediately next door, which is why the neighbor knew our phone number. We found out afterwards, once the fire department had put out the fire before it could spread beyond the apartment it started in, that at least one person had slept through the whole thing.

          I’m not sure what, if anything, that proves, except that few people’s judgment is at its best when they’re wakened by an unexpected doorbell.

    3. It does depend on the neighborhood or where you work. If you want to get to know neighbors you can always leave a note of introduction “Hi I’m new here and would like to get to know my neighbors…”
      The main takeaway is, if you’re neighbor has not come to the door and you have rung the bell numerous times, they may not want to talk to you or anyone, or they may be gone. Either way it makes sense to leave them alone for a while.

    4. I have knocked on neighbours doors and they have knocked on mine, but notes are also common.

      I think a lot of it has to do with how common people selling stuff or trying to convert you to a cause are. Almost anyone I know will make some adjustments to avoid them.

      I tend to peak out the window before I decide if I’ll answer.

    5. I find it surprising too. If anything, the awkwardness of having to stop what I’m doing and stay very still and very quiet so the person at the door doesn’t know I’m home, not to mention the curiousity of wondering what the person wants, would be enough to make me open the door

  14. I’ve found that people who have children are much more likely to answer the door and expect others to do the same. I think its because they have a lower expectation of privacy.
    We do not have kids and almost never answer the door unless we are expecting someone. One of my siblings still doesn’t understand and gets annoyed, but I keep enforcing boundaries and explain that she needs to text first. When I get home I take off my bra and put on sweats, I’m not opening the door.
    We have a neighborhood group text chat for power outages, etc. During one snowstorm someone texted asking for toilet paper and we were able to help them out.

    1. The group text is a wonderful idea!

      As for answering the door, that’s what the peephole/door chain is for. I never let anyone in without checking the peephole first. If I’m not expecting someone, I would not let them in, but call building security and 911 at once.

  15. I’m curious about the use of the word ‘dirtbag’ in the Captain’s comments. I can tell from the usage that the Captain is referring to people she considers friends or something akin to friends, so I assume it’s meant lovingly, and I get the impression it’s meant as a reference to a type or subculture or something, but I’m not clear on what the non-insulting meaning of that word would be. It kind of reminds me of the Scumbag Steve meme from years ago but I doubt that’s the intent.

    Can anyone help me get back into the loop? Much appreciated 🙂

    1. When I lived in a ski town, we were all dirtbags. Drank impressive quantities of whiskey, lived in tiny shared housing, ate whatever without worrying, sat around a campfire every night in the summer, showered like once a week, clothes were just for covering you, no real cares… I would definitely go back if they let me have a dog.

  16. #13 – I lost my mom a year and a half ago and was estranged from my one-time best friend for about two years. It’s likely that she found out (she many mutual friends with my sibling). I obviously can’t speak for every grieving child, but I’m glad my ex-friend didn’t reach out to me. I would have been livid, tbh, like I had to forgive her because my mom died.

    1. Yeah, this is one that you can’t answer easily without knowing a lot of stuff about both parties.
      I hesitated to reach out to someone after his best friend died. While I wanted him to know that I was also sad and being sad was okay (and also to confirm that he wasn’t drinking two bottles of whisky a day or anything), I was wary of sinkholes like “[Friend] would want us to reconcile” or “I’m grieving, you HAVE to hang out with me”.

    2. Seems like which person originally stopped talking to whom would definitely be relevant, too.

  17. “I see a lot of college students who spend more time Skyping and texting with their sweethearts back home than making friends and engaging fully in their classes or campus life.” My usual stance is ‘do not dismiss people’s relationships just because they’re statistically likely to end in the long run’ (young/long distance/etc), but this is a good point too. If the parent’s having ‘life-balance’ worries like this then it might be worth talking to the son about things he’d like to do or try in college and encouraging him to go for it, and if necessary along the way delivering “in a good relationship the person trusts and supports you, and you get to do your own thing”-type advice. The focus should still be on the son learning to make his decisions based on what he determines he wants (college is a time to do that) rather than Mom/Dad deciding they know what he’ll regret later and trying to fix it.

    1. Agreed. I had a terrible long-distance bf for the first 3 years of college.

      Did it damage my efforts to make friends and experience everything in college? Yes. Do I regret those lost opportunities? Yes. Did anything my family or best friend or best friend’s family say have the slightest impact? No. Did it make me pissed off at my mom and friend’s family? Yes. Was I still able to rock college and change my life and worldview and gain new experiences and make friends in spite of all that? Yes.

  18. Maybe “Weight Loss Captain” is something like the leader of the Weight Watchers© meeting. Perhaps the searcher had an actual question like, “Can I ask out my weight loss captain?”

  19. #18 reminds me of a role-playing game I played once.
    Character #1 was sulking in his room or something, and Character #2 really really wanted him to come out, so she tried scrying on him to see what he was doing, she tried sending him a message using magic, she put a note under the door, and finally my character asked her, “Why don’t you just knock?”
    Her response, “Well, I don’t want to be rude!”

