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"The Tres Amigas"


Prologue
Introducing The Three Amigas

By Spiritual Echo

From the three Americas, we introduce you to a new, weekly advice column where questions to everyday problems will be answered by women who have walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk.

From Canada, The CYNIC battled gender bias, fought in the crusade to ensure women received both the opportunity and fair remuneration for equal work. She retired as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, owned resorts, married, divorced and widowed, she juggled family and work throughout her life. Her shoot-from-the-hip style cuts to the root of the problem and she rarely minces words.

The LIBRARIAN was born, raised children and continues to live in the United States. She graduated from college, married a member of the military, and taught in elementary schools all over The States. The mother of three believes in traditional values, discipline and good manners. She lists God, family and country as her core values in life.

The HOOKER experienced childhood abuse that left her with severe personality and mental health issues related to PTSD. She is familiar with the mental health system, and her journey to self healing included prostitution, working undercover as a police informant, and a broken family. This graduate from the University of hard-knocks currently spends her time painting and writing in Mexico

The 'Tres Amigas' have no degrees in psychology nor make any claim to credentials to substantiate the suggestions offered in their weekly column. Their point of view is offered from the perspective of the lives they've lived. Their views and opinions are presented for entertainment purposes only
.

The first column appears today titled 'Tres Amigas--February 8, 2015.'

 

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to national newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter.

Both prologue and debut column are posted Sunday, February 8, 2015 and will continue weekly.

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.


Chapter 1
Tres Amigas--February 8, 2015

By Spiritual Echo

A weekly advice column written by three women from different countries, lifestyles and points of view.

Dear Amigas;
My brother-in-law (married to my wife's sister) is a good guy, but he is a total wimp when he's around his wife. It's like he doesn't have an opinion of his own when she's in the room. He's not allowed to go anywhere alone, not even to a ballgame with me, and has to ask permission to go the bathroom--or so it seems.

My mother-in-law is passive-aggressive and whenever we are at their house, she makes a big deal out of telling everybody what to do, then breaks into tears if anybody challenges her authority. My father-in-law just shrugs and says nothing.

My wife tried that crap on me when we were first married, but we worked it out and we're fine, but I can't stand going to family get-togethers. It makes me sick. My wife says they're family and insists we go through this torture a few times a year. What's wrong with these women--this family? Pete.


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
While it may be uncomfortable to live through these visits, it might serve you better to keep a low profile and endure the time without sitting in judgement. It sounds like you have appointed yourself judge and jury and that won't sit well with your wife. These people are her family and by taking on a superior tone you may be hurting your own marriage. Hang out with your father-in-law. It seems he has a handle on the situation.

THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Sorry, but in-laws come with the territory. If you only have to deal with it a few times a year, just suck it up and do what The Librarian suggests, hang out with your father-in-law. Face it, nothing you say will change them and if your wife wants to spend time with her family, you need to be supportive. If the relationship is working for them, you need to stay out of it. A lot of marriage negotiations happen between the sheets and you are not privy to the satisfaction these couples derive from their relationship. My suggestion is to MYOB.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
So they're 'idjuts' and you married into the circus. What do you want me to tell you about them--or you? Presumably you love your wife. Pay attention to your own backyard instead of complaining about the weeds in the vacant lot down the street.

Dear Amigas;
I am madly in love with Bob and everything about our relationship is perfect. He's kind, considerate and hard working, but he's cheap. His idea of a date is a ride in the car and a stop for coffee. He's got three kids from a previous marriage and he says he has no money to waste. It makes me feel like I'm not worth a decent date, a dinner out or just going to the movies together. Another thing, he won't let me meet his kids. He doesn't want to complicate their lives, but I am part of Bob's life. Why won't he introduce them to me and how can I get him interested in wooing me the way a girl deserves? We've been dating for a year. Pam


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Perfect huh? It sounds like Bob is getting all the dessert without being asked to peel the vegetables. This guy is playing you, using you for sex, but his investment is with his old family not you. If he was so considerate, he'd find a way to take you on a date. Going out doesn't have to cost a fortune. Tell him to save the gas and take you on a picnic and try not sleeping with him to see how committed he is to your relationship.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
You should admire Bob for his commitment to his children. With so many dead-beat fathers these days, it's refreshing to meet a man who takes his obligations seriously. Those are likely the same qualities you came to love. Suggest some neutral ground where you can meet the children without making a big deal about the introduction or your relationship. Perhaps once you get to meet the kids, you'll have a better appreciation for his limited cash flow. If he is as kind as you seem to indicate, it might be worth the time. Kids grow up. A good man can become a lifetime companion.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
One year? Maybe he doesn't have any kids at all, or maybe he does and is still married to their mother. How much do you really know about this guy? If he won't take you out in public, he's probably hiding something. Find out what it is.

