Dear Uptight Seattleite,Are you disappointed that Seattle Parks has apparently decided not to ban spitting after all? Even you must admit this is silly. What's next?Amused Aussie
Dear Aussie,Well, for one thing, it would be great if people could refrain from stuffing Kleenex between the slats of park benches. And throat-clearing is liable to make people anxious about the messages they imagine are being sent. The same for eye-rolling. As for spitting, though, I actually think a ban is extreme. Sometimes even the most conscientious of us are overcome with the need to expectorate. To expect us to swallow our gunk would be inhumane. On the other hand, it can be truly traumatic to encounter blobs of yogurty yellow goo on the sidewalk. Sorry for describing this indelicately, but direct language will help us empathize with both spitters and non-spitting standers-by. Since disgust is different for everyone, feel free to swap in whatever squishy human product will best help you attain this empathy.What we need is a humane policy that takes into account the feelings of all stakeholders. That's why spitting should be licensed, with a special training program to teach people to spit where people don't walk, and advanced techniques to avoid lip-hanging mucus strings. Let's get this right and use the momentum to work toward a saner approach to children's chalk drawings.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Unable to find my favorite Danish libation at the liquor store recently, I asked a store employee, "Excuse me, where would I find the Gammel Dansk?""The distributor doesn't carry it anymore," she said."So does that mean I can't get it at all?" I asked.The lady's eyes turned a stormy shade of red. She flared her nostrils, hunched her shoulders, and shrieked, as if I hadn't been listening, "The disTRIButor doesn't CARRY it anymore!!" It seemed like she needed a hug, but I didn't feel inclined to hug her. Should I go back and do so now?Thirsty Mr. Fox
Dear Mr. Fox,In college there was this one guy known for being able to do a quivering-old-man voice. Did he do the voice a little more often than was strictly funny? Maybe, but I think I was supportive of his act in my own way, even when it was a strain. He went off with Lisa Cashmere, whom I'd always credited with being a little more discerning than that. Anyway, the voice was his thing. Anger is the liquor-store woman's thing. It's also possible that management is using her disposition in order to maintain the slightly edgy, "just out of rehab" atmosphere the state requires its liquor stores to have. Either way, I recommend simply giving this woman her space.Dear Uptight Seattleite,I saw a guy who appeared to be homeless reading a book in the library. Reading over his shoulder, I saw chapter titles like, "Cometh the Titans" and "The Long Dark Night." I assumed he was reading about the apocalypse or something, and was disappointed when his book turned out to be Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer. Why did this leave me crestfallen?Poi Man Pondering
Dear Poi Man,What if we run out of oil? Well, we're gonna—much sooner than anyone thinks—and that will indeed mean the end of everything we're used to, from the little screen-flipping gesture we make on our iPhones to the food supply chain. You've intuited this more clearly than most people, and it's this that accounts for your apocalyptic fixation. You're subconsciously trying to displace genuine anxiety with the cartoonish image your imagination has conjured of some sort of street-person prophet. As someone who shares the dark knowledge that heightened senses bring, I assure you that your anxiety is perfectly normal. But I recommend a more positive approach.I went to a funeral the other day. It was in Phoenix, which is where Uncle Al ended up for his final years. Some people thought "Back in the Saddle Again" was an odd choice for the service, especially with Al laid out there in an open casket, but I thought it was nice—ashes to ashes, saddle to saddle. Or rather I would have thought it was nice if airline delays hadn't caused me to miss the funeral. The relevant point for you, Poi Man, is how I managed to stay positive even while hearing about my uncle's funeral on the phone in the Denver airport.Thinking about how air travel is another one of those things that's going to disappear, I decided to phrase my complaint to the gate worker in the form of a tagline of the kind that an airline might use in a commercial. As my own little whimsical tribute to late-period capitalism. "Are you ready," I asked her, "to make me go from 'Growl' to 'Wow'?" She didn't seem inclined to get into the spirit of it, so I decided to back off. Being sensitive to how all things end should be accompanied by the wisdom to know when to end things.Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.