Miss April Advises: #1 Fan, Christmas Present .

Dear Miss April,

few months back i got a new friend. one of my clients at work. A smart engineer, in his fourties. He gives you a serious first impression but as you get to know him, you soon realise he is a fun, social seeetheart. He’s preety cool and i am crazy about his friend !

so recently we met after holidays and he gives me a gift, “just a christmas gift” (he describes) actually a misunderstanding because my colleague/best friend at work got him a present and he thought it was me when i cleared things… was too late, he had given me the gift already… A beautiful enormous red heart, some sort of pillow he bought back home and nicely packed.

heartwarming, i hardly get gifts 😦

Now afcourse i have to give something in return… no surprise here, i dont know what to give.

thinking i have this really cool electronic cigar with nice flavours to go along.(no tobacco)

and i went to ask him. our convo…

Do you smoke? he replied no.
me: Because you can’t or you dont want to? He says: just never been curious, i smoke yes but not tobacco,why?He asks. I said: Because i have something really nice i want you to try. That def made him curious. he kept asking about it all day long 😀 but i never gave him in time because he travelled.

He is coming back soon and now i have to choose, i either give him the electronic cigar or a pen (that might be expensive)

my friends say an electronic cigar is not an appropriate gift for a non smoker but i keep on insisting with this because it will save me less i dont have to buy it 🙂 and I dont think the electronic cigar will hook him up but i also dont want to look like someone who offers things that can be addictive. electronic cigar is safe for me atleast. Oh and I also want to make an awesome impression in his friend with the gift.

Ok my dear miss salvation, help me decide please ? whats your opinion with the electronic cigar ? if its a no then any other ideas …


your #1 fan xoxo


Dear Dearest of Dears,

I do declare, I am beginning to know you. Yet, I do not know thine age. What year are you in, my dear? I hear many readers now cry out – what oft this? How does age matter? Well, I’m of the belief that usually the people who claim “age is no matter” are much older men justifying undeclared dalliances. I bring this up because your attention falls upon a man in his forties. Of such a mature age, is he not married? Committed? I say to you, if he is, why on earth is he handing out heart shaped pillows? (I mean apart from learning seduction techniques from the Sweet Valley High series with a babysitter fetish).

If he is not betrothed, in his forties and a sophisticated, connected man of the world, how on earth does he think such a gift would win someone over?

Enough of your coquettishness. Do not prevaricate around the bush. If you are desirous of presenting a gift of an electronic cigar (what on earth is this?) or a pen, why not go all out and just get a penis shaped bottle opener? Does phallic symbolism mean nothing anymore? Forgive me for my maternal extinct, but my suggestion is gift him with a fire extinguisher and expunge this ill-fated dalliance before it has time to engulf everyone around it.

You are bored. You need to get a better hobby then dull old men. With best wishes for your happiness,
Miss April

PS. True friends don’t fuck around with ridiculous gifts.

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Miss April Advises: Help Didit, Help Me!

Dear Miss April,

A childish prank has got slightly out of hand and left me in a bit of a pickle. Quite an embarrassing pickle as it happens. Due to a serious miscarriage of justice, I find myself residing permanently in the local lunatic asylum. Do not upset yourself over this. It is not such a bad life. The problem arose when I decided to bring some excitement and laughter into the very dull lives of my fellow inmates who do little more than rock back and forwards in their chairs all day long or scream at the invisible people in the asylum. I felt certain that having entered the asylum kitchen and laced the staff luncheon with a mixture of strychnine and strong laxatives, a good deal of amusement would be provided for the inmates. Strychnine as you may know causes severe convulsions and of course laxatives have a single purpose for which they are most effective. The two combined are guaranteed to cause a good deal of hilarity (except of course for the person who has ingested the mix). The problem arose when I decided to add something special to the event by setting fire to the mattress in my cell. The mattresses we use are quite old and tend to be stuffed with horse hair and goodness knows what else and create a thick black cloud of toxic fumes when burnt. I have accidentally pulled the door of my cell behind me and it has locked. I cannot attract the attention of the staff who are otherwise engaged after having enjoyed their luncheon. I cannot extinguish the mattress and a cloud of toxic fumes is spreading slowly toward me. Dear Miss April, what should I do? I would appreciate your wise advice at your earliest convenience. Yours hopefully, Alfred Didit.