Dear Amigas;
I'm only fourteen and I have no other adults to ask my questions. My parents hate me. They call me names; tell me I'm stupid and lazy. I can't do anything right. I'm not doing well at school either. My friends say they don't want to be around me anymore. They say I'm a real downer. I don't know what to do. I feel like such a loser. Jenny


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Jenny, has something happened to you that you haven't told anybody about? Good for you that you reached out, but you need someone closer, someone you can talk with truthfully. If you really can't talk to your parents, talk to a teacher or guidance counsellor and tell them how you're feeling and any secrets you may be hiding. Life will get brighter, but you need to find someone to help you get through these dark feelings.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Puberty can be a tough time for young people to go through. All those hormones raging inside you sometimes overwhelm kids. I'd suggest you get an appointment and get a full physical. Tell your family doctor what you're feeling. You may need help at school and someone to talk with about your problems. Your doctor can help you get the help you need.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Sometimes life sucks. Hard times do not build character, getting over them does. But no one can make it alone. You need someone to talk to and if your friends have abandoned you, then you need to get counselling. If you can, talk to your mother and tell her you'd like to get some help. If not, you have no other choice than to go to a doctor, a minister or a school counsellor. But you need to be brave enough and strong enough to look after yourself. By the way, the people who abandoned you are not friends, but I have no doubt you'll find new and better buddies when you start feeling better.




 

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to National Newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter. Letters may be edited for length.

Both prologue and debut column are posted Sunday, February 8, 2015 and will continue weekly.

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.


Chapter 4
The Tres Amigas-February 22, 2015 SE

By Spiritual Echo

Background
The views of three diverse women living in the US, Mexico and Canada will be shared in response to weekly questions sent in by readers in an on-going advice column


Dear Amigas;
I was arrested for sexual interference of a minor. It wasn't true, and the charges were dropped. The girls that brought these trumped-up accusations forward did so in retaliation for being benched for not showing up for practices and poor team attitude. I coached a girl's soccer team.

Even though I was exonerated, I was fired from my volunteer coaching position, my friends and neighbors avoid me and my small business in town has suffered a major drop in business. My wife believes me, but blames me for the social snub. Any suggestions? These false charges have ruined my life. Signed, Not Guilty.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Get yourself one hell of a good lawyer and sue the pants off the parents of the girls that falsely accused you. Since you were exonerated, be sure your lawyer makes this front-page news. Get on every social media blog on the Internet and tell your story. Don't forget to name the people that fired you from coaching. The bad press will teach them a lesson. If your wife continues to blame you for the social snub, dump her and find yourself someone that believes in you and is willing to stand up for you. People that make false accusations need to learn that they will pay a price, both monetary and socially. Blaming the victim, you, is unacceptable.


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
When it comes to issues regarding child abuse, everyone would agree, it's better to err on the side of caution than to jeopardize a child's safety.

It is unfortunate you went through this experienced, but you have been exonerated. Your personal integrity and your wife's support will help you live through this period. People do forget and move on to other issues. Dig your heels in and hold your head up high.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Your experience is a perfect example why there is a shortage of volunteers and coaches for youth activities. There is always the risk of misinterpretation and false accusations.  Tragically, for the same reason, these volunteer positions attract pedophiles.

Many people disregard dropped charges, assuming 'where there's smoke, there's fire.' Unless this went to trial, some people will continue to believe in an implied guilt.

Friends that deserted you were never true friends, and you're better off without them. I would consider relocation, but if you have a business this may not be possible. Try advertising cut-rate prices for your business to lure customers back through the door. Funny how that works...

Dear Amigas;
I've been married a few months and I am going nuts over an issue I never expected. My husband thinks it's okay to use the bathroom at the same time as I am on the toilet, coming in and starting conversations or shaving at the same time. I consider it a gross invasion of my privacy. I've complained, but he says it's part of the intimacy of marriage. Please tell me he's wrong and how to get him to give me some privacy. Signed, Embarrassed.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
I understand your embarrassment, especially since you are still newlyweds. However, you are living with someone you will be with for the rest of your life. Burping, farting, and sitting on the toilet when your husband is in the room goes with the territory. You might try asking him to move a little slower to allow you time to get over your shyness. Most wives will tell you, the first time their husbands walked into the bathroom while they were on the toilet was a shock. But ask them the same question five years later, and they will probably burst into laughter.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
He's wrong! Some things are non-negotiable and bathroom privacy is at the top of my list. Buy a lock. Yes, you CAN install it yourself--then use it.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
If your husband came from a large family, bathroom privacy was likely impossible. His intrusions are likely a continuation of the intimacy when many people are cramped into tight spaces.

The first year in a marriage includes learning how to live together and making adjustments to ensure life-long respect and happiness. It is absolutely imperative you learn how to communicate. Unresolved issues can turn into bitterness. Make your husband understand your discomfort.

Dear Amigas;
My husband raised his grandson and they remain very close. They talk on the phone three times a week for over an hour. Since the grandson married, he and his wife seldom come over, but visit his in-laws weekly. The few times they visited anyone on this side of the family, his wife wouldn't communicate and immediately went to sleep for the entire time they were here. We are only invited to their home for large gatherings and then she is the life of the party with her friends and family, but doesn't speak to this side of the family. I hurt for my husband, so say nothing to upset the grandfather/grandson relationship. Should I continue to put up with Sleeping Beauty and keep quiet? Signed, Tired of the rudeness.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
If you voice your concerns, you will not succeed in changing the behavior of your grandson's wife. From what you tell us, I doubt there is anything you can say that would cause her to change, and could very well upset the grandfather-grandson relationship. I recommend you remain silent, and although the time you spend with this woman is painful, continue to do your best to be supportive of your husband. Sometimes, suffering in silence is the best option.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
By the way you define the relationships, it seems you did not participate in raising the grandson, perhaps marrying once he left home? In that case, be grateful your husband is able to maintain a good relationship with his grandson--even if it is only through the weekly phone calls.

