Tag: Advice (page 1 of 19)

Awesome Advice Central: The incompetent chef


Dear Awesome Advice Central,

alt="IMAGE-incompetent-chef-more-cabbage-after-the-kids-leave"Hi, I’m kind of in a rush today because this total moron keeps harassing me, telling me it’s my duty to write him a letter of reference.  He says that because he used to work for me, I need to write something and do it quickly, so he can start applying for a new job. He’s saying that if I don’t, he could sue me for discrimination or something.

Here’s the thing:  I fired him last month.

I don’t like him.  He was incompetent.  A knucklehead.  A shit disturber.

And I don’t wanna write him a letter, because what if someone hires him based on what I say?  I can’t bear to write something horrible about him, even though I’m totally tempted to.

So what I’d like is help in writing this blasted thing.  If I tell you the bullet points, would you translate it to something that looks and sounds positive, without me actually having to lie?


Okay, some background.  I’m in charge of the crew on a private yacht.  This guy was the chef on board. Here are the facts:

  • He was an incompetent chef. A terrible cook. Everything that came out of his kitchen tasted of rancid oil and/or vinegar. Even the desserts.
  • He was asked to cook fresh, Mediterranean food but instead cooked Polish cuisine each night.  Yep, cabbage and kielbasa. Every. Single. Night.
  • Every day he could be found in the kitchen, on the phone with his girlfriends (yes, that’s right, girlfriends plural) with earbuds plugged in so he couldn’t hear when we spoke with him.
  • He was lazy, never adhered to hygiene standards, and our ship’s kitchen was nearly closed by the health inspectors while he was in charge.
  • He never showed up for a single lifeboat drill.
  • He was argumentative and got into plenty of fights on board and on shore.
  • He lied on his CV, claiming to know the cuisines of the world.  He also claimed he was a recent graduate of a famous cooking school and that he’d interned for Gordon Ramsay.
  • He hit on all the females on board.  Age didn’t seem to matter.  If they had a pulse, he was game.

He’s asked me 3 times now for references, and I’m feeling cornered here.  I want future employers to know what they’re getting if they hire this joker, but I also don’t want to seem rude.

Please help!  Please say you can help!

Captain C. Gull

Text separatorDear Captain Gull,

We’d be only too delighted to help—in fact, we fancy ourselves rather the HR specialists, as we’ve been through so many pool boys over the years. We agree, writing letters of reference is a tricky business: while you don’t wish to offend, neither do you wish to lie. At least, not much.

All right, here’s what we’ve come up with:

To whomever might be fortunate enough to wish to hire our former chef: Congratulations!

Curly Pete, as he likes to be known, is an outstanding employee in many respects. As chief cook and bottle-washer aboard the SS Kerplunk, he fed our guests a never-ending stream of cabbage and kielbasa—always emphasizing that this was a healthy diet, rich in fat, micronutrients, and fibre. Gradually, our guests grew accustomed to the taste of aged oil and cabbage drippings, and by the time they were ready to put ashore, they were effusive in their praise for Curly Pete’s creations.

“How does he get a chocolate torte to taste of cabbage?” they’d enquire, wide-eyed. “It has really helped with my diet—I’m sure I’ve lost at least 10 pounds on this trip alone!”

His internship with Gordon Ramsay seems to have had little to no effect on his cooking style, which remains quite singular. In a class by itself, you might say.

Curly Pete is a renowned and enthusiastic heterosexualist, who regaled passengers and crew alike with tales of his antics both onboard and ashore. In fact, the phrase, “girl in every port” might have been invented just for him. Actually, he extended his bonhomie and joie de vivre to the ladies onboard, as well. No matter how elderly or frail, he loved ‘em all!

As he used to say, “You can’t keep a good man down!”

Of course, this led to much giggling amongst the womenfolk, who treated Curly Pete’s advances much as one might greet those of an enthusiastic puppy with poor bladder control. They’d run along the decks, screaming and squealing (in delight, no doubt); the poor souls who had to use walkers or canes were left to fend for themselves, but it was all in good fun, what? Excellent for morale.