Dear Mr Didit

Oh, alas, wellaway, Mr Didit, wellaway….

I am overcome with self-loathing as I must assume that sir, you have passed. It has been a good week gone now, and unlike those who have been born in a modern age, I do not visit the lights of my computer regularly. I am often sitting in the garden for days on end, waiting for a lover to run over the hilltop – poetry, flowers, sunshine, my life is an imagination taking place outdoors. It is my utter disgrace to have left you locked indoors amidst your fiery hellish doom.

Alas, you have passed. My dear sir, may you find peace.

However, for those who are reading and find some similarity in your circumstance let me help you thusly. For God’s sake, use the fire extinguisher. None about? Use the woolen blanket. Throw it over the flames to smother the oxygen, hence suffocating the red dancing demon. He is gloating you know.

Now let me address some more serious pathologies of lovely Mr Didit. Death is not entertainment except to the psychopaths. Psychopaths do not need advice, they do not accept advice, they do not deserve advice. Those of others who are in bedlam but are not psychopaths are not by default dull. Oh no, they are most likely very ill and just trying to survive.

From your enjoyment of the combination of poo and eccentricity you reveal yourself as an anglophile, or merely a British Royal. Bravo, sir. You have made it to the history books. If you did not run and jump, escaping through the closest window into the murky moat, or as suggested used that lovely woolen blanket as a saviour, then I bid you farewell Sir. Life has come, and life has passed, and perhaps we are all the safer for it.

Remember Didit, fire and sexual repression go hand in hand, so hands off,
yours, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Hair Affair – snow-fro sex.

Dear Miss April,

I’m going out on a limb here, but I am thinking of dating a man with an sno-fro.

However, my issue lies not with the ‘fro’ itself but rather the silhouette of the afroe mentioned man when post-coitally wet. In polite and sometimes impolite company his often buoyant locks and joi de coiffure fill the room.

Should we unite as one of backs and cracks, and spend a dream loosened from the stream of lucidity, then shaken in the fur light of the morning as tulips wilt or weep, one can be taken to flee at the sight of a freshly showered poodle. What was once a throng of bubbling follicle froth is suddenly a limp moist tonsure tossed from the tub in lost hope.

Of course I hypothesise as the scene of my distress is still a play to be run but the problem lies in that the cast are ready to mount the stage and I can only see one act. What should I do?

Cordially yours

Hair Affair

Dear Hair Affair

Bravo to your cocksure wordsmithing! Continue to wax lyrical like Lord Byron and I might be out on a limb myself if I were so endowed.

There is such familiar comfort for me in your combination of confidence and pessimism in the face of good fortune, it reminds one of….oh yes, you must be Jewish, Neurotic, Catholic, an over-analytical stuck-up aesthete.

You are contemplating dating a snow-fro gent; let us assume that he is willing to accept said scenario and we have two protagonists in this play of life. Surely your admiration of him runs deeper than the personification of his natural bouffant? But already you fear a limp, flaccid snow-fro will have the equivalent effect on your desire…for an encore.

The most important piece of advice I have for you here is that if post-coital meeting of the secret gardens you aren’t both sodden messes you clearly aren’t doing it right. To be sure, I would not underestimate the resilience of a genetically formed snow-fro, nonetheless if it does metamorphose it is your duty as a lover to allow uninhibited vulnerability. It is your duty to yourself to allow the same for you. Or else, where’s the fun?

My second piece of advice may have more lasting significance. I say this to you – enter stage one with the true intentions of a thoughtful Thespian. Introduce these characters to each other; get to know them, allow the inhibitions to dissipate along the journey, and leave the consummation for the finale, by which time even if the snow-fro turns into a bathmat it may do so without fear of repulsion, merely the sense of satisfaction for a job well done.

