Extremely Bad Advice: Social Circle Jealousy

Dear SJ,

I am so sad seeing others happy. 

My ex girlfriend who cheated me by spending away my savings with her new boyfriend is doing well in her business. My parents are living with luxury with my hard earned money while I take abuse every day from my boss and colleagues. A deranged friend whom I lent 2,000 dollars in his troubled time is enjoying his time in the hills with lot of girlfriends. He doesn’t even remembers taking money from me. He is in and out of therapy so I can’t possibly get my money back now. I see street vendors happy with their lives while I am struggling with my midlife crisis. Being abused by others and with no clue to fix my own life is making me so miserable. How do I get out of this?

— Miserable in Milwaukee

Woman burning dollars closeup

Dear Miserable,

Listen, I know this is going to sound hard to hear, but … everything here is your fault.  

Your girlfriend spent your life savings? Your fault for allowing her access to that money. Your parents “living in luxury” while you’re toiling away at an abusive job? Your fault for staying in the job. And your fault for giving your parents anything at all! That “friend” who’s absconded with your two grand to go play redneck tickle-the-pickle – where do you think he got the cash from? It was your decision, right? You did that, right? You made that ‘gift’, right? Because if it was a loan, you would have written up a payment schedule and interest rate and you’d have some kind of enforcement mechanism that would allow you to get your money back.

But you didn’t. You didn’t do that, and you didn’t take precautions in any other aspect of your life, and now you’re upset at how things turned out.

Here’s the harsh truth: you’re not really sad at seeing others happy. You’re actually sad at seeing how many bad decisions you’ve been making over the years.

Read the rest on Patreon

Extremely Bad Advice: Time to Abandon Ship?

Dear SJ,

I am 15 years old and to me it seems like America is rapidly spiraling into depravity. 

The government becomes increasingly authoritarian, culture continues degrading into a grey consumerist sludge, our society is worse than ever, the next generation is posed to be worse off than any generation since people who were 18 in the 1940s. Should I just abandon the country, get my college education and leave without looking back? Is it worth discarding everything to jump off a burning ship?

Fearful for the Future

USA flag on grunge wood texture background

Dear Fearful,

I think you’ve already answered your question simply by the way you’ve worded it. 

Far be it from me to stop you when you’ve very astutely assessed the smoldering wreck that is this once-fine country.

Increasingly authoritarian? Check. Degrading culture? Double check. Addicted to consumerism? Triple check. Setting up our future progeny for the worst experience in the last hundred years? Game, set, and match.

You seem like a smart kid. And if you’ve downed this many red pills at the tender age of 15, there’s nothing that can stop you. Should you get out of America? Hell, yeah! And why wait until you’ve gotten a college education before you take off? I’m sure there are at least a dozen other countries that aren’t total shitholes where you can head right now and support yourself through a combination of English tutoring and online gambling. Some of those even offer free college to residents.*

I mean, you owe this country nothing. And likewise, the country owes you nothing in return. What the hell would you be discarding anyway? According to your eminently informed opinion, the engines are already on fire and the nose of the plane is pointed directly at the side of the mountain, so you should be bailing out waaaaay before college.

I wish I was in your shoes. I’d do it all differently. Fuck “normal”. Screw “standard” and “supposed to”.

Read the rest on Patreon.

Extremely Bad Advice: Stalking Victim Friend

Dear SJ,

My friend is being stalked.

I don’t know many details as he gets very tense and nervous talking about this, I can’t blame him. Firstly, he is a young adult and lives in a pretty rural area. He said this has been happening for months now. He is getting strange calls and a particular car is slowing down and looking at his house when it passes by. My friend knows a coder and somehow the coder was able to trace the number and the car together. Wait, it gets worse. He will leave his house and come back and the window in his bedroom is open. A lot of the time he will have a perfectly tidy room, come home and it is a mess. One time he cleaned the bathroom before he left to go somewhere, he came back home and the sink was dirty. 