When we held lifeboat drills, Curly Pete would gallantly excuse himself—he could usually be found in his bunk, and when pressed on the matter, said, “Give the old birds my spot—they need it more than I do. Lifeboat drills are for losers.” Then, in a display of bravery, he’d take a hefty swig from his rum bottle, and belch loudly. Such a gentleman!

As you can imagine, I was devastated to lose this treasure of a man: his colourful, relaxed style brought a certain je ne sais quoi to our little vessel, and we’re sure the paternity suits will be settled in due course, leaving Curly Pete free to work with you!

Best of British luck,

Yours sincerely, etc,

Awesome Advice Centralalt="IMAGE-awesome-advice-central-logo-after-the-kids-leave""

Awesome Advice Central: Zip it!

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

Big surprise here, but I need your help.  Yeah, I know, I know, everyone who writes to you needs help, so why even bother to tell you in my preface?  Probably because I have a bad case of Can’tShutUp-itis and I feel the need to over-explain every thought in my head.

Which is what I need help about.  My head.  And my unfortunate ability to say stupid things and then be unable to shut up.

I really just cannot seem to zip it when I need to.

Example 1:

I’d recently been hired at a pretty fancy office.  They had drinks parties every Friday and I knew my boss’s boss would be there.

I wanted to make a good impression early, see?  Get in quick, while I was still the New Kid, and wow her with my good looks, astute brain and confident personality.  I saw her across the room (my boss’s boss, right?) and she was having a glass of wine, talking to her friends.

I decided to introduce myself straight away, before I got shy or nervous.  Because when I get that way, bad things happen.

As I got closer to her, I thought, “Haha, how funny, the way the light’s shining on her glass, it looks like she’s got no fingers on her right hand !  Haha, that’s weird!”

I decided to use that thought as my opening gambit.

Turns out she has no fingers. Awkward!

I stayed at that job for 5 days.

Example 2:

I applied for a job at a big bank.  I’d just graduated from school and this was my first ever “real” job.

I was going for a middle-management position and during the interview,the interviewer asked me what I hoped to be doing in 5 years’ time.

Without even taking a breath, I spat out that I hoped to run a sanctuary for older dogs that no one wants to adopt. I swear, I don’t know where this came from.  I don’t even like dogs.

Trying to get the subject back to finance and banking, I kept talking about how I’d open a hotel for mature dogs, and would sell woolen clothes for them to keep warm in winter.  I’d call it Stitches for Bitches.

The whole time I was talking, I could see the stunned look on the interviewer’s face. My brain was shouting at me, “Zip it, ixnay, just stop talking, you tool!

My brain was right. I didn’t get the job.

Example 3:

About 10 years ago, a woman in my choir turned 40.  Everyone was congratulating her and she was lapping up the attention and praise.

I walked up to her, intending to do the same thing:  wish her happy birthday and say I hoped she was having a good day, and such.

Instead, I said, “Happy birthday! Wow, I didn’t realize you were so old!”  Her face fell.  She looked like she was going to hit me.

I had to find a way out so started telling her that she was still hot and that I bet there’d be plenty of guys who’d still be interested in her.

Yeah.  It was bad. Très awkward, in fact.

I walked away from that one with a limp, a black eye, and a warning never to come back.

Can you help?  This disability of mine is preventing me from getting a good job, having an active social life, and finding a husband/boyfriend.  Or boyfriend/husband.  Whatever. 

Anyway, any advice you can toss me, I’d be glad to accept.

Jeane Poole

Text separator

Ah, Jeane, Jeane….

We sympathize, really we do.

You see, from time to time certain people have accused us of unwonted verbosity…not that it’s true, of course, we just tell it like it is, but the accusation stings, doesn’t it?

