Once a month, I write this column, in which readers can write in with whatever questions they want, and I try to answer them to the best of my ability while also being as noncommittal to my answers as possible, in case of lawsuits.
This week, I’m asking the questions for a change.
Why don’t more people send in questions?
As you know, I’ve been writing this column for almost 3 years now, dispensing free advice. Sure, the advice isn’t any good, but it’s free. According to my editor, my article comes out on the second Friday of every month, which is weird, because The Jewish Press comes out on Wednesdays.
And yes, people occasionally do write in with questions, or they hit me up on Facebook, or they call me during dinnertime. And no offense to them, but it’s always the same people. I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of people reading this column who aren’t writing in. I know you’re out there. I can hear you breathing.
I don’t understand. People write in to, say, Dr. Yael, all the time:
“Dear Dr. Yael,
Are you on my insurance?”
Well, I’m on your insurance. It’s not great insurance, but it covers me.
Okay, so the difference is that I’m not an expert. I kind of just make up the answers. In fact, sometimes, if we really need to make a deadline, I make up the questions.
Yes, I’m not a professional. I’m more like a friend who won’t get offended if you don’t take his advice. In fact, asking me is better than asking a friend, because I’m not going to follow up next time I see you. I don’t care if you’ve followed my advice. I’ve already forgotten that I gave you advice.
Your friends, meanwhile, are always going to follow up, especially if you don’t want them to:
“Hey, whatever happened with that job interview that you were talking about nonstop for several weeks and then suddenly just stopped mentioning?”
Also, a lot of people think that since this is a humor column, you’re not supposed to write in. I’m supposed to make up the questions.
Thanks. I have to do everything around here? Why would I write questions and then also answer them, in a public forum? How messed up am I that I’m just talking to myself here, once a month, on a specific publication schedule with deadlines?
Is it that you’re afraid I’ll make fun of your question? I don’t use your name anyway. I make up names, like “Confused from Flatbush.” Do you think your friends will say, “Hey, I know Confused from Flatbush! He davens in my shul! Backwards! He sits right in front of me.”
It doesn’t really matter what the questions are. It could be something you were already discussing with your friends, and you just want a second opinion, but in a funny voice. You’re basically asking me to make jokes on a specific topic. People do that all the time. People come up to me on the street, and after we both establish that I’m actually Mordechai Schmutter, there’s a tremendous awkward silence, in which they’re waiting for me to be spontaneously funny, and I’m waiting for them to give me something to be spontaneously funny about.
Sure, sometimes they say, “I have a topic for you.” And then they say a common noun:
“Chairs. Chairs are funny, right?”
Maybe. Maybe the chairs you’re thinking of. But it’s a pretty broad word, and the chairs I’m thinking of at the moment aren’t that funny. They’re just sad. But if you narrow it down in the form of a question, like “I just collapsed a chair on the dais at my own wedding, what should I do?” then that’s a topic I could start thinking of jokes about, usually sometime after you walk away. Hence this column.