What if the shame of whoring around becomes as intoxicating as the clandestine sex?

By Garrison Keillor

Published November 17, 1998 4:23PM (EST)

Dear Mr. Blue,

I do not know how I got into this mess. I am married to a woman I
love and with whom I have two wonderful children. And every couple
months or so I put myself in the company of prostitutes. At times I do
find my wife to be cold, self-centered, uninterested in sex; using this as an
excuse, I sneak off.

Each time I feel shame afterward and tell myself it is the final time. But
just as time can heal, it also numbs, and eventually I find myself drawn
once again to whoring around. It's become a cycle, the shame as
intoxicating as the illegal, clandestine sex. I do not want to do this except
at those times when I do. What should I do?


Dear John,

You should do as your conscience tells you to do, and only you can hear
it. Overriding the conscience has a numbing effect and could open your
life to hazards you haven't yet contemplated, including a sort of erosion of
personality that one sees in people gripped by obsessive destructive
behavior, a kind of furtive passivity. If you find the shame intoxicating,
then it's time to detox. Abstain for a while and see if abstinence doesn't
have a certain steely allure of its own.

Dear Mr. Blue,

My father has married a curt, rude woman. He now treats his stepdaughter
with great favor and has ceased regular communication with me. I don't
give a hoot if I ever get along with this abrasive woman, but I miss the
close relationship with my father. I am 25 and capable of surviving
without him, but I do fear this would break my heart.

Despondent Child

Dear Despondent,

Keep up communication with your father, even if his
end of the line goes dead. Try to be friends with the stepdaughter. Invite
her for dinner, take her to the movies, have a beer together, tell her your
life story. Be a better person than you really are. Be considerate.
Remember birthdays. Tell jokes. Bring food. Kill the stepmother with
kindness. And if, after a decent period, your father does not relent and the
stepmother does not thaw, then relax your efforts and know that you did
what you could.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am 26 and am living with a 44-year-old man. I have a 7-year-old
daughter, and he has two teenage sons. I thought everything was going
along well; we seemed to be growing closer. Then he found an old flame
on the Internet, a woman he'd been in love with when he was 18,
but they'd never admitted their feelings or acted upon them. I found out, and he
lied to me about the frequency and depth of their communications.
Finally, after her husband called and asked him to stay away from his
wife, he stopped communicating with her. He assured me that it was
just a visitation to the past when he felt capable of fully trusting
another person -- an ability he says he lost after his disastrous marriage.

But I can't help but feel that irreparable damage has occurred. We have
never regained the intimacy we once had. He says he loves me and doesn't
want to hurt me or our families, but emotionally he feels numb. What do
I do? We don't even pretend to make love anymore. Should I just give up
and try to get out of this with my dignity, or can this be saved? I love him
enough to want what is best for him even if it is not me.


Dear Frustrated,

Your lover's dalliance with an old heartthrob via the
Internet is irrelevant here, a sideshow, an escapade, and you ought to
forgive him for it. You really should. It was a flirtation, a fluttering of the
eyebrows. You can't throw your domestic arrangements overboard for that
unless you simply are tired of him and his moods and want done with it.
Forgiveness is called for here, and that means putting that episode aside
and plunging into your life with renewed vigor and pleasure. You love
each other, and that is no footnote -- that's the main story, isn't it? Cancel
your Internet account, give up Salon and give this guy another chance. If
he's numb, tickle him.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm 24, and last week, after some indecision, I took a job as a reporter at a
daily newspaper. I was undecided because I had started what seemed to be
a promising freelance career. I love the newspaper job, but a
number of my creative projects are falling by the wayside. It's
hard to come home and work on a screenplay after a day of writing about
water projects. I'm young, so I feel I should shoot for the stuff I really
want to do right now. I don't want to end up 45 years old with two ulcers
and wondering why I didn't finish that screenplay. Do I quit the
job and put my parents on Valium, or do I try to find some way to squeeze
in the creative work?


