It’s not even October yet, but the poor souls who wrote in to newspaper and magazine advice columns this week are already in the Halloween spirit — haunted by the dead, the undead, the monstrous, and the merely creepy. In this week’s installment of Other People’s Problems, we rank and collect them for your voyeuristic pleasure.
The Utterly Predictable Haunting, Dear Prudie
Who knew the skulls of enemy soldiers had such bad juju?
My father-in-law brought back two unusual souvenirs from his WWII days: two Japanese skulls. After he passed away we ended up with them. I refused to have them in my house, so my husband and I gave one to a friend, and the other to our brother-in-law. We feel guilty about this and would like to send these "guys" home for a proper burial. Also, since coming into possession of the skulls, both of these people and their families have suffered bad luck and ill health. I feel they are being stalked by vengeful spirits!
Worst Parting Gift, Carolyn Hax
How long should you drive your dead fiancé’s car?
My fiance died suddenly about six months ago ... In the past few months I have been trying to move on as best I can ... Like a lot of young people, my fiance did not have a will. My fiance’s parents and I essentially split his belongings, but they gave me his car (which was much nicer than my heap). Every single time I get in it, I think of him. My therapist gently suggested that I get rid of it. But I don’t want to look like I am throwing their generosity back in their faces.
The Tell-Tale Dent, Dear Abby
Her wedding ring left a scar.
After 29 years of marriage, I am leaving. I took off my wedding ring about three weeks ago, and the indentation it left is like a permanent scar — a painful reminder of a failed marriage ... I have considered buying myself a large precious gemstone in celebration of my freedom, but I would like to know if there are any alternatives. I'm not opposed to plastic surgery if it is necessary.
Biggest Workplace Liability, Dear Abby
Groping is his "thing."
I have been married for 35 years. We have one daughter. My husband has this "thing" about grabbing other women's behinds. He hugs them and then goes in for a grab. It bothers me so much. Men have told me they don't want him touching their wives this way. Others have said it's disrespectful to me.
Most Monstrous Teen Bullies, Social Q’s
They sharpen their claws on social media.
I am in my early 30s, and was on a flight home after a brutal workweek abroad. I fell asleep quickly but was awakened by two teenage girls, who were laughing and pointing at me, as well as taking my picture and uploading it onto social media. I asked them to stop, but they didn’t. So I reported them to the flight attendant, who kindly changed my seat. But the mocking began all over again when I saw them at customs, where they had gathered with several more teenagers and a teacher chaperon.
The Suspiciously Co-Dependent Twins, Dear Margo
Does what happens in utero stay in utero?
I have a younger brother and sister who are twins, and I’m concerned about them. Several years ago, he had cancer and moved in with her while he was in treatment. He recovered and is doing great, but here’s the problem. He never moved out, and the two of them bought a house together, take trips together and go out together. It’s really creepy. I’ve been in their home, and they have separate bedrooms, but I think that’s just a ruse. Neither of them dates anymore, but with all of the available people out there, couldn’t they find someone? I’m worried they will be discovered, and it will hurt them and our whole family.
Best Use of Witchcraft, Cary Tennis
His elderly neighbor put a taking-out-the-trash spell on him.
I have a serious problem. My neighbor, who is this super old lady, asks me to take her garbage out every time I pass her front door to get into my apartment. She doesn’t say “Please” or “Thank you” and she just expects me to take her garbage out every time. I’m a nice guy and don’t like to be rude to old people. But now I’m getting anxiety attacks every time I have to go back to my apartment.
Worst Use of Empathy, Dear Prudie
She feels the pain of the world, even for creatures that might not technically feel pain.
She's a really sensitive person and so she doesn't ever want to hurt any living thing, for any reason. She's a vegan (so am I, so that's not a problem), she belongs to a couple of animal rights organizations (which I think is great), and she won't harm even an insect. (I don't like trapping cockroaches and setting them free outside the apartment, but it makes her happy.) This weekend, it rained overnight, and as a result the streets were covered with worms in the morning. She wanted to go out and save as many as she could before the sun warmed up the road and baked them to death. She also insisted that I go with her, and when I said I'd rather sleep in, she got tears in her eyes and told me she couldn't believe I would just sleep in knowing that hundreds of living creatures suffered a horrible death.
Biggest Traitor, Dear Abby
She let her old friend become the church zombie.
A longtime friend of mine, "Blanche," was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years ago. She let me know that once she reached a certain point in the disease she did not want to be paraded around for others to gawk at. That time came about a year ago, but I still pick her up every Sunday and take her to church. It's the only time she gets to leave the nursing home, and she loves it. The people at church give her hugs and go out of their way to treat her well and she feels it.
Worst Unsolicited Sperm Donation, Miss Manners
The progressive way to be a creepy uncle.
I am a single gay man in my early 60s. Three years ago, my niece came out to the family as a lesbian. One year later, she married her girlfriend … At the time of the girls’ marriage, I discreetly asked if they planned on having children, in which case I would like to be the sperm donor. They didn’t say much in reply. A year later, at the annual family Christmas party, they made the announcement that my niece’s wife was expecting twins this July. Everyone but me was thrilled by the news. I was hurt that they had never at least talked to me regarding my offer. Although we three are all gay, we are seldom in touch. I have never been invited to their home, for instance.
Most Fatal Attraction, Dear Prudence
Her husband endangered her by taking a violent mistress.
My husband had an affair with a crazy woman. When he left her she began harassing me with mean emails, phone calls, etc. Eventually this escalated into vandalism. She keyed my car and broke some of my garden statues. Once I caught her in the act, and in her attempt to get away she hit me in the face and the back of my head with a large rock. Thankfully, I wasn’t badly hurt.