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The Temptation To Evict

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Dear Annie: I have tenants who are behind in their rent. I've let it slide because I've been preoccupied with some personal problems. But my problems have been resolved, and now I'd like the back rent. Under the terms of the lease, I could evict right away, and I am tempted. But I worry that if this family is evicted, they will be living in the cold.

The biggest issue for me is that these tenants have been smoking, leaving cigarette butts all over the yard. They have been told that their child has a reduced lung capacity, and no one should be smoking anywhere near the boy. Presumably, they only smoke outside, but that includes the covered porch area by the front door, which means the child is exposed to second- and third-hand smoke all the time. (Indoor smoking would be a violation of the lease.)

I've already asked the tenants to clean up the cigarette butts and the clutter around the front of the apartment and garage. They've done a little, but not much. I am tempted to call Child Protective Services about the exposure to cigarette smoke.

I realize I can simply wait for the rent, I could evict them and probably never get what is owed, I could use the threat of calling CPS as a lever to get payment, or I could do all of the above. What do you think? — Never Should Have Been a Landlord

Dear Never: The child is a separate issue. If you believe he is at risk, you should make a report to the authorities and let them investigate. In most places, even though you have the right to evict, you need to have the police, local sheriff or other enforcement agency physically remove the family from the premises. This takes time. Notify the family in writing how much they owe in back rent, and that you will begin eviction proceedings if they do not start making payments.

Dear Annie: My sweetheart and I just rekindled a long-ago attraction. It's a long-distance relationship, so our visits are fun, but they are increasingly intense as we ponder our future.

I'm 63, he's 68, and we are both youthful despite the years.

"Bob" and I have been single and celibate for more than 12 years. He has not had a significant long-term relationship since his divorce 12 years ago. He remains friends with his ex, the mother of his children. They even play bridge together with another couple — I don't know whether that's a factor in our situation. Bob has erectile dysfunction issues. I try not to pressure him, but our make-out sessions arouse me — and then they don't go any further.

Bob feels we should let nature takes its course, meaning sex will happen when it happens, but at our age, I know things can be more complicated. I love him, and I know he loves me, but it makes me sad to envision a sexless future. Advice? — Postmenopausal and Still Frisky

Dear Frisky: If Bob has ED issues, nature might never take the course you want. Please ask him to discuss this with his doctor. There are various treatments for ED, and Bob may be willing to try one. There are also other ways to satisfy one's partner. But ultimately, you must decide how important an active sex life is to your future happiness, because the situation may not improve.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Indy," the lonely retired teacher who was scraping together part-time jobs and had no social life. You recommended some places where she could volunteer: hospitals, libraries, veterans associations, etc.

May I suggest volunteering at the local community theater? It is social, and you get to see the shows for free. We always need folks who have stagecraft experience, but we also need ushers, audition monitors, kid wranglers and all types of helping hands. — S.S. in Indianapolis

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

26 Comments | Post Comment
Okay...

Imbalanced meds? Just a guess here.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jpp
Thu Dec 18, 2014 9:33 PM
LW1--Forget about the cigarette smoking because as a landlord it isn't your job or responsibility to police what people do in their own home. Smoking is legal and while it is your responsibility to ensure that cigarette butts are disposed of properly, you have no right to indict your tenants for smoking. Would you be equally appalled by overweight tenants who had an obese child? Focus on the fact that your tenants are behind in the rent and work from there. It's not your problem that these people will end up on the streets. The fact of the matter is that you have a lease agreement that they have breached. I strongly suggest that you remove your feelings and emotions from your business matters.

LW2--Oh for god's sake. Introduce 'Bob' to Viagra or Cialis and go from there. If Bob is unwilling to address his erectile dysfunction then DTMFA since sex is clearly important to you.

