How to do what’s wrong rightHoward-Russell-logo

HOWARD LEWIS RUSSELL  | Special Contributor
[email protected]

Dear Howard,
I’m 19. My mom died two years ago and I’ve been living with friends on their sofas and such for most of this past year after Dad kicked me out. I didn’t plan on telling Dad I’m gay, but he found some gay stuff in my room — some magazines and DVDs — and we had a big fight. I left that night after he told me to get my “fag self out.” I haven’t called him since, but I got a job waiting tables, so I’m doing OK. Also, my older brother told my dad where I work, so I guess he could drop by and see me if he wanted to, but he hasn’t. I don’t hate my father, and I don’t want him to hate me, either. Should I break the ice and call him or something, or should I assume we’re permanently now not related anymore? I’m confused. — Josh

Dear Josh,
Don’t call your father off-guard. Your mom’s untimely death no doubt placed a heavy burden of grief on him; thus, his excessive reaction toward simply discovering some “gay stuff” in your room. Josh, there has not been a teenage male yet born who does not possess a hidden porn stash.

Why don’t you send your father a hand-written letter — nothing emailed, twittered or texted, just old-fashioned pen to paper? Explain yourself straightforwardly, honestly and sincerely. You’ll know what to say. Then, close your handwritten letter with an address and a number where he can reach you. Place the ball gently in your dad’s court. He’ll come around. Howard, having been there, knows.

Dear Howard,
My career is going well, but sometimes I get stressed out because of all the extra volunteer work I do on the side; meanwhile, my love life hardly even exists. I don’t think I give private-life opportunities the time that I give others. I realize this probably has to change, but still, I don’t seem to do much about it. I just never know what to constructively do with my limited free time. I keep seeing light at the end of the tunnel regarding my having a satisfying private-life one day, eventually, but I just never seem to get there. Any advice for me, Howard? — Oliver

Dear Oliver,
First, you must look up the term oblomovism. (Not every dictionary carries it, but it applies to you.) Oliver, all the extra volunteer work in the world you do is not going to make you a more likely candidate for true love at a later date. Granted, volunteerism is a most wonderfully unselfish act of kindness; however, it’s not a love life IRA: You’re not going to build up any vested “future, private-life partnership” interest. Act now, Oliver, if you truly want a boyfriend, long-term. After all, relationships put off for the future work exactly opposite of martyrdom benefits in the present: You must spend now in order to save. Think about it.

Dear Howard,
This is kind of a sheepish question, but would you mind telling me what “Tina” is? I see people talking about Tina all the time on the chat boards, but either I’m a total idiot, or, totally out of the fabulosity loop. Is Tina a person? Is she a place, a thing? I can’t figure out what Tina is, and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone. — A College Graduate

Dear Einstein,
You’re in the “fabulosity loop” enough to be slumming the chat boards “all the time,” yet haven’t a clue what any of those par-taaaay boys are referencing when mentioning “Tina?” Seriously? Listen, precious, let’s just say that you do not ever, ever want to be introduced to Tina, and leave it at that. Tina — aka her evil twin, Crystal — is a wicked, addictively unforgiving girl, and will land you in nothing but a heap of regrets and trouble.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 14, 2012.