Break a leg Hair Affair, may pleasure be your applause,
Most affectionately, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Cheer Leader – blind happy gesamtkunstwerk

Dear Miss April,

I think of myself as a positive person. I like to greet the world with objective optimism. Over the the holiday season I have begun to doubt the effect of my ebullience. Even on tiresome Xmas lunches I’ve chattered nattily. I tried engaging teenagers and techno toddlers. I even chucked the cheeks of grumpy uncles. Now the pudding is gone, I am getting feedback that I am “too blindly happy”. It seems my cheer is causing some chagrin and I am being viewed as witless for my mere wish to spread some joy and cheer up some pitiful stained lives.
Ever the optimist, I changed tack and decided to try empathy. I hit a hard crowd as my first target was that hot bed of apathy, teenagers. Ignored, I moved onto Gen Y’ers. It was plainly illustrated that was too ironic in my desire to elevate in a set of protracted text messages. It appears hopefulness can seep out my crevices to be detected by the entitled schadenfreud[ians] of the Y type.
Every where I turn my effusiveness is spurned. I feel backed into a grey rabbit felt corner. Can Beuys help? Or Gin perhaps?
Should I go for gold and join the scientologists or not worry and be happy?

Yours enthusiastically

Cheer leader

Dear Cheer Leader

In short – yes to Beuys, gin and happiness; no to Scientology and worry. However, if you have a spot of spare time come take my hand and let us inspect this further under the microscope…

I would like to begin by stating that I completely understand. The scenarios you mention are not uncommon to my personal observations, but they are rare. There are unique personalities who show ‘ebullience’ in social situations to people they are acquainted with or have just been introduced, about subjects they initiate, the music playing or not playing, participating wholeheartedly with motives pure but mistaken by others. Often it is an expression of enthusiasm that is unfamiliar to almost everyone there because it lies beyond the boundary of that which is socially expected and experienced. Unwittingly, your cheer unnerves them. What could be going through the minds of these average Joes and Jills? Goodness only knows, but I suspect they could possibly be thinking – is this odd character genuine? Is this bundle of joy ironically casting aspersions upon me? Is this spoken word actually English? Who is Beuys?

It is possible you are threatening them, Cheer. Most likely they would not even be able to articulate fully why this is so, hence accusations of being ‘witless’. Let us not blame them totally, as recent research shows it does take a certain amount of stupidity to be happy these days; deep thinking tends toward sadness. Gosh, we are within an era of anxious pessimism deeply entrenched in politically correctness and hip social engagement, so your enthused glee might not be de rigueur right at the moment.

I know it is very seductive to demonise those who reject us, but although you do succumb to this somewhat I find that you also display an admirable quality. You are self-aware enough to try again. Ys, grey bandits, babes, teens, all in the season of Christmas cheer must be family, friends, or a degree separated. You have a reason to try again, you want to connect with them so you try different approaches. Well done. Not many people can lay claim to this type of reflection, resilience and persistence. This displays a commitment to a most notable aspect of humanity, the need to be understood, and here you are attempting both – to be understood and to understand. Or are you? I have a niggle, Cheer, and only you can answer this. Is your ebullience a guard, a shield, a deflection to vulnerability? Perhaps your level of cheer creates an instinctive distrust in others because they have sense of a facade, and therefore they do not know the mystery underneath, is it innocent or malevolent?

My advice to you is this: reflect on my suggestion, reject or accept as truthfully as you can and see where that leads you. Regardless, you obviously have a natural predilection for Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk which spills over into your everyday conversation techniques. What you might find is that your approach will eventually pay off. Persistence is key. Much like the joy a familiar musical score can bestow upon a crowd, the crux is familiarity. A few Christmases down the track you will find those who once disdained you look forward to your entertaining if somewhat perplexing interchange and you become a favourite of said soirees.