I should probably add that he lives with his younger sibling and parents. The parents work and the sibling goes to school. One time he came back home and saw that on the top of a stack of papers he had laying on his desk suddenly had a piece of paper with his girlfriends home address on top. Also, his curtains had a hole cut through them and his box cutter was missing. I’m very worried for him. What should my friend do? Has anyone had something similar happen to them? His parents won’t take him seriously.

— Concerned for My “Friend” in Cheyenne

urban background lifestyle funny portrait of young paparazzi photographer man in action hidden behind city paper basket stalking for shooting exclusive photo story on celebrity

Dear Concerned,

Okay, first of all, you and your friend have nothing to be worried about. There’s no stalker.

Everything you’ve described has a perfectly logical explanation. And, as we often do when thinking about weird events, we invoke the Fermi Principle*, that the simplest explanation is often the right one. Nobody’s sneaking around, watching this friend of yours and breaking into his room to write cryptic addresses on scrap paper, cut holes in curtains, open windows, and leave excess pimple waste in the sink.

Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? Your friend is a nobody. He lives with parents and a younger sibling in a rural area. From the way you write, you’re probably both still under twenty, which means your friends about as worthy of stalking as some Holstein’s half-digested cud she’s burped back up and chewed on for the last half-hour. Why would anyone take any interest at all in this person, much less enough so that they would go to the trouble, for months at a time, to cruise the house? That’s not how stalkers do it.

We figure out an actually important person in our lives, maybe that principal who held us back in the tenth grade for no good reason (replacing the jelly in doughnuts with poo isn’t a good reason, in my opinion). Or that one girl who promised to keep writing while we were in prison and never did, and we follow them to plot our revenge. (We don’t actually do anything, remember. That would destroy the fantasy.) A stalker has to have some reason to avoid living their life like a sane person, and, frankly, from the sounds of it, your friend isn’t appealing enough to bridge that gap.

So what’s happening? Again, very simple: Your friend is making this all up. 

Read the rest on Patreon.

Extremely Bad Advice: Anxiety problems

Hey friends! Your friendly resident ass back again. Just wanted you to know that I’ve launched a new blog on Patreon! This one will stay up for the SEO and for longer works, and act as a funnel to the Extremely Bad Advice blog itself.

I’ll still post here to drive additional traffic, so if you want to read and be entertained, by all means. Here’s one that is now live over there, and will be for at least a week after launch.

Dear SJ:  I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time, this is my first time writing. I have to admit, I’ve been having major anxiety for the past few years and only recently found a therapist I like. Sometimes he is very helpful. He helps me through some rough patches, but, to be honest, he’s not that professional. Sometimes he’ll go off on tangents, talking about topics I’m not interested in or that don’t really affect me. It’s frustrating. We’re supposed to be there to talk about my issues, not his problems. When this happens, how can I get him back on track quickly? If something doesn’t change soon, I’m going to have to stop seeing him. I need help for my anxiety and he’s not doing that.

— Seeking Real Change in Raleigh

Adhd.

Dear Seeking, I’m so glad you wrote. 

This is bound to be one of my best columns, if I do say so myself, because, believe it or not, I am uniquely qualified to give you advice in this area. You see, I happen to know, for a fact, that anxiety is not real, you’re just making it up. I know this because you state that this “therapist” sometimes helps, but you and I know that the only person who’s really doing anything for you is you.

First of all, if this guy really were getting you results, he would be consistently doing it, not only occasionally. “Sometimes”? That’s not enough. Teeter-totters don’t only sometimes go up on one end when you push down on the other. Gravity doesn’t only sometimes work. And by the same token, if a therapist actually worked to help with your anxiety, it wouldn’t only be sometimes. The fact that you sometimes feel better after talking with him, and sometimes not, is more likely just due to random fluctuation than any kind of cause-and-effect.

And second of all, let’s be honest, anxiety isn’t even real.


See the rest of the story here. And be well! I’ll catch you on the flippity flop.

Writing Practice 6/11/2019

The Good Sonpage 107 – The world spun around me.

