Dear Dr. Faux:
Here’s a holiday dilemma, and I bet you aren’t surprised. This season I plan to be out of the country to avoid the usual craziness of traffic, shopping, and unpleasant dinners with my family, and they are always unpleasant. I’m fine with cutting and running, but I don’t like lying about it to my family. Do you think it’s better to lie and avoid hurt feelings, or tell the truth and keep my integrity? I can’t make up my mind. Please sign me,
Splitting in Salem
Dr. Faux has yet to receive a check from this publication, and he is now writing his third column. Without that check and soon Dr. Faux will be saying goodbye. Why don’t you try the same simple approach to the absurdly complex problem you have given yourself about the holidays, your vacation and your family— something about lying and integrity and whatever else you said. Pay attention. Repeat after Dr. Faux, “Goodbye!” Again, “Goodbye.” That word, in isolation, nothing else, no explanation. Stand in front of the mirror and practice if you must. Wear different hats as you say the word. A fedora, something in straw, a visor, baseball cap. Have a guidebook in your hand, a beach ball or binoculars and smile, big smile. “Goodbye.” Dr. Faux would further suggest that if you are feeling expansive and talkative and feel an obligation to explain your vacation, say, “Goodbye. See you after the holidays.” And that is all you say. Try different accents or even better learn how to say goodbye in different languages, the languages of the countries that you will be visiting. “Au revoir,” “ Adios,” “Sayonara,” for example. Practice a jaunty wave, with your arm extended, none of this business with the fingers, the loathsome pinky wave. Try it now. “Goodbye!” and a big wave. It’s what Dr. Faux will do if his check doesn’t arrive and soon; he will just say goodbye. Pay attention. This could be the last summation, the final wisdom, that Dr. Faux will provide in this column if his check doesn’t arrive and soon. On the day of your holiday departure and not before, on your way to the airport, or train station, the terminus of whatever conveyance you have chosen, have the taxi stop at the home of the alpha member of your family. It could be a father or it could be a sister-in-law. Probably a sister-in-law. Pay attention. This is what you will say when you have reached sis’s home. “Driver, stop here.” Now get out of the cab and walk to sis-in-law’s doorway; you are carrying your beach ball or if you are planning a hunting expedition out of the country, a rifle. Dr. Faux does not approve, but you could be carrying a rifle. Knock, knock, knock. The door opens and sis is standing there, her cement bouffant scratching the ceiling. “Why, hello, Splitting in Salem,” she says. “What is that you’re carrying? Why, that looks like a big ol’ gun!” And she will go on about the big ol’ gun if you allow it. You must not allow it so put up your arm—the one not carrying the rifle—and wave, big wave, and say, “Goodbye,” And if you must, “See you after the holidays.” And turn and walk down the walkway, the one lined so artistically with seasonal flowers. Sis will say, “But, but, but…Where are you going, Splitting in Salem?” And you will say— listen very carefully for this is important— “Sorry, got to go, cab waiting.” And that’s all you say until you get in the cab. At which time you may roll down the window and wave again, and say, “Goodbye!”
A Special Note from Dr. Faux: And at this time on this date, Dr. Faux is saying goodbye. He is not writing— an impulsive decision perhaps, the sun is setting through his Airstream’s window, a slash of vodka—he is not writing one more word. No answer to the second pitiable letter he has in front of him. Dr. Faux gives his all and requires compensation. Dr. Faux promised answers to two questions with each column, but without a check he feels that the contractual obligation has been voided. He trusts that the matter can be resolved, but until that time, Goodbye! 11/6/09, 5:38 P.M., Whisper Valley Trailer Park
From the editor: We apologize for the brevity of this column but are happy to report that the matter has been resolved and that Dr. Faux has received a replacement check, delivered by the editor with a special trip to Whisper Valley Trailer Park. Dr. Faux will return in the next issue with a full column. The problem, predictably, was with the erratic mail service for Whisper Valley Trailer Park. It seems that a bag of mail had been left on the stage of the karaoke bar that the mail carrier frequents; Dr. Faux’s check was in that bag. The editor apologizes to Dr. Faux for the inconvenience he was caused. Dr. Faux is a man of great value to this publication, and we are exploring other methods of delivering his monthly compensation. Dr. Faux has suggested a private messenger, but that is not an economically viable solution. The editor believes that he will be making a monthly trip to Whisper Valley. Again, our apologies to Dr. Faux.