How to do the wrong thing right

Howard-Russell-logo-copyDear Howard,
When’s the proper time to introduce my boyfriend to my family? Me and Leslie (yes, Leslie is a man’s name!) have been dating for five months and fully exclusive to each other now for seven weeks. We’re both 35, and both of us were badly burned in past relationships to selfishly shallow narcissists that didn’t pan out. So I guess what I’m really asking you here, Mr. Howard, is whether there’s a formulaic best way to determine whether Leslie is the Mr. Right for me long-term-down-the-road, finally … or not? — Donny

Dear Donny,
There is absolutely, indeed, a formulaically ideal way to determine whether it’s “longterm” time to introduce any man you’ve been dating to your parents; simply ask yourself these following three questions: 1. Am I currently mature enough, even at 35, to never permit whatever carnal infidelities that both Leslie and I will certainly be engaged in (down the road outside of our relationship at some point in the future) to trump our loving respect for one another we mutually share now? 2. Is one of us willing to take on the domestic responsibilities of our future household without accusing the other of being ungratefully lazy and a slob; moreover, is the other willing to take on our monetary responsibilities without accusing the other of being a bat-shit/psycho-bitch spendthrift? 3. Of all the various and many men on this entire planet whom I’ve ever been intimate with previous to meeting my soulmate, Leslie, how many of these fellows’ parents (i.e., Leslie’s father, particularly) never would threaten, oh, a shotgun literally to my head for merely requesting permission to marry their perfect gay son, in this year of our Lord 2015?

Dear Howard,
This tatted silver fox picked me up old-school the other night in actually a bar: It was awesome! He bought me tequila sunrises (my fave!) and we talked for, literally, like an hour, just him and me upstairs on the deck outside. He complemented me a lot, said I had gorgeous green eyes (they’re really brown, except I wear colored contacts) and I felt, I don’t know, special almost. The dude was ancient, though. I didn’t ask how old, considering that the sunrises kept coming and Mama didn’t raise her boy rude, but I bet he was minimally 40.

Still, one flirtation fed on another; finally, he hotly winked he’d be arrested for “public indecency” if he showed all his tats to me in the bar; and sure enough, back at his place he proved his body tweaked plenty more wicked-amazing tats—everywhere; probably my very favorite was the giant red scorpion underneath his bellybutton!

Flash forward to next dawn’s walk-of-shame testimony to my super-perv roommate. In spilling the whole night’s juicy 4-1-1 over cereal,  suddenly, he went, like, all Taylor Swift-white on me, shook his head and just ambled away muttering, “F**ing idiot.” I mean, Howard, it’s not as if he hasn’t hurled his own horny hotdog down some hallways of plenty more than a few cobwebbed chasms himself; so, why such petrified, polar-shoulder ’tude slung at me? — Tom

Dear Tommy Boy,
Pay very swift attention to white Howard’s 9-1-1 advice here: First, you need to find a kinder, less “super-perv” roommate to worship; second, I hope Mr. Old-School wore a condom upon fertilizing his fossilized hotdog down your hallway; third, get yourself an HIV test, son. A red scorpion tat is just one of the many code-inks for HIV status. It’s not just the biohazard tats of yore to watch out for whenever trawling-for-sex these days; here are some of Gayville’s 21st century-inked additions that are symbolic of HIV-positivism: 1. A queen (or king) of spades; 2. “Plus” signs — in every possible variation of sizes and colors conceivable; 3. Red ribbons — especially those festooned with birds such as swallows; 4. All word combinations involving “infectious” and/or “waste;” 5. A black pirate flag’s skull and crossbones; 6. The Angel of Bethesda (Google what it looks like!); 7. Ladybugs and/or fanged cobras/rattlesnakes of every camouflage-shaded deviancy.

Dear Howard,
My amazing mom, sadly, is long-deceased; my homophobic, gay-intolerant father now suffers severe Alzheimer’s. Recently, I was clearing out their attic — to sell the hell house I grew up in — and discovered some “relics” which lead me to unsurprisingly believe dad may have once been a pledged member of the KKK. What should I do? — Bentley

Dear Bent,
A fabulous invention now exists called “trash bags.” They come in all sorts of flex-strength capacity sizes and can be found in every grocery store. Utilize them.
 — Howard Lewis Russell

Do you have a question for Howard about etiquette, love, life or anything? Email your concern to and he may answer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 11, 2015.