Jeanne Phillips inherited the Dear Abby column from her mother, Pauline Phillips, several years ago, after a transition period during which she and Pauline were coauthors. Jeanne also seems to have inherited her mother's sensibilities. Her answers to her correspondents' questions are not that different from what we might have expected from Pauline. Sometimes, though, you wonder if Jeanne's spider-sense is as strong as her mother's. Do you think Pauline would have run this letter, which appeared on July 10, 2009, in Jeanne's column?
Dear Abby: I live in a small town in Alaska. A relationship with a woman I loved more than I have ever loved anyone has ended. I'm left with only pain, misery and suffering.One other question: If you had chosen to run the letter, would you have answered it the way Jeanne did? Here's one possible alternative response:
I keep trying to move on, but everything I do makes me think of her. I have asked friends for advice; they all tell me to “man up and get over it!”
It's frustrating to be told to “get over her” and accept what is. I know brooding isn't helpful, but it's a natural byproduct of pain. What I need to ask you is this: Is it worth putting your heart and soul on the line with the likely possibility of having them crushed? I hope so, because without hope, then what is there to live for? That thought scares me more than anything I have ever experienced.— Heartbroken Up North
Dear Heartbroken: Of course it's worth it, because without risk there is no reward. I am speaking with the voice of experience. You have plenty to live for. Falling in love is like prospecting for gold. Sometimes you strike the mother lode on the first try, but most times you have to keep digging. I don't know how small the community you live in is, but if it's so small that most of the eligible candidates for romance have been eliminated, then you should consider relocating.
Dear Heartbroken: Get over it, Todd. Wasilla is too small for her and she's moved on to a whole new set of advisors. You're history. And she belongs to the world now. Well, the fantasy world of right-wing wish fulfillment in which abandonment of one's post is seen as a brilliant feat of political positioning. But don't worry. Your lost love is sure to rake in megabucks for giving pandering political speeches to angry plutocrats and you're certain to glom on to some of that during the divorce proceedings. (Hint: Don't try for custody of the kids. You won't get enough child support to make it worthwhile, especially if random grandchildren keep popping up.)That's one possible answer, anyway. Perhaps you have a better one (in which case, please leave it in the comments!).
Of course, I could be wrong about all this. Perhaps the writer is just a smitten Republican voter who can't get over the loss of his charismatically tongue-tied idol. Or maybe Jeanne fell for a hoax letter from students at Yale. They used to write to Ann Landers (Jeanne's aunt), but the Landers column is defunct and Jeanne is the new game in town.