We mean, we say nothing that is not for the ultimate good and benefit of our dear readers, and our advice is always (we firmly believe) temperate and moderate and a whole bunch of other words ending in -ate. We are, you might say, tough but fair. Kindly but plain-spoken. We tell it like it is. We don’t mince words. We are dedicated to the well-being of those who bring us their difficulties, and if that takes us a little over our specified word count, well, so be it. Damn the torpedoes!

Also our editor, who keeps imploring us to cut it short. But no! We will not be silenced!

So, as we say, we sympathize with your plight. To a point.

You see, while our verbal excesses can be justified by the fact that we are, in fact, trained professionals with years of experience and many, many pool boys behind us, you, my dear, are not.

In fact, your running off at the mouth seems to be explained the plain fact that you have little of interest to say, but you feel compelled to say it at length. Also, the filter between your brain and your mouth seems to be missing. Or at least defective.


This post is not sponsored by duct tape. No, seriously.

So, the question remains, what to do? How to solve your unfortunate tendency to ramble, to prevaricate, to fabricate social faux pas where none had existed before?

Of course, we have the answer. We were just waiting for the right point to interject it.

Are you ready? Here goes:

Duct tape.

Yes, we believe it’s the only answer. Since you seem unable to control your verbal diarrhea by dint of clamping your lips shut and putting a lid on it, duct tape is really your only recourse.

Buy a large roll, keep it in your handbag, and when you feel the urge to speak come over you, whip it out and apply it liberally to your labial area.

(No, not that labial area. The one on your face. The other will do you no good at all, since nymphomania does not seem to be among your problems. At least, not that we know of.)

There, now. Go, and speak no more.

Awesome Advice Central






Awesome Advice Central: For the birds

alt="IMAGE-awesome-advice-central-for-birds-after-the-kids-leave"Dear Awesome Advice Central,

Every Sunday for the past year I’ve been the happy recipient of a free dinner at my neighbour’s house next door.

She’s an old lady with no one in her life but me, so although the free grub suited me, my presence and good humour suited her as well.

See how I said “suited” and not “suits”? There’s a reason for that. I don’t want to visit her anymore and I most certainly don’t want to eat her so-called food either!

It used to be so perfect. Before each dinner she’d take me out to her garden to admire the flowers and birds that would come to visit. She’d talk about her germonias and her berganiums and I’d pretend to pay attention because honestly? Flowers don’t interest me all that much.

She did something kind of sweet each time we’d walk around the garden. She’d take me by the arm and say, “Oh, dah-link, vat shtrong muscles you haff on your big, manly arms!”

I took this as a compliment even though I’m a woman. I’m pretty jacked, and I’m not afraid to show it.

She would tell me she had to finish off the final touches on our dinner and would ask, “Do you mind feeding the pretty little birdies that were visiting zat day?”

Small price to pay for some food, so I’d stand out zere…I mean there, pelting the birdies with bird seed. Whatever. They seemed to like it.

After a year of doing this, I was pretty good at it. I used the bird feeding time to practice my aim, hurling seed high up into the trees and scattering it far and wide. The old lady’s garden was the most popular in town for birds, I’d say.

She had hummingbirds. The ones with red on their chests. The ones with blue peaks on their heads. I even saw a peacock come in one day. But she had the boring gray ones too. I kinda liked them after a while, and named them after famous birds.

Actually I only know two famous birds, so they were all called either Tweety or Donald. They didn’t seem to mind.

Anyhoo…last Sunday I came in to dinner, sat down and started to dig in. I loved the old lady’s cooking, don’t get me wrong, but it was always the same every week. Chicken, chicken, and more chicken. Big ones, small ones, some with different stuffing, but always chicken. “101 ways to prepare a chicken”: she could write a book, I swear.

But hey, it was free, right? I wasn’t going to quibble.

