creators home
creators.com lifestyle web
Margo Howard

Recently

Mom Purloins the Diary Dear Margo: I found out last week that our 17-year-old high school junior is having sex with her boyfriend! First of all, I found out the wrong way: I snooped in her room and read her diary. Second, she would never admit to it, so my husband …Read more. The Bad Seed Dear Margo: I never thought I would write to an advice columnist, but here goes. I've been dating someone for about a year now, and we talk of marriage occasionally. He's ready for commitment and very gung-ho about us getting married, which is …Read more. Oh, and, Uh, By the Way... Dear Margo: I am soon to be 27 years old, and my only serious relationship ended a few years ago. In hopes of avoiding the standard meat market of dating, I'm considering registration with eHarmony.com. I've also had my share of casual relationships.…Read more. It Is in the Bible, but Not in the Stars Dear Margo: I have been dating a wonderful man for four months now. He is very kind and sweet in every way. We are much in love and happy together. There is only one problem: We are different religions. I am a Christian; he is agnostic. I have …Read more.
more articles

Uncomfortable Conversation

Comment

Dear Margo: I work at a place of higher education. At lunchtime, faculty members sit together in the staff room and shoot the breeze. The problem is that one person likes to take the conversation to inappropriate places. He is charismatic and well liked by the higher-ups at our small institution. But many of his comments are more than likely in violation of the sexual harassment policy: "tits" and strippers are not uncommon topics.

There is no system for reporting him anonymously. The lunchroom is so small that there's no way I could just move to the far side. My only options are to a) eat in my office every day, which would be a bit sad, as I enjoy the company of many of the other folks or b) eat later than everyone else, which on principle I don't think I should have to do. Is there a one-liner I could use with this 45-year-old teenage boy that would get my point across without making me seem prudish? I hope you have words where I have had none! — Speechless

Dear Speech: Are you the only woman to find this man gauche? If not, maybe you could all sign a (friendly) note to him. If you are the only one whose sensibilities are bruised, I am a big believer in humor to defuse touchy situations. I would say, "Oh, Jack, that kind of talk is for poker games with the guys." If the elderly teenage boy doesn't take the hint, you have two choices: ignore him, or go to his superior. — Margo, pragmatically

Dear Margo: My mother and stepfather (who married my mother when I was 7) are in a very messy divorce. I am writing because today he called me and said that in 2004, when I was 20 years old, he took out a parent loan in his name to help me continue to pay for college, as I was (unbeknownst to me) apparently not going to be able to continue without the help.

My stepfather said this loan I didn't even know about would be maturing in May and I was going to have to pay it for him.

Margo, this man who walked me down the aisle at my wedding last year nearly drove my mother to suicide over his behavior during the divorce. I had to lend my mother money to move their furniture five hours north because he's going after it in the divorce. My mother supported him for years when he didn't have a job and paid this loan in his name because they had decided as a couple to maintain his credit at the expense of her own.

My question is: What do I do about this loan? Do I pay him some of it? All of it? I honestly didn't know anything about it. I didn't sign for it at all, and it's listed as a "parent PLUS loan" solely in his name. I want to do the right thing, even though he's been so cruel, because I want to be a responsible person, but I am so angry with him. — Surprise Student Loan Recipient

Dear Sur: If you didn't sign anything, you have no obligation, as the recipient, to repay the loan. (And considered from a moral point of view, you are excused because you were ignorant of the loan in the first place.) I'm assuming your mother didn't sign anything, because you say it was "solely in his name." Given your mother's financial history with this man, I would give this matter no further thought and him no money. — Margo, fairly

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM



Comments

30 Comments | Post Comment
LW2-you already know the answer, but I'll tell you anyway; you weren't made aware of the loan, your signature isn't on it, you didn't take it out, you never made a pledge to pay, so you owe nothing. The fact that he'd "surprise" you with the information shows that he's a bad person. Don't listen to him.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Roger
Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:16 AM
LW1--Sometimes guys can't help themselves from acting like pigs, even when there are ladies present. You should simply turn to your colleague and chide nonchalantly "you must have a hard time meeting real women, the way you carry on about tits and strippers...I guess that's the price of having a micro penis..." Then go back to your paperback and enjoy the rest of your lunch. Feel free to work variations of this theme into the conversation each time the Pig takes the lunchtime chatter to inappropriate heights. I'm guessing the Pig will tone down the bravado when attention repeatedly focuses on the size of his penis.

