Everyone I know asks me for advice. It’s not because I’m an expert at anything. In fact, I know very little on almost any subject. However, I have a certain authoritative air that makes people think I know a lot about everything. I have discovered that if you act like you know what you’re talking about, most people will follow you blindly.
I field phone calls, e-mails, and personal visits daily from friends asking me for advice on matters large and small: gardening tips, how to install drywall, insect identification, and career advice. At least once a week, I’m called upon to identify a rash.
Recently, I’ve branched out to prescribing medication. Just yesterday, I put a friend on the steroid Predisone after I diagnosed her with lupus. My friend’s doctor initially threatened to turn me into the authorities, but then reluctantly concurred with my diagnosis.
I absolutely love giving advice, because it makes me feel like God. I become annoyed if a person seems reluctant to accept my advice without question or pause.
When this happens, I tap my fingers on a hard surface to demonstrate my impatience, and say, “You can do as you please. But I must warn you. Nature abhors a vacuum.” The beauty of this phrase is that no one really understands what it means, and yet it seems sage advice for everything from a plumbing problem to a broken heart.
About a week ago, a friend called me over for emergency counseling. Her neighbor—whom we’ll refer to as Not Quite Straight (NQS)—had entered into her first lesbian affair with a married woman. It ended as badly as you’d imagine it would. The married lady returned to her husband. NQS was devastated and needed advice.
“You’re the only one who can help,” my friend pleaded in an urgent phone call. I sighed wearily in agreement, and slipped into my sneakers.
When I arrived at my friend’s home, NQS was sobbing loudly into a ginormous glass of vodka. Apparently, the married woman had arrived that day—with her husband in tow!—to collect some belongings from NQS’s home.
To further torture herself, NQS logged onto the married lady’s blog to find out if she equally was traumatized by the breakup. The woman had written a long entry that detailed her dog’s dietary habits and some convoluted gossip from her knitting circle. However, no mention in the blog about the breakup with NQS.
I sighed. Sighing is a dying art form. If you want people to take you seriously, you’d better learn how to weight your sighs with gravitas and a certain vague wistfulness that can be interpreted as empathy, regret, or disappointment, depending on your feelings toward the sigh-target.
“I advised you months ago not to get involved with a blogger,” I said. Bloggers, in my estimation, are as useless and inane as one of those edible fruit bouquets.
NQS looked up at me with drunken, desperate eyes. I knew what she wanted me to tell her. She wanted me to say that the married lady would come back to her—that she couldn’t detail her feelings in the blog, because they were too painful for public consumption.
But, I couldn’t. While I know nothing about most things, I know a lot about loving the wrong type of woman. So, I gave her the best advice I could think of. I took her hand in mine, and stared soulfully into her eyes.
“Nature abhors a vacuum,” I said. And I got the hell out of there before she could ask me what I meant by that.