I'm the girl to whom everyone comes for advice. Friends, relatives, colleagues, strangers... Everybody wants my opinion: "Does this need more garlic?" "Do I need weatherproof paint?" "Should I leave my husband?" "Does this mole look like cancer?"
I don't know why they do this. Maybe I have an honest face, or my glasses create the impression that I'm learned and wise - what my father calls an "optical illusion."
Lately I've been corresponding with a guy in another state who reads my blog. At first he said he'd gotten in touch with me because he'd seen a few of my posts about shyness and my chronic verbal paralysis and/or spastic flailing around some persons of the male persuasion. He told me, "I read those essays about the lunch place guy and I thought, Great! Another 30-year-old just like me who also has no idea how to talk to members of the opposite sex." (You know, I didn't think much about that remark at the time, but now I have to say it isn't exactly true. I know how to talk to them, I just avoid it sometimes because it makes me very uncomfortable. And it's not specific to men, it's all humans, plus some of the larger-breed dogs.)
The funny thing is that within a few days this guy shifted from relating to me as a socially dysfunctional kindred spirit to mining this wisdom he's projected onto me for advice on his love life -- specifically a budding relationship with a woman in his town. I was amused and flattered by his confidence in me, and began to dispense tips that seemed to make sense. Nothing too profound, just "You don't have to wait four days to call," or "Take her to dinner next time, it's enough with the sports already." At first I held my breath waiting for his social life to implode, but so far it seems to be going pretty well.
Of course, this guy seeks fairly basic guidance. But what of the others? When solicited for counsel I always have something to say, but what if I say the wrong thing? I don't know from painting a shed. Who am I to say if your marriage is doomed? Do I look like a dermatologist to you?
I want to be able to help these people. All of them, from the hypochondriac in my aerobics class to the drag queen at my bus stop who asks how I make my lashes look so feathery and long. So I'm thinking maybe I should start my own advice column to get some practice, hone my skills. Kind of a Dear-Abby-meets-Carolyn-Hax type deal. Come tell mama your problems; she'll make you feel better, even if the advice she pulls out of her ass ultimately ruins your life.
It'll take some time to iron out the details. For now I'm working on the look and feel. I'll need a headshot that portrays me as accessible but strong, maybe in the middle of a hearty laugh, or gazing off with my chin in my palm. And I'm playing with a few titles that'll capture the essence of the column -- let me know what you think: "Write On," sort of an affirmative high-five approach; "Always Something," which feels warm and commiserative; or -- actually I think this one really speaks to those who'd trust me with their major life decisions -- "Hey, It's Your Funeral."