LW2--Forget about the loan.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Chris
Sat Mar 10, 2012 4:35 AM
Chris
RE: LW1 Love your suggestion!
Comment: #3
Posted by: Bailey
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:10 AM
Um, no, you don't have to give him any money for the loan (that's territory that comes with being a father), but neither should you be helping your mother to move furniture five hours away so that she can hide it so your stepfather can't get it in the settlement. After a 20-year-marriage, who gets what is up to your parents' divorce lawyers to settle, and the fact that your mother may have "supported him" while he was unemployed at a point in time is irrelevant. Imagine if the situation were reversed: "I am giving my father money so he can move the family furniture to where my mother can't get it. After all, he supported her for years when she was unemployed..." Don't pay the loan, and don't get yourself involved in their dispute over finances or stuff. And remember, you're only hear one side of what is no doubt a very complicated story, where neither side has been completely innocent and nice.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jane
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:23 AM
"Ted dear, I'm sure you don't mean to be offensive but this discussion is sexist. You're coming across as a misogynist." Make the discussion about womens issues, which it is, and not about his infantile locker room topics. "I'm hurt that you think of women only in terms of sex. I thought you were more advanced than that."
Comment: #5
Posted by: Penny
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:52 AM
LW1-
With a smile: "Joe, don't you think we've covered this subject ad infinitum already? Third time this week already. Can we talk about something else for once, or is this all you ever think about?"

LW2-
"What do I do about this loan?"
You ignore it as you owe him squat didley. Let him take you to Judge Judy, who will tell him you do not have a contract.

I would suggest you start recording conversations and carefully archive e-mails and text messages from now on. And make sure is it abundantly mentioned that you knew nothing about it until he sprang this on you like a Jack(ass) in the Box.


Comment: #6
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:44 AM
Chris, the trouble with referencing the size of his penis in order to shame this pig into shutting up is - how does she explain HOW she knows that he's got a teeny weeny? And rather than go crying to HR that she's been "sexually harrassed" because he says "tits" maybe she should do what we do here - just say "Would you please watch your mouth?"
Comment: #7
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:03 AM
Chris's answer wins the prize today. BUT...pig might turn the tables and accuse you of sexual harassment.
LW2. No more conversations with THIS piggy. You are not legally, morally, or ethically responsible for the loan. Forget about it and focus on your mom's well being.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Blenie
Sat Mar 10, 2012 10:08 AM
The Parent Plus loan is not your legal responsibility but it was done for your benefit. Your mom and your step dad should be sharing the payments as part of the divorce. Have your mom deal with it. The fact you did not know about the loan simply shows your immaturity. You were an adult. You should have found out how school was affordable. It would seem your mom was not honest with you. You can chose to demonize someone who has helped you in the past or you can show some gratitude and work with this person. The loan is probably in his name only due to your mom not having good credit. Your mom and step dad are dragging you into your drama. By being thankful and showing respect for this person who helped you, you will go a long way to maintaining a good relationship and help your mom whether she understands that or not.
Comment: #9
Posted by: steve
Sat Mar 10, 2012 12:12 PM
LW2-A Parent Plus Loan is paid to the Parent directly, not to the school or anyone else, so your step father could have used the money for himself. Do you know where the money went? Did he actually pay for your college tuition, rent, books, etc.? Did you receive financial aid, grants or scholarships that paid for your college costs? It is easy for a parent to get a Parent Plus loan, they only have to apply and show you are in school, it does not mean they have to use the money for those expenses. Surely you must remember something about your education and how it was financed and you should still be able to access your records at the school if you want to find out. Ask your mother, can she confirm his story, did they really use that for your education? And about the loan "maturing"....I checked my Parent Plus Loan documentation (I have 3 kids in college) A Parent Plus loan has a payment plan until it is paid off, not a lump sum due..which tells me he (or your mother) quit paying this loan and is now in trouble and on the hook for the balance due and looking for you to bail him out. Either way you are not responsible but I just thought I would point this out so you may feel less responsible.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Sandyfeet
Sat Mar 10, 2012 1:36 PM
"elderly teenage boy" Please tell me when 45 became "elderly" all of a sudden?

