It's official, the column has moved

Ok gang, I was going to transfer the content and stuff from here, but I think I'll leave it where it is for now. But, dearwinifred is now officially open for business. So, don't slack off on those letters...please, I love telling people what to do...won't you help me live my dreams? ;)

Send letters, queries, questions, and small tasteful jewels to Dear Winifred.


I think we have a winner! Bob, tell them what they've won....

Well gang, it looks like the new column name will be Dear Winifred. I've already set up the user account dearwinifred, and I'll start moving content over today and tomorrow, and try to get and intro to Winifred and some new letters answered after that. Sorry about the delay. Thanks to everyone who took time to vote and give me your opinions. There were some really fabulous ideas...some of which I thought were probably too esoteric for the populace at large...but that I loved. Thanks also to my linguist buddies who provided some interesting info and caught a couple of typos.

I'm really hoping to see everyone at the new page! Keep sending in those letters! :)

Cassandra....er, Winifred

The oracle didn't see this coming...

So, I'm an idiot, I admit it. I didn't think to do a web or trademark search for Dear Cassandra. D'oh! Turns out, another advice columnist has been using that name for almost 3 years now. Bad form for me to use the same one, don't you know. Anyway, I'm brainstorming about new names and domain names for the column (syndication stuff). If you've got the time, please take the poll and give me your opinions, ideas, or any other thought you feel like sharing. :)

Future readers thank you. The thousands of people with troubles thank you. But mostly, I thank you. :)
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to blow or not to blow...that is the questions

Dear Cassandra, 

I have always been a little shy when it comes to sex. Don't take that the wrong way, I enjoy sex! I just have never been any good at initiating it and have always been uncomfortable performing fellatio. I guess I fear that I am going to be turned down or that I am not doing it right. 

First, how can I convince myself that I am doing a good job, no pun intended. He has said I do, but he could just be saying that. I have tried to listen for moans, but he doesn't do much of that at all. Once I even caught him watching the TV while I was in the middle of it, which really didn't help with my insecurities. 

Second, I don't know why I think I will be rejected. I have a boyfriend who loves me. I just can't stand the rejection, even if it has nothing to do with me. There are times when I really want to, but I just can't bring myself to be forward about it. I am sure he is getting tired of having to be the one to initiate all the time, he may even wonder if I am still interested in him. I have tried being subtle about it, but maybe I am being too subtle. I don't know why I am like this? I am tired of not being able to express what I feel? How can I get my point across without feeling like I am setting myself up for rejection?

Willing, but nervous


Dear Willing, 

Fear can be overwhelming if you let it.  And if you think about it...the way the fear makes you feel is much worse than hearing "oh babe, I'm just exhausted...can I make it up to you tomorrow?" could ever be.  And I doubt you'd hear that often, if at all.  Fear of rejection can be from so many causes and be buried so deep that it's unfair to you for me to try to dissect it on a forum as brief as this one.  But, when it comes to offering nookie of any variety, to any red-blooded virile man, the odds of rejection are minutely slim. 

Something to keep in mind about men...they will always say yes to a blow job.  Always, always, always.  They're like that.  Everything makes them think of oral sex. You eating a hot dog.  You eating a banana.  Water pumps.  Clouds.  Car vibrations. There are many techniques and tricks to giving amazing oral sex...but really, even bad oral sex, (if there is such a beast), is still oral sex.  As long as your teeth are not scraping, the suction is not hard enough to start a Harley, and your tongue is doing the dance of the seven veils...trust me, you're doing it right.  

But, you can't presume men will understand the shadings of women's subtlety...it's not fair to expect them to think like us. Don't infer that he knows "Want to snuggle?"  means "Hey tiger, come rip my clothes off and take me like a pirate!"  It's not a rejection if he doesn't know an offer has been made. 

A subtle hint about sex, from a male perspective, would be for you to come out in a corset, stockings, and six inch heels and say "Hey there sailor, looking for a good time?"  Another subtle way to trick them out of their trousers is to look over and say, "You know what I was thinking would be fun?  Oral sex."  These are the types of discreet hints that they understand.  

I foresee a trip to Victoria's Secret and a night of hot passion in your future. 




Mail your questions to Dear Cassandra.


Men, Dangly Bits, and things best left private

Dear Cassandra, 

My husband likes porn, but I don't. I'm not a prude - I just don't like it. It bothers me that he is getting sexual gratification from other women; isn't that similar to cheating? He thinks nothing is wrong with a married (father of three) viewing porn, but I think it's vulgar, not to mention juvenile. What do you think?




Dear Affronted , 

People masturbate.  They do.  It's natural, it's healthy, and it feels good.  Most guys, even with an active sex life, still masturbate regularly.  Let's face it, most guys are like monkeys, they would masturbate all the time if we didn't make them wear pants. Now, granted, none of us want to be compared to airbrushed 18 year old Buffy...but believe it or not...men aren't comparison shopping when they've got those magazines open. 