At best, a step-parent's or step-grandparent's primary responsibility is to be friendly and a good host to adult children. Drawing attention to the problem or taking a stand will only make matters worse. If possible, suggest a boys-only fishing or golfing weekend to continue the warmth of the relationship. I'm sure Sleeping Beauty would be happier to give up her husband for a weekend without sacrificing herself by having to accompany him to family visits.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
You did not create this problem, but you may be the only person who can bring some peace to a bad situation. Your husband and his grandson are in the middle. Both their wives are unhappy and without a doubt, each of you is expressing your irritation. Hers, being forced into a family relationship she doesn't want, and you, in reaction to her rudeness.

While the men's relationship continues through phone calls, you'd like in-person visits that haven't worked out in the past. Sitting around talking may make her feel excluded as you re-hash old times or uncomfortable being asked personal information she is not willing to share.  If you can find a way to make the visits activity based, maybe she'd be more comfortable creating new memories. Consider a visit on neutral ground, a weekend at a resort where the women can indulge in a spa treatment while the men catch up. Even a home visit could include theatre tickets or a day at the races.

Yes, she's rude, but that should motivate you to look for new circumstances that may give you different results. A little creative thinking may be the greatest gift you can give your husband. I can tell you'd like to beat the crap out of this girl, and she may deserve it, but pick your battles, and focus on the goal.  It's not about being right, is it? 














 

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to national newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter.

Column are posted each Sunday, alternating between Spiritual Echo and Smurphgirlsasha

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.


Chapter 5
Tres Amigas - March 1, 2015

By Spiritual Echo



Dear Amigas;
Should soul mates do the honorable thing and stay true to their marriage vows, even though it means denying themselves what is truly in their hearts? It would mean a lot of heartache if we followed what our hearts tell us--to be together--at last

Our love has endured for forty years. We cannot be in the same room together without getting into trouble. For that reason, ten years ago, we agreed to not see each other, but remain great friends. E-mailing and talking about everything, except the love thing. We both know it is always there, even without speaking about our feelings for each other. Signed, Eternally Yearning.


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Forty years is a long time to carry a torch, but it is a fantasy that would flare and quickly turn to ash in the real day-to-day world. Dealing with the mundane in a marriage can give oxygen to a relationship that looks more exciting. What you describe, harboring these feelings while you continue to have contact, is emotional adultery--a perfect example of trying to have it all. Your partner is already paying the price. Whether you acknowledge your guilt or not, you are not 100% present in your current marriage. If you decide to continue to honor your vows, all contact with your 'soul mate' should stop immediately. Otherwise, calculate the cost and be prepared for the collateral damage. Only you can decide if it's worth the divorce.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Forty years, huh? So why didn't you get together then? Or why not ten years ago when you realized you couldn't keep your hands off each other? What changed?

Given the time frame, I'm guessing you are at least sixty. 'Manopausal'? Are you sure you're not remembering the twenty-year-old horny stud--not her? Time has a way of warping memories.

Go for it. Make arrangements to have a dirty weekend rendezvous and get it out of your system or push yourself out of the plane and see if the parachute opens--you were asking for permission--there you've got it.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
It has been my experience that fantasies should always remain fantasies. However, you are trying to maintain what you see as the best of both worlds. Pretending to avoid the love thing is absurd. You made a vow, it is time to stand up and do the right thing. You are playing with fire and I promise if you continue with this game, you are going to get burned and probably lose the best thing you ever had.

Dear Amigas;
For the most part, we have a good marriage, but my husband has a habit that continues to irritate me and is getting worse the older he gets. He exaggerates, or as I call it, LIES about the cost of everything. If something cost $50, when he tells the story he inflates the cost ten times over. This has been going on for twenty years, but it is getting worse--he turns to me and expects me to confirm his LIES in front of other people. Forget him--I doubt he will ever change, but how do I deal with this when he expects me to back him up. Signed, Tired of Lies


THE CYNIC REPLIES: I am sure you have complained about this issue for years. I suggest you put your husband on notice that you will not endorse his lies, and will respond, if asked to confirm his fictitious story with a simple, 'I don't remember it that way.'

There's nothing you can do about his behavior, but you are not obliged to support him in a lie. Ask him if he is willing to embarrass himself in public when you do not agree with his fabrications. That might make an impression.



THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Because you have remained silent for twenty years, convincing your husband to change his ways by simply asking him to stop will be difficult. The next time he turns to you for confirmation of his LIES refuse to do it. This may shock him and even create an awkward situation, but no less awkward than the years of embarrassment he has caused you. I recommend you warn him in advance that you will no longer participate in his unacceptable behavior. I hope that any argument that might ensue, will take place in the other room, or after your guests have left. Either way, you cannot allow this to continue.


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Your husband is not uncommon. Many men who feel diminished by life will embellish their stories to make them appear more powerful, richer, or more virile. It is often a habit learned early by people who lack confidence in their accomplishments. Try praising and acknowledging his successes and encourage him to tell stories where he truly shines as the central character.