Re: Steve - I don't think she is being immature at all. I don't care if she was an adult. If her parents were helping her and they took out a loan to do so without telling her, it's all on them. If they had told her they couldn't afford it and that she needed to get financial aid is or job one thing. Taking out a secret loan and then springing on her at the last minute, when he can't afford the payment, does not make her a demonizer. She should be grateful but has zero obligation to pay anything.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Julie
Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:50 PM
LW1: Oh for God's sake, grow up already. When will people realize that they can't control the way other people think or speak. The LW doesn't even say that the man is speaking to her when he's talking about these things. If I'm right, and she is just overhearing his conversations with others, she really needs to mind her own business. Never once does the LW say that her colleague is inappropriate on the job, he's just crass while on his own time. Who cares?
By the way, how in the HELL does this qualify as sexual harassment? What, no one is allowed to utter the word "tits" simply because the LW happens to have a pair? The other night, I met a friend out for dinner, and upon greeting her she told me my "Tits look fuckin' amazing in that shirt." Yes folks she said tits. And fuckin'. And you know what, I was thrilled. My response: "Thanks I grew them myself".
I'm assuming the LW is a woman, because I can't imagine a grown man this flustered over tits and strippers. Unless he works for the clergy perhaps. People, LW, do yourselves a favor and stop getting so offended about things that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Don't report this guy, just don't listen to him, you're a grown-up you can manage to do this. God I can't stand a whiny troublemaker.
Comment: #12
Posted by: ackgirl
Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:37 PM
Re: Roger

Is the writer certain there really is a loan?
Comment: #13
Posted by: Linda Dorfmont
Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:36 PM
LW1: I think I'd show up for lunch every day carrying a copy of Thelma and Louise. Next time he makes a crude remark, say "Oh -- that reminds me. I brought you a gift."

And then hand him the DVD and say; "That scene with the truck explosion reminds me of you."
Comment: #14
Posted by: Johanna
Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:57 PM
Re Sandyfeet: I don't know where you get/got your Parent Plus loans, but the two I signed for so that my son could continue his education went directly to the school. The only benefit I got from them was an assurance his schooling would be paid for. It doesn't make sense that a Parent Plus loan would go to the parent.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Darlene
Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:05 AM
To LW 2: Because you did not sign for this loan , and it's totally in his name, you have absolutely no financial obligation regarding this loan - forget about it. It sounds like your soon-to-be ex-stepfather was accustomed to having his debts paid by others (i.e., your mother supporting him for years when he didn't have a job and paid this guy's loan (that was solely in his name) to maintain HIS credit at the expense of your mother's credit history. Don't give it another thought, and just ignore him.
Comment: #16
Posted by: j
Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:12 AM
Re: ackgirl, Go to the eeogov site and look up the defination of sexual harassment. Wait I'll help you -" Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general." There is more that will back the LW. Although 'I' didn't say it was sexual harassment - it is.
Mr. 45 YO does not have the right to make this woman uncomfortable by discussing tits and strippers in a small comman area where both have the right to be. Even if it weren't sexual harassment it would still be a childish and offensive thing to do. If the first thing out of your friends mouth is your ""Tits look fuckin' amazing in that shirt.", and you were thrilled by that then the two of you are a good match. I can't think of a correct senario for that encounter - except for maybe a strip club where you are shakin' those tits for pay.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Penny
Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:37 AM
Penny, excellent post.

ackgirl: I think you are completely missing the point here. A conversation that happens between friends off hours, away from the work place, is TOTALLY different than a conversation that happens in the work place. I have personal friends that I have worked with in the past, and even though we might have conversations such as you had with your friend, we never did that at WORK.

