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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Queer Abby

posted by on March 20 at 9:23 AM

Hm. When I read “Dear Abby” on Monday my first reaction—as a fellow advice professional—wasn’t, “My God! That man’s wife was raped! And Abby just pissed all over her face!” It was, “That letter was total bullshit.”

Here’s the first part of the letter:

I am 27, and my wife, “Marybeth,” is 26. We recently went to my folks’ house for supper. That evening a heavy snowstorm was starting and, because the trip home is 30 miles, we decided to stay overnight.

My old bedroom is upstairs, as are the rooms of my brothers, ages 25, 24 and 22. The guest room is downstairs. Because the room is quite small, and Marybeth said she felt a cold coming on, we decided I’d sleep in my old room.

The next day, while we were driving home, Marybeth told me she was glad I had come to her room after all and made love to her. Abby, it wasn’t me! She had mistaken one of my brothers for me in the darkness. We are all about the same size and build.

Okaaaay, Savage Love readers, how do we know this is a fake? Well, for starters, there are the ages of the protagonists: 27 and 25. Not 37 and 35, not 47 and 45, but 27 and 25—which just so happen to be, for most folks, the years of maximum hotness. Fake letters to advice columnists about sexual issues always involve the young and hot, never the old and average. Because the author of the letter wants readers to find the scene he’s describing just as titillating as he does. Next there’s a cascading set of circumstances beyond the control of the letter’s author: the sudden snowstorm, the long drive, the wife’s cold forces them into separate bedrooms, the husband’s old bedroom is upstairs but his brothers’ old bedrooms—all three of them—are in the basement with the guest room. Oh, and all his brothers came home for dinner too—all three of them. Oh, and those three brothers? All also in their twenties, all presumably home for dinner—at mom and dad—what? Six bedroom house? (Let’s not even address the odds against a woman not being able to tell her husband from his brothers—even in the dark, even with a cold “coming on.”)

Here’s the ask:

I have talked to each of my brothers (they all know about this), but they won’t say who it was for fear of causing a rift between the guilty party and me. I told them that unless I find out who it was, there will be a permanent rift between all of us. (Marybeth still doesn’t know it wasn’t me.) How do I handle this?

This is the kind of letter you handle with the delete key, Abby.

What ultimately gives this away as a fake is the fact that a huge number of straight men—those sickos—fantasize about being cuckolded by male friends, coworkers, or siblings. When a reader spins improbable/impossible set of circumstances—the whole family gathering for dinner at mom and dads, a snowstorm, everyone spends the night, wife doesn’t realize that she’s fucking one of husband’s brothers, etc.—and the payoff/problem amounts to a common heterosexual male fantasy scenario (in this case cuckolding), well, that should set an advice professional’s bullshit sensors flashing.

So, good ladies of Jezebel, you needn’t be overly concerned for this man’s wife. I can assure you that this man’s wife wasn’t raped because this woman doesn’t exist. That letter was the work of a lonely cuckold fetishist—a man without a spouse to cuckold him—with an overactive imagination. (A man that spent Monday furiously beating off over Abby’s column.) Yes, yes: Abby took the letter seriously, and accepted its premise, and her answer was clueless. But let’s not get too worked up over this.

Because it didn’t happen.

RSS icon Comments



i guess i assumed that "abby" had fact-checkers, especially with how she's been burned before. what kind of due diligence is required of an advice columnist in this scenario? do you think "abby" ran this letter without contacting the letter writer to see if her bullshit detector went off? has "abby" ever called YOU for background info on a particularly sex-related question?

Posted by jake | March 20, 2008 9:33 AM


I think there was a real case somewhat like this in the news a couple years ago. Maybe that was the inspiration for this letter.

Posted by miss_m | March 20, 2008 9:36 AM

It was a dark and stormy night.

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | March 20, 2008 9:47 AM

I like how the writer mentioned that his wife was so glad to get boned, but framed the situation in a way that exonerates his wife from being slutty.

That detail is so funny and probably really important to the dude who wrote this letter.

Posted by tabletop_joe | March 20, 2008 9:49 AM

I finally looked up the definition of "cuckold" because the Savage Love column discusses all the time. It said "A man married to an unfaithful wife." Okayyy.

I suspect only a small percentage of the population have fetishes, yet the Savage Love column seems to have a very large percentage of fetish-related questions. Is it that those with fetishes just need more advice or are just more willing to seek it?

Posted by la | March 20, 2008 9:49 AM

funny you should post this. i read this on feministing the other day, and the first comment was, and i quote -

"I may get flamed for this, but I bet if Dan Savage got Enraged's letter, he would say it was fake - another example of Hustler-style fantasy."

Posted by brandon | March 20, 2008 9:49 AM

Because it's SO likely that after screwing her, he'd just trundle on back to his upstairs bedroom, because she was "sick", "had a cold coming on". As if married people never sleep together when they have a cold raging full-bore, let alone "coming on".