Dear Amigas;
My husband and I have worked and saved hard to buy our own home. We made many sacrifices for our careers, working long hours and constantly upgrading our skills. We save and invest our money and expect to have a comfortable retirement. The problem is we have several relatives that think we owe the family more, because we have more. We get monthly calls to save somebody and at family reunions or Christmas parties, we are hit with 90% of the bill. My husband is a pushover and usually pays, but I am sick of it. It's as if we are being punished for our work ethic while the bums expect a free ride. Any ideas? Signed, Tapped Out.



THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Every circumstance is different. If family members are truly in need, you have a moral obligation to help out. On the other hand, enabling people who are irresponsible with their money will only make the situation worse. Dealing with the root cause may help you make the right decision when deciding who to help.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
You have no obligation to help family members in need. Your husband is a pushover and it appears unlikely he will change. Remind him you have worked hard and deserve to reap the rewards of your labors. If your family insists on asking you for money and you feel compelled to oblige, present them with a contract stating the conditions you expect them to follow in order to pay you back. Make sure to add interest to the loan. If they refuse to sign the contract, do not give them any money. Inform your husband that this is not negotiable.


Stop being a doormat and for goodness sake, leave your credit cards at home when attending reunions or Christmas parties and only bring enough cash to cover what you feel is your fair share of the bill. I hope that they will quickly learn that you are not the family bank. If I were you, I would arrive at the next Christmas dinner, and before taking off my coat, announce, "Darn, we left our wallets at home, I hope you guys have enough to cover dinner, because we are really hungry."



THE CYNIC REPLIES:
It sounds like these beggars are relatives of your husband. If that is so, you need to give him some latitude to follow his conscience. Negotiating a truce with your husband by deciding how much disposable income you will use for these hand-outs will go a long way towards domestic peace.

'No' is a word many people seem to have lost from their vocabulary. You don't owe anyone an explanation, nor do you need to defend your success. It really is your money, and you have the right to decide how to spend it.

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to national newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter.

Column are posted each Sunday, alternating between Spiritual Echo and Smurphgirlsasha.

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.


Chapter 6
The Tres Amigas--March 8, 2015

By Spiritual Echo

Background
The views of three diverse women living in the US, Mexico and Canada will be shared in response to questions sent in by readers in an on-going advice column.


Dear Amigas;
I just finished writing my memoir. It took four years carefully culling my memories and penning my story. Now, I want to enter the next phase...to publish, but I am fearful for several reasons. I have changed the names and places of most characters, but the ex-husband doesn't fare too well and is a lawyer. Could he sue me? And most importantly, I do not want my daughter to know some of my well-kept secrets...so how to publish without my closest ones knowing? That is the question. I have changed my pen name and do not talk about publishing. She just thinks I wrote my story for an on-line writing site and I am done. She has read some of the chapters and laughed because she remembers those "times" well. Thanks, dear writers. Signed, In a Quandary.


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Could your husband, the lawyer, sue? Probably, if he ever finds out about the existence of the novel. You need to consult an attorney, specializing in publishing to get the definitive answer for your state or country. It would be a wise investment.

Unless you are a celebrity who has written a tell-all book, given that you have already changed the names, it makes no difference whether you publish this as a memoir or a book of fiction, something to consider. Presumably, the book will appeal to a certain market group and will sell based on content, not real names.

At some point, your daughter will uncover the manuscript as she has already read portions and knows of its existance. You are not asking her to read it or take sides against her parents, therefore, I would forget about the effects and continue as you planned.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Anyone who spends four years writing a memoir and does not want it read by friends and family was not motivated by revenge, but rather a need to write a story. Good writing is based in raw truth, and you need to ask yourself whether the information in the book will cause damage or is simply your truth from the life you lived. If that is so, do not hold yourself hostage to anyone else's opinion, except your own. A four year investment should be given the room to earn interest.

I doubt either your daughter or ex-husband will look for or find a book written using a pseudonym. In the 'tragic' event your novel becomes a best-seller, the publicity of a lawsuit will send sales through the roof. Hey, you'll be able to afford the best lawyers and likely your publisher will pay the attorney fees.

As for your daughter being privy to your innermost thoughts and experiences, I suspect the truth will bring you closer when she discovers her mother isn't a saint and her childhood wasn't spent in Eden.

THE HOOKER REPLIES:
When it comes to the question of whether or not someone can sue you, I recommend you contact a lawyer familiar with the pros and cons of publishing. You say you have changed the names and places of MOST of the characters, but you need to change all the names of people still living as well as places that they are familiar with. As long as you publish this under a pseudonym and a title they will not connect to you, you should have no problem. If you do not want anyone to know your secrets, I also recommend you not tell your daughter the title of your book and be sure not to keep a copy where she can find it.

Dear Amigas;
I am recently divorced after being married for eighteen years. I am planning on starting dating, but don't know how. What are the rules? Is the three date limit really when you have to sleep together? Who pays? What about dating sites? Signed, Rusty Dater


THE HOOKER REPLIES: 
There is no rule that states you have to sleep with someone after a specific number of dates. But you are getting ahead of yourself. The decision of who pays depends upon what arrangement you and your 'date' come up with before you go out.