I realize that the standard advice column answer would be to agree with you that it's vulgar and juvenile and say that he should stop it out of respect for you, and so on...but the fact is that you're not respecting him by allowing him some private time with his dangly bits. Guys need private time with their dangly bits.  It makes them happy.  

By the same token, there's a time and a place.  For instance, Deep Throat on the screen when your parents are over for dinner...bad.  But a Playboy hidden in the bathroom, or a few stolen moments in the computer room...harmless...let it go.  Or, go put on your Naughty Nurses uniform and join in the fun...

Steamily yours, 



Dining with the unknown

Dear Cassandra,

I'm soon to be  married and am about to meet the in-laws for the first time.  They've invited themselves to our house for dinner, and the problem is that I can't cook.  I suppose I probably can cook, but I don't.  We're both very busy, and work exceedingly long hours.  After 12 or 13 hours playing corporate and traffic war, neither of us are in the mood to whip up a souffle when we get home. Our usual menu consists of take out, delivery and salads.  What should I do about unplanned dinner guests?  


Not Martha Stewart 


Dear Not Martha, 

Don't feel bad...none of us are Martha Stewart, as very few of us have hundreds of staff running around the house doing the real work.  Good cabana boys are hard to find these days.  I have two suggestions...an easy one and one that requires a little more work.  The easy one would be to make dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant for about an hour after the in-laws are due to arrive.  This gives you time to meet and greet and then allays a lot of potential awkwardness by shooing everyone out into public, where everyone is on their best behavior.  

The more difficult one would be to suck it up, put aprons on you and the mate-to-be, and do your best to attempt dinner.  It's really not that hard...unless you're attempting something from Cordon Bleu school of overwhelming recipes.  I'll give you a menu and a couple of recipes to get you started.  You can do amazing stuff with things in jars these days. :) 

Here's a menu: 

Appetizers: Bruschetta 

  • Loaf of Italian or crusty French bread, cut into 1" slices
  • 1 1/2 Pounds Ripe Tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic Clove -- cut in half
  • About a cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Salt And Pepper -- To Taste
  • 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Fresh grated parmesan...not that weird stuff in the plastic bottle.

Core the tomatoes then squeeze gently to remove most of seeds and juice. Dice into cubes, salt, and place on paper towels to drain. Chop basil and loosely toss  tomatoes and basil together. Put bread on baking sheet and toast for a few minutes.  Pour olive oil into small bowl.  Using a kitchen brush (or new paintbrush), brush toast lightly with olive oil.  Rub garlic cloves over the bread.   Spread the tomato/basil mixture on bread.  Cover with parmesan, put under the broiler for about 4 minutes.  Done. :)   (I like to add pesto to my bruschetta...but making pesto isn't easy.  Email me if you want the recipe.) 


Fresh spinach, roma tomatoes, feta cheese and a good balsamic vinaigrette. 

 Main Course: Spaghetti with Italian Sausage

  • 1 lb good Italian sausage from the butcher
  • 1 jar Classico roasted tomato and basil sauce
  • 1 lb sliced mushrooms (fresh)
  • 1 package spaghetti noodles
  • Assorted kitchen spices and leftover basil and tomato from bruschetta recipe.


Saute sausage, drain fat, add mushrooms and any leftover tomatoes and basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and salt, saut� together for about 3 minutes. Add Classico.  (Rinse out jar and hide it at the bottom of your recycle bin.)  Simmer for as long as you want.  

When you're just about ready to eat, cook the pasta to al dente (timing directions should  be on the package).  

Timing: Start the sauce an hour or two before they're to arrive.  This fills the house with cooking smell goodness. Yum. Salad, minus dressing, can be prepped now too.  Bruschetta can be done while everyone is chatting over wine in the kitchen.  Have appetizers, sit everyone down, serve salads, throw pasta in, set timer for pasta.  When pasta is done, drain...but do not rinse. Make plates in the kitchen, serve with any leftover bread or bruschetta, sit down, relax and eat. :) 

It'll all be good.  Cooking is pretty easy and the in-laws are not coming to terrorize you...yet.  They save that up for after the wedding. :) 

I foresee yummy dinners in your future. :) 

Waving her apron, 


Mail your questions to Dear Cassandra.


a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

Dear Cassandra,

I am an older woman. I have just found my first love again. He is in the process of getting a divorce from his wife of 30 years. She is amicable about the divorce, has said that it is mutual. Cassie, why am I feeling guilty about splitting from my boyfriend of 16 years, who likes nothing but drinking and  gambling, is retired with a very moderate income, and likes to throw money away. I have been basically paying all the major bills while he paid some, mostly the ones he cared about like half the house payment, but has no desire to pay for flood insurance or homeowners insurance on the structure or contents of the house. He thinks because he is 8 years older than me, I am throwing him away - tossing him to the curb, as he puts it. 

Please help me look past the blame I am feeling and look forward to a relationship with my first love who wants to only take care of me and love me, wants me to quit work and be a lady of leisure.  He doesn't drink, only an occasional glass of wine with dinner. He says he would never "go out drinking". He will only go out with me. He has a "house" that he wants us to make our "home". He wants to travel with me (which I have always wanted).  How can I keep the guilty feeling ... blame ... from getting to me? The boyfriend keeps saying, Why are you doing this to me?????