I've seen better in Penthouse Forums c.1975.

Posted by Fnarf | March 20, 2008 9:51 AM

It's also funny the way he frames it so that all the brothers are in on it. Actually having the wife in a gangbang with the three of them would've stretched credibility way too far, but this way they can still all collectively humiliate him at once.

Posted by tsm | March 20, 2008 9:52 AM

Dear Dan,
On a recent flight to Los Angeles, all of the lights on the plane went out. Later, my wife told me she was glad I jerked off in her hair. But Dan! It wasn't me!

Posted by Gurldoggie | March 20, 2008 9:54 AM

la @5: uh... had sex much?

Posted by Ivan Cockrum | March 20, 2008 10:12 AM
Posted by tabletop_joe | March 20, 2008 10:21 AM

Abby's response is ridiculous on so many levels. The thing that struck me was, if the wife knew that it was one of the brothers, why on earth would she tell the husband?

But, yeah, totally fake. I swear I have read almost the exact same scenario before somewhere...

Posted by Julie | March 20, 2008 10:35 AM

Man, taken by an old Penthouse letter, how many gullible fools does she have on her staff?

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 20, 2008 10:43 AM

Ha! I totally called it in the comments following the Jezebel post. Savage Love has me well-trained when it comes to cuckold fetishes!

Although I did say you'd come down on Abby for her craptacular advice, Dan, and I still think you should. If she knows she's getting her leg pulled, then she should say so. And if she thought that was an actual scenario, her advice was fucking ridiculous and wrong.

Posted by nerdsausage | March 20, 2008 10:49 AM

I think the second letter is WAY funnier than the first. An alcoholic father in law who gives this chicks baby booze? And the kid sleeps on the floor? On top of coins, cotton swabs, and toothpicks? Fucking classic!

Posted by Queen_of_Sleaze | March 20, 2008 11:02 AM

A version of this scenario is in a Roald Dahl short story called The Visitor.

Posted by Queen Vidor | March 20, 2008 11:05 AM

"...while we were driving home, Marybeth told me she was glad I had come to her room after all and made love to her."

Okay, doesn't this part strike anyone else as weird? Look, if his wife were really glad he did her in the middle of the night, then in all likelihood she would have been pissed the next day. Why? Because he blew his load and promptly took off for a good night's sleep in his single bed! Come to think of it, that's a fantasy I could really get into.

Aside from that, only deeply in-love fools in the throes of brand new relationships ever express gratitude for sex, hours later, driving home, apropos of nothing. No married person would ever say that to their spouse - unless they were consciously making an enormous effort. If that were the case the wife would not have left her husband to sleep alone in the first place.

Posted by saxfanatic | March 20, 2008 11:36 AM

The biggest surprise is that you read Dear Abby in the first place.

KIDDING. I'm impressed by your inferential detective skills here, Dan.

Posted by Gomez | March 20, 2008 11:56 AM

Heh. My first thought when I read the column on Monday was 'wonder how Dan Savage would answer that?' My second thought was the woman was trying to feel out her husband's reaction to swinging, 3-way, etc. Never occured to dumb ol' me it could be a fake, although it's obvious now.

Posted by winna | March 20, 2008 12:12 PM

Sorry to be nit-picky, but the letter actually says all the rooms except the guest room are upstairs.

But nevertheless I am sure you are right!

Posted by nitty | March 20, 2008 12:41 PM

I agree with @12. It's fake, OK, but if it had been real, Dan? Should she have blamed the woman as well as the man? Or just the man...?

Posted by Kat | March 20, 2008 1:27 PM

that's hot

Posted by kyle [TCBITR] | March 20, 2008 1:57 PM

Well, give me 30 lashes with a wet noodle! I should wake up and smell the coffee. Hard to believe I've been shnookered, hoodwinked and bamboozled again!

Posted by Abby Dearest | March 20, 2008 2:59 PM

Thank you for this - I posted (on Feministing) earlier today that I wish you would deconstruct this letter, then lo and behold your blog was posted!

I do think that someone like Abby probably gives her letter writers the benefit of the doubt when questioning the authenticity (despite her fact checkers, who may have similar backgrounds).

She was probably sharp enough to apply her old lady-style bullshit detector on a story she imagined to be earnestly written by a real person, though fooled by the authenticity of the letter itself. I think that's where she was coming from in her advice - I really doubt she would ever blame a rape victim.

Posted by Jane Minty | March 20, 2008 4:19 PM

This scenario goes back a little further than Hustler or Penthouse. More like the French fabliaux of the 13th century that inspired Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer's advice to a man whose wife was swived would be simple: just beat the hell out of all three of your brothers. Problem solved!

Posted by Irena | March 20, 2008 11:32 PM

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