Dear Joe,

You're young and you can handle two jobs at once, at least for
a while. You know, and I know, that most jobs are about half work, half
clubhouse activity. Do your work at the newspaper, manage your time, eat
lunch at your desk, cut down on the schmoozing, don't do other people's
work for them and don't let yourself be drawn into newspapering as a
way of life. It's a job. Cut to the chase. Learn to coast. Save some juice
for your own work. You can write late at night or early in the morning,
but keep a regular schedule. Stay fit, keep off alcohol and you can
maintain a heavy workload for a year or two or however long it takes you
to finish that screenplay and maybe another screenplay and get things
sorted out in your mind. You're absolutely right that you don't want to
cheat yourself of the chance, and now's the time to try, but if you're in
good health, there's no reason to quit this job. Not yet.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm almost 26, a small-town Wisconsin kid who had big dreams, and
through luck or fate, or whatever, I went from having nothing and barely
getting by to being a prosperous world-traveling man living in London,
who has fulfilled all those dreams and now has lost all perspective, all
direction, in my life. When I lived in Wisconsin and had nothing, I
knew where I wanted to go. Now I'm wondering what I should be doing
with my life. I work hard, and I still feel like I don't deserve
any of it. It came so suddenly, and I can't help but feel it will go just as
quickly as it came. And though I know I'm good at what I do, I feel
more than a little helpless.

I'm lonely. I can't really date, because I'm always off at customer sites all
week. By the way, I'm gay. I'm out. I'm comfortable with and proud of
my sexuality. But I've got no interest in bed hopping and one-night stands. I really need to have a life partner, but there doesn't seem to
be time for it. I don't know how everything slipped so out of control.

A Lonely Heart

Dear Lonely Heart,

You know, of course, that the world's sympathy for
lonely yuppies is limited, but never mind; success is bewildering.
Successful people have the illusion of being in charge of their lives; the
truth is that life is always out of control. What you should do with your
life is enjoy it. Savor your loneliness while you have it, and get to know
yourself. Since you're fearful about the future, salt away half of what you
earn, after taxes, and use some of what's left to help out others who need
it, to give yourself a sense of purpose. The loss of perspective may be due
to busyness: If so, carve out time for yourself to walk in the park and sit
and watch the world go by. If your work week is fast-paced, protect your
weekends. Why not date then? If you find a man who loves you, he can
wait from Monday to Friday. Finally, set a time limit on this way of life
that you find confusing and empty. Don't be unhappy so long that it
becomes a habit.

Dear Mr. Blue,

A couple of years ago I fell in love with a guy who, a few months later,
broke up with me because I was "too emotionally dark." He had asked me
to tell him about my life, and so I did -- I told him about when I was
raped, the death of my sister, the end of my marriage, the death of my
brother, a car accident in which I was brain-injured. It seems to me that if
I could write about these experiences, I'd be a better writer, but I lack the
courage to tell those stories until someone can love me for having lived
through them. But the failure of this relationship has left me feeling that
the stories isolate me from normal human life.

Lost Voice

Dear Lost,

Don't draw large, life-defining conclusions from one guy.
Another guy might hear the same stories and conclude that you were just
dark enough. But the stories aren't what isolate you. You can only be
loved for yourself, your spirit, the person you are, whether you lived
through those experiences or not. The experiences have changed you and
how you see yourself, but the experiences themselves cannot be offered to
another person as tokens of yourself, to be traded for love. Write about
what happened to you. It may help you see yourself more clearly. And
writing is the easy part, L.V. People are the hard part.

Dear Mr. Blue,

My husband has been writing fiction for years and lately has finally begun
to think of himself as a writer, though he doesn't seem to believe in
himself. I truly believe he is one of the most gifted writers I have ever
read. How do I help him to think more of his writing?

Cheering from the Sidelines

Dear Cheering,

You help him by reading what he asks you to read and
telling him honestly what you like in it. You like where the Blue Angels
dance through the door in their shoes with silver buckles, you like where
the Indian counterman at the green market gives turnips to the girl with
the pet pig. Et cetera. If he asks you about a specific thing, such as the
Weejun scene, then you give him your honest take on it, as gently as you
can manage. That's all. If he fishes for insults, don't provide them. Your
husband is responsible for his own work, and you can't make him think
better of it than he is willing, but if he is a gifted writer, he's awfully
lucky to have you there enjoying his successes.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am a senior at a small liberal arts college, involved in the school
paper, radio and theater. I spent the first few weeks of this semester going on long walks
when I should have been doing classwork, and now I have four large
writing assignments
due in a few weeks. Did I mention that I have yet to begin these
All this haunts me. Occasional large failures are not new to
me, but crashing and burning is. Do you have any advice?


Dear Hare,

Don't panic. And don't toy with disaster. Close your door,
unplug your phone and get to work. What is haunting you is the
Unwritten Term Paper syndrome -- work becomes harder to do the longer
it is postponed. Establish beachheads and develop them. Make sure that
what is in your head gets put on paper. Don't look at the blank page;
write something down, even if it's not the right thing: It will lead to
something better. Make a start, and that will improve your morale, and
you'll finish up in a blaze of triumph and walk away feeling like Michael
Jordan. Go. Do.

