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I am an advice columnist. When I began to experience some personal issues, I thought I should offer myself helpful strategies to conquer those issues, and that these strategies might, in turn, help others. Here’s what I shared with myself, and how I thought I could help.


Dear Gina: Since I entered my thirties, I have developed a habit of breaking up with nice men for miniscule reasons. I dumped a boyfriend because I didn’t like the way he said ‘hello’ when he answered the phone. He answered it ‘Hellewww,’ and this irritated me. Another gentleman got the boot because I thought he didn’t move his arms enough when he jogged. Not long ago, I rejected a third guy for talking before fully swallowing a sip of Coke. He kept a little pool of the liquid in his mouth while asking me a question, and I wanted to slap him and say, "Swallow first, moron." Clearly, something is wrong. 

Yours, One Persnickety Chick

Dear Persnickety: I think you should work on increasing your tolerance with a series of exercises. What you need to do is to find a man who is engaging in a form of behavior you find repulsive: blowing his nose into a hanky, for example, and then vigorously sticking his fingers into both nostrils for good measure while you’re trying to eat a muffin (remember that guy? On the breakfast date?). Observe him doing the activity for several moments without looking away. If you’re able to do this for five minutes, re-enforce your achievement by way of some kind of material reward—an ice cream cone, say, or a new pair of jeans. You will then begin to associate the repulsive behavior of the man with a positive experience. Let me know how it goes!

Dear Gina. Per your advice, I went to a sports bar in my neighborhood, a place that has a four-leaf clover decoration on the door even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. After a few glasses of vinegary Merlot, I moved closer to a guy who was watching the game. I made myself observe him, as you said, forcing myself not to avert my gaze while he sucked down his Coors, pumped his fist, shouted, and rearranged himself. He had a particularly disgusting way of shifting on his stool, like he was using the stool to scratch an itch. After a fourth glass of wine, I began to masturbate, watching the guy the whole time. Within minutes I was asked to leave the bar, but now, when a man does something gross, annoying, or stupid, I recall the feeling of approaching orgasm. Success! However, a new problem has come up: I am now troubled by a continual need to touch myself. The urge seems especially powerful when I’m driving my car. This compulsion, to my horror, has begun to interfere with my steering ability; the other day, I nearly ran down a pedestrian. My life has spiraled out of control. 

Yours, Autoerotic

Dear Autoerotic: In these situations, it’s best to turn to a behavioral therapist. Through the assistance of a car-parts fabricator, your therapist, who I know to be a resourceful man, should install the front seat of a 1991 Toyota Corolla in his office, where you may then sit with one hand on the wheel and the other in your pants, while you discuss your feelings. In particular, you might ask yourself why driving, an activity which requires complete control, engenders a desire to orgasm, an experience that results in a complete loss of control. Perhaps you have a death wish, or simply want someone else to do the driving. Keep me posted on your progress.

Dear Gina: You are very perceptive. Although I did resolve the imminent danger of my situation—I no longer drive—I did not stop masturbating. In fact, I now do it under most circumstances. For instance, I can only give advice while rubbing against the leg of my desk. Eating is difficult if I need to cut my food with a fork and knife, since one hand is usually between my legs. My friends prefer not to sit next to me at the movies. But I’d rather be convulsed in a rictus of pleasure than thinking about my failed dreams, for instance, or the fact that I will die, probably alone and in agony. Am I on the wrong track?

Yours, Wet and Suicidal

Dear Wet: Nonsense. We all have our demons. An orgasm isn’t called le petit mort for no reason. If you feel suicidal after climax—it sounds like you do—remember, you can always come again. As long as you’re alive, you exist on the orgasm continuum. Realize this. A lover rejects you? Slip into the bathroom and get your rocks off. Fired from your job? Grab your crotch and gyrate. Your best friend steels your idea and makes money off it while you drift in obscure poverty? Diddle yourself. In this way, all of life’s negative experience becomes hot. You will walk around with an inner glow; people will sense a mysterious strength in you; they’ll find you untouchable, yet irresistible; they’ll want to buy you gifts; sire your children; elect you to public office. Have fun!

Dear Gina: Wow—you really helped me. Just last week, at a book party, a handsome young buck who is also an editor of best selling novels approached me and asked, "Hey, what makes you tick?" With a knowing smile, I wiggled my fingers and said, "Talk to the hand." He thought this was hilarious, and insisted on coming home with me so he could look at my manuscript. Now he wants to publish my book, and, most unusually, he wants to go down on me basically all the time, including while I’m writing. The only problem is, as you know, I can’t work without masturbating, and so his tongue and my hand are constantly jostling for space. I feel cramped. 

Yours, Too Much of a Good Thing?

Good Thing: You are too much. I’ve never heard such a load of narcissistic whining in my ten years as an advice columnist. I’m really not in the business of dealing with this degree of psycho-sexual dysfunction, but my advice to you at this point is, get a grip. Prioritize. There’s more to life than cunnilingus and publishing. How about cleaning up the environment? Eliminating animal abuse? Teaching children to read? Ever think about helping someone else for a change? Iraqis, Palestinians, Haitians, Mexicans, all of freaking Africa should have your problems. Talk about cramped—try breathing in a sealed refrigeration tank in the back of a truck with fifty people in 103-degree heat for eleven hours. Try being doubled over with abdominal pain from drinking feces-contaminated river water, or paralyzed from the neck down by a fly bite. Try being blown into bloody body parts by a land mine or a car bomb. Try finding some perspective, Ms. Thing. Then get back to me.

[Forever after at

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