I could tell I had been drugged. After so many years of intentionally setting myself in this state of mind, I could tell the different types of after-effects. This felt like an episode of marijuana laced with some PCP. I’d done both individually, before, and knew I was happy high, and paranoid while tripping.

This felt like the combination. I wanted to hold everything that came my way and make love to it, but everything I could see had suddenly sprouted heads, and extra butts, and now the leaves had turned purple and the squirrels were the size of donkeys and their eyes were bigger than my head, and that freaked me out a little bit, too. But still I loved those huge, ridiculous donkey-squirrels, and I wanted to take them inside of me and to blend them with me, I wanted to melt them with my stomach acid and to merge their flesh unto my flesh, to imbue myself with the essence of donkey-squirrel, to merge my soul with the liquified, purified, gelatinous donkey-squirrel-orange-leaf-green-rainbow soul, to become a harmonious being outside of space, inside of time, to become a melded, blended, homogenous thing that had no individual identity but only a one-ness, a universality, a connection to the electric underpinning of the universe tangential path out of the cosmos and into, through, above and below and beyond the ether, to lose myself and to gain the donkey-squirrel, to make our consciousnesses become greater than the sum of our parts, to be absent from the body and to be present with the spirit, the Great Spirit, the Greatest Spirit, the one who guides, who directs, who rules, who controls and yet still allows the freedom, a purpose, a will to guide itself, to explore itself, to see where this uncertain, undefined, infinite future may flow to, to be unceasing and incessant, to permanently and effortlessly turn in circles of being, to love and to want and to live and to be, to exist, to subsume, to control and release, to breathe and to be exhaled, to know and to forget, to live and live and live and live and live forever.

Writing Practice – 3/30/2019

How do I get rid of my hiccups?

Easy ways (easy as in historically don’t cost a lot) – hold your breath, drink a glass of water, have someone else scare you. Not only are they easy, they’re usually not effective.

Non-traditional ways – I could either eliminate the hiccups, or I could try to eliminate myself noticing them. So – maybe I cut out my eardrums. Then I don’t hear myself hiccuping, and it’s not a problem any more.

Maybe instead, I stop hiccuping every three or four seconds, and I train myself to just do this constantly. Breathe in – hiccup – breathe out – breathe in – hiccup – breathe out. Forever. Then I don’t “have the hiccups”, then I’m just a different person. And since I don’t have the hiccups anymore, it’s not a big deal.

Or, I could hypnotize myself not to notice them. “Hey, you’ve got the hiccups!” Really? I never noticed.

Those I would call “moderate” solutions. Now, for the hard ones.

Let’s go right to the source. the problem is something within my body, so to eliminate the hiccups I can download (upload?) my mind to a computer and eliminate the need for a physical body anyway. Some scientists predict that it’s like 20% likely that all of this is already a simulation anyway, so we’d just be accessing a process that’s already in place. Maybe not so difficult after all.

But probably my most extreme method, yet one much more practical than the computer, because it’s already available, is I should just cut out my vocal cords. One quick snip of my throat – I bet I could get a cheap, yet qualified, doctor to do that for me down in Cancun, or maybe over in Delhi. I have had experiences in both of those places that tell me, sure, they probably know what they’re doing. And at this cheap a price, it’s practically stealing!

So – what will it be? Option A – hold your breath? Option B – hypnosis? Or option C- drastic surgery?

Let’s see – I’m leaning towards option C, for a couple of reasons.

One, I know it will work. It’s kind of hard to hiccup, with this little mouth / throat flap spamming all over when you no longer have a flap. Impossible, really.

Second, it’s permanent. If I go the “hold my breath” route, what’s to stop my body from sabotaging me again next week? Or even in an hour or two?

Finally, I like how it’s an overkill situation. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, isn’t that the advice? Same thing applies here – go all out, make sure it happens, leave no witnesses, tell whatever story you want to afterwards.

Deal!