Thank you Cassandra!

Signed, Befuddled


Dear Befuddled, 

On one hand, it's nice to see that getting older doesn't mean getting any less active...if you follow my drift...but on the other hand, it's depressing to realize that the same problems you had in high school, college, and the first training marriage are still around when you're looking for your estrogen drops. Proof that man does not evolve quickly, I suppose.  

As to why you're feeling guilty...hmmm, are you Catholic?  That'll do it.  Heck, just hanging out with nuns can instill a lifetime of guilt for daring to follow your own bliss.  Ok, let's deal with this one man at a time.  

  1. Man number one(M1): Potential new playmate.  Theoretically getting a divorce (and what woman hasn't heard that line from a married man?).  Financially independent...even though he'll be paying off alimony and divorce settlements until the grave.  Claims that he wants you to become a bon-bon eating bon vivant, living the high life of a lady of leisure.  (I believe my mother refers to them as the "Ladies Who Lunch".)
  2. Man number two(M2):  Current playmate.  Bad with money.  Expects you to pay not only your share, but pay for the privilege of watching him gamble away his (and possibly your) security.  Tries to instill guilt when you consider escaping. Prefers that you become one of the Ladies Who Bring Lunch.  However, been around for 16 years, so you've probably grown accustomed to his face.  

I suggest the following; move into your own space...taking neither of them with you...or get M2 to leave if he's living in your house.   When M1 is actually divorced...and you've seen the papers, add him to your dating roster. Date M2 as the feeling, or boredom, compels...but under no circumstances should you be underwriting his reality.  Bugger that for a lark. Consider adding M3 and M4 to the roster, should you find yourself with free evenings.  Enjoy the time you're with them...but also enjoy the time you have alone.  You may find that you're one of the most interesting people you know...even if you have heard yourself tell the same story over and over and over again.  From you, it's interesting.  No, really!

You are in an enjoyable stage of your life, where you get to reap the benefits of a life well spent...now is not the time to become self-sacrificing.  And frankly, as the poet put it, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle".  I mean, sure...they're fun to have around, they brighten up a room, they look good in trousers, it's easier to get reservations with one...but they're not a necessity. 



Mail your questions to Dear Cassandra.


apologies, dear readers

My dearest readers,

Those literate friends of whom I am so fond...please forgive me for not having a letter today. For I have letters; letters with questions, letters than need answers...but alas, I find myself fallen prey to a tiny microbe known as a "germ". Apparently, this "germ" has the power to make me turn green and wish I was dead. Darned germs. You'd think in the thousands of years we've had to develop biological warfare, someone could have taken the time to fix germs. But oh no...germs are out there, cavorting about like freshman at their first spring break...and all we can do is hope to avoid them.

And I apologize that my mind cannot fully be occupied by solving problems, even one's as important as are currently in my in-box, when many of my thoughts are consumed by the lovely thought of a nice bowl of soup. But, you dear readers, I don't want to leave you bereft of reading material. Thus, I give you an oldie but a goody. Here is a letter from the Smithsonian in reply to an amateur archeologist who has sent them a sample of a 'new hominid' skeleton.

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull." We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie". It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings. However, we do feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to it's modern origin:

1. The material is molded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilized bone.

2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimeters, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.

3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with the common domesticated dog than it is with the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it. Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on.

B. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in it's normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results. Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation's Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name "Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to the Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your back yard. We eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital that you proposed in your last letter, and several of us are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix" that makes the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science,
Harvey Rowe
Curator, Antiquities

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When Dysfunction meets an agenda

Dear Cassandra,
My mother is offering to fly me and my boyfriend back to my hometown for Thanksgiving. This is really cool, as I'll be able to see my family who I haven't seen in quite awhile.  The problem is, I can't stand being around my mother for more than a day at a time. I love the woman, but she's found religion and has become very "preachy".  I really don't want to spend a whole weekend with her in her small apartment. 

To add to this dilemma, my mother is also currently not talking to my brother and sister-in-law because of some imagined slight. I love them very much and really want to spend time with them and my nieces while I am in town. So, do I risk offending my mother after she has just spent close to $1000 to fly me into town by telling her that I don't want to stay at her house? We would end up staying with my brother if this happened - which I fear could turn into an biblical scale family feud!

Dysfunctional Daughter


Dear DysD,

It's always hard to say what will set Moms off.  In this instance, I think I'd make an agenda and discuss it with your mom, and see if she still wants to buy the tickets.  For example, if you arrive on a Friday, plan to spend all day Friday and Friday night with your Mom, but explain that you'd like to see your brother and his family on Saturday and Saturday night.  Then...potentially a big compromise on your part...offer to go with her to church on Sunday and spend the rest of the day with her, until it's time for you to leave.  

That way she still feels as though she's getting the majority of quality time with you, but it also gives you a chance to visit with the rest of your family and avoid the homilies for an evening. 

I predict a festive fall homecoming!




Mail your questions to Dear Cassandra.