THE RUMPUS ADVICE COLUMN: Insulting Questions Get Surly Responses


Dear Sugar,

I am a son who feels lowly today. The reason why is that yesterday was my mother’s birthday, and I forgot. No card, no flowers, not even a phone call. I live 3,000 miles away from her, and haven’t seen her in almost a year, and now this. My question to you is: how can I make it up to her?

(Side note: My parents are still married, so a night of me being her wingman isn’t going to cut it).

Bad Son Trying to Make Good


Dear Bad Son,

You can’t make it up to her. What’s more, the assumption that you somehow could is a key component of what we’ll call your Chronic Assholitude. You sound like the kind of guy who wants credit for feeling guilty about his inaction in the face of clear and easily fulfilled emotional responsibilities. And who, not so secretly, wants to be thought well of for his self-inflicted anguish. In other words, you sound like five of the six men I married.

Because it’s not like this is some epic quandary that needs special Sugar sauce. You write her a heartfelt letter of apology and thanks for all she’s done. You acknowledge that you haven’t been the best son, but you love her deeply. You send flowers. You rifle through the crusty fannypack of your mind and come up with some gift that would mean a lot to her, and no I don’t mean a gift card to the Olive Garden. Something distinct to her actual fucking desires as a distinct human being on earth. If you’re struggling with this, consult your father or siblings. They’ll be reminded what an asshole you are, but that’s not exactly a state secret at this point.

Sorry to harsh on you, Bad Son. But I and every other woman on earth has heard some version of this masculine wolf cry every day for the past several decades. It wears on us. So get your ass off-line and find some nice stationery and some nice wrapping paper and pretend to give a shit about someone other than yourself for, like, half an hour.

Oh, and if you’re at all confused about why you owe your mother such honest regret and actual reverence, grease up a good-sized Cornish Game Hen and stick it up your ass. It’s not at all the same thing, but close enough for our purposes.


Dear Sugar,

I woke up this morning to find a loose, glass coffee table in my backyard. I don’t know where it is from or why it is there. Is this a sign, similar to a horse head in the bed? Or rather, destiny. Perhaps a secret admirer. I don’t know. I have a bit of personal history with loose glass tables and car windows. More specifically, glass usually gets broken in my presence.  The question is, what do I do with the table?

Christopher Walken on Broken Glass


Dear Chris,

What the fuck’s going on here? Did Indie Rockboy School let out last week? Why am I only getting letters from too-clever dudes who keep getting their “work” rejected by McSweeney’s? Where all the ladies at?

Can I just say it?

Sugar is lonely.

Here we are, six months into our supposed new era of idealism, and the moral discourse of our country remains as self-concerned and mindless and hate-choked as before. We can do better than this with our suffering, folks.

Sugar is hereby on vacation unless and until I hear from people whose problems reside in their hearts not their egos.