Extremely Bad Advice – Losing A Limb, Gaining A Life

Okay, I’m stealing this one from Reddit. Apparently these people don’t know I’m available, or they wouldn’t be wasting their time with piddling “it’ll get better, just wait” pablum.

Hi Reddit, So as the title says, my Step-Dad, whom I’m very close to, had an accident at home on the weekend. We have all been left quite traumatised by the events. He was cutting thru mortar to remove limestone blocks, and the blade got stuck and kicked back, into his lower arm.

It severed his artery and he was bleeding out. My mum was at home but couldn’t hear him yelling (very big house). He shoved his other fist into his wound and walked to their door. He couldn’t take his hand out to open door or bang on door, so he banged on it with his head. When that failed he walked down to the driveway because, as he explained, he was bleeding out and all he could think was he was going to die alone and didn’t say goodbye to anyone.

He lay on the driveway yelling for help and luckily a neighbour drove past and saw him. Other people came and got my mum. There was a nurse there too, thank God. Ambulance was called and my mum called me, screaming to get my step-sisters and I to him because he was losing too much blood. I was with 1 of my sisters at the time and 6 of our kids. The kids (between 5 and 10 years of age) saw the fallout of that, us crying and panicking etc. They seem to be ok.

He got to hospital where they gave him ketamine to knock him out. Surgery followed to reattach his arm and nerves etc and he is currently undergoing more surgery right now. They say he lost so much muscle, he may never regain feeling. He can move his fingers though. He is a very physical man, a builder by trade, and is always building and fixing things. This will destroy him. He is 63 years old and now needs years of rehab.

My mum and Step-Dad have enough savings to survive for a few years. My mum works too. It was his left arm affected and he is right-handed, small mercies. We are all deeply affected by nearly losing him. He does so much for everyone and the thought that he nearly died alone is awful. My mum has major guilt about not hearing him. I know we are blessed he is still with us, but the trauma in that moment is still lingering.

What can we do now to make his life/their lives easier?

**

Okay, sounds like a bad situation. First part of my answer is, don’t listen to my advice. It’s extremely bad. Nobody should listen to this advice. Got that, those of you reading at home? Don’t listen to this advice! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Second part, of three, is that you’re going to have to put some money out of your pocket for a few months. At least until your dad gets moderate use of his hand back. Let me explain.

Judging by your use of the word “mum” and misspelling of “neighbor” as “neighbour”, I conclude that you are located somewhere in England. This means your procedures and operations and therapy will be covered by the National Health Service. I have two thoughts on that.

One, you will get what you need, but not all of what you need. Oh, you’ll get the surgeries and the physical therapy and the emotional counseling and all that, but that’s only half the picture. My other mind tells me that since your father is now hideously deformed, much is going to change between him and your mum. Due to not only the physical change, but her feeling like she must be “delicate” with him while he recovers, and that she feels she must care for him during his convalescence, she will no longer find him sexually attractive. Instead, she will see him as a “project”, a work to be completed, and she will therefore pull away physically out of fear of hurting him, as well as due to the time constraints and the stress.

At the same time, he will begin to feel like less of a man, less of a provider, hell, less of a human being, because he can no longer do the things he had previously done. This will drain his libido and lead to a downward spiral in which he does not improve because he doesn’t see any benefit to it, and because his wife, your mum, is acting aloof and “strange” to him.

This cycle will continue to build, albeit beneath the surface, because nobody wants to admit their true feelings about the situation, until it blows up into a destructive case of anger and, paradoxically, depression, driving your mum into the arms of Trevor down the street, because at least he listens! When the truth comes out, the downfall continues: your step-dad feels even more humiliated, incompetent, impotent, deformed, and unworthy.