I would focus more on where you plan to meet your prospective date, rather than on when you should or should you not sleep with him or her. Do not do what many others do which is going to a bar to meet someone. There are many places that are far better such as church groups, book clubs; focus on places that will include people of similar interests.

I know a few people that recommend dating sites, but personally, I do not. People tend to exaggerate and worse, just lie about who they are. My advice is to take it slow and just wait until you find someone you are interested in and who is interested in you.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
After eighteen years of marriage, being out of practice is natural. The rules have changed somewhat, but the basics have not. Presumably you miss male companionship, but it may be too early to consider shopping for a new mate.

It would be helpful for you to take a long look at your marriage and perform a relationship autopsy, writing out the qualities you admired and those that led to the end of the marriage. Using a dating-site's questionnaire might help you focus on what you need and want in a future mate. Many present day relationships began on the Internet, but I'd try the old-fashioned way first, letting your friends know you are ready to start dating again and ask them to set you up. The advantage is that your friends would know both parties and have a sense of whether you would be compatible. Matchmakers love to meddle. Let them.

As for sleeping with a new partner, sex is an intimacy you should reserve for a deepening relationship, not a reward bestowed for money spent on a date. When you reach a level of trust, you won't need to ask the question. 


THE CYNIC REPLIES:
You're asking me--a born-again virgin? All right, serious response, though the reclaimed virginity is true. During my business years, I entertained male customers often, and trust me, few men blinked when I picked up the check--always--but that was business. The general rule is the person who does the inviting does the paying. To make this equitable, you might buy concert tickets and he buys dinner. Dating can be a financial drain if you expect wining and dining. Try to keep things simple. The goal is to get to know someone and that can be better accomplished over a coffee date than in a noisy club. The good news is that today a woman does not feel any stigma asking a man out, and what could be less threatening than Starbucks?

Dating Internet sites can provide endless hours of entertainment before you meet the person on the other side of the screen. If you go this route, make sure all clients are screened and proceed with caution.

Treat dating like an adventure, not a mission to find a replacement program for your husband. You don't mention how long you've been divorced, but there is a danger of inadvertently being blinded by attention and an urgency to restore the intimate aspects of marriage. You are vulnerable and may respond inappropriately to attention you haven't received for a long time. Take your time to avoid rebound relationships.

As for the sex, that's easy--when it feels right and you are ready.  But some things HAVE changed.  Even if you can't get pregnant, insist on condom use.  Sex will expose you to every sexual partner your 'date' has slept with.  Guarding against sexually transmitted disease is very much a part of the modern dating scene.

Dear Amigas;
I am an only child of a eighty-five-year-old widow. I am no spring chicken and was at war with my mother for a year to get her into a retirement home. She fought me all the way, but expected me to be at her beck and call every day. I know she participates in the social activities and staff says she's fitting in, but whenever I go to visit, she complains and says I've put her in prison. Or worse, she asks for something from her house that she knows has been sold and blames me for everything. It is making me sick and I can't enjoy my life. Any suggestions? Signed, Senior Slave.


THE HOOKER REPLIES:
I sympathize with your situation. I doubt your mother is going to change and you need to decide whether to put up with her behavior or simply move on. Knowing she will complain should/could help alleviate some of the stress when you visit. You didn't mention how often you visit, but you might consider seeing her less often and for shorter periods of time. Possibly bringing her a gift may help cheer her up. She is eighty-five and since you are her only child, putting up with a few hours every couple of weeks will go a long way to eliminate the guilt you may feel for not spending more time with her when she was alive.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
When you were a child, you weren't particularly grateful for the roof over your head or the food on the table. It's unlikely you ever considered whether your parents were tired, overworked, financially strained or facing other problems besides administering to your needs. As adults, we tend to expect acknowledgement for our service and sacrifices, but aged parents often see their care as a duty of the children they raised. A little gratitude for your attention would be nice, but don't expect it.

For your own sanity, try to schedule your visits so that they become part of your agenda and your mother has something to look forward to and can count on. Part of the reason parents in nursing or retirement homes become so ornery is their own frustration of failing health and their dependency on other people. We all tend to take our frustrations out on those that are closest, and your mother is blowing off steam. Try to take it with a grain of salt.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Been there--done that. I did my duty, but I had ugly, horrible thoughts and my mother too was cantankerous. I would beat myself up for all the negative, and angry crap in my head, until one day a very wise person said to me, "It's not what you think, it's what you do that counts." I was doing and I was eventually able to forgive myself for the resentment I fostered.

What helped in keeping my mother's mood stable and enjoying the visits was to participate in the social activities the home offered. I would join residents for bingo games, sing-a-longs and attend church, all activities that focused away from idle chatter and required attention apart from our relationship or her list of complaints.

I also discovered a new currency, bringing her candy and a dozen tangerines she enjoyed passing out to other residents.  It made her popular and encouraged the formation of new friendships.

She loved to crochet and I made sure I brought new and varied colored yarn to distract  her.  For the most part, it helped.

We are part of the sandwich generation, looking after our elderly parents while trying to be parents to adult children, often feeling in a tug-of-war or being squashed in the middle. It's unlikely anyone will notice your needs. Try to be good to yourself.



