The Gabber’s semi-regular advice column, Dear Gabby, is here by reader demand. Have a question or a conundrum for Gabby? There’s no problem too small for your resident advisor. Send your questions – they can be anonymous – to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family is a mix of liberal and conservative people, and we’ve all mostly gotten along through the years. This year, though, some of my family members have gotten into heated, hurtful arguments with me, and I no longer feel as close to them. How can I keep my family from fighting about politics, and what do I do if I can’t?
This question made me think of two things. One is something my grandfather used to say, “Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone’s got one.” While that’s true, you don’t have to be a butthole when you share your opinion, and that, unfortunately is what we’re seeing a lot of these days – from computer screens to dinner tables. The other thing I thought of was a meme I saw on Instagram. It said something like, “When I said we could agree to disagree, I meant pizza toppings not human rights.” I chuckled, but it’s true. If you find yourself getting into heated arguments with people whose views discount or dispute your (or anyone else’s) humanity, then those people, even if they are family, have some soul-searching to do – and they just might have to do it while you take a break from their lives.
I’m single and recently graduated college. I’d like to start dating again, and have even tried some dating apps, but the timing is terrible. I’m concerned about meeting new people during the pandemic, but I also would like to keep dating. Do you have any suggestions?
Unfortunately, the pandemic is going to be here for a while, and the best way to keep safe is to social distance and wear a mask in public. It is indeed difficult to date with these precautions – you can’t even see a person’s whole face! – but difficult is not impossible. We’ve been edging our way closer and closer to a virtual dating norm anyway with apps like eHarmony, Match, and Hinge (which has hilarious ads!), so don’t give up on making a love connection virtually. Even if apps aren’t your thing, you can get creative and plan video-call dates using your phone or computer. Spend some synchronous time online with cameras on (it’s 2020, if they won’t agree to cameras, sound the catfish alert!) and get to know people that way. When it’s time to upgrade the date to an in-person meeting, you can still get together safely, opting for outdoor dates and other safe options for love in the time of COVID-19.
When I was in high school, I started collecting frog stuff – figurines, stuffed animals, even clothes with frogs on them. The problem is, I haven’t been into frogs for a while now, but people keep giving them to me! I don’t want to be ungrateful, but how do I get people to stop giving me frog stuff without hurting their feelings?
The same thing happened to me with giraffes! I love giraffes. They’re still one of my top three favorite animals, but I don’t need another figurine, coffee mug or journal featuring the tall, graceful, intuitive animal. Well, I might take another journal. The point is, I had to tell my family I’d had my giraffe fill. I did it in conversation, well before the next gift-giving event. For example, while talking with friends and family you can mention that you have other interests, or you can just be more vocal about what you DO want. Feel empowered to say, “You know, I think I’m moving on from frogs and would really like <insert thing you’d like>.” Also, consider that people may have been giving you frogs because for so long it’s been a no-brainer gift idea. Maybe they would actually love to get you something different, but aren’t sure what… let them in on how your tastes have changed. They may surprise you and be excited to gift you something other than frogs, too!
A Milwaukee native, Sheree L. Greer is a local text-based artist, educator and taco lover. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be” and “A Return to Arms.”