His depression deepens and eventually their split becomes permanent, and he’s on the dole while your mum and Trevor are snogging nightly, bemoaning the fact that if they’d just admitted their feelings years ago, they could be on the beaches in the south of France these days, taking it easy. Meanwhile your step-dad spirals downward into a whiskey-fueled haze combined with a fanatical obsession over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s neckties. Now, nobody wants that; but you can avoid it by the following actions, and here’s where the money comes in, because the NHS doesn’t cover “emotional support concubines”:

Once a week, you hire a hooker to hit on your step-dad. [You’re in England, so, small mercies, this isn’t so frowned upon as here in the U.S. Good for you guys.] Prepare her, and pay her to be ready for, giving your father a handjob, though encourage her to allow him to stop her whenever he wishes. This will make him feel attractive, make him feel worthy, and, if he goes through with it, give him the sexual satisfaction neither he nor your mum is prepared to provide during his recovery. He’s busy thinking about staying alive, not about getting off, and she’s thinking about keeping him alive, not about getting him off. But this way, he still feels like a man, and he has options: accept the hooker’s advances and get his rocks off (lessening the stress), or reject her and have a great story to tell your mum in order to solidify their relationship.

This will probably need to last about eighteen months. After that time, his therapy will be done, and they’ll have figured out their “new normal”, which will likely include some kind of cosplay, generally around the “Captain Hook” theme. They’ll be good to go, although you won’t want to ask them for any stories after their anniversary nights out on the town. Good news is you can stop the hooker. Or you can give her my number and pre-pay for a little long-distance “talk therapy”, if you get my drift. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

I mentioned that there were three parts to my answer. That was the second. The third is this, and while you may think that part 2 was bad, just wait.

I advise you to convince your step-dad to amputate his arm, preferably as quickly as possible. The physical and mental trauma and struggle he’ll have to go through over the next handful of years to overcome his disfigurement and disablement is just not going to be worth it. Prosthetics are fantastic these days! He’ll actually be vastly more functional in a dramatically shorter time frame if he replaces, rather than “saving”, his arm and rehab from there. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to pull the old switcheroo as he self-deludes more and more into the idea that he’ll be better off with half his original hand.

But, in reality, his “healing” will be a much, much longer process if he has to view daily reminders of how much he’s lost, and how insufficient his “recovery” will ever be.

Now, how do you convince him to do it? Well, you probably won’t. Which is where you’ll have to take matters into your own hand. Literally. Go back out to his driveway and find that angle-grinder or whatever it was, and finish the job. Use a torniquet (I bet that’s how you’d spell it) tied off at the elbow so he doesn’t bleed out, but just throw that leftover hunk to the stray dogs in the street and apply to the NHS for a prosthetic. The trauma will be over much quicker, and your step-dad will, in the end, thank you once he realizes you’ve actually shortened his grieving period and given him a far superior solution to having something that looks like, and is about as useful as, beef jerky dangling from his elbow.

Cheers!

Extremely Bad Advice – Roommate “Situation”

Another one “borrowed” from Dear Abby. Thanks for doing the research for me, love!

Dear SJ: I’m a man in my mid-30s. For the past couple of years I’ve been in love with my best friend. She doesn’t know how I feel, and I know she doesn’t feel the same way about me. (She calls me the brother she always wanted.) I try hard to fight these feelings os our friendship can continue. She has been a huge part of my life, so losing her friendship would be devastating.

To make maters more difficult, we are currently roommates and spend lots of time together. My heart breaks when she goes on dates or talks a bout guys she may be interested in. I know she’Lloyd never see me as more than a friend. Is there any way I can get over these feelings so we can continue this amazing friendship? – FRIEND ZONE IN VERMONT

Dear FRIEND ZONE,

Seems pretty obvious to me. Your best friend / girlfriend is an incestuous freak. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not for everyone. But when someone talks about you as “the brother she always wanted”, that’s code for “I wanna bang my whole family.” Plus, why do you think she agreed to live with you? She’s been trying to grease the skids this whole time.

