It’s Tuesday, time for the anonymous mailbag.
As always you can send your mailbag questions, anonymity always guaranteed, to email@example.com.
Okay, here we go:
“I accidentally bought a black inflatable Santa.
So I’m a white husband and father of two young boys here just outside of Memphis. I live in a mostly white neighborhood. A little diversity but not much. And as most white people feel obligated to say, I’m most definitely not racist.
Having said all of this, I went to a local store to buy an inflatable Santa. My 4 year old loves Christmas inflatables and we don’t have a Santa one. I see a Santa inflatable on the shelf for a good price and made the purchase. We get home, I plug him up and the inflation begins. My son is stoked to have a Santa to go with the Grinch and snowman inflatables that we already had. Everything is going smoothly when the head pops up. “Hmm” I thought. He seemed a little bit darker than what I imagined. For a few minutes I just stood there looking at him, trying to figure out if I bought the Santa that I intended on buying. I looked down the street and saw another inflatable Santa that was the same height, the same pose and everything. Except that this one was so much whiter than the one I had.
I went inside and spoke with my wife about the situation I found myself in. I asked her what I should I do. It’s just not the one I wanted. Do I leave him up? Do I take him back and exchange him? If I exchange him, what do I say is my reason for the return? Do I say it’s just not what was expecting and that I want to exchange it for the white model? One thing my wife and I agreed on is that if it’s returned, she would take it. She’s Southeast Asian so we decided it would look less racist than if I took him back.
In the meantime, African American Santa, as I noticed too late was clearly on the box, is back in that box and in limbo. Yes, I’m the asshole that inflated, let stand in the yard for a half hour, and subsequently deflated a black Santa. I’m just hoping no one saw all of this transpire, but we do have nosy neighbors. My son asked me where Santa was and I told him that he had a small hole in him and we may need to take him back.
BTW, I can’t help but think I was in the middle of a classic Curb Your Enthusiasm episode. What would Larry do? I think at some point he begs Leon to take him back, who refuses leading to a hilarious argument. And then the taking back of Santa with his explanation of why. I’ve mapped out the whole episode.
What would you, Clay do if you found yourself in this situation?”
This is absolutely hysterical.
When we lived in the Virgin Islands our local K-Mart only had black Santa’s for sale at Christmas. We were the minority there — the Virgin Islands are like 10-15 percent white, so if you were white it was like being a black person in most of America.
But that was the first time I’d ever been in a major commercial establishment and seen only black Santa’s for sale. I mean, I knew they existed, but I’d never seen only black Santa’s before.
We also lived in a majority black neighborhood in downtown Nashville for seven years soon after we got married and I remember shopping for a part of my Halloween costume at our local dollar store — I needed a toy baby for my late minute Alan in Hangover 1 costume — but they only had black babies in the store.
I remember leaning over in the dollar store aisle combing through all the toy black babies looking for a white one — there wasn’t one — and then I remember thinking about what an incredibly awkward situation it would have been if I’d asked the clerks to check the back of the store to see if they had a white toy baby.
So instead of asking the clerk to check for me, I drove a few miles to the white neighborhood and, presto, same store, same aisles, only they had almost all white babies. (There’s an incredible long form story here on how stores allocate products based on the racial make-up of a store’s shoppers. It’s all algorithmic, right, they’re just trying to maximize their store sales and profit, but it would probably get whoever wrote the story fired and the companies would end up getting protested for what their algorithms showed. Because inevitably they’d be called racist.)
But back to your situation.
I should mention that our anonymous reader attached photos of his inflatable black Santa and his neighbor’s inflatable white Santa. The black Santa has a grey beard instead of a white beard and a darker skin tone — but the black Santa honestly looks more like a mixed race Santa than a dark-skinned black Santa.
I love the idea of having your Asian wife return the Santa to throw off the racism police, but I actually think it’s funnier if you become the white guy in the neighborhood with the black Santa inflatable. Primarily because I doubt anyone ever brings it up with you because they’re afraid of being called racist for noticing.
So I probably would just leave it up because the entire thing is pretty funny.
You can use it as an opportunity to tell your son that Santa’s virtues aren’t associated with any one race.