If, after time and effort, you find that still there is no success then yes, perhaps they are a bunch of simpletons, bastards and dullards, and by all means allow yourself the fecundity to not worry and be happy – Viva Gesamtkunstwerk! 

Keep cheering,
Yours, Miss April

Postscript: At no point, under no circumstance, in no world imaginary or real, could I possibly advise you to join an (alleged) expensive cult as a cure for woe or path to joy. I would happily discuss this further but really, that’s another most extensive post.

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Miss April Advises on Art Gallery Etiquette

Dear Readers,

As you may recall I responded recently to Distance Admirer in regard to issues concerning appropriate behaviour at public art exhibitions.

You can then, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I happened across wisdom from the ages which supported my general thesis. What was sound advice to the best American society in 1880 remains steadfastly appropriate for today’s art goers.

“In visiting picture-galleries one should always maintain the deportment of a gentleman or lady. Make no loud comments, and do not seek to show superior knowledge in art matters by gratuitous criticism. Ten to one, if you have not an art education you will only be giving publicity to your own ignorance.
Do not stand in conversation before a picture, and thus obstruct the view of others who wish to see rather than talk. If you wish to converse with any one on general subjects, draw to one side out of the way of those who wish to look at the pictures.”

Truly, commone sense prevails throughout the turning of ages. If only we heeded it well and more often!

Adieu fair readers, let common sense guide your way,
Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Distance Admirer

Dear Miss April,

I have been distressed by some unavoidable eaves dropping that is more like a trumpet blast from a soap box Lothario, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.

This has been happening more and more and most often in the arena of the art show preview and opening, on which I base my dilemma and specific grievance.

I was at one of late where bearded juveniles where providing slight but negative analysis of the works. Their low level of visual literacy and the proliferation of punchlines from fashionable art tropes aside, I was offended that this space was rendered airless and did not allow me the oxygen to form my own opinion of the work.

In another recent incident, similarly verbose opening addicts were protesting about the failure of this or that against some malformed half read idea from a journal they were attempting to regurgitate, to impress [ or legitimize] similarly Chardonnay infused colleagues. In this case they were so unaware of their context and that the person beside them, the artist, was the subject of their scornful rant. I was shaken, befuddled and appalled by this hopefully accidental assault. I had read i a recent American journal on art and etiquette that it was acceptable to discuss the work aloud outside of a 6 block radius of the gallery. Melbourne has a different geographical pace and street block dimension to Manhattan. What would the appropriate radius be to allow one to maintain a discretionary and distant private critique?

I hope you can provide some space as I am sure you are prudent , on many lists , an avid fan of contemporary culture and able to hold your lip in mixed company.


Distance Admirer

Ah Ha! Oh, I am pleased. I have been faithfully confident that Chardonnay would make a comeback and over the years it has been slowly clawing its way back up from its position of shun and shame. But now it is well and truly back on top seeing that it’s flowing about hip gallery openings. Hoorah Chardonnay! I am rather keen on trying Lithostylis’ 2011 Ironstone Chardonnay from Leongatha, but I believe it needs a little bit of time yet. Je t’adore Gippsland Chardonnays so I do hope to….Oh, I beg your pardon.

Dear Distance Admirer

Art etiquette is quite a fashionable topic today so I congratulate you on your cultural relevance. I also lament with you at the strangulation of your opinions. I find this to be a most egregious scenario, and a terrible assault on your rights for critical thinking and expression.

Good manners and etiquette create a safer world. Adhering to social expectations in relation to behaviour increases our chances of not getting murdered, or even verbally attacked, one would hope. Sadly, the bearded dilettantes have not the presence of mind, nor education to fully understand how appalling their behaviour is. Perhaps their desire to look like our most famous bushranger has also influenced their rebellious streak in terms of flouting the rules.