You see, there’s a big body of scientific literature that says exactly this: boys want to kill their fathers and replace them between their mother’s legs. It’s called the Oedipus Complex. It’s what drives so much of human evolution. “It was good enough for Dad, it should be good enough for me!” The parallel for women is the Electra Complex, which, my best guess is, has something to do with wiring your nipples to a car battery. Sounds like your friend has taken this to the logical extreme… if sons want to bang Mommy, then daughters want to bang Daddy. Since “society” says she can’t do that, she’s acting out in the nearest substitute possible: you.

She’s grooming you to be Dad’s replacement. It starts out as a surrogate brother, and once she’s got you hooked on that mental mind-warp she’ll start imagining her father’s face on your body when you’re doing it. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the inside of her mind when that happens. I’ve been there, it’s not pretty.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that she’s really interested in these other guys she’s talking about our dating. Those are just a ploy to make you jealous – to make you see her as desirable – to incite you to finally “man up” and make your move. Let’s be honest: there’s never in history been a male / female couple that is just really good friends without both of them wanting to bone. And it’s not anybody’s fault; that’s just how we’re wired as a species.

So, what’s your move? Forget about “getting over the feelings”. You and I both know that’s not going to happen. Instead, you need to step up and step out. Tell her exactly what you feel. If you need help writing the script, it should sound something like this:

“Hey, Roomie, let’s be more than roommates. You know your lady-bits tingle when I walk in the room, ‘cause I feel the same way. My Tower of Power gets all electrified just thinking about you. Those other guys? They ain’t got nothin’ on me. Remember last month when you ‘accidentally’ walked in on me in the shower? Yeah, I ‘forgot’ to lock the door, and you somehow ‘didn’t remember’ that I take a shower every day at exactly that same time. Let’s not kid ourselves any more. We should do this, ‘cause, feelings, and stuff. What do you say?” Trust me, it’ll work out great. Soon you’ll be banging like a screen door in a hurricane and everyone wins.

And because I’m a good guy, I’ll even give you a Plan B. If she does happen to reject you (even though my analysis is on point like 98% of the time), and you really do want to forget all about your feelings, try this. Hit yourself in the head with a hammer. If you can remember, afterwards, why you hit yourself, do it again. Repeat as necessary. Toodle-ooo!

Extremely Bad Advice – Weight Loss Tips and Tricks

Dear SJ,

My doctor says I really need to lose 20 pounds. But I really don’t want to give up peanut butter. What should I do? EXTRA CHUNKY FOR THE WIN

Dear EXTRA CHUNKY,

First off, I gotta say, if your doctor says you need to lose 20 pounds, you can bet it’s more like 40. And if you’re in the US, I’ll put dollars to doughnuts that it’s really 60, but both your doctor and I know that if someone actually says that to you, you’ll pull a nope, nope, nopey nope nope. Like the 98% majority in this country, you would rather just be thin than get thin, so seeing the whole mountain of work in front of you becomes an intimidation rather than an inspiration.

And while I may decry the phenomenon, I’m not really that interested in beating my brains out to change community psychology. It’s like trying to unburn a campfire: in principle it can happen, but in practice it’s a one-way street. And this street is a supersize, extra grande, double-stuffed highway straight to the donut shoppe. Everyone does it, so why should you bother trying to stand out? Just accept the diabetes and the inevitable (but ultimately innefective) bariatric surgery. You’ll be much happier along the way, even if the way is materially shortened due to a heart attack or liver failure.

But, if you’re so committed to this self-delusion that you actually think you can lose weight, and you’re looking for some hints other than the standard “Eat Less, Move More” that you must have ignored already, I’ll give you a great plan to get off the Skippy.

First, enjoy all of the rest of the tub that you’ve got in your pantry. And I do mean “tub”, not “jar”, because fatties like you don’t buy peanut butter in the smallest serving size available. Am I right? Or am I right? I’m right. [nodding and winking] I’m right.

Next, go buy yourself 10 more tubs of peanut butter. For this exercise, they need to be the “natural” kind, where the oil settles out. Open them all, unseal them, and mix that oil back in. Take 2 tablespoons out of each one and eat them, in your preferred method. See, this isn’t so bad, is it? You got this!

