What's Your Problem?


Now that New York has approved it, gay marriage seems to be on the way. Critics argue that it will entice more people to come over to the gay side. My question is: Do you think gay marriage will cause some men and women who are straight to experiment with the gay life? How will I know if my husband is turning gay?

C.F., Hartford, Conn.

Dear C.F.,

Here are some ways to determine whether your husband may be turning gay:

After you load the dishwasher, does he take out all the dishes and rearrange them to make them fit in a more orderly fashion?

Has he recently shown an interest in fabric? Specifically, has he expressed an interest in picking out new fabrics for the living-room couch?

Does he know the lyrics to all the songs in Pippin?

Has he expressed a desire to have sexual intercourse with Colin Farrell and then settle down with him on the sunny Spanish island of Ibiza?

You know, as I look over this list, I realize that I myself fulfill 75 percent of the requirements for incipient gay husbandry, though I’ll decline to reveal which ones.

I frequently see trucks and delivery vehicles with a sign on the back that reads How Am I Driving? and then provides an 800 number to report bad driving. I have often called these numbers, but now a friend of mine is telling me that this practice is degrading to the people who drive these trucks. It appears to me that this is a common-sense way to keep the roads safe. Who is right?

A.F., Boston, Mass.

Dear A.F.,

Even though you live in Boston, where drivers must prove their blindness to the DMV before receiving licenses, I would still argue against this practice. Imagine physicians being forced to wear white coats emblazoned with the message Did That Prostate Exam Hurt Too Much? followed by an 800 number. Or lawyers walking around with signs pinned to their backs saying Did My Incompetence Guarantee Your Conviction? They wouldn’t allow themselves to be demeaned this way. Are blue-collar workers any less human?

One often hears sports announcers and analysts declare that athletes or teams must “take it to the next level.” How many levels are there? Also, these same broadcasters tell us that individuals or teams “leave it all on the field” (or court, or ice). What, exactly, is “it”? And who is responsible for cleaning it up?

R.C., Temple, Texas

Dear R.C.,

There are 10 levels. This is true in life, as in sports. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no Level 11. Right now, I am operating at Level 3. If this were a question about relationships, or other such mysteries, I would have to “take it to the next level,” meaning Level 4. As for what, exactly, the athletes are meant to leave on the field, this depends on the sport. In professional football, many players leave parts of their brains, and any hope of a long, happy life.

Should I erase e-mails that people who are dead have sent me? This seems wrong somehow.

C.D., Seattle, Wash.

Dear C.D.,

Your letter is worded ambiguously. If you are referring to e-mails sent to you by people who subsequently have died, I would suggest that you review them carefully, keeping in mind the senders’ families. Any e-mails that contain suggestions of compassion, or wit, or some other positive attribute, I would consider sharing, as a comforting and loving gesture. If, on the other hand, you are suggesting that actual dead people are sending you messages, I would strongly recommend switching e-mail providers.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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