Ask an Uptight Seattleite

What should I do when tent city moves into my neighborhood?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

The roving encampment of homeless people known as Tent City just came to my neighborhood, and I feel funny about it. I know I'm supposed to support it, but having, like, 300 homeless guys sleeping in the vicinity of my family makes me very uneasy.

Wavering Idealist

Dear Wavering,

My neighborhood is not well suited to hosting Tent City. That's really a shame because we would love to give the homeless community the opportunity to kill the grass in front of some liberal Methodist church. We're quite open-minded about all kinds of people. There was a Filipino couple that showed up at our block party last summer, and no one even noticed they weren't white. Heck, we didn't care. Tent City, though–well, I'm afraid that just wouldn't be a good fit.

Your neighborhood, on the other hand, is a perfect spot for Tent City. It has streets, trees, and sidewalks. So I encourage you to look at this as an opportunity to open your heart and get beyond your stereotypical ways of looking at people. Smile at the homeless people as you pass them on the street. (Perhaps you could practice smiling in the mirror to be sure you are smiling at them the same way you'd smile at anyone else, with no hint of superiority.) You may even find yourself laughing and walking with the homeless people, silhouetted against the sunset in a slow-motion montage of images that culminates with your realization that you're not so different from them after all. Good luck! Goddess be with you!

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

Now there's a bill to let dogs into bars? So not only will I be outside shivering while I have a smoke, I'll also have to look in the window at some smug dalmatian bastard?

Smokin' Mad

Dear Smokin',

Let's say that I occasionally like to quaff a microbrew or two in my local Irish pub. Because I do. What you're saying is that I should at those times be deprived of the company of Kunio, who is not only my companion but also my emotional support animal? Because of the irrational fears of a few people about hygiene and public health? People allow themselves to be governed by their fears. And they try to suck the rest of us into their neuroses. I'm frankly a little sick of it. There is no rational reason why dogs can't go to bars. Allergies? People have all sorts of allergies. People are allergic to peanuts. That allergy can kill people as dead as those cancer sticks of yours. Should we make a law against the bowl of peanuts on the bar? You live in a world of cruel and distorted priorities, my friend.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

For Christ's sake, it's just my cell phone ringing! Stop looking at me like I'm waving a gun around!

Just Talking to My Wife

Dear Talking,

Public space in Seattle is a delicately intertwined fabric. A Persian rug, if you will, oriented according to the principles of feng shui on a floor constructed out of a renewable resource such as bamboo. Nearby, merlot is being decanted in a crystal decanter, tastefully muted ethnic music emanates from the Bose iPod speaker dock, and incense smoke gently curls from the incense thing, when–wait, what's that? Oh my goodness, oh dear me. It's a smear of feces on the rug. That's you, my brother, destroying this gentle harmony with your cell phone.

Does that mean you can never use your cell phone? Not at all, I'm not intolerant. You just need to follow certain guidelines, the main one being, don't use your cell phone around me. I have, of course, been known to use a cell phone myself on occasion, but only when it's really necessary. And I always fill my cell phone conversations with droll witticisms for everyone around me to enjoy. It's my little way of reminding everyone that it won't kill you to lighten up a little and smile. You're welcome.

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