Dear Readers;
Thank you for your participation, reading and submitting questions to the Tres Amigas.  Yes, we received some real doozies. Some we chose not to print and a few we didn't dare put up for public consumption.  However, this column will be wrapping up by the end of March.  If you have any questions you are considering asking, please do so this week so that we may reply before our last issue.

 

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.

This dry run on FS is a serious project the three women are testing with their esteemed fellow members, but the intention is to submit the idea to national newspapers in Canada, Mexico and The United States.

Your feedback on the literary aspects is always welcome as we fine-tune our presentation for public submission.

However, as this is a serious column, we will answer questions that are sent by PM to either Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha and include them in our weekly column each Sunday. All identities will be protected by creating a pseudonym for each letter.

Column are posted each Sunday, alternating between Spiritual Echo and Smurphgirlsasha

All columns/chapters can be found in Spiritual Echo's portfolio.


Chapter 7
Tres Amigas March 15, 2015

By Spiritual Echo

Background
The views of three diverse women living in the US, Mexico and Canada will be shared in response to questions sent in by readers in an on-going advice column.


Dear Amigas;
I manage a warehouse that employs forty employees of many nationalities and races, most of which have been with the company for more than five years. We have never had any problems and I am proud of my team. Recently an employee with eight years service in another division was transferred to our plant. Since his arrival, he has caused nothing but trouble, once, actually getting into a shoving match with another employee. I spoke with him, but I didn't write him up, feeling he was in an adjustment period and needed a little slack. Lately, every time I have cause to talk to him, he pulls out the race card. He does this in private with no witnesses. The rest of the employees seem to be taking sides and there is a major drop in productivity. I spoke casually to human resources, but the message I'm getting is 'deal with it.' Signed, SOS.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
This is a classic case of back-stabbing. It is the probable reason for the transfer, unloading a problem employee on another manager rather than dealing with the issue. With media reporting daily the tension between the Afro-American community and police, it is a sensitive issue to deal with--so don't. You are understandably rattled, but you need to pull back, regroup and take control of your work conditions.

Start each day with clear expectations from your staff, initiating short meetings at the beginning of each shift. Hold each team or individual accountable for meeting company expectations. You may be friendly with long-time employees, but try to keep a formal tone, keeping conversations business related.

Keep a computer log of all met and failed standards, cataloging the responsible individuals. Write up ALL breaches of company policy, documenting the date, time and place. It is up to you when and whether you pass this information on to Human Resources, but the employees should all know you are keeping records.

THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
The complaining employee may have well been passed over for promotion and is bitter about his company status. While your responsibility is to meet the quotas your company expects, the employee may have need of up-grading in his training, perhaps fallen into bad habits. Try to determine what his goals are or might have been. Helping him to reach his potential and showing support for advancement, may interrupt his bad behavior.

If you are able to manage this employee and turn him into a productive employee, it will be noticed by management and will look good on your employment record.

THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Other than helping to run an Escort Service, I have had little experience in the world of business. It seems to me that this employee has brought some baggage with him to his new position with you. He may view his transfer as a punishment and is now taking it out on his coworkers. You may consider taking him aside and having a serious talk with him.  I recommend you not talk with him without a witness present to eliminate any 'he said, she said' accusations. Possibly he was offended by being transferred and, as his new boss, it is now up to you to learn as much about the why behind the transfer in the hope of discovering the real reason behind his anger. Once you discover why he is so angry, you can focus on encouraging him to work with his fellow employees rather than against them. Be sure to keep notes of all meetings, making sure he knows this. Pointing out his strong qualities may also encourage him to improve his attitude in the hope of advancement. Fear of a black mark in his file may have the opposite effect and only bring out more anger toward his coworkers.


Dear Tres Amigas;
I overheard a conversation between my fifteen-year-old daughter and her friend. I learned that she slept with my eldest daughter's fiance. He is 22 and my daughter was terrified her sister would find out what happened. I confronted her, and eventually she admitted the fiance got her drunk and forced himself on her. I was sick over everything, but called the police. The fiance was arrested, found guilty and sentenced to six years in jail.

My oldest daughter refused to believe her boyfriend was capable of rape. She thinks we all made up the story, and has moved out of the house, no longer speaking to any family member. My husband is very angry that I did not tell him about the incident before the arrest. My youngest is angry at me for ruining her relationship with her sister. How do I cope? Nothing is right in my life anymore. Signed, Sick at Heart


THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Although you didn't create this problem, what happened to your family as a result of doing the right thing, is a perfect example of why so many women never report rape. They fear the aftermath will be worse than the crime. You are all victims, but you should seek active healing through therapy, especially for the youngest child who needs to understand that SHE was worth the trouble. You saved your oldest daughter a lifetime of misery and although she may not appreciate your courage now, I hope she finds a decent man who respects HER enough not to sleep around, let alone with a family member.

THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Six years? Amazing! Congratulations on living in a jurisdiction where rape is taken seriously and not treated like a misdemeanor with a token sentence. But while the law protects--and rightly so--children against predators and abusers, my concern with your youngest daughter is her judgement. Accepting alcohol was a conscious choice. At fifteen she should know better.