You also have huge evidence of how you aren’t racist at all. Could the guy who bought a black Santa be racist? (Part of me thinks Trump should put a black Santa on the White House balcony and make this argument). In fact, you can even pretend you don’t see color if someone mentions it. “Is he black? Oh, really? Didn’t even notice. Not a big race guy.”
But if you decide to take it down and be a huge racist and go get your own white Santa you horrible KKK member, I’d 100% just go buy the white Santa and never try to return the black Santa. What does an inflatable Santa cost? Like $50 on Amazon? That’s money well spent to avoid the time and money of this awkward exchange.
(By the way, does a black dad who buys a white Santa have any of this awkwardness at all? Of course not. He can just go straight to the return desk with his white Santa and say, “Sorry, meant to buy the black Santa and got the white one instead,” and no one even blinks. No one even thinks to call him racist.)
But if money is tight in your house and you absolutely, positively have to return your black Santa for a white Santa then you — and by you, of course, I mean your Asian wife — just take it back and say there was a hole in it. (If you want to be truly devious, you can make the hole yourself, although do this in the cover of darkness in your home because I’m pretty sure it’s a hate crime to cut a black Santa inflatable).
Then you go get the white Santa and make your exchange.
Voila, Merry Christmas, cracker.
But, again, as funny as it is to think about, I’d go buy the white Santa rather than try to exchange the black Santa.
“I need your help with a relationship dilemma: I’m a wife to an amazing husband (we are both late twenties, no kids yet). We’ve been married for several years and we truly have a great marriage and sex life. But here’s where the dilemma begins: I’m overwhelmingly physically attracted to my husband’s best friend. (It’s important to note that I’m still attracted to my husband as well).
A little background: I met my husband and his best friend at the same time. We were all interning at the same company several years ago and I quickly noticed both of them because of how attractive they were. I learned his best friend was engaged (to his now wife – also no kids yet) so I focused my attention on my husband (and it obviously worked). But I’ve always still had a physical crush on his best friend and it’s started to escalate the last few months.
For years, when I would see him, I would try not to interact with him more than I needed to because of my attraction. But lately we’ve been hanging out on double dates a lot more and it’s becoming more difficult to avoid. To make matters worse, I know he feels similarly (or he is at least a typical guy that still wants to have sex with anyone willing to have it with them) because there have been a few instances where his feelings are obvious. At first, it was as simple as a little foot rub under the table at dinner but it has slowly escalated (touching here & there when we are briefly alone plus a couple of emails to see “how my week is going”). It’s become obvious that we both want each other but I’m fearful because I truly love my husband.
I really do think a night away with him to get it out of my system would do the trick and I would be able to get over it. And what man isn’t down for an exclusive “no strings attached” night of sex? So my questions are 1) Do you think we can have an incredible night without wanting more? 2) Should I just fess up to my husband about my feelings and see what happens? 3) Do all spouses secretly want to get in bed with their significant other’s friends?”
Question two, boiled down, is this: how do you think my husband will respond if I tell him I want to sleep with his best friend?
And the answer is: NOT WELL!
I see three options for you here.
First, you can simply ignore the interest and end the flirtations. This is, not surprisingly, the best possible option in terms of preserving your existing lifestyle and your relationship with your husband.
Second, you can have a secret affair. The problem here is most “secret affairs” don’t stay secret forever. Odds are one of you will end up too attached and the split will become public or messy. The odds of the two of you having sex one time, totally sating all interest together, and never having sex again seems very low. So I don’t think you’re going to “get it out of your system.”
If anything, this will make things way more complicated between the two of you.
Third, you can attempt to spin your attraction to your husband’s best friend into a wife-swapping orgy where the other two members of the couple are involved as well. This way you have a “marital-sanctioned affair.”
You know far better than I do what the chances are of either your husband or this guy’s wife being interested in a partner swap, orgy type situation, but that’s at least a way to not hide your attraction.
If you want to try to make option three happen, I’d suggest broaching it with your husband as a fantasy that turns you on. You may have to lie to him, by the way, and tell him that you find the idea of him sleeping with her to be super hot as well. You may even have to lie further and say you are attracted to her as well. In other words, you can’t make it appear that the driving force of your fantasy is your desire to bang his best friend.
It’s possible that works, but it also raises complications because then instead of being a normal, regular married couple, you’re the orgy couple. That brings its own challenges. (Do orgy couples stay married for sixty years? I have my doubts. I feel like orgy couples almost always end up divorced. But I’d love to see the stats on this).