Dear Mr. Blue,

My youth was spent having adventures and riding the emotional roller
coaster of acting.
Now I'm married and respectable, and instead of the instant
gratification of acting, I write. Writing, like my devoted husband,
promises to be good to me for the rest of my life. But it's SOOOOO
slooowwww! It's SOOOO careful! Where's the rush? With acting you
get instant feedback, good or bad, and your art becomes a blur of
midcourse changes. With writing you hone and craft and hone and craft,
and six months later you find out what happened. Acting is like group sex, and
writing is like masturbation, except you have to keep checking the mail to
see if your orgasm has arrived.

How can I reconcile myself to this? My pathetic need for adrenalin is
really hanging me up.

Craving Chaos in NYC

Dear Craving,

A writer can perform whenever she likes. Simply take a
few of your honed and crafted stories and stand up in front of an audience
and read them. Look over the lectern, and you will feel a large rush at
that moment. I don't know if it's like group sex, but it has its moments.
And there's no playwright to blame: just you and the audience. When the
material isn't working, you can see them slump in their seats, you can
hear the car keys jingle. When it does work, it's better than group sex. I
guess. But how would I know?

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm a 31-year-old woman, never married. About two months ago
I was dumped by the man I thought was "the one." We had deep,
intimate conversations and shared a very strong connection to
each other. He said he didn't love me enough to spend the rest
of his life with me. I sense a pattern in my life. The men who are
interested in me romantically never touch my inner self, and I eventually
drift away from them. The men who are capable of the kind of introspection and sharing that I find attractive seem to think I'm a great friend
but aren't interested in more. Am I destined to spend the rest of my life as
everyone's friend and no one's lover? What can I do to avoid this fate?

Alone in Boston

Dear Alone,

Perhaps you yourself have divided your romantic self from
your "inner self" so that a man can touch one and not the other. Maybe
you value friendship more than romance and you shunt the men you really
like onto the first track and let the slackers take the second. Friendship can
be pursued at leisure over long periods of time, can be set aside and then
resumed, can be pondered and adjudicated, and romantic love is an urgent
adventure and requires repeated acts of abandoning common sense and
enjoying a sort of emotional drunkenness. Maybe you're going to blaze a
new trail and find romance with someone who is already a true friend. It's
been known to happen.

Dear Mr. Blue,

Two years ago, I ended a marriage of five years to a woman who was as
self-absorbed and awkward as I am. Before I met her, I had assumed that
my basic inwardness would make finding a mate almost impossible, and I
rushed into the marriage thinking that a small miracle had occurred. After
a while I could no longer take care of her, and she could no longer take
care of me, and we made an ugly divorce.

I am well and truly over her now, but I feel darkness creeping in. I always
used to accept my fate, trying to enjoy myself and not dwelling too much
on being alone; suddenly I find myself in deep despair. I have tried seeing
a counselor, but I find myself back at square one -- older, fatter and tired
at 30.

Do you have any shortcuts to recapturing the rapture of living? Or should
I get cable TV and wait for this to pass?

Missing Something in Manhattan

Dear Missing,

It takes a long time to get over a divorce, especially an
ugly one. There is so much business to be resolved, and if the two of you
didn't resolve it, then you have to work it out alone, which takes time and
then more time. You're not over her; you're still recovering, if you ask
me. It used to be that a man would take this feeling of despair and
darkness as an excuse to sign on as a deckhand and go to sea for a couple
of years. Or to get on the train for the territories. There's something to be
said for leaving town, you know. A whole big country is sitting out there,
and it's far more interesting and capable of igniting rapture than cable TV
will ever be.

Dear Mr. Blue,

What do you think of lovers sharing their journal writings with each
other? One night recently I found myself reading select passages from
my journal to my lover, which helped me to articulate certain things I may
have felt too shy to express otherwise.

Is this madness? Why do we all want so badly to
be known anyways?

mad journal girl

Dear Mad,

Whatever you want, girl. I mean, it's your writing, read it to
anyone you like. But yes, it does strike me as odd. Sort of like keeping a
lectern at the end of the bed and standing at it to deliver a speech. The
only reason to read your journal to your lover is to impress him or her
with your incredible wit. To use it to express intimate feelings seems,
well, a little precious to me. But I'm from Minnesota, home of Gov. Jesse
"The Body" Ventura, what do I know about subtlety?

