You know when you’re little and people ask you what you want to be when you grow up? I had three answers that I actually used and one that I never ever shared.
- A cat burglar
- A very famous actress
- My Aunt Sandy
But there was that fourth thing that I never shared with anyone. When I was a little kid and other little kids were, I assume, reading the comics or the toy store ads I was looking for advice columns and the obituaries.
Obituaries always seemed to contain the best of people. They set aside the bad stuff of life as though it just hadn’t happened and they allowed folx to remember the very best qualities of those who had died while also recognizing those they’d left behind.
Advice columns, on the other hand, seemed to show people at their very worst. These letters, I would puzzle over them sometimes for days on end trying to figure out how someone didn’t know what they should be doing when most often what they should be doing was just being a decent human. But then I started finding nuance. Questions that were about how to deal with the very worst people. Questions about how to deal with the very worst inside ourselves.
And in that I was endlessly fascinated. I wanted to figure out what made these people tick. What made humanity seek out answers from others. What made society function within a set of norms.
And so I started writing back. Answering those letters that people wrote to columnists with my own answers. In my own voice. And then wadding them up and throwing them away.
Well because it wasn’t me that they asked. So I’ve never done this one thing. This one secret thing I’ve always wanted to do. Wanted to be. And I still want to. I want to help people figure out how not to be the absolute worst and how to deal with people who don’t know or care that they are complete asshats.
And you know… it seems the one thing that all successful advice columnists have in common is that they’re not at all qualified to give the advice sought of them. I totally have that going for me.
So what do you think, Dear Cami, should I give it a shot or just move on and let all the people of the world work it out on their own?