Category Archives: Ask Johanna

Ask Johanna: Dirty Socks, Dirty Mouths, Dirty Rotten Kids

Dear Johanna,

I have been married to my husband for 25 years, and I have told him at least once every year how much I would appreciate it if he would not take off his dirty socks in the living room, next to the sofa.  I usually leave his socks there for a while, thinking that he should be able to clean up after himself, but then I always end up picking them up–because I can’t wait him out!  If I left them there, he wouldn’t care–in fact, he wouldn’t even notice–but I hate the sight of dirty socks on the floor of our living room. Do you have any suggestions on how to actually train him to stop doing this?  Any little tricks you’ve found?

Tired in Tupelo

Dear Tired,

You’ve stumped me.  I’d say you should give up.  I think the best solution to a happy marriage is to accept the fact that there are certain things your husband will do until the day he dies that you don’t like.  The good news is: there are bound to be things you do that drive him crazy!  Next time he leaves his socks next to the sofa, why don’t you shave your legs with his favorite razor?


Dear Johanna,

I was recently a speaker on a panel with two other people.  The other two people were both in their late twenties or early thirties.  Halfway through the event, as I heard one after another of the speakers refer to what I had said as an example of “the way people used to do things,” I realized that, for the first time in my life, I was feeling like an old codger.  And, also for the first time, I fully understood why it irritated my mother so much when I would roll my eyes at her and say something like, “that’s not the way things are now, Mom!”  The whole experience has been pretty depressing, so, Johanna, can you tell me:  is this just a normal part of aging? 

Aging in Atlanta

Dear Aging,

Let me at those young whippersnappers!  Who do they think they are, making you feel old?  I bet you were giving them all sorts of good advice!!  And, yes, some people say this is just part of the whole process–but I’ll tell you this:  I ain’t going down without a fight!  Be proud of all the knowledge that is in your head!  Flaunt your experience!  Tell those kids, who think they know everything, that you were already working and doing stuff when they were still in diapers!  Let them put that in their pipe and smoke it!


Dear Johanna,

Young people nowadays use such terrible language all the time that it is shocking–no matter where they are!  The other day I even heard one use the F-word in the line at the bank!  I am getting sick and tired of it!  Can you give me some advice on how to tell these young people to clean up their mouths in public? 

Disgusted in Denver

Dear Disgusted,

I hear you, sister!  I mean, WTF?!  In my day, the F-word actually stood for something!  It was a valuable tool to reserve for only the most frustrating of circumstances.  But nowadays, it is just flung casually around and has lost its integrity in the process.  I am sorry to say that I don’t know what to tell you, except maybe to do what my mother used to do–and threaten to wash their mouths out with soap!





Ask Johanna: Husbands, Frustration, and Food Addiction

Dear Johanna,

My husband never seems to remember what I have said to him.  For instance, if I tell him I want him to take the garbage out, he nods his head and smiles at me, as if he knows what I’m saying and is going to jump right up and do my bidding.  But then, hours go by and the garbage is still sitting there, lonely.  How do I know if he is hard of hearing or has Alzheimer’s?

Ignored in Ithaca

Dear Ignored,

If  he doesn’t remember you telling him that dinner is on the table, he may need to get his ears checked.  If he wanders around the neighborhood in his boxer shorts, it’s Alzheimer’s.  If  he hears you when you tell him the game is starting on t.v. but doesn’t hear you when you ask him to unstop the toilet, he’s a man who has been married more than five years.

Dear Johanna,

Lately I am eating all the time.  I pig out at meals.  I sneak out for ice cream in the afternoon at work.  And, worst of all, I suddenly find myself standing in front of the refrigerator in the middle of the night, a bagel with cream cheese in one hand and Oreos in the other!  My husband is starting to say that I am  a food addict.  What do I do?

Fat in Florida

Dear Fat,

You go to your doctor right away and tell him/her you are not sleeping well and need Ambien.  Then you tell your husband you’ve been taking Ambien for the past few months, and apparently it has caused you to exhibit strange behaviors around food.  Works like a charm! 

Dear Johanna,

I am afraid I no longer love my husband, but I’m too tired to make any changes in my life.  I already have a separate bedroom.  I’ve told him we can’t communicate, so there is no use even trying to talk any more.  The other day, he fell down, and I kicked him–and felt no guilt.  Is this normal at my age?  I’m 65.

Anxious in Anchorage

Dear Anxious,

Your reactions may be a little extreme, but I get where you’re coming from.  I hear that in some cultures, once women are past childbearing age, they all live together happily–and boot the husbands out.  I don’t think that idea would fly in America, but I hear you, sister!  But no more kicking!  Just make him a “man cave” where he can go watch TV and drink beer while you hang out with girlfriends.  You’re much less likely to