Dear Mr. Baxter

I KNOW WOMEN. I’ve read “Dear Abby.” Ironically, despite my dozens of years of experience wooing the ladies with words, champagne and well-placed winks, Abby was the lady with the only relationship advice I ever needed.


Every sex-advice column I’ve ever read, and every Loveline I’ve ever heard, and every chapter of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating” — a freshman year dormwarming present — just about hinges on simple communication.

People must have a really hard time being honest, direct and forthright. After all, successful careers are made giving out this advice.

Resident talk-show experts are more than happy to give out variations on a theme, paid mucho dinero all the way.

Just think of the possibilities.

Dear Mr. Baxter, mentor to all:

My fiancé of several years is a wonderful person I love more than life itself. He’s so sweet and endearing to me, and we’re getting married next summer.

The only problem is that I find his dirty videos all over the place. I don’t approve of his habit, and it seems like it’s just been getting worse. It was so embarrassing when my mother came over for dinner and a movie, but the movie turned out to be the “other” Pocahontas.

What should I do?

Prudence in Akron, Ohio.

Dear Prudence:

First of all, congratulations on your engagement and I wish you both the best of health in the future.

To answer your question, talk to him about it while offering a solution you both agree on. Then compromise. Then talk some more. Repeat as necessary.

Dear Mr. Baxter, philanthropist of thought:

My wonderful girlfriend of about a year is sexy and outgoing. We have a lot of fun together, and things are at just the right pace for both of us. We’re exactly alike in every way. Well, except the obvious ways.

The only problem is that her socks smell really bad. I mean, really bad. Really, really, really bad. It’s like a small rat died. It’s like the zombie rat made from the first rat ate and eventually replaced her feet four days later. It doesn’t help that her toenails are the same rusty yellow as rat teeth.

I’m finding it hard to get physically close, and our love life has faced a sharp decline as a result.

What should I do?

These Boots Were Made for Stinkin’ in Albany, N.Y.

Dear Stinkin’:

I suggest you carefully broach the topic with her. If stinky feet is a deal-breaker for you, be sure you get across the severity of your feelings toward her foot-stench. If it isn’t, let her know and then get over it — we all smell to some degree.

Dear Mr. Baxter, gentleman among gentlemen:

I’ve been married 35 years to my wonderful husband and father of my three children. He’s just an all-around great guy, but I just have a little problem: he’s physically, verbally and psychologically abusive and has been ever since we were dating.

What should I do?

Black-Eyed Plea from Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear Plea:

Sounds like you’re in denial. You have two choices: get a divorce — like you should have 34 years ago — or invent a time machine and then use it to prevent yourself from marrying this mistake.

Note: this involves talking to him. If he’s manipulative on top of everything else, do it through a lawyer.

This advice thing is almost too easy. The best part is that the advice really does carry over into my own love life.

I remember this one time I told my girlfriend that she had few if any redeeming qualities, and that as a consequence I would divorce as soon as I named our first son.

She had quite the look of shock on her face. Of course, I was just kidding. I told her that immediately, and followed it up with a kicker.

“Seriously, honey?” I said. “I would never marry you.”

Problem solved — that’s the power of communication. I have the bruises to prove it.

Benjamin Baxter is a post-baccalaureate student working toward his high school credential in social science.

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