  20. 10, there’s very little that will make someone seem more attractive than they really are and make your connection seem super destined and romantic more than parents giving you a hard time about how wrong they are for you. Not only can you not make those choices for someone else, trying will almost certainly backfire. Letting this one go is probably going to be good practice for all the other decisions your son will make about his life in the future that are not up to you and might not be what you would have chosen. Either the girlfriend will make him happy, in which case I would suggest trying to be happy that he’s happy, or she won’t, in which case I would suggest trusting you’ve raised him well enough to react appropriately to things in his life that make him miserable.

  21. Am I alone in assuming that friendsporn refers to gratuitous depictions of extreme acts of friendship? Look, maybe I just want to vicariously experience a friendship SO OBSCENELY AWESOME that it is deemed unfit for polite company. Is that so wrong???

    1. Okay. I won’t apologize for being myself either. And my self wants your self to shut up and get out.

  22. Question #1 — All people are different, of course, so you never want to make sweeping judgement. But two things I might suggest before dating a Midwestern man.

    One — Midwestern states are often red states. Please discuss his politics and make sure you are comfortable with all the things he believes. If you are capable of bearing children, be sure to check in quite thoroughly about his beliefs on abortion. I have Midwestern friends and an ex who seem like they would share my attitudes but who have since… surprised (occasionally appalled) me.

    Two — Many of the Midwesterners I know have a strong sense of place and family. They have vague but definite plans to return to the Midwest when they marry/reproduce so they can be close to mom and where they grew up. That’s awesome for them! But the Midwest, especially the rural midwest, is (sometimes) a land where jello and coolwhip are considered salad ingredients, where people you’ve JUST MET will ask you if you’ve found a ‘church home’ yet, and where a woman who has short hair can get dirty looks in a diner.

    There is, of course, a world of difference between dating and getting serious with. And maybe you LOVE CoolWhip salad! But I like to scope these things out early because I had a few nasty surprises.

    1. As a native-born Midwesterner, I think I legitimately snarl when I hear the words “jello salad” or “taco dip”. I’ll never understand how people living in the agricultural center of the country managed to establish such a… heavily processed food culture, and I’ve been thrilled with the (re)advent of New American and farm-to-table food cultures. I’ve heard it chalked up to economic class, but that doesn’t really make sense when people in walking distance are growing food and selling it for dirt cheap or even giving it away to neighbors.

    2. That first bit of advice is a good idea before dating anyone: even in very “blue” areas like eastern Massachusetts, there are Trump supporters and other people who oppose abortion. And my Minnesota friends—my LGBT and poly Minnesota friends—would expect to discuss values as part of getting to know someone, but probably wouldn’t like the assumption that their politics are more questionable than those of your coastal friends. (Depending on amounts of Minnesota nice, they might quietly ghost you without explaining that they’re tired of the assumption that Portland is more enlightened than Minneapolis, or that someone who likes Jello salad must also like Governor Walker.)

  23. So #1 must be someone not from the Midwest who has encountered (or expects to encounter) regional cultural differences in dating, right? I wouldn’t think to specify the region unless it seemed important.

    Re: #3, I now can’t get the phrase “David’s Schwimmers” out of my head, so thanks for prompting that along with the accompanying visual (and now you all must share in my pain).

    #4: Obviously you hit the person in the mouth with a wooden shoe – it’s right there in the name. Also, how did that land you here?

    #12: The worst case is that ze breaks up with the love of zir life-so-far and never does find someone to love again. It’s still better than enduring 70 years of abuse.

    15a: “So, threeway?” Unless “with” = “by,” in which case, see response to 15b.

    15b: Congrats? You might want to develop apologizing as a skill, since it can be useful, but, frankly, I don’t think you (necessarily) have anything for which to apologize here. *You* didn’t agree to a monogamous relationship with his spouse (maybe he didn’t either?), nor did you decide on a norm of monogamous coupling for (y)our society. Waste no fucks given, want no fucks given.

    #16: (Beatles song)

    18: With the invention and wide spread of cell phones, unexpected visitors are more likely to be an unwanted imposition than a welcome surprise. I do still usually answer the door, and it’s nearly always someone begging money or pushing a politician or some variety of Jesus. Definitely leave a note in the mailbox/slot if you need to communicate something. If you’re worried about a medical emergency, contact any friends or family if you have info to see if they have recently been in touch, and consider involving emergency services if you have a real cause for concern (consider avoiding the police if your neighbor is a member of a marginalized population, as they sometimes murder even the people who call them, and that happens disproportionately to members of racial minority groups).

  24. If your neighbor is the type who usually answers her doorbell, and you haven’t seen her (ie, go out to get the mail, etc.) in a few days, you can call the police non-emergency line for a wellness check. It is all too common for the elderly who live alone to die and not be discovered for days or weeks. As one of the people who have to go pick up the bodies, I strongly encourage wellness checks if your gut tells you something’s not right.

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