LW3--Personally I've always enjoyed community theater.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris
Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:18 PM
>>Bob feels we should let nature takes its course<<

Um, sounds like it already has.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:57 PM
Chris, haven't you noticed that while the actors in Viagra and Cialis commercials tend to have gray (or graying) hair, most of them aren't really old? Some of the very men who want and need ED medication are TOO old and unhealthy to take it because they have other health problems, glaucoma for instance.

Bob's "let nature take its course" excuse makes me think he's one of them, and he's stalling for time while he tries to figure out if Frisky will agree to a sexless future, or if she considers his inability to perform a deal-breaker.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Kimiko
Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:07 PM
* * * * PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *

LW3 refers to the first letter on 21 November 2014.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:36 PM
LW1, I'm confused. You haven't had sex for TWELVE YEARS, but now you're suddenly sad thinking about a sexless future? And have you heard there's more than one road that takes you to sexual satisfaction? Get creative. Maybe if you let up on the pressure for him to perform while you just take it all in, he'd get relaxed enough to see his doctor. You also say you're in your 60s, but you keep talking like you're in your 80s. Chill. You just re-met the guy, and you're already pondering your future together? Stop acting like a 16-year-old boy trying to pressure someone into something they're not ready to do yet. I think when Bob says he wants nature to take its course, he's not just talking about sex. Slow down, Cupcake. Men need to be romanticized and swept off their feet, too. (And I sure hope it was the all-women-over-forty-hate-sex Annies who came up with your signature, because otherwise that makes no sense either.)
Comment: #6
Posted by: Jane
Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:52 PM
LW1--I don't know about the specific terms of your lease, but in many states, by "letting it slide" for however many months, you could be construed as having constructively waived timely payment of the rent. There is also typically a hold on eviction proceedings, so you can't just throw these people out on the street tomorrow. As the Annies said, you need to serve notice of your intent to enforce the lease and give them an opportunity to make it right. If they fail to do so, a notice of eviction would be the next step, though I hope it doesn't come to that.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Laura
Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:11 AM
LW1, I agree with the Annies that you should separate out the issue of the child and the back rent. If the health hazard to the child is as severe as you seem to think, you may want to talk to CPS anyway. In regards to the back rent, you should, as a landlord, have some legal assistance anyway, and you should check with them.

With LW2, I have to admit my first thoughts were quite similar to the point Jane raises -- that there are a *lot* of other ways for them to enjoy each other without fixating solely on that specific body part that isn't working well for Bob. I suppose if you've grown up thinking "sex" mean "only standard vanilla missionary" then it may be difficult to understand there are plenty of other options. But really, if this is what they both want, they should try getting a bit more creative. (UNLESS the ED is just an excuse and Bob doesn't really want a more intimate relationship... in which case he should be more honest and clear, rather than evasive or dishonest.)
Comment: #8
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:30 AM
LW 1: if they can afford cigarettes they can afford to pay you back. Pretty simple. Put your big girl panties on and do what you know you have to and stop worrying about how they feel since clearly they don't care how you feel.
Comment: #9
Posted by: ms codpiece
Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:58 AM
LW1 - I agree with ms codpiece in that if they can afford cigarettes, then they can afford rent. They are totally taking advantage of you. They know you're a pushover. You need to let go of the worry that they will be out in the cold. That's not your fault - it's theirs. I know it's the not the child's fault but you have to let that go. Give them a written notice that states the amount of back rent they owe if you do not receive payment by X date, then eviction processing will be started. And then DO IT! Do not mix emotion with business.

LW2 - Bob isn't interested in doing anything about his ED. And that's his right. But if sex is that important to you, then Bob isn't for you. Ask him if he would see his doctor about his ED. If he says no, then move on.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Michelle
Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:15 AM
LW1: Oh good grief. You're about to learn soon enough to let the tenants live their own lives. Your only responsibility is to collect the rent and make sure that they keep the place up. One of my pet peeves too is tenants who have money for cigarettes, beer, cable tv, etc. but never for rent. DO NOT LET THEM SLIDE because they will NOT be able to catch back up on rent. It will never happen, trust me. Tenants are typically low-income and once they get behind it gets increasingly difficult to collect an extra several hundred dollars from them. Get them current and keep them current.