When you are at work, there are certain levels of professionalism and decorum that need to be maintained. Most companies put new hires through "sensitivity training" for just these purposes.
Comment: #18
Posted by: nanchan
Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:29 AM
Re: Penny Nope, not shaking my tits for money. Just very much enjoying my body for the first time in thirty years. Due to horrific, traumatic bullying growing up, I was plagued with severe self esteem and depression issues for many years. Through a lot of very hard work with a wonderful therapist, I have made incredible progress in seeing myself as the smart, funny, beautiful woman I am. For the first time in my life I am able to take great pride in myself, including my appearance. I wasn't wearing anything revealing or tight, just something very flattering to my figure. I'm sorry you don't have friends that would be able to toss you a compliment that would make you burst out laughing at the same time as making you feel like a million bucks. And no, while the topic of the comment was my tits, it went much further than that, and I wouldn't expect you to understand it.
Comment: #19
Posted by: ackgirl
Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:49 AM
Re: ackgirl, I'm very glad for your emotional and physical recovery. From you post you don't sound like you took too much of that therapy to heart in regards to others. Try rereading your post and see how bullying IT sounds. It begins, "Oh for God's sake, grow up already." Nice. You came out shootin' for bear and then took offense that someone took offense. And to me specificly, " I'm sorry you don't have friends that would be able to toss you a compliment that would make you burst out laughing at the same time as making you feel like a million bucks. And no, while the topic of the comment was my tits, it went much further than that, and I wouldn't expect you to understand it." Now why wouldn't you expect me to understand? You don't know me. And the crack about not having friends that would compliment me that would make me laugh. Again, you don't know me. And you're the one talking about bullying? Look to your own house little sister.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Penny
Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:27 PM
Re: ackgirl you say "Oh for God's sake, grow up already. When will people realize that they can't control the way other people think or speak". You also say in your next post that you were subjected to tramutic bullying while growing up. Was the bullying because of what people thought about and how they spoke about and to you? If that's the case, then you should understand that while there are many cases where we truly can't control what other say, there are sometimes when that is possible, including in a work environment like in L1, or not allowing bullying in schools.
The example you gave about your conversation with a friend wasn't relavent to LW1's complaint.
Comment: #21
Posted by: C Meier
Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:38 PM
LW2: You do not owe anyone anything if you were unaware of the loan until now. And, you should probably do some research into how the loan works. If you intend to pay anything, it should be directly to the loan agent, not to your dad, who seems like he just wants money. If he is going after old furniture, it sounds like he's desperate. If he did in fact, even take out a loan, he may have never paid any of it. Be careful what you are getting into. You shouldn't be paying him any money. It sounds like dad assumes you will be on mom's side with regards to the divorce, and therefore is treating you the way he is treating her- with no respect.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Salty
Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:16 PM
LW1 perplexes me a bit, because I've worked in higher education for a very long time, and this kind of behavior is really out of the norm. I'm guessing the 45-year-old faculty member is not only tenured, but brings in a lot of funding, and that's why the higher-ups like him so much.

But most colleges and universities have an HR department that is separate from individual academic departments, so the real answer here is to go to HR and talk about the situation and ask for advice/recommendations. Frankly, the last think this university would want is for a public story about raunchy talk by faculty to get out -- it's the kind of thing that turns off alumni donors and potential student applicants. So I'd bet they'd work with you to find a solution.

I wonder if you could also talk privately to the department chair about it first, though. A friendly chat from a senior colleague may be all that is needed to get this faculty member to curtail his story-telling -- or at least save it for times when he and some of his male colleagues are sharing a beer in campus pub rather than at noon in the staff lunchroom.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Mike H
Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:08 AM
LW1 perplexes me a bit, because I've worked in higher education for a very long time, and this kind of behavior is really out of the norm. I'm guessing the 45-year-old faculty member is not only tenured, but brings in a lot of funding, and that's why the higher-ups like him so much.

