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Ask The Vatican Assassin (Single White Coed)

Got a problem? Well, your worries are over: We here at Shaking Through World Headquarters have an expert in the field of "problem-solving." When he’s not busy carrying on the noble tradition of the Knights Templar (“God’s Green Berets”)--snuffing out world leaders, dispatching demons and generally saving the world like a long-haired, street-smart James Bond--Vatican Assassin spends his free time indulging his every hedonistic whim, which gets him into lots of trouble. Who better to dole out helpful advice to the lovelorn, conflicted and confused?

Posted: May 9, 2002

Dear Vatican Assassin,

My new roommate is crazy about this guy, Phil, she met in her new Science lab. She talks about him constantly, how nice and sweet he is, and is very interested in pursuing a relationship with him and has asked my advice. Phil is indeed nice and sweet, and I've known him for a few years, since he went to high school with me and my friends. My roommate knows this, but what she doesn't know is that Phil, while a charming and honestly nice guy, is terrible boyfriend material. Since I've known him, I've never seen him in a relationship where he didn't cheat on the other person. Personally, I could never recommend him to one of my friends, because I don't think he'll change. I want to tell my roommate all of this, but I'm afraid she'll dismiss my concerns and do what she wants anyway, and when/if it goes bad it could create friction between us, and I have to live with this girl. On the one hand, I want to spare her (and myself) eventual grief, but on the other hand I don't really know her all that well, and who am I to butt into her love life? Should I tell her the truth or just let her make her own decisions?

Sign me --

Single White Coed

Dear Single White Coed:

You would think in a Science Lab that the rule of thumb is to observe closely and take good notes. Evidently, someone has been sniffing the formaldehyde while another is admiring the pretty fires that a Bunsen Burner can set.

Well, class, you'd better take good notes on this, because I've been trained by the Black Pope himself to repeat my advice only with the silencer on. Here's the deal: Crazy is the operative word for your friend here. Crazy like a scissors salesman in Oz (the Prison, mind you). My suggestion is: If she wants the guy so badly, nothing you say is going to change her mind. Period. I would stop with my letter here, but the editors here have some sort of deal going with my bosses and I have to turn in a certain amount of words per letter. (Editor's note: Shaking Through officially denies any such deal with the Vatican.) That said, let me continue.

Don't try to talk her out of it. In fact, explain to her in a calm and objective matter your concerns. I find a colorful puppet show with a prize at the end helps -- go with your own flow, though. The point is, by conveying your concerns to her, and more importantly stressing subtly and repeatedly your neutrality regarding her eventual decision, you are assured of what we at home base call taunting rights. Sure, we can console our friends in their times of grief and need, but when their grief is the result of something you've advised them against, often repeatedly, then you get taunting rights. Hell, you won't even have to say anything most times. The look in their pained and teary eyes lets you know that they know the fact, Jack: You were right. And deep down in the darkest part of your brain, where no moral can stand the light, there is a part of you doing the Pee Wee Herman Big Shoe Dance over knowing that you are now a living witness to having been right about something.

The most important thing to maintain here is more neutrality than Switzerland. If you really think this will be impossible to do, well, then, I guess you need more advice. And I'm just the guy to dispense it.

Say you express your concerns as I say. (NOTE: For God's sake don't talk to Phil about any of your concerns. If you do, you will be crossing the line from caring and concern to interfering and thus failures in the relationship or friendship will be pointed back to you. Trust me. They will make all the wrong moves without your interfering.) Now, say it all ends with him cheating on her and friction arises. You even admit that you don't know this girl all that well, so let's spell it out here. Your REAL concern isn't for anyone's feelings, but more like you don't want your roomie to develop into a bunny-boiling psychopath. (Understandable, really, in a mercenary sort of way.) Still, it's ironic that roomies are a lot like our lovers. Frequent and not far between. So if some kind of friction does arise, you possibly lose a roomie and have to break in a new one. And what do you think will happen if they DO hit it off? I mean like, really hit it off? (Anything is possible.) You're still out a roommate. However, when the smoke from the U-Haul clears you'll be left with something far better than stressing over how to avoid drama that in reality was unavoidable. You'll be left with your sanity. Sanity that you mentioned your concerns, concerns that were founded in fact from almost first-hand knowledge. The sanity of knowing that you did all that you could do. Our parents breathe the same sigh of relief when we do something right and shake their heads when we do something wrong. This is the same feeling we're dealing with here. Expressing right and wrong and hoping the child does what is best.

All in all, hey, whether it works out or not, or escalates in drama levels or not, you can always write me for my advice. I'm concerned for the well beings of hundreds of readers like you that I don't really know, and I try to spare you from your grief and frustrations. But who am I to butt into anyone's love life? No, I'm concerned that my creditors won't get paid. Really I am. Sincerely. I love that readers keep me in business.

And I'm going to take more Lab classes. Here I thought advice columns were the place to pick up girls. Boy, was I steered wrong. Somebody gave me some bad advice.

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