The Rules. Once they have broken the rules, you are within your right to ‘pull them up’ so to speak. I once found myself in the presence of a rather vocal young woman who went beyond the voice of critiquing the art and was derisively insulting the artist, their work, their very being. To my great discomfort the artist was well within hearing range and obviously listening. I simply turned to my neighbour and politely removed myself from the situation by stating “I do not want to speak with you anymore. Please go away.” Similarly, in your situation you might have turned to the offender to state: “Good evening, my name is ____. Forgive my intrusion, but are you aware the artist can hear you. I’m sure you don’t mean to be rude, and I just wanted to save you from further embarrassment. Do enjoy your evening.”

Astonishingly I have heard professional assessment of fairs, shows and bieannales that sound suspiciously like recent Facebook status updates by infamous arts writers. Verbatim. Oh dear, it is a sorry state of affairs when we have too many officious opinionists and lament the absence of opinion at the same time. We are all so insecure.

There is a difference between critiquing and insulting. Those boundaries get lost in the blur of egos and copious amounts of free wine. Guides to art etiquette would come in handy here. Although, I find it hard to imagine attendees being able to hold their tongue for a duration of 6 blocks! Perhaps a rule of thumb in Australia could be 10 metres? Speak at a low, soft, discreet register, and NEVER try negative analysis after 3 wines until you are at the dumpling restaurant.

Of course, how to educate others in valuing the rules of good form? Hmmm, many people in these environments envision themselves as unique, above the law, naughty. How does one get them to toe the line? Well, you can start by the above suggestion and point out rudeness wherever you see it. Perhaps get a card printed to hand out to offenders in order to avoid too much confrontation simply stating:

Miss April Advises:
Avoid further embarrassment

[Search: Guidelines for Openings]

However, you really just have to stick to one rule “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” As an exercise in discipline while you’re at an opening do this – look for merit. You might be surprised at how few people actually do this. Repeat this, over and over with a smile and chardonnay. Unless, someone keeps pressing you of course, when people pressure you for your true opinion beyond all decorum then by all means satisfy them.

“If they insist on a real opinion, they’ve got whatever you have to say coming”. – Andrew Berardini, Guidelines for Openings.

Be well and true,
Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Frequent Fornicator

Dear Miss April,

In regard to premarital sex, I quite like it and I have it often.
In your opinion what is the best kind?

Yours respectfully

Frequent Fornicator

Dear Frequent Fornicator

I understand that my old-fashioned sensibilities may incite a few surreptitiously stifled giggles in this enlightened age. But I am well aware that the world has changed somewhat since my girlhood days, and the answers to social mores are no longer found within the pages of Ms Austen. However, I pride myself in stepping out of my comfort zone when tackling the range of problems and requests for advice throughout the course of my vocation.

Mr F., if I may be so bold as to assume gender. My opinion as to what is the best kind of premarital sex, calling upon logic and reason, I would say, that kind between two unmarried people.

I would go further and offer this advice. If you are so pleased with your current status I suggest you remain unmarried, thereby ensuring whenever you are so graced by a lover’s attention and their intimate embrace, you can be content in the knowledge that it is of your most favoured kind.

Be well and true,
yours in good faith,
Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Anxious Friend

Dear Miss April,

I have a problem with a friend. When I first met her I thought she was really interesting, and a great sounding board for my studies. I also introduced her to a male friend of mine and now they are living together. This would be great accept I have noticed that she is not really the greatest of friends…on the surface she is fine, but little things like her competitiveness and always asking me for favours..A few favours is fine, but things like asking me for copies of my papers submitted to University that got top grades, and asking for my bibliography for papers and also wanting work papers from my job. It is pretty awkward having to say no, and it constantly puts me in difficult situations.

Recently I asked her to accept an award on my behalf as I was away and she basically got uncomfortable and kind of weezled out of it, which made me feel a bit awful for asking in the first place….I thought she was the most logical person to accept the award as a proxy as we are at the same school and in some classes and have been study buddies for three years. So maybe I am being too critical…but my other friends have recently spoken to me and one of them want an ‘intervention’ with the male friend I introduced to her…why, because they all think she is cunning and bad for him and self centred and they blame me for introducing her…..

