What’s Your Problem?

Never have maxillofacial surgery in Los Angeles, and other advice

By Jeffrey Goldberg

I’ve noticed that The Atlantic has become very anti-male lately. My proof lies in recent articles by Sandra Tsing Loh, Caitlin Flanagan, and of course Hanna Rosin, whose July/August cover story, “The End of Men,” argued that men will no longer be necessary as our economy changes. How do you protect your manhood while working at a magazine that is so hostile to men?

P. W., Chicago, Ill.

Dear P. W.,

I take active countermeasures to protect myself against the rampant feminization of The Atlantic. For instance, I eat only what I kill, except for sandwiches from Potbelly, which are killed by someone else. I also chop down the trees that provide the paper on which this magazine is printed, using only an extremely dull axe and my signature bad-ass attitude. Other prophylactic measures I employ include hiring Chuck Norris as a guest blogger, and then firing him, by fax, for being insufficiently manly; and using actual prophylaxis, in the form of a full-body condom I wear to protect myself from the effects of airborne estrogen. I also refuse to participate in the mandatory office-wide “All Guys Have to Wear Jimmy Choos on Fridays” morale-building exercise. And though I was ultimately forced to appear in The Atlantic’s staging of The Vagina Monologues, I purposefully delivered an indifferent performance as Eve Ensler’s labia.

Summer is here, and so are the ants in our kitchen. Occasionally one perishes at the bottom of our active jigger. Should I worry about what he may have tracked into my martini?

J. K., Eagan, Minn.

Dear J. K.,

I had a problem with an active jigger once as well, but it went away when the doctors removed my thyroid. The short answer is no: ants, and the things they carry, are ingested by humans on purpose all the time, to no ill effect. (I am told that giant leaf-cutter ants are fabulous when toasted.) And we regularly eat all sorts of unwanted biological detritus without getting sick. The federal government even sets Food Defect Action Levels designating how many insects are permissible in our food: according to the FDA, commercially sold sauerkraut may contain up to 50 thrips per 100 grams. Apple-butter manufacturers can bring their delicious product to market as long as each 100 grams contains no more than four rodent hairs, or five “whole or equivalent” insects. And tomato puree may contain no more than 20 fly eggs per 100 grams. So drink away, keeping in mind that it is the alcohol in the martini, rather than the insects, that will kill you.

I’m still roommates with a guy I lived with in college. We were both soccer players, and smoked a lot of dope. I stopped smoking after we graduated, but my roommate hasn’t stopped and now doesn’t have the energy to play a game he loves, much less start a serious career. Should I stage an intervention, or just assume he’ll grow out of this phase?

T. S., Charlottesville, Va.

Dear T. S.,

I had a very good friend in college whose diet consisted entirely of Doritos and bong resin. Today, he is a maxillofacial surgeon in Los Angeles. The point is, never have maxillofacial surgery in Los Angeles, in case my friend is assigned to be your surgeon. The other point: you should intervene, of course. Your friend is being self-destructive, and obviously your conscience is telling you that you have not fulfilled a prime duty of friendship, which is to speak honestly when you foresee the implosion of someone you care about. By the way, I think you need an intervention as well: hasn’t anyone ever told you that soccer is a game meant exclusively for children and Brazilians?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/09/whats-your-problem/308181/