Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ask the Experts

Ha! I like not that.

What dost thou say?

Nothing, my lord: or if -- I know not what.

Was not that Cassio parted from my wife?

Cassio, my lord! No, sure, I cannot think it,
That he would steal away so guilty-like,
Seeing you coming.

(Othello 3.3.35-40)

With Friends Like These . . .

Othello’s no stranger to soured friendships. His so-called buddy Iago really screws him over, getting him to believe that his perfect wife is sleeping with strapping young Michael Cassio. Othello’s too trusting (or clueless or self-absorbed) to figure out that Iago actually hates him.

Othello wises up only after he’s gone and snuffed out Desdemona. Confronted with the truth of Iago’s bad friendship, he moans “O! O! O!” (5.2.198), loosely translated as “Stupid! Dumb! Lame!”

The good news is that Othello has learned from his mistakes and now devotes his life to helping others avoid a similar fate. This is his gift to you.

Dear Othello,

There’s this mom at my kid’s school who’s making me crazy! We used to be really good friends—not that you’d know it by seeing us in the playground these days! She’s been paying a lot of attention to another mom recently, and I think my friend may have gotten her number and put it in her phone. I’m not sure whether she’s trying to blow me off, or if she just can’t see straight because she’s so excited about her fabulous new friend, you know? Last week I was at the mall, and I saw my friend going into the Gap—with the other mom!!!! I swear they saw me on the escalator and made a point of avoiding eye contact!

Do you have any sense what’s up and what I should do about it?


Betsy P.
Larchmont, NY

Dear Betsy,

O! There is definitely something up. It is too hideous to be shown. One true way to find out about your friend is to buy a “special” shirt at the Gap, give it to your friend, and see if she lends it to this other woman. If she does, please write back and I will advise you further. In the meantime, stay alert.

Yours in comfort,

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