Now, time for the payoff. Take an empty cup and head to the bathroom. Collect a urine sample. If you have other family members, you could recruit them to help you by donating theirs as well. “It’s a team effort!” Now – for ONLY ONE of those tubs, add the urine and stir again. Put all the lids back on, and forget which jar has your stanky old waste inside. Mix them up like a card sharp on 42nd Street and put them back on the shelf. Now, every time you to go grab a scoop of Extra Chunky, all you have to do is think, Yeah, but there could be pee in it. And poof! Desire gone.

Do write back in 6 months and let me know how it goes. I’m gonna bet my neighbor that it’s less likely you hit your weight loss goal than you say something like “Surprisingly, you really can’t even taste the ammonia!” Peace!

Extremely Bad Advice – Child Misbehavior

Dear SJ,

My wife and I are having a disagreement about our son. He is 11 years old and is starting to misbehave. My wife wants to make him do extra chores around the house when he’s getting out of line, in order to show him that his actions have consequences. I say that unless the chores are directly related to what he did, he won’t associate them together. Like last week – he broke a window in the family room by throwing a ball through it. That’s easy enough; he has to pay for the window replacement. But what about being disobedient, or just lazy? Are there chores we can assign that are punishments for these kind of actions? — FRUSTRATED IN FARGO

Dear FRUSTRATED,

I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, but your wife is right. There absolutely are consequences for your actions, and sometimes they aren’t even directly associated with the thing you’ve done, except for a roundabout way. For example: last month I had sex with your mom. She was pretty tight, for an old broad, I’ll give her that. As a result, it now burns when I pee. Goddamn, but I thought I was done with STDs back in college! Anyway, the direct consequence is now I have to go to my doctor. The indirect consequence is I have to deal with a clingy grandma who just won’t go away and keeps texting me like six times a night to come over and give her another good one. It’s almost enough to block her. But it’s not just her. Apparently the whole bridge club is in on the deal. Sheesh, you make one old woman shudder uncontrollably and you never hear the end of it.

So, in your situation, your son has absolutely got to learn that actions have consequences. Break a window? Pay for it out of your allowance. Front a disobedient attitude? Get a dismissive one in return. It looks like this: “Well, since you didn’t hold up your end of the parent-child relationship and disobeyed me, I’m not going to hold up my end either. No dinner for you! Enjoy the soup kitchen.” If you’re feeling generous you can print out a Google Maps set of walking directions.

However, that’s pretty tame by my standards. Just telling you to be a jerk probably isn’t what you’re looking for. That’s just bad advice, and it would probably only solve the surface problem of misbehavior. You want Extremely Bad Advice which will not just deal with the symptoms of the disease infecting your life, it will actually root out the cause and eliminate that forever. Here’s what you need to do.

Next time your son does something wrong, you actually reward that behavior. Go buy him a puppy! Or a new dirt bike, or video game, or something he’s been asking for for a while. This kind of reverse psychology will start to fuck with his head really quickly. He’ll tell his friends what he did and how you reacted. They’ll all start trying it with their parents but getting opposite results, and pretty quickly he’s wondering just what happened with you. He’ll try it a few more times. Double down on the technique. When he back-talks you in front of his teacher, take him out for ice cream. If he comes home late from a friend’s house, supply him with rotten eggs and you both go whip them at the crusty old couple down the street.

In a few months this kind of mental mind-warp (the difference between what you do and what a typical “good parent” does) will break down any remaining sense of logic and rationality the kid has. At that point one of two things will happen, both of which solve your problem pretty quickly. Option one, he dissolves into a quivering, immobile blob on the floor, blathering on and on about “friends say … mom says … friends don’t … dad does …” and your disobedience problem is resolved. Kind of replaced with a permanent diapering problem, but at least he’s compliant. Option two, he finally can’t take it any longer and runs away. Presto! Instant happy house and no more sass from the kid.

Trust me on this one. You can’t do any better for yourself and your own happiness than psychological torture. Good luck!