So Miss April what do I do? Can you give me advice….do we broach her poor behaviour or let the couple sort it out? My other male friend is a very close friend of mine of many years and I am nervous the relationship will go to the next level before he realises her true qualities.

– Anxious Friend

Dear Anxious Friend

Phew! My poor dear, this is quite a mess. You don’t have ‘a’ problem, there are a number of woes in this personal dilemma, bide me time while I organise them thusly:

  1. You have an issue regarding the collection of your award & intellectual property of your papers
  2. You doubt the sincerity of your friendship with your Study Buddy
  3. You acted as Matchmaker and are bearing the consequences of this from your circle of friends
  4. You are concerned for your male friend’s happiness and your ongoing friendship with him

Often we are riled by competitive people because we are so ourselves, or it at least prods the competitive beast lying dormant within. There is nothing wrong with this unless it gets the better of our other, good qualities. By asking for your papers she is not necessarily overstepping the mark, study buddies can share and critique each other’s work. If you are uncomfortable with this, that is your prerogative. You have worked hard and have achieved high results. This is your intellectual property and you can say no by explaining your feelings.  A simple “I’m sorry I don’t like to share my papers, I hope you understand”, will suffice. If she keeps asking for your work, then yes, she is ignoring your discomfort in the hope of gaining access to your research.

Asking for bibliographies is another matter, reading lists, research papers, sharing authors and information – this isn’t your own work, although you may have worked hard in compiling and discovering these resources for yourself. I think you should be able to share this, as a token of your friendship. I also think the authors would probably appreciate the extra readership as well, and we should always encourage education shouldn’t we?

Yet, these encounters are snowballing for you and we come to the situation with the award. I am unsure, did she accept and then try to get out of it? Or, was she uncomfortable from the outset? Either way, at this point in time your friendship has strained. It is possible that she is envious of your success. This happens. I suggest you ask someone else to act as your proxy, someone you can rely on and will be genuinely happy for you.

Now let’s move on to Male Friend. You introduced Study Buddy to him when you thought highly of her. Male Friend liked her, and presumably he still does. If your other friends blame you for that tell them to refrain from stupidity and explain to them the machinations of sexual attraction. There is no blame to be laid here.

However, what is worrying is the chorus of voices condemning Study Buddy at the same time as your own problems are brewing. Accusing someone of being cunning is harsh, it is not a characteristic one would desire in a friend or friend’s partner. You may have cause to worry, but do you all get together and confront her, perhaps conduct an intervention with Male Friend? Not unless you are all stark raving mad. My personal opinion is that interventions conducted by well-meaning friends are usually the fodder for highball comedy antics on modern day sitcoms, not a great recipe for raw emotion in real-life.

If he truly is a very close friend of yours you do this: speak to him discretely over supper or tea. Not in a confrontational manner, no accusing his partner of being “cunning“, or god forbid that she tried to “take my papers“! You might just ask him, how he is going. How is his relationship going? If he brings up concerns regarding Study Buddy, that is the trigger to discuss your own reservations. You might be able to introduce the concerns of others in this context for example, ‘Peter mentioned that he was worried about you because this happened, or this was said…’ . Better still, tell your friends to speak to Male Friend themselves. Good friends will find a way to speak openly and honestly with each other.

If Male Friend is as happy-as-Larry and does not bring up any concerns about his relationship you might still decide to say something. Your worry might make it difficult to hold-your-tongue. But be clear, is it his happiness that is dire or your own? If he does not see what you and your friends see, then let them be.   This proposal requires you to know, understand and manage your own feelings toward her friendship independently of their relationship. You will need to continue to be friendly socially with her, even if you choose not to invest in a more personal friendship any longer. From your letter I suspect you want to step back from her, it seems your feelings have changed and your concerns are real.  However, no matter what your feelings may be you will need to continue to respect her as Male Friend’s partner.

Problems aside, congratulations on your award!

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