And tell them no more cigarette butts in the drive.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Gerhardt
Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:35 AM
Comment: #12
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:08 AM
Re LW#1-----
Wow, you have a rule that says no smoking inside, which your tenants are following, and they smoke outside on the covered porch, but you want to turn them in to CPS because what if they open their door while going out to smoke, or coming back in when done smoking, and maybe some smoke drifts in?
.
I didn't know the cigarette police were so exacting. They can't smoke inside, so they go outside. Which also makes you angry. Be honest-----your real gripe is that they smoke at all.
.
You have a valid complaint about cigarette butts in the yard, and of course, about their not paying rent. But unless their child keels over and dies next time they open their door to come back in, let CPS alone. Your signature, "Never Should Have Been a Landlord", says it all. You're too much into these people's lives.
.
If I were you I'd start the eviction process, which takes some time, and don't rent to anyone else. People smoke, and though you can make rules about their not smoking in the rental you own, you will not be able to get them to quit, so don't have tenants. Then you won't have to be worrying about stuff like a puff of smoke coming in through the opened door and killing someone.
Comment: #13
Posted by: jennylee
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:36 AM
At age 68, is ED not a normal thing? Is it really a disorder at that age?
Comment: #14
Posted by: Salty
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:37 AM
LW1 -

When I first started reading your letter, I was expecting something a lot worse than late rent and cigarette butts outside.

Forget about the kid. He's not really your responsibility. If you truly think he's in danger, do call CPS of course, but if they are smoking outside, I doubt CPS will do anything. Do you REALLY want to divert CPS attention to this family as "leverage"?

Now, forget about the cigarette butts. Those are a temporary nuisance, and minor.

Those two issues aside, what do you want to do about the rent? Did they let it slide because you didn't really care or bother to ask? Or are they still simply refusing to pay?

What I would do is send them a letter (lawyer-approved) stating that they owe X amount in rent, which is due at a rate of X$ per month over the next 12 months, in addition to their actual rent, and that they can be late on rent X more times before you start eviction process. Then go from there.

LW2 -

You're in that phase of a relationship where you're assessing how suitable you are for each other, long term. Sex is one of them. I hate to say it, but you've been given your answer. There will probably not be any sex, because if he has a ED it's unlikely to just go away and leave him with a healthy libido. You can still have that "have you have talked to your doctor?" conversation, but unless he says "oh, no, that's a great idea!" you have to decide whether no sex is a deal breaker for you.

Of course, you're getting older too and your libido may decline as you do. Or maybe you can sit on his face. Those are "compromise/might work" solutions that might be enough. Or not. Small details aside, as I see it, without actually know the guy, you have a high chance of an unfulfilling sex life with him, and a low chance of a fulfilling sex life with him. Your call.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:47 AM
LW1 -
Tempting as it may be to use the child's condition as a lever, doing so would imply that it will stop being an issue the minute the back rent is paid. Which ultimately means his condition doesn't matter to you any more than it matters to them. These two issues are completely separate. If you truly are worried about the child's health, call CPS.

About the back rent: the rent is your due. But anyone with a heart would be leery of throwing a family (especially one with a sick child) out in the street in the middle of winter. That doesn't mean you should just forget about the rent and let yourself be taken advantage of (if they can afford to smoke, they can pay the rent), but I can understand that you may be reluctant to just kick them out on their keester in the snow with no further ado.

Talk to them first and try to arrange a payment schedule for them to catch up. Depending on how the conversation goes and whether they start paying you right away, you may follow with a registered letter. If nothing happens again, you go to a lawyer and see what the eviction procedure is in your neck of the wood. By then, you can look at yourself in the mirror, satisfied that you gave them every chance.