You did the right thing by your daughters, but your husband's rage may be because he feels you didn't trust him or respect him with vital family business. Try to repair that damage. You both need to be on the same team to deal with your daughters' anger and confusion.

THE HOOKER REPLIES:
Despite doing the right thing, you are now facing a true family crisis. I can only assume you did not tell your husband out of fear of what he would do to the boy when he found out he raped your daughter. Hopefully you both share the same contempt about what happened and can work together to repair the damage caused by this horrific event.

I can tell you from personal experience, you and your family need professional help to deal with the anger and confusion this has caused. Your youngest daughter needs to know she did nothing wrong. Drinking was foolish, but no excuse for the fiance to take advantage of her. I can only hope that your eldest daughter will find a decent boyfriend and eventually conclude that her fiance was guilty and realize that you did the only thing a good mother could possibly do under the circumstances.

Dear Amigas;
My husband is publically homophobic, declaring his hatred of all gays. I have always suspected my son was gay, but he has never come out of the closet, knowing his father's feelings. My son recently came to me and revealed he has AIDS, and has forbid me from sharing his medical condition with the father he loves, despite his views on homosexuality.

I went to my parish priest to ask for guidance. He told me my son's sickness is a punishment from God. I have nowhere else to turn to, but I know, I will never turn my back on my son, If it comes down to a choice, I will choose him, not my husband. Must I sacrifice so much, my church and my family in the name of love? Signed, Heartsick in Mexico


THE CYNIC REPLIES:
Due to the devout faith you spoke about in a longer letter than we published here, in respect to your relationship with the church, I will not give you my feelings about what the priest said, only to suggest if at all possible, find another parish where the true spirit of Christianity is a LIVING testament to Christ's teachings.

From the beginning of time, women have suffered for love and your pain is well understood. Follow your heart and keep it open in the hopes that your husband's attitudes will change when he learns of his son's life-threatening disease.

THE HOOKER REPLIES:
While God and I are not on a first name basis, I seriously doubt he views your son's homosexuality and diagnosis of AIDS as a punishment. 
Ignore the priest.  He is an uneducated idiot.

Talk to your son and see if he would be willing to let you speak about this problem with his father. However, if he insists you not tell him, I do hope you are not forced to choose between your son and your husband. I can only tell you to follow your heart and continue to support your son in his time of need.



THE LIBRARIAN REPLIES:
Many medical discoveries are now available that allow more hope for AIDS victims each year. Keep your faith and prayers focused on healing and give your son all the support he needs.

It would be better to inform your husband of the prognosis sooner than later, while your son still has a quality of life that allows the two men to work out their differences. If left too late, your husband may find the shock too much to reconcile his feelings.

The clergy is not infallible. Your priest's interpretation of your son's illness should not turn you away from the power of prayer.


Dear Readers:
Next week is our final column. The format will be an interview with the Tres Amigas, and we are accepting questions you might like to ask any of the individuals before their sign-off.  Submit all questions to Spiritual Echo or Smurphgirlsasha.

Author Notes FS members will be privy to know the identity of two of the authors, Spiritual Echo--THE CYNIC--and Smurphgirlsasha--THE HOOKER. The identity of THE LIBRARIAN will remain hidden. Letters may be edited for length.


Chapter 8
The Tres Amigas--Goodbye

By Spiritual Echo

Dear Readers;

Thank you for your support and participation in the advice column we tested with fellow writers.

As stated in the introduction back in early February, our intent was to get feedback from fellow FS members before taking this concept forward to potential publishers. Our sincere thanks; you certainly shared both your public and private opinions.

Today, in our final issue on FanStory, we are responding to questions that were asked about the three columnists during the six weeks we posted 'The Tres Amigas.' Signed, Spritual Echo.



SE: What qualifies you to give advice?

LIBRARIAN:

I didn't approach this challenge with any false credentials. My responses represented my opinions and reflected how I would deal with the situations presented to me if I were forced to deal with the same events in my personal life.

CYNIC:
Not a damn thing. Having said that; we are all surrounded by self-proclaimed experts who have no trouble telling us what to do. Aunt Millie has never had kids, but she is very vocal about how we are doing it wrong. Mother knows best--right? And, we all know someone who thinks there is only one way to deal with situations--his way.

The answers offered were impartial and reactive only to the information provided. Having unbiased opinions often help a person get a handle on his situation without the emotional baggage that often comes with existing relationships.

HOOKER:
I can say with complete confidence, I have been around the block several times. My life experiences have provided me with an unlimited supply of solutions to just about anything you could ask such as sexual and emotional abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, cancer, prostitution, undercover work for the police and most important, knowing when to laugh and when not to.


SE: Are these letters for real or did you make up the problems?

LIBRARIAN:

I received all the questions by E-mail and took each at face value, assuming the facts as presented to me were true.

CYNIC:
In the original post, one of the questions was 'lifted' from a column in a local newspaper, rewritten, but still presumably true. After the first post, there was no need to search for questions as participants forwarded more ammunition than we could publish.

HOOKER:
They are for real. One was from me, but I will never tell you which one it was. I will let you try to figure that one out for yourself. It was a true event and I was looking for an honest response from both the Cynic and the Librarian.

SE: What made you choose the acronyms, the names you use to respond to letters? Are you comfortable with the labels?

