Ask Micah 1-4-11

The Well-Meaning Niece

Dear Micah,
My father hasn’t spoken to his brother in years.  They had a huge argument over some family land years ago and that’s why they haven’t spoken.  I am getting married and would like to invite my Uncle.  I am close to his children and I always liked him.  My cousins tell me they will understand if I don’t include him and will hold no hard feelings towards me, so I can get by not inviting him.  What do you think I should do?

Dear G.,
I am assuming that you are your father’s daughter and not his son.  You didn’t specify your sex and your initial didn’t help either.  Your note sounds like you are a girl, maybe you’re not, but I will assume that you are.  It really doesn’t matter what sex you are if you are paying for your wedding yourself.  If your father is footing the bill then it matters and you should have a talk with him before you invite someone that will make him feel uncomfortable.  Even if he isn’t paying for it, his feelings still must be taken into consideration.  Your wedding is your big day and you deserve to be able to surround yourself with all of the people you love;  However you do not want to spoil any of your golden moments.  There will be nothing that can replace that special moment when you clasp your Daddy’s hand for the last time as his little girl, and he escorts you down the aisle.  You’ll always remember that moment and the words the two of you exchange right before you take the walk.  If inviting your uncle is going to cause your father to be melancholy, irritable, unfocused, or in any way pissy then do not do it.  The day isn’t just counted by the people you surround yourself with, but also by the tender moments you share with those people who are around you.  Do not put Dad in a foul mood on your wedding day.  I would try to solve this issue between them before hand.  Try to get to the bottom of the rift and bring them both together for a one-on-one meeting with you as the referee.  Explain to them that you love them both and would like them both to be at your wedding but that they must call a truce to this feud in order to do so.  Privately you may want to convey to your father that ultimately you will abide by his wishes (since he is the most important to you), but that it would make your day extra special if your uncle could be there.  That might motivate your Dad to extend an olive branch.  Hopefully this will bring the brothers back together.  If it doesn’t then exclude your uncle from the wedding list and thank your cousins for being generous and understanding people.

The Clueless Stepfather

Dear Ask Micah,
I cannot stand my step-son.  It was bad before we got married and it has only become worse since the marriage.  He is lazy.  He backtalks.  He messes up the house.  He gives me attitude at every turn.  Things are to the point where I want him to go live with his dad full time.  I don’t know what else we can do.  My wife tries to get him to show me respect, but he just rolls his eyes at her.  Do you have any suggestions of what I can do to win him over before we have to move him out?
Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,
Here’s one suggestion.  How about you write me back and give me your address.  I’ll drive to your house, get out of my car, and ring your doorbell.  When you answer it I will spit in your face and then proceed to shake the ever-loving bejesus out of you.  I might even hit you once or twice, for funnsies.  When I have finished doing that I will find your wife, read her for filth, and then take the kid for ice cream and some much needed positive attention.  That sounds like a pretty good idea.
If I have startled you, let me tell you why I feel this way:  You are an Ass.  You married a woman knowing that you could not get along with her son–and that you didn’t even like him–yet you married her anyway.  Now you want to get her to ship him off so that you can enjoy your life better.  You are terrible terrible people if this is for real;  And if your wife is willing to go along with that then I am flabbergasted at where her loyalties lie.  To be fair, I can see how your step-son’s behavior could frustrate you, but let’s look at some things from his perspective.  You have moved into their lives and assumed the role of head of household and he didn’t get a vote.  Should he try to be tolerant and accepting of you in his life–YES.  That would be the adult thing to do–but he isn’t an adult.  He isn’t smart enough yet to realize that it isn’t your fault that his parents are divorced.  And it isn’t his mother’s fault that she still needs the companionship of a man in her life.  If step-kids could realize this and not be such brats to new stepfathers and stepmothers then many families homelife would be greatly improved.  Unfortunately, that often requires more maturity than a child possesses and it’s up to the step-parent to do the heavy lifting when it comes to building a bond.  You aren’t trying.  You even admitted that you sit back and let your wife try to make him “respect” you.  Respect can’t be forced, it must be earned.  You do not automatically deserve respect simply because you married the boy’s mother.  In fact you married her knowing there was a problem, so in my book he has every right to dislike you.  You acted selfishly and so did his mother.  You both should have resolved the issue with her son before you got married.  But what’s done is done, and now you have to do what you can to repair the situation.  You stated that he is lazy.  I am assuming that means that he sits around playing video games and watching TV all the time.  Lots of boys do that.  The best way to get them up off their rumps is to offer an enjoyable alternative.  Have you ever asked him to go for a hike with you?  Have you ever asked him to go play a game of basketball or some sport he may enjoy?  Go see a movie together.  Learn to play golf together.  Take him to play paintball–that’s a great way to get his aggression out and for you two to bond over some funny moments.  It sounds to me like he has no connection to you because nothing has ever happened that solely involved the two of you.  When I was a child, my mother started dating the man who she eventually married.  I loved him and still do.  One of the first things he ever did was take me to the movies–just the two of us.  He also always took me to the fair whenever it was in town.  He reached out to me.  Have you reached out in a real way to your step-son?  The other thing you said was that he back talks and gives you attitude.  Well of course he does!  All he ever hears from you guys is nagging and picking at him over one thing or another.  If threats and ultimatums are his only source of communication with you then he’s bound to dig his heels in stubbornly and shut you out.  You have to go about this thing a little more cleverly.  Of course that’s only if you truly hope to have a relationship with this boy.  If all you really wanted was to marry his mom and then nudge him out of the house then keep doing what you’re doing.  Just know that your happiness will come at the expense of a child who didn’t ask for any of this.  If you and your wife can live with that, then more power to you.

The Change Counter

Dear Micah,
My wife drives me crazy counting change.  Wherever we go she insists on counting out the exact change.  If something costs $4.86 she won’t give the clerk $5.  She has to count out the 86 cents exactly.  It drives me berserk.  I want to do something equally absurd to show her how embarrassing it is, but I can’t think of something to do.

Dear Keith,
That requires some thought.  You could sneak into her purse and glue some of the coins together.  That will drive her crazy at the register when she tries to separate those pennies.  Or how about this–get one of those counterfeit markers clerks use to swipe big bills when you give them one.  Keep that in your pocket and every time you are with your wife and someone gives you change in the form of bills, pause and take your time marking each and every bill with your marker.  Hold up the line as long as it takes to mark each one.  That will embarrass her I’d bet.  I’ve wanted to do that at the grocery store so many times.  The clerks will take their own sweet time marking your 20’s, 50’s, and 100’s.  I have wanted so often to pull out my own pen and mark all of the 1’s and 5’s they give me back just to show them how irritating it is to stand and wait.  Try one of those.
If you’d like to “Ask Micah” something, send an email to  Some questions will be answered in the column.

Micah Cargo has been handing out common-sense advice to the senseless for most of his life. Being brought up by a single mom and three wise old southern grandparents equipped Micah with the tools needed to get through life with a little humor, a little intelligence, and not a small amount of bitterness.

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