I told her everything tasted delicious and we discussed our day, as we always did. I commented that there weren’t as many birds visiting us this week and she smiled at me, put down her knife and fork and said brightly…(I bet you know what’s coming, right?)…

“Oh, dah-link, you fed zem before, and now zey taste delicious!”

I think I threw up a little. I was eating either Donald or Tweety. Or Donald and Tweety. The horror, the horror!

I tossed down my fork, spat my food into my plate and ran out of that hell-house, vowing never to return.

Now that I’m safely at home, I’ve decided: I must warn future Tweety-pies and Donalds from flying near that madwoman’s house. What can I do to make them steer clear and continue on their flight path?

Help. The birds of the world depend on me!!

Bones McSackenhoff


Dear Bones,

Our hearts are touched, they really are. And anyone who knows us can tell you, it takes a great deal to touch our hearts. Sometimes our pool boy, Jesse, manages it with his special martini/foot massage combo, but most of the time we lounge about, completely untouched, except possibly in the head.

That’s a metaphor, dear, don’t trouble yourself.

Now, where were we? Ah, yes. Touched hearts.

You see, when we first opened your letter, we expected the usual round of whining and moaning: “Oh, the old lady is boooooring! Oh, the old lady never gives me second helpings! Oh, the old lady makes me work for my supper, aren’t I hard done by?

We receive this kind of bilge on a regular basis, and we were preparing ourselves to make the usual stern rebuke: “Get your finger out of your nose and your mind out of neutral, you ingrate!” Or words to that effect.

But you have taken us by surprise: your concern for the darling little Tweeties and Donalds of this world is heartwarming in the extreme. In fact, hang on a moment while we dab discreetly at our eyes with our lace handkerchiefs.

There now. Much better.

All right, here’s what you must do, if you wish to save the wee birdies: you must set up your own Bird Feeding Depot in your back garden. You must build the birds a giant birdbath, and scatter seeds and bits of fruit around; and you must learn the lost art of the bird-call, to summon your tiny friends to your oasis. You’ll find that birds follow their stomachs: they’ll quickly forget about your beastly neighbour’s garden if you offer them a higher class of accommodation.

You must devote yourself fully to this task, but we have no doubt you’ll be able to pull it off.

And once the birds are used to dining chez vous, you may eat as many of them as you wish. We suggest a nice hollandaise sauce, or perhaps a fricassee. Do let us know, as we’re always up for a good feed of Tweetie. Or Donald, as the case may be.

Awesome Advice Centralalt="IMAGE-awesome-advice-central-logo-after-the-kids-leave""


Awesome Advice Central knits up a storm

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

Finally, oh finally, I’ve found the man I love.  I’ve been searching for years for Mr. Right, and at long last there he was, sitting on the opposite side of a bonfire last July, beating his bongo with a vigour usually found in big rock groups like The Weavers and Edison Lighthouse. 

His bongo-playing attracted me, but his personality kept me coming back for more. 

He told me he fell in love with me when he saw me remove my G-string.  That seems like a peculiar thing to say, given I change my strings so often.  Portius (that’s his name) says he adored the concentrated look on my face when I replaced it (the string, not my face) with another string. 

I commented that it’s not that unusual for a guitar player to have spare strings in her pocket, but still.  He loved it, he loves me, I love him, we should be happy. 


And yet it’s just not working that way for me.  Portius (I mentioned it was his name?  Because it is) is kind, loves my iguana (named Night—get it?  haha, I love puns), enjoys Sundays on the beach with our twin metal detectors, and doesn’t even mind when the home-brew in the basement occasionally explodes.  What a guy, right?

And then…last night I learned something about him. Something that might put our wonderful bond in jeopardy. 

It’s so alarming, I just never would have thought it of him, but dear sisters of Awesome Advice Central, I have to tell you that he…well…there’s nothing to do but just come out with it…which I’ll do in just a minute, after I have a quick but meaningful hug with Night, to bolster my spirits…Portius knits

The shock.  The horror. 

