Singular Solutions

Singular Solutions, Volume 3


Syndicated advice guru Marnie Macauley has a solution for those crazy family holidays, particularly when you’re single and everyone else is married.

Singular Solutions


Dear Marnie: I’m 36, a successful male photographer and happily single. Every holiday season, my extended, annoying family swoops down with invites so I “won’t be alone” or with “just friends” which believe me, I’d prefer! What is the best way to avoid bad-vibe relatives during the holidays? — L.A. Artist

MARNIE SAYS: Oh pooh, Grinchley! Don’t you know the whole point of these rituals is to throw the whole clan together to see who survives with his goose liver intact? In years gone by, my collective family had the capacity to put each other in a panic faster than an epidemic on a cruise ship. Picture a “Marnie” holiday table, circa 1980: Uncle “don’t-mind-if-I-do” Sammy, who helps himself to the food on your plate; Aunt Merna-of-the-tofu who badmouths the turkey and weighs in at 300 pounds. Then there was Cousin Adele, who redecorates the table, then the dining room and then our home — before rushing off to visit her kids in rehab. And that’s just a sample.

If celebrating together involves evisceration beyond “a breast or a thigh,” you have come to the right duenna!

Getting It! Your Personal Holiday Strategy:

* You could … dilute the bad-vibers. Concoct a small fete. Invite your favorite revelers and lose the bores among the cheese balls. (They cleave together like static cling.)

* You could … bunch up the bad-vibes. Gather the duds with whom you share a strand of DNA and throw a holiday brunch from 10 to 2, announcing you’re due at a conference on “Art & World Peace” at 3, something you’ll be attending off and on, for the next two weeks.

* You could … limit the bad-vibers. Explain you’d love to “drop by,” but only for an hour, as you’ve signed up for soup kitchen duty (not a bad idea anyway) across town.


* You could…realize that a true artist knows others can poison your fruitcake only if you let ’em. Should a dear one turn fluffer-nutter, smile, mention how you adore them, despite those minor brain spells, then hug the offender.

* You could … realize these quirky kin are part of your patchwork — a rip-roaring, life-thumping crazy quilt that grows deeper with each generation.

* You could … realize you share the cosmos with this particular group of kin for but a moment. In an eye blink, the “bad-vibers” — all those blowhards, braggarts and curmudgeons — will turn from annoying to anecdotal.

And surprise, surprise, some day you may feel as I do. I’d love to see Cousin Adele re-set the forks, Aunt Merna cuss the turkey, and, Sammy stab the turkey off my plate — one more time. Now, I can only tell those anecdotes about them. And I do during the holidays. After all, what right does one stitch have to ignore the entire design?


Dear Marnie: I’m a 32-year-old divorced woman with two kids. A high school sweetheart found me on Facebook and we’ve been e-mailing and texting over the last few months. Mostly, we cry on each other’s shoulders. He was really a geek in school and probably still is, but he’s sweet. I haven’t dated anyone in two years as I really feel I need to concentrate on me now.  I’ve told him this, but he’s already made plans to come see me for 11 days after the holidays — 3,000 miles just to see me.  Even though I’d like to see him again, am I making a big mistake letting him visit? — A.G

MARNIE SAYS: Probably. It sounds like this bloke’s determined to land on something softer than his modem. Sweetie, men who buy plane tickets are expecting more than reminiscing over those warm, fuzzy Bunsen burner moments in chemistry class.

Getting it! Your Personal Strategy:

* Make the deal clear! You’re not up for a relationship. Say so, or you may be guilted into giving more than shoulder. He may choose to cancel his trip, but should he forge ahead …

* Back it up with actions:

1) Make touristy plans. Vow to light no candle before its time.

2) Eleven days? The only humans I’d allow around me for that long are my son (because I dragged him around for nine months) and Sara Lee. Ask him to shorten it to a long weekend. Hey … if you suddenly hear the Hallelujah Chorus he can always come back. But if you hear the Anvil Chorus, that many days will seem longer than the Napoleonic Wars.

3) Give yourself crawl space, angel.  Make sure the fellow is staying in a motel, a camper, an RV, a tent — anywhere but with you!

Hopefully you’ll have a new pal. If not, allow him to leave softly and with grace. It’s the very least we owe the sweet loves of our youth.


Dear Marnie: I have a terrific job as a paralegal with a large law firm. There’s this lawyer at work I am really attracted to. The problem: The holiday office party. Of course he’ll be there. Should I go? I get really giddy when I drink. I’m not sure if I can contain myself.Wild Woman

MARNIE SAYS: Okay, o-lustful one, let us consider your choices. You can go to the party, get wasted, wake up with a head the size of the Okefenokees, your mouth tasting like a swamp, your reputation and your working relationship on the skids and a strong desire to suffocate yourself beneath your pillows for the pleasure of possibly allowing your co-worker to paw you in public.

Then again, you might stick to Perrier … or stay home.

Copyright © Marnie Macauley /2012 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
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3 thoughts on “Singular Solutions, Volume 3

  1. Marnie, You’re a multi talented girl. I’ve read everything you’ve penned on the net and enjoyed them all. I think you “singles” column is a great addition to your work. Keep it up. Jerry Murphy

  2. YOU ARE SO GOOD!!!! I really enjoyed reading your replies.Clever,on-the-mark, funny!!

    And I learned something new: your degree in Social Work My goal was to be a Social Worker. I worked 1 year in a related capacity. I quit after my second year of law school to work on the streets in a black neighborhood. I quit after 1 year because the head social worker was an Ass.

    Dean Lockhart let me back in to finish Law School and after graduation lined me up with a prime
    job, being law clerk to a United States Appellate Court judge.(That is the court just below the U.S. Supreme Court.) I am glad the Dean was so forgiving. He had been disappointed when I told him I was not coming back for my last year in law school so I could work with troubled youths. He was very happy when I returned a year later. Well,I am not surprised he was disappointed that
    I was quitting. His son was a classmate of mine in Law School.

    It all worked out just fine. And the bonus: my two sons became my law partners in Perry Perry
    and Perry until I retired at age 75. And the sons, who I had raised alone from age 7 (their mom went to CA with a lover who fortunately did not want kids around) became my partners until I retired.

    They had not followed my advice. I told them to go be doctors. And, Dear Friend, I am so proud to say they are honest and caring.

    I raised them alone from age 7. When the youngest graduateed law school that was the year I met my wife-to-be. We recently had our 25th anniversary. She had never been married.This’ll teach her! I adore my Kathy. And my sons do too. She is a wonderful person, a retired flight attendant. We both spent 42 years in our careers. And both are happy we are retired!!

    Love, stew


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