But most colleges and universities have an HR department that is separate from individual academic departments, so the real answer here is to go to HR and talk about the situation and ask for advice/recommendations. Frankly, the last think this university would want is for a public story about raunchy talk by faculty to get out -- it's the kind of thing that turns off alumni donors and potential student applicants. So I'd bet they'd work with you to find a solution.

I wonder if you could also talk privately to the department chair about it first, though. A friendly chat from a senior colleague may be all that is needed to get this faculty member to curtail his story-telling -- or at least save it for times when he and some of his male colleagues are sharing a beer in campus pub rather than at noon in the staff lunchroom.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Mike H
Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:08 AM
Why is everyone assuming that LW2 received so much as a dime in education assistance from parents? The letter writer said "to help me continue to pay for college", and the fact he or she would supposedly be "unable" to continue without help was unknown to her. It looks to me as though he or she is a self-funded student or maybe a scholarship student.

Outside the wealthy class or the upper-middle-entitlement class, it's customary for people to pay for whatever education they expect to receive. They go to community colleges and local schools to take advantage of in-state tuition rates, and they have these things called full-time or part-time jobs. Sometimes they live with their parents, in which case they cover the cost of their room and board by either paying rent or doing extra chores in lieu of rent. Other times they earn scholarships, pursue work fellowships or a GI Bill, get into apprenticeship programs for skilled trade certification, or take out loans of their own. The trend of aping the super-wealthy by expecting one's parents to pay for one's education as some kind of entitlement is (fortunately) quite recent and will soon be forgotten.

That being said, it's possible for parents and stepparents to take out loans while pretending to finance education for their grown children.
Comment: #25
Posted by: R.A.
Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:36 AM
Re: Mike H

Agreed. can anyone say Penn State?

Comment: #26
Posted by: nanchan
Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:31 AM
LW1: Proclaim loudly, "Okay, we get it, you like strippers but do we have to hear about it every day?" Also, I love how you care what stupid people think about you - it doesn't make you look stupid at all.

LW2: How is bankrupting yourself the right thing to do? This is not your loan. This is his loan and it is his responsibility to pay for it. Your mother was an idiot to put this dirt bag first and let him ruin her credit. Are you going to be as stupid as your mother or are you going to learn from her mistakes?
Comment: #27
Posted by: Diana
Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:36 PM
I worked in an office for a branch of a well-known music company, and one of the promo guys couldn't complete a sentence without using "M-F" at least twice. When I mentioned how uncomfortable that made me and the other women feel, one of the salesmen said that he only talked that way around women.

When it was only men, he could leave out the cussing. I don't know why he thought talking that way would impress us, but that was a long time ago. Now, I'd complain to H-R.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:12 AM
for the girl with the Step father & the parent plus loan, which parent has to pay the loan will be worked out in the divorce settlement. The court could decide the couple is each responsible for 50% or let the stepfather continue to pay for it all because of the mother paying for so much of the rest. After the settlement the stepdaughter could decide if she wants to help with repayment. As for moving the furniture this depends on the nature of it. Are they moving it to wait until it is dealt with in the settlement or are they hiding from the settlement? It's unlikely they can truly hide it and I understand the motivation for moving it. My dad took and destroyed though neglect everything he took and abandoned the rest of the furniture, leaving my mom with nothing. When they settle it will be irrelevant because he'll never be able to pay her back for the value of it. So if the goal is to save an asset from destruction or sale, then they aren't being underhanded but since we're not there, we can't know their true motivation.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Laurie
Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:01 PM
Re: Joannakathryn
I'm not sure he was so much trying to impress all of you, as to push out a little editorial about the level at which he perceived women.

Comment: #30
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Mar 14, 2012 6:21 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
Other similar columns
Susan Deitz
Single File
by Susan Deitz
Ann Landers
Classic Ann Landers
by Ann Landers
Jan Denise
More
Margo Howard
Mar. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
23 24 25 26 27 28 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month