How to do the wrong thing right

_howard-russell-logoAt last, a brand new, glistening year is here! We all must hope, and pray to whichever mythical being comforts us most, that 2017 bodes a far cry better, for us all, than the year in our rearview mirror, because if 2016 produced anything, it was plenty of fat, sloppy tears to go around for everyone. Let’s get right to it.

Dear Howard,

I’m 33, 5-foot-9, brunet/brown, 205 lbs.; still, I’m not what skinnier queens would label as “morbidly flabby.” For my New Year’s resolution, I joined Gold’s Gym, and am working out harder now (five times a week!) than I’ve ever perspired in my entire life. But Howard, I’ve shed a whopping total of precisely 12 ounces in two solid, back-breaking, sweaty weeks! Maybe it’s a thyroid condition? Since late December, I’ve barely eaten anything fattening at all: I’ve cut out all dairy (Haagen-Dazs, Go-Gurt, Yoo-hoos), all wheat products (Sara Lee, Dolly Madison, Kraft); also, I’ve quit the drive-thru at all my fave restaurants (Carl’s Jr., Wendy’s, Mickey D’s, the DQ); so, what’s the real reason why am I’m still no more attractive to dudes now, in 2017, than I was way back last year?

Tyson D. I.

Dear Ty,

To paraphrase Amy Schumer’s whimsically brutal self-analysis of her own weight struggles: “I’m never fat; I’m just always… disappointing.” Still, Schumer has no problems attracting scads of lustful suitors; thus, do not pull this Miss Sausage-Gravy-and-Blue-Hydrangeas’ “I’ve-tried-every-diet-but-nothin’-evah-works” thyroid crap on me: The sole reason, Tie-Dye, for why you’re not even more fuckable now than you ever were previously is because no men are ever attracted to indolent, narcissistic whiners. Dear Howard here’s own mother (divorced from my father when I was 12, and who was never thin for even a single day in her post-childbearing/post-divorced life) always laughingly balked, “I may be fat and 55, but put me in a room with 100 beauty queens and one man, and I alone will walk out of the room with that man.” Desirability, Ty, is all in one’s attitude: If you presume men desire you, then men will naturally trip over their feet to be yours, regardless of how often you repeatedly purchase yet another New Year’s resolution gym membership. (P.S. If your goal is truly weight loss, it takes more than two weeks of hard work to see appreciable results — keep at it, and improve your attitude!)

Dear Howard,

My older half-sister gleefully informs me that the reason I’m always so lonely, and can’t ever keep a man, is because I’ve never once crossed a bridge in my life that I didn’t immediately torch behind me: WTF? — Reggie

Dear Reginald,

Have you never heard that most all bridges burned will have to be crossed back over, again, at some date down the road? Within one’s entire lifespan — even if one lives to be 100 — there will never be more than but a handful of “bridges” that necessitate total conflagration; mathematically, in fact, the number of “friends” anyone’s compelled to ultimately eliminate forever from their lives equate reversely to the exact opposite same number one may count on being there alongside you forever: five people. True, many friends you’ll have for years, only to discover, on some distantly horrible day, that they were never your “true” friends at all; conversely, there will be another five whom, through no extensive effort on your own part, you’ll discover to be lifelong, gleaming gems of the rarest friendship finds. Your job, Regina, is to remain open to the possibilities on each side.

Dear Howard,

I caught wind, via the Vaseline Valley grapevine, that my dearest, lifelong friend’s newest boy-toy was spotted (shall we say) enjoying the company of other men at a bathhouses while Ace was out of town on business. I’ve known Ace since way back when we were snotty kids sitting behind one another in elementary school, and for as long as I’ve known this fool horndawg, Ace has always possessed sexual antennae of stone. So, do I tell him that his latest flavor-of-the-month is just giving it away to total strangers, or do I not get involved and let these private-life issues follow their own natural course, between just Ace and Little Pretty Britches, minus my interference—despite my being privy to this bombshell information about L.P.B. that Ace doesn’t know about? — Eli

Dear Elvira,

Nosy is as vapid does: I take it there will be no love lost between you and Ace (your longest, dearest BFF) once you primly expose his latest infatuation to be nothing less than a cheating ‘ho, as confirmed by Vaseline Valley’s vixens that Ace’s “Little Pretty Britches” no doubt, indeed, is. Regardless, Eliza, at least just hear out Dear Howard: Short of Ace possessing the I.Q. of, say, a triple-A battery-powered latex butt plug, he is certainly well aware of his newest boy-toy’s wild side; you’ve no need to spread gossipy “bombshells;” trust me, their shrapnel projectiles will only land a thudding dud on you. Stay out of this, Lizzy, do you hear me? Not only is Ace’s bedroom-business none of yours, but you’ll also potentially lose your longest, dearest friend in the bargain. Believe me, Ace’s secretly cheating “L.P.B. boy-toy” will trip-up soon enough on his own… sans any sympathetic “assistance” from you. Broken toys always do.

— Howard Lewis Russell

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2017.