If he’d told me he’d been a murderer, I couldn’t have been more appalled. You see, I swore, after my last failed love affair, that I would never date or become attached in any way with a man who was involved with textiles.

Due to a serious purling episode involving me, Pontius (my ex), and a hamster named Ralph, I’m just not willing to go there again.  At first, Pontius lured me in to his tangled world of wool by knitting me small pot holders and tea cosies.  I thought it was charming.  I told him I loved them all, put them in a back cupboard and promptly forgot about them. 

His behavior escalated.  I suppose it was partially my fault for not telling him that I thought he was a nitwit, but that’s what we call “blaming the victim” these days.  I just couldn’t bring myself to let him know that knits are not my thing.

He knit me a dress.  It looked like a regular sweater, but it went from my shoulders to the floor.  To gussy it up, he put tassels on it, at intervals around my chestal area and hips.  I grimly thanked him for the gesture, put it in the cupboard with all those fricking tea cosies, and tried desperately to forget about it. 

Until the night when he invited me out, making a special request that I wear the dress that evening, “just for him.” Well, if he liked it so much, why didn’t HE bloody wear it. 

I put the repellent thing on, tried not to look at myself in the mirror and dragged myself to the front door to get into his car.  If I’d thought the dress was heavy and clumsy before, it was a total disaster when I stepped outside into the pouring rain. 

I won’t go into details.  I save those for my therapist.  Let’s just say, it ended that night with Pontius in tears, threatening me with his 5.5 mm chrome-plated instruments of death:  his needles.  Circulars, but still. Pointy.

Pontius is doing time in prison now, where last I heard he attempted to escape using nothing but a macramé rope made of recycled toilet paper and saliva. 

I can’t go through something like this again and I need you to help me figure out how to unravel myself from this web of love, desire and shame. 

I love Portius, but he must see how he’s just no good for me.  He’s hinting that he wants to make me something “special” for our upcoming anniversary.  I don’t think I can bear it anymore.  How can I dump him?

Nittie G. Rittie


Dear Nittie,

Well, aren’t we the special little snowflake? Too good for a knitting boyfriend, are we?

Unappreciative of the skills of not just one, but two decent-sounding fellows (with extremely odd names, but perhaps they’re related? Names puzzle us these days). Clearly, you don’t deserve either Pontius or Portius.

Young woman, do you have any clue how much love and labour goes into knitting a dress? Not to mention the cost of the wool.

Especially a full-length gown of the sort you describe—we understand completely why poor Pontius flipped his cookies and went after you with the only weapon at his disposal. Though frankly, we’d have gone for a smaller gauge needle, as they’re pointier and can do more damage. 5.5 mms are fine for larger projects, but when you’re aiming for a person’s jugular, you really want a precision instrument. However, we forgive him this gaffe, as he was clearly distraught at having picked a lady friend who so obviously scorned his devotion.

As for Portius, we suggest you do the only decent thing, and set him free. In fact, if he’s planning on knitting something special for your anniversary, you should head him off at the pass right away, as a kindness. That is, assuming you’re capable of a kindness, which we sincerely doubt. In our vast and worldly experience, those who fail to appreciate knitting paramours, male or female, tend to be unappreciative and graceless in other ways as well.

However, it is not our place to judge you for being a self-centred narcissist whose sense of entitlement is exceeded only by your ability to whine about it.

While you’re showing poor Portius the door, you may tell him from us that he is always welcome chez Awesome Advice, should he wish to join us for an afternoon (or evening) of knitting, coffee, and kibbitzing. Trust us, he’ll have more fun in an evening with us than in a lifetime with you, you pathetic creature.

Awesome Advice Central


Awesome Advice Central gets a little squirrely

Dear Awesome Advice Central,

I seriously love my girl, honest I do.  But I get a little tired of always having to prove it to her.

She wants me to skydive to show my love.  I don’t get why, but I do it anyway.  On the way to the plane, she hands me a flag with “Waynie loves Boopsie” on it—apparently I’m supposed to wave it around when I leap from the plane.  She’s arranged a photog to take pix of the big moment.