But if you love your husband and want to preserve your present life situation the best option, by far, is to end the flirtations and move on. The second best option is the potential spouse swap orgy. The third best option is the affair.
“I’m an academic dean for a state college who has more than 20 years experience. I’m not necessarily approaching retirement; however, I’m to the point that I’m starting to think about it. I say this because I find myself in a situation in the workplace that is unique to me, and to a point it won’t hurt to reach out for advice.
Let me set the stage: I’m a registered Republican, although I’m Libertarian in my views (I voted for Kasich in the primaries, but voted for Trump in the General Election). With that said, I have always found myself as a minority when it comes to my political views among my peers, particularly executive administration. This has been especially the case when it comes to my boss.
He has always been an outspoken critic of Trump and has openly voiced this in both meetings with my fellow deans and with one-on-one meetings with me. Simply put, he HATES Trump. Despite that, I have always kept silent. Unfortunately, I’m starting to think that my silence is starting to work against me. I say this because the chatter has recently been taken up a notch with all this impeachment nonsense. Now it’s a constant bashing of Trump, and my colleagues are joining in; it’s uncomfortable as my boss bashes the President, and I sit there with my head down with my mouth shout. So much so, I know that by me keeping silent, he is catching on that I don’t agree with his viewpoints. It’s so frequent that I want to debate him.
To be clear, I had my doubts about Trump when I voted for him: however, I strongly feel from an economic standpoint, he is the best President since Reagan. On the flipside, from a state college standpoint, enrollment is down, as is funding; this is what happens when the economy is good . . . less enroll in college and choose to go to work, as does our funding. We constantly have to do more with less. I guess my question is: Do I keep my mouth shut and don’t say anything about my political viewpoints? Or do I at least speak out and tell him that I’m uncomfortable about him speaking about politics in the workplace? I feel a little like a pussy if I don’t fight back; however, I don’t want to jeopardize my career. If there are cutbacks, I risk that he can turn to me first.”
First, do deans not get tenure? After twenty years I’d think you should be pretty safe here. But maybe you don’t get tenure given your job status.
Which is why if you want to protect yourself and make your opinions clear, the safest thing you can do, honestly, is write an email to your boss laying out your position the next time you have a meeting where Trump is discussed. Then you have written evidence, with a date and time stamp, of your support for Trump, in an inoffensive manner, in the event your boss decides to fire you over your politics.
That would be a huge story: “Dean fired over support for Trump,” and you’d have a very strong legal case for damages, and/or, the protection of your job status in the event this happened.
Especially, again, if you made that email very reasonable in nature.
I doubt your boss would ever promote you, but at least you’d be somewhat protected.
The key is that once you send that email you’ve protected yourself from being fired. And you may well have protected yourself from being fired for any reason because you could allege it was retaliation for your political beliefs even if it wasn’t.
You also have the option of saying something in the public meeting the next time the anti-Trump talk heats up.
I’d suggest something like, “I know it’s very common in the halls of academia to bash Donald Trump, but I voted for the president because I support his economic policies, which I believe have, on balance, been very good for the country. I don’t agree with everything he’s done — I’ve never agreed with everything any president has done — but I think it’s worth noting that a substantial number of our students — and their parents who pay our tuition dollars — as well as a large percentage of the residents in this state, voted for Trump too. This is a 50-50 country and as state employees I’m not sure we need to let our politics distract us from the fact that our job is to serve all our students, regardless of their politics.”
That’s a strong — and fairly non-partisan — statement that makes your position clear and straightforward for everyone.
Now it’s a bit riskier of a move because it’s in public — and you may not have witnesses who support you in the event you get fired down the road, which is why I’d also suggest sending the email — but I suspect there are many people in that room who may feel the same way you do and not have the courage to voice their opinions.
I think there is a huge percentage of Donald Trump voters who are silent supporters of the president.
No one gets fired for being a rabid Democratic supporter in public, but I think Trump supporters are much more likely to remain silent in public and quietly support the president than they are to publicly brandish their support. That’s because they fear consequences for their politics, which is, honestly, one of the big reasons the president won.
Good luck with your choice.
As always send your anonymous mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org