LW2 -
Getting yourself all worked up and raring to go by some make-out session that doesn't go any further is extremely frustrating, even if seems to be good enough for him. Either he does something about his dysfunction (if he can), or he forgets about the heavy petting - he definitely shouldn't be leaving you hanging from the cliff of a volcano if he doesn't have what it takes to put out the fire.

You need to have an honest conversation with him, and find out if he is willing, or even capable of doing somethingh about it - he may have a medical condition that precludes him from using the little blue pill. It may very well be that what you're getting now is the final deal and he doesn't dare tell you.

Once you no longer subjected to the sample the never moves on to the main course passed under your nose to taunt and torment you, YOU have to decide is the years of celibacy cdan continue for the rest of your life - because this is likely what you're getting with this man.

LW3 -
The original LW had three part-time jobs, hence the total absence of a social life - she had no time to breathe. But she's not working hard enough yet, let's crack a whip and inform her that the solution to her problem is to work EVEN MORE, and for free this time. You and the Annies are all nuts.

The only reason working even more would make sense would be for her to take some training so she can get a better job, with the end result that she wouldn't have to exhaust herself and use up all her time doing menial jobs that don't pay - THEN she could get a social life, because she'd have a normal schedule.

(And btw, you can be damn sure the house will go to pot if she starts some training, as classes will eat up whatever time she's presently devoting to household chores - only 168 hours in a week, not stretchable. It would be worth it if she can finally secure a job that allows her a normal schedule, but I can tell you it'll take her months to catch up on the house, and meanwhile idiots like YOU will be bleating, "My GAWD, don't you ever clean up this place? What you need is to learn how to get ORganised!" Tell me about it - 'scuze me for a minute while I go puke.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------

@Chris #2
"You have no right to indict your tenants for smoking. (...) The fact of the matter is that you have a lease agreement that they have breached."

That's right, they do. I think you've skipped the little sentence at the end of the second paragraph, "Indoor smoking would be a violation of the lease". You must have missed that.

So you see, the LW DOES have a perfect legal right to indict her tenants for smoking indoors, as they'll have breached the terms of their lease if they do, not only by not paying the rent.

@Kimiko #4
Regardless of age, the little blue pills are not for everyone. They're counter-indicated for a man with a heart condition, for instance, and that includes a lot of men the minute they're past a certain age. I wouldn't be surprised if the LW's beau knows perfectly well that he can't take them, and hasn't yet lowered the boom on the LW because he knows this is something that matters to her.

@Jane #6
You never show ANY MERCY to any woman, do you?

Going without sex for 12 years and getting yourself all worked up by heavy petting that never goes anywhere are two very different things. I myself am living without it right now and, although I miss it, life is bearable. But having my favourite dish paraded under my nose if I hadn't eaten for two days would be torture.

And if these "other ways" work for you, good for you, but that's not the case for every woman. Some women need penetration followed by regular thumping, and not with a vibrator thank you.

Comment: #16
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:55 AM
@Lise, I think that LW1 makes it clear he doesn't think the tenants are smoking indoors, though. Or at the very least he doesn't have any evidence that they are violating that policy. The butts are all in the yard, which would indeed seem to suggest they are smoking outdoors, which is allowable as far as the lease the LW describes is concerned.

And in regards to #2, most research shows that the "other methods" tend to actually "work better" for more women than not. In fact, it's the "traditional" method that typically leaves most women "wanting". So it's at the very least worth a try if LW2 hasn't been considering it; the odds would be heavily stacked in her favor, actually.