Unfortunately for her, and me too, I guess, the flag whips into my face, so all she gets “to show her my love” is a man tumbling to earth with what appears to be a bedroom sheet attached to his face.

So then she says she wants me to prove my love by “protecting her.”  I figure this mean, ack-hem, “protection” in the bedroom, if you know what I’m saying to ya, nudge nudge.

I was wrong. 

We went out for dinner one night, and Boopsie started looking over my shoulder at a group of men behind us.  Suddenly, in the time it takes to get from 0 to 90, she’s standing up and flinging her glass of wine at some stranger, shrieking “Waynie, oh Waynie, this man is accosting me! Do something, protect my honour!” And then she’s looking at me with raised eyebrows and a knowing glint.

“This man” turned out to be a professional wrestler—name of “The Skull Cracker”—ever heard of him?  Man, did he ever live up to his name.  I ended up in hospital with stitches, a neck brace, and free tickets to his next match.

So when, this week, Boopsie told me she wanted to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet in our home, I decided I’d had enough.

alt="IMAGE-squirrelly-after-the-kids-leave"I picked up a sack and went to the park.  Collected about, oh, 100 squirrels.  Brought them home.

And then I waited.   Till dark.

We had a romantic evening, full of wine, veggie enchiladas, and TV.  We went to sleep around 10.  Or should I say, she went to sleep.  I lay there, tapping the tips of my fingers together, muttering “Mwa-hahaha” under my breath and imagining her reaction in the morning.

What I didn’t count on was her lack of humour.  For some reason, she didn’t appreciate, upon waking, going to the bathroom and having a squirrel-nami surging toward her as she opened the door.

She screamed a bit at that one. 

When she looked under the bed, trying to find her shoes, she didn’t find it as hysterical as I did to find 25 pair of beady rodent eyes looking back at her.

And she really didn’t like it when she opened the fridge and a further 32 squirrels leapt out, some of them landing in her shirt and her hair, and tap-dancing on her feet before heading off to meet their squirrely friends in the bath.

She screamed at me in quite an aggressive tone, “What the #%$^@#$ of #$$&*#& do you#^$&#^ think you’re $^%&$## playing at, you #$!”

Trying not to be offended by her foul language and tone of voice, I said, “You wanted to hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet, remember?”

Well, she left.

And now when I try to call her to have a good laugh about my great joke, her phone goes straight to voice mail.

How can I get her to understand that if she can’t take a joke, well, then I don’t think we’re meant for each other?  Women!  Honestly.

Wayne N. Shuster


Oh, Wayne, dear Wayne…

From time to time we come up against an advice-seeker so deprived in the brain department that we cannot help but wonder whether he (or she, not to be sexist) was dropped on his or her head as an infant. We question not only their intellectual prowess, but their judgment, their emotional development, and their taste in shoes. Because really, shoes do say so much about one, don’t they?

Fortunately, you do not fall into this category.

You fall into a category all your own: we have dubbed this new and hitherto unknown category “Nuttier than squirrel poo.”

Which is rather ironic, given your choice of weapon against your over-demanding girlfriend, n’est-ce pas?

All right, where to begin?

First, where did you find this woman? Did you look online under “desperate girlfriends”?

Because dude, seriously. That chick is trouble with a capital T.

Think about it: if she’s constantly demanding that you prove your love to her, and you’re constantly making a hash of it, do you honestly think she’ll stop, until you’ve performed to her satisfaction?

Next thing you know, she’ll have you battling a dozen Siberian tigers, armed only with a toothpick and a smile, and then where will you be? Dead, that’s where.

So pack up your little squirrely friends, thank the deity of your choice for having saved you from the attentions of those tigers, and move on.

And next time, try to be a little more discerning in your choice of lady-loves, would you?

Awesome Advice Central




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