LIBRARIAN:

My first choice was 'THE PROFESSOR,' a title that closely resembles my actual status, but that was nixed by the senior editor as she felt my answers would then seem condescending as if I were lecturing.

CYNIC:
It closely resembles my 'shoot-from-the-hip' attitude. My direct approach to issues is sometimes misunderstood and makes some people uncomfortable when I snap off the polite veneer and go to the crux of an issue.  No, I'm not averse to being thought of as cynical. 

HOOKER:
The name speaks for itself. Actually, I was an escort; I never stood on street corners wearing a halter top and a mini skirt. Some of you may think that is splitting hairs, but in the world of prostitution, it is a big deal. There is a pecking order, escort (high, middle or low class they are all the same), hooker/street walker usually has a pimp, and bottom of the barrel is the druggy, someone that will do anything for her next fix.

SE: Were there any questions that you chose not to answer or disturbed you.

LIBRARIAN:

I was only sent questions that would be used in the column. I am unaware of the content of rejected questions.

CYNIC:
Yes, several. There were some related to the site and writing. Those we either answered privately or directed to the forum where the general membership could respond.

We received two that are memorable; both meant to stir up frenzy in readership. Neither represented a personal problem, but hoped to take on issues using the 'Tres Amigas' as a platform for hate.

HOOKER:
The only rejected letters I know of were FanStory related. We did not feel it was appropriate to get into the politics of FanStory so we chose to avoid those.


SE: Why would you choose not to continue this weekly post?

LIBRARIAN:

The decision to launch and discontinue was not mine.

CYNIC:
Right from the beginning, 'Tres Amigas' was a brand concept, and a way of gauging reader reaction to an old idea with a facelift. By and large, everyone responding has remarked on the entertainment value and enjoyed our stint on FanStory. It was a foray into a brand of journalism not previously found on this site.

Part of the appeal of FS is that it allows experimentation with different genres and styles of writing, but our column will easily become stale with a small audience. With any luck, members may be able to go on reading our pearls of wisdom in another venue. You bet we'll let you know if we are successful.

HOOKER:
This was primarily a test run for the column. We are hoping to submit it to newspapers and/or magazines for publication. We are looking for a broader range of readers and hoping for a wider variety of questions.

SE: Who is The Librarian?

LIBRARIAN:

The last time I looked, it was me.

CYNIC:
If this column appeared in any other publication, the question would be, 'Who are these three broads?" All three of our identities would have remained hidden. To put the question to rest, THE LIBRARIAN is NOT a member of FanStory and it is highly improbable that even knowing her name would offer any clue or afford her any more prestige than the bio published February 8th. (See author's notes.)

HOOKER:
I've been asking the same question every week and I am still not any wiser.

SE: Are there any last words you'd like to share with readers and participants?

LIBRARIAN:

It's been a pleasure to meet some of you and I hope our opinions have helped clarify your problems. Bye, bye.

CYNIC:
The only similarity between the three women featured in this column is the proximity in our ages, varying no more than a decade. For the record, THE LIBRARIAN is the youngest. Each opinion was formulated independently, but what struck me, despite our diversity of lifestyle and temperament, was the common sense of each woman. I thought there would be a wide gap between our points of view, but I was surprised that we usually came to the same conclusion. That might make for fewer followers, but it should be reassuring to the person seeking answers to his problem.

HOOKER:
I must admit I was surprised by the lack of sexual questions, considering my experience. I would be happy to answer all-sex related questions, if there is enough interest, in one last column that I, alone, will publish in the next few weeks under the title, "The Afterglow". Those of you who are interested in asking some spicy questions can send them to me and I will do my best to give you an honest answer

That's a wrap!

Adios!

Author Notes STRAGGLERS...

TO C.T.
Just like any other disease, mental illness can attack anyone, from the mentally challenged to intellectual genius. People who suffer DO NOT lose their capacity to think, but judgement may be impaired.

TO LL:
NO--HE DOES NOT LOVE YOU! The first time someone lays their hands on you should be the last time. GET OUT!



BIOGRAPHIC RECAP:

From the three America's, we introduced you to a weekly advice column where questions to everyday problems were answered by women who have walked-the-walk and talked-the-talk.

From Canada, The Cynic battled gender bias, fought in the crusade to ensure women received both the opportunity and fair remuneration for equal work. She retired as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, owned resorts, married, divorced and widowed, she juggled family and work throughout her life. Her shoot-from-the-hip style cuts to the root of the problem and she rarely minces words.

The Librarian was born, raised and continues to live in the United States. She graduated from college, married a member of the military, and taught in elementary school s all over The States. The mother of three believes in traditional values, discipline and good manners. She lists God, family and country as her core values in life.

The Hooker experienced childhood abuse that left her with severe personality and mental health issues related to PTSD. She is familiar with the mental health system, and her journey to self healing included prostitution, working undercover as a police informant, and a broken family. This graduate from the University of hard-knocks currently spends her time painting and writing in Mexico

The 'Tres Amigas,' have no degrees in psychology nor make any claim to credentials to substantiate the suggestions offered in their weekly column. Their points of view were offered from the perspective of the lives they've lived. Their views and opinions were presented for entertainment purposes only.


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