Although I'll still contend it's entirely possible that Bob's lack of interest in fixing the problem has something to do with his lack of interest in becoming more intimate with the LW. Which of course does not bode well for their future, as Zoe points out. Most men of that age are pretty eager to "fix" this problem, especially if they have a willing partner.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:21 AM
@Salty, #14, I certainly hope NOT!
Comment: #18
Posted by: Mike H
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:22 AM
@Lise: "But anyone with a heart would be leery of throwing a family (especially one with a sick child) out in the street in the middle of winter." In this day and age almost no one gets tossed on the street. But it's not the landlord's fault that a tenant has squandered their money on things other than rent. Gee, like cigarettes. I feel bad for the kids...mostly because they have irresponsible parents.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Gerhardt
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:36 AM
LW1 You are a terrible landlord. You allow them to live rent-free because you have personal problems (which apparently don't involve money), then you want to run their lives by forbidding them to smoke around their children (which is really none of your business - why do you even know about the child's reduced lung capacity?). Now you have to write to an advice columnist about your sensitivity toward the children and the fear of putting the family out in the cold. Let me give you some REALLY GOOD advice! Place your rental property in the hands of a reputable property management company. They usually charge 10% of the rent. For their 10% they will collect the rent and make all the uncomfortable collection calls. They will even call the sheriff and evict if necessary. You don't ever even need to meet your tenants, much less hear about medical problems their children have. You can always specify in the lease that the tenants must be non smokers, although I don't know if it can be enforced. Your concern should be only for your property. Let professionals handle the rest. And of course, should you ever have reason to believe that children are abused, you should report it.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Rozelle
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:42 AM
Re: Lise B

""Indoor smoking would be a violation of the lease"."

But smoking outdoors isn't, which is what the LW is stating the tenants are doing. He's supposing they aren't smoking indoors and if all the butts are outside, they probably aren't.

Re: Mike H

Depends on what you mean by "work better". I mean sure I can come in a few minutes with oral but it's not the same. I also don't get nearly as much out of the experience if the dude doesn't (i.e., IF I had to pick, I'd sooner give than receive). Plus the d is just so pretty when it's ready to go... AHH. I mean I could make do with creative solutions if I were in a committed relationship and then something happened, but I'd have a real hard committing to someone with a pre-exisiting condition.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:46 AM
Ah, vibrators! Thanks for bringing that up, Lise. It reminded me of two things. You asked me a few weeks or so ago if anything I had written was published online and, thinking of short stories, I said 'no" when in fact all of my theatre reviews for the last at least seven years have been published online. And that leads me to Sarah Ruhl's "In The Next Room" or "The Vibrator Play" which I reviewed last year. And it was fun.

If you want to read it, type in: The Vibrator Play - Stimulating, Not Shocking - and it should come up in the Daily Progress files. I learned things about vibrators I'd never dreamed of while critiquing a very good play by one of my favorite modern playwrights. (BTW, I wrote the headline, just so you know, because you can't trust some bone-headed editors. )
Comment: #22
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:01 AM
Salty, #14: re: "At age 68, is ED not a normal thing? Is it really a disorder at that age?"
.
From what I understand, no. Unless there's underlying problem, e.g., prostate cancer, most men don't even begin to have problems getting erections due to problems in the plumbing (blood flow) until over age 75. Which is not to say they don't need more stimulation or time, but I think the problem has been exaggerated through the drug companies wanting to sell more drugs.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:50 AM
Lise, #16,
.
Seriously? Most of the time, Lise, I think you're a very intelligent woman, and then you just come out with something so off the the wall and contrived--and obviously more about your life than what's in the letter or in my post.
.
Back up your high horse for a minute and actually READ my post and THINK about what I'm saying. I wasn't CRITICIZING the woman for wanting sex, so your comment that I wasn't showing her any mercy and nattering on about how it's okay to want sex is ridiculous and irrelevant to my post.
.
I said was that her letter was CONFUSING, and I mentioned three or four reasons why: she has not had sex for TWELVE YEARS, but is >>suddenly<< feeling sad over a sexless future; she and Bob are only in their 60s but she's talking like they are far older than that; she just reconnected with him and they are in a long-distance relationship to boot, yet she is already pondering their future together; and finally, that she signs her name (or the Annies did) Postmenopausal but Still Frisky, when in fact she hasn't been frisky for at least 12 years and was likely not menopausal when she started.
.
THINK about what that means. It means for TWELVE YEARS, since she was barely 50, she has not had sex and, from the sounds of it (since she wants things so badly now) has not even been in a serious relationship or even dated in all that time. Which begs the question, why not? And yet now, a dozen years later, she has JUST entered a long-distance relationship where she can't possibly know the guy all that well yet, and yet she is already pondering her future and bemoaning the thought of NO SEX FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. Was she not bemoaning it two years ago? Five years ago? Ten? And if she was (as well a committed relationship with someone she hasn't even fully gotten to know yet) then why wasn't she out having sex and dating and relationships before this? And puh-lease don't tell me she couldn't find anyone. In my view, her problem is not that she wants sex, but she is rushing pell-mell into a relationship after an extremely long time alone, and the guy is just not ready to make that frantic leap. Which is why I told her to slow down. If you think that's showing no mercy, well, there you go.
.
But I must say your line, "And if these "other ways" work for you, good for you, but that's not the case for every woman. Some women need penetration followed by regular thumping, and not with a vibrator thank you." Really, Lise, seriously? Do you really think my post was saying that my advice WORKS FOR EVERYBODY? So no one can ever offer any kind of advice here unless it will work for EVERYBODY? Sad, Lise, just sad.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Jane
Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:16 AM
Re: jennylee #13
The "someone" in question is a sick child, and that would make me angry too. And in fact it did, when my idiotic ex-DIL and his idiotic wife smoked like chimneys in front of a toddler with severe asthma, and had the gall to try and make people feel sorry for THEIR predicament when they had to spend the night at the emergency because kiddo's lips were blue - repeatedly. And I was a smoker back then, so it's not because I was on a crusade.

