Have a problem? Chances are Cary Tennis Has a(n) answer

Since You Asked by Cary Tennis
Since You Asked by Cary Tennis

Cary Tennis has been penning the Since You Asked column for Salon.com, since 2001, offering sagely advice on such topics as:

  • Help! I’m falling for a fat man — Weighing in, in Washington
  • My wife quit shaving her legs and it turns me off — Worried in South Carolina
  • I’m a gifted high achiever who wants to be a flight attendant —Undecided
  • At what point can I just give up on my son? — Giving Up on the Kid
  • Should I stick with my girlfriend through here cancer? — Confused in Colorado
  • If my wife dressed better, would gay guys stop hitting on me? — Amused in North Carolina
  • I used to be funny, but now I’m boring and self-conscious — Self-conscious
  • I’m not sure I have a self. How do I get one? — Missing in action

To tell the truth, I chose these particular titles because I thought the subjects were sufficiently far from the Old Mill (and the proverbial “run of”), to grab your interest, Valued Reader; Cary’s great at “normal” problems as well, problems of sex, relationships, drugs, abuse, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Did I mention sex and drugs?

I’m not talking about the kind of lets-see-how-clever-and-obscure, pun-riddled and self-congratulatory showing off that—say—Amy Alkon proffers as being “wit” in her weekly Advice Goddess column. (Note: I mean no disrespect to Ms. Alkon; In fact, I regularly skim her musings every week in the Reno News & Review—no matter how unintelligible they may be).

Nope. Cary writes from the heart and the brain (or vice-versa), and I have to admit: I’m a fan. He’s a mensch of the old school, and a person who tempers honest wisdom with a big, fat helping of empathy, and an extraordinary way with words.

Interspersed with a game plan that includes the usual counseling and other support options to Giving Up on the Kid, he offers this insight:

This has got to be extremely painful for you. You need help managing the emotional pain you are in . . . There will be no quick fixes. But it is the only thing you can do that holds the possibility of getting through the next 10 years with some dignity and some understanding, and without a tragic outcome.

Advice that elevates the commonplace to the extraordinary .

In his advice to Confused in Colorado, he writes:

People often say things happen for a reason. I don’t necessarily believe that. But I believe we must live life as if things happen for a reason. We must create meaning. Otherwise we’re just sick, pathetic, clueless bastards!

And, to Self-consious:

When [people’s] eyes glaze over it is not just abject boredom but abject fear, because unconsciously they realize:  This is their fate too. We will all become boring. . . .

. . . I cannot stand the silence, and I don’t really care, so I fill it up with junk, like an old redneck pulling up to the rock pit with a truck full of couches.

I wish I could write as Cary does. I’ve managed to attend a couple of his San Francisco Workshops on those few occasions when money and time managed to coincide.

In 2007, Cary collected these and a bunch of his other column and self-published them as Since You Asked: The best of Salon’s Cary Tennis.* I strongly suggest you grab a copy. Not necessarily because you suffer one of the myriad spiritual maladies that Cary is so ept at diagnosing and prescribing for, but because simply absorbing his observations will have your head nodding in silent agreement and saying to yourself, yeah, yeah.

I wish I could write as Cary does. I’ve managed to attend a couple of his San Francisco Workshops on those few occasions when money and time managed to coincide.

Maybe I should just ask him.

* This links to Cary’s website shopping cart. Since You Asked is also available through Amazon and Salon, but I figured, “Why shouldn’t he get all the money?”

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