Dear Mr. Blue,

My dad sprung an unexpected and intriguing offer on me this
weekend -- he wants us to write a book together about a subject we're
both interested in and care about. The thought of penning a book has me
all aflutter, but I worry that working on such a long and involved project
with my dad might be fraught with interpersonal peril, despite our great
relationship. What to do?

Filially Conflicted

Dear Fils,

Well, what good is a father-son relationship if not to get you
into perilous situations? Just make sure that you get a good hold on the
tiller and don't let Dad run away with the project and turn you into a low-rent copy editor. Dads can be pushy. Tell him to draft an outline and give
it to you on a disk; then you rewrite it and see how the old guy takes it.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I've been seeing this guy for a little over a month now, and after attending
a few social
events with him recently, I've come to the conclusion that he's, well,
slow. He's paying all this attention to me and from his outpourings I
gather he'll be really hurt if I broke it off. What do I do ?

Muddled in Manhattan

Dear Muddled,

You break it off. He'll be hurt. This will help speed him
up for the next woman in his life.

Dear Mr. Blue,

After many years of writing no fiction at all, something that feels like
an idea for a novel has suddenly popped into my head. My writing friends
tell me a person needs to work up to writing a novel by writing short

Is it naive to want to jump right into the deep end of the author pool?


Dear Guppy,

This idea that has popped into your head: Put it down on
paper. It will take its own form, as you work at it -- as the material
subdivides and new information appears and some characters fade and
others get clearer. There isn't a logical rule you can apply at the start. The
writing itself will let you know.

Dear Mr. Blue,

After many years of telling myself writing was not practical, I decided I
didn't care and began writing. I feel I've found a calling. However, I am
worried that I am trying to do too much too soon. My writing teacher is
encouraging me to send my works to literary journals, but I am not sure it
is ready. I fear being turned off by too much early rejection. When do
you know your work is ready for publishing?

Too Hopeful in the Heartland

Dear Hopeful,

You're ready to publish when you look at something
you've written and cannot bear to think that it will go unread.

Dear Mr. Blue,

What makes something fiction and what makes it nonfiction? I was
blocked for a long time and recently started writing a pretty much factual
account of my life, the people in it, and I'm also embellishing little bits
and pieces to make things flow better. I guess what I'm asking is, how
much do I have to tweak and embellish in order for it to be fiction?


Dear gt,

What you're writing is nonfiction that is struggling to become
fiction, and it becomes fiction when the people in your life don't recognize
themselves in your writing.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm a 21-year-old college student at UC-Berkeley who has been with a
wonderful, intelligent man for three and a half years. He is 29, and I don't
know why, but we fit together very well.

I had been planning on reevaluating our relationship after I graduate but
now, six months before graduation, I am consumed by the feeling that I
haven't been enough of a kid. I've been trying to meet other people my
age and am enjoying their company immensely, though I feel like an
ancient in child's clothing. I never really dated and now find myself
wondering what it would be like. My partner and I have an open
relationship, so I could see other people if I so choose, but somehow it's
not the same. I'm starting to think 21 is too young to have a primary
partner at all. My feelings toward my partner have gone from passionately
romantic to affectionately friendly. Is this a phase I'm going through, or a
symptom of something more serious? Is this even about him, or is it a
deeper conflict within myself?

Too old too young

(All of the cynicism, none of the wisdom)

Dear Too Old,

Don't think so hard. You're 21, you're entitled to
fall out of love without having to explain it to everybody. You used to be
crazy about this guy, and now you want to be with people your age. Case

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am 44, single, male. Somewhere around my 40th year, I underwent a
psychological switcheroo, and my glamorous, independent lifestyle
began to look increasingly dismal. I've become sick of my job, tired
of city life and lonely. I keep searching for change or a motivation for
change, but can't find anything that has real inspirational force. How does
one break out of a pattern of living that no longer makes one happy?

Lonely in L.A.