A child doesn't have the option of removing himself from a smoke-filled environment. And, while I agree it will be nowhere near as bad as if they smoked indoors, second-hand smoke definitely will still drift back indoors (not to mention third-hand). That's a trifle detail for someone hale and healthy, but not for a sick child.

Perhaps the LW's real anger is at the fact that they're trashing the backyard and not paying the rent. But that doesn't invalidate the complaint about the child's health, even if she may be bringing it up for the wrong reasons.

That's the problem when people insist on bringing up complaints for the wrong reasons, and want to uase them the wrong way: people jump right in and focus on that alone, and reject the complaint wholesale, forgetting that the improper use of the complaint and the validity of the complaint are two separate issues.

@Mike H #17 (and Zoe)
"I think that LW1 makes it clear he doesn't think the tenants are smoking indoors, though."
I KNOW that, but Chris was having a big tirade about her not having any business telling them to smoke in any way, shape or form, and he's incorrect about that.

"Most research shows that the "other methods" tend to actually "work better" for more women than not"
Oh, so because "most research" shows they work for "more women than not", then the ones for whom they don't should just shut up? This is not a democracy where the majority rules.

Ultimately, depending on what Romeo is willing to do and on what works for HER, it's up to the LW to decide what she's willing to live with, as I said in my own post. But Jane was bringing up these "other ways", as if they were a done-deal, one-size-fits-all perfect solution, and they don't work for everybody. Nothing ever does.

Comment: #25
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:18 AM
Re: Maggie Lawrence
Will do. Thanks.

@Jane
She's " >>suddenly<< feeling sad over a sexless future" because he gets her all worked up and then leaves her high and dry in the middle of a house fire! She wasn't getting that when she was all alone, and yeah, she WILL get all frisky if some man does everything he can to get her all excited! I don't see what's confusing about that.

If you can't understand that, you really do have no mercy, and no, this is not about my life, I don't know how you managed to work that in.

"Really, Lise, seriously? Do you really think my post was saying that my advice WORKS FOR EVERYBODY? "
Yeah, really, Jane seriously, and I even remember reading about a study that explained why (I'm not getting into this unless someone asks). And I don't know if you were saying that it worked for everybody but, from the way it was worded and from my end of it, that's certainly how it sounded.

P.S.: (Stop yelling)

Comment: #26
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:27 AM
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