MARCH/APRIL 2008

Sedaratives

A monthly advice column

This month: guest columnist Larry Doyle

Dear Sedaratives,

I have trouble making a good impression on new people. I cannot engage in an intelligent conversation for more than five minutes before I am suddenly, unnaturally aware that I am communicating and am doing it badly. How can I be more likable?

Sue
Stroudsburg, Pa.

Dear Sue,

Why do you want to be liked, Sue? You know who was liked? Adolf Hitler. One of Jessica Mitford’s sisters even called him “sweet.” And yet.

But if you still want to be liked, Sue, I would recommend that when meeting a new person, try to maintain eye contact. And never, ever say anything stupid. Good luck!

Larry

*

Dear Sedaratives,

This year I will be turning twenty-seven, which as we all know is the ripest age for suicide. Several of my friends have gone before me—to the age of twenty-seven, not suicide—and my time is fast approaching. I can’t help but feel despair. Do you have any advice on how to cope with the post-twenty-seven, suicide-free, life-after-death lifestyle?

Wendi
Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Wendi,

There’s no way to make it past twenty-seven without committing suicide and not feel somewhat a failure. After that magical age, one risks ending a life no longer worth living, undermining the romance of it all. Hemingway blew his brains out at sixty-one, depriving the world of what? A thousand-page, slightly more pornographic Garden of Eden?

Wendi, you are right to stick with your plan. Your post-suicidal friends will try to talk you out of it, but in the end they will admire your gumption, so tragically self-snuffed.

Larry

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Larry Doyle, a former writer for The Simpsons, works in showbiz and writes funny things for the New Yorker. He lives outside Baltimore with his wife, Becky, their three children, and one dog, until it dies, and then no more dogs, according to the wife. His novel, I Love You, Beth Cooper, is being made into a movie directed by Chris Columbus and starring Hayden Panettiere.

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