Dear Lonely,

You could fall in love. God could speak to you and tell you what to do. Or you could steer yourself out of these waters. Leave Los Angeles and
find work in a new place. You're young enough to do this. Work is a key
for a guy your age, and though you're sick of your job, you undoubtedly
have skills that can take you places. The motivation here is to give
yourself the pleasure of casting off the old life, the adventure of
discovering the new. That's what motivated thousands of Midwesterners to
head for L.A., and they put Minneapolis in the rearview mirror and
headed west, their hearts pounding. You simply do it, that's all. Head
north. The change will cheer you up. You'll get a sense of mission,
remaking your life, figuring out all the little stuff again. And the sad truth
is that it's harder to find someone when you feel miserable.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am a woman, 27, starting a career in advertising. My boyfriend is a
successful advertising executive, 36. We moved in together two months
ago, and I am not used to it at all: I don't feel I can be myself and I
haven't had a good night's sleep the whole time. Sometimes I feel like
we're bored with each other. He is in a different place in life and
definitely a free spirit who either talks about his next motorcycling
adventure or the fact that I will move up the ladder and he won't have to
work anymore. I do love him and we do have a laugh, but I don't know if
this works anymore. When I want to know about our future, he is vague.
How do I get him to open up without annoying him?


Dear What About,

When you say that you can't be yourself with this guy,
a little bell rings that indicates you took a wrong turn. So don't think
about having a future with the biker exec. Find a quiet place and get a
good night's sleep.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I married right after college to a great person, and now, 10 years later,
mostly he irritates me and I find myself drawn to other men I meet
through work, parties, etc. Am I bored? Going through a rough spell?
Or did I marry too young and am I craving something else? We've lived
abroad, traveled a great deal and are adventurous, so it's not like I missed
out on life, yet I feel that way quite often. How do I sort out my feelings?


Dear Conflicted,

It's the seven-year itch three years late. Don't scratch it.
Avoid being irritated. Be a little more solitary. Find reasons to give
yourself time alone. Concentrate on being considerate and kind to him,
and don't worry too much about your feelings. And think about what it is
you want in life that you've missed out on, other than adultery. Consider
that this may be a spiritual crisis and that you must face yourself and
consult your soul, not seek rescue from a stranger at a party.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I wrote a book a few years ago that I've sent to several publishers and
more than 20 agents, and I've gotten nothing but a few perfunctory
shows of interest followed by form letters that said I was deluding myself.

I have a comfortable job working as a Web geek for a midmarket
newspaper. When should I give up on the book? When should one
realize that one is living in a state of self-delusion? How do you know
if you suck? My grandfather imagined himself a great inventor. He
invented a giant chute to be attached to skyscrapers that would allow
people trapped in a fire to grab a small metal parachute and drop down the
chute to safety. He built a test device and waited for years for
a call from prospective buyers. The call never came. He was a fool, the
Ed Wood of inventors. So, when do you give up?

Waiting to pick a path

Dear Waiting,

Authors find it hard to concede defeat; that is one of our
problems. We soldier on against impossible odds and wind up squandering
time and energy on work that, when other people look at it, they can't
help but smirk. You can solve this problem by writing humor, sir. In
humor, failure and delusion are simply incorporated into the act. Nothing
bad happens to a humorist: Everything is material. Especially rejection.

Dear Mr. Blue,

How can I know if writing is the right profession for me? I'm near
the end of college and will probably go to law school. It's the sensible
way to go, and I feel I would enjoy a legal career. But I do feel some pull
toward going into writing, though it is definitely not the "sensible" way to
go. I feel as though I must make some decision.

Bewildered in Berkeley

Dear Bewildered,

Sounds like law school is the right way for you to go.
You march in and when you march out, you've got a career. With
writing, there's no way to know. It's like putting a pack on your back and
setting out for Katmandu: no way to predict what might happen on the
way, whether it'll be good or not so good.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm 38, never married, earn a very good living as a technical writer and
own my own home. Two years ago I became romantically entangled with
a married male friend, and a month ago he dumped me for another
woman; he intends to leave his 18-year marriage for her. A few
days after receiving this stunning news, I learned that I have a little
one on the way. My (former) friend then informed me in no
uncertain terms that he was not the slightest bit interested in
raising another child and he'd gladly pay for me to "take care of things."
I'm perfectly willing to raise a child by myself, but how idiotic am I to
want to bring a child into the world, with the father unwilling to
participate in his/her life, not to mention being pretty darn visible in the
community? Will I be rearing an ax murderer? Moving to
another town isn't an option; the only family I have is here and we
are all very close.

Mother to Be

Dear M.T.B.,

Congratulations and God bless and let the neighbors think
whatever they may. You and your family can raise this child, and he/she
won't be an ax murderer. A satirist, maybe, but not a murderer.

Dear Mr. Blue,

Should one who has a romantic interest in a person who has been
one's platonic friend for some time and has not responded to subtle but
unmistakable invitations to become more involved abandon subtlety and
explicitly tell that person so that he gets the message? Or should one
consider the matter mutually understood? Are there any other reasonable


Dear Ack,

If your understanding is that your friend isn't romantically
interested in you, probably your friend understands it the same way.
Romantic feelings tend to get out somehow. And never abandon subtlety,
except when someone is standing on your foot. Or when you're drowning.

Dear Mr. Blue,

Twice in the last three years I've had (don't tell Mom) one-night
stands, both with friends. Both times, the lovemaking was preceded by a
wonderful evening of talking and hanging out, and both times were
memorable and wonderful, and both times the men told me they didn't
want to get involved in a relationship with me. One of them said it in bed.
Both men are extremely busy, but why wouldn't one of them at least take
a chance? Am I missing something about

Romantically Challenged

Dear R.C.,

I didn't know men had become so cautious. It's humorous,
isn't it. In the peaceful afterglow, as you lie there sweaty and happy in the
dark, smoking your post-coital cigarettes, the guy pipes up and says that
he's not interested in seeing you on a regular basis. I say that you're
lovely, you've let yourself be seduced twice by jerks and don't make a
practice of it.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I am hung up on a man and it's driving me crazy. I am a 40-year-old
woman in North Carolina getting my master's degree. I moved down here
from NYC to be with this man and realized within a few months that he
was a bit slippery and maybe not the best choice. We had a
great sex life but couldn't really talk about the big stuff. We
had a lot of fun and a lot of fights. I was just crazy about him but
decided to break up with him. I was married once before and do not want
to make another mistake. He is ambivalent about kids (and everything) and
I would love to have a baby. I have about 15 remaining minutes of
fertility. My life is a mess -- all I do is write papers, study, eat junk food
and moon about this man. And now another man for
whom I just don't feel a deep attraction wants to marry me. I am really not a twit. I am, in
fact, pretty levelheaded. Honest Injun. At
least I used to be. I could use some advice.


Dear Desperate,

If you can stand to stick it out, do; get the degree, and go
back to NYC, and leave this mooniness behind. Put some distance
between you and the man you went to North Carolina to be with, and
that'll help resolve things one way or the other. If he follows you north,
then maybe you'd need to reconsider. Forget about marrying someone
you're not deeply attracted to. Don't make any big decisions until you
finish up your business there and get out of town.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I have been divorced for two years and am ready to date again, but
at 34, all the men my age are attached and pushing strollers, or
come with many pages of fine print. Worst of all, I'm in Washington,
not a good place to meet single men unless one is interested in officious,
career-obsessed lawyers. I am involved in a few activities, but around here
it seems that when people finish their bird-watching, exercising, volunteer
tutoring or whatever it is they have signed up for, they consult their
schedules and march on to the next commitment. No chatting, no beers
afterward: It's a city full of dutiful trudgers. How do I meet some new

All dressed up with noplace to go

Dear All Dressed,

Somewhere in Our Nation's Capital are men who are
looking for you but trying not to be too obvious about it. Thus they keep
schedules, but dates are meant to be broken if something better comes
along. Flirt with one who looks promising and he may suddenly stop
trudging and burst into song.

Dear Mr. Blue,

I'm a junior in college, and I broke up with my live-in boyfriend of two
years in March because we couldn't get along. Two weeks later, he went
out with another girl. Now it's November and he is still with her.

Even though I ended our relationship, I am STILL not over him. I've
become extremely bitter about how quickly I was replaced. Also, I have
not been out with anyone, I'm very picky and there is no one I'm
interested in. My ex really bothers me. I am miserable and alone and he isn't, and that
pisses me off. What can I do to stop feeling this way? I would rather not
care either way about what happens to him. I'm sick of dwelling on this
and HATE being bitter.

Lonely and Bitter in Boone, N.C.

Dear Lonely,

Put your souvenirs of that romance in a drawer, your
pictures of the ex, and whenever you feel bitter toward him, open up the
drawer and yell into it, tell him what an unprincipled little opportunist he
is and how his life will be miserable as a result and he will never know
true love and will probably contract cancer of the testicles and die in a
nursing home just as he looks up and sees you on the TV screen accepting
an award for Most Beautiful Good Person in America. Do this as often as
you like, scream at him, rip him to shreds, but leave your bitterness there
in the drawer; don't take it out of the house with you.

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is the author of the Lake Wobegon novel "Liberty" (Viking) and the creator and host of the nationally syndicated radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," broadcast on more than 500 public radio stations nationwide. For more columns by Keillor, visit his column archive.

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