One of the great joys of growing up when I did was the local newspaper. (I especially loved the local crime reports. Once I saw one that said, “Cat found in car” – still not sure what law it broke).
Of the many things I wax nostalgic about, Dear Abby and Ann Landers are near the top of the list. Every day I could look forward to the generally flawless advice dispensed by these twin sisters who were so dysfunctional they rarely communicated. Luckily, my hometown paper carried both columns.
Who can forget the toilet paper up or down controversy that lasted months and was never resolved? (For those of you on the edge of your seats, I am firmly in the toilet paper down camp.) The sisters delivered serious advice (homosexuality, AIDS), frivolous advice (the aforementioned toilet paper debate), and chimed in on everything in between. A lot of what I know about manners I learned from them (start from the outside when choosing silverware at a fancy dinner, a lesson also reinforced in Pretty Woman).
With over a century of advice-giving between them, the rivals had remarkably similar views and were smart, witty, concise, and to the point. They never spoke down to their audience, but were not afraid of dressing them down.
Ann Landers once wrote, “One out of four people in this country is mentally imbalanced. Think of your three closest friends. If they seem okay, then you’re the one.” Man, I wish I had said that!
Never outdone by her twin and equally solid, here is advice from Dear Abby: A reader complained that a gay couple was moving in across the street and asked what he could do improve the quality of the neighborhood. Her suggestion? “YOU could move.”
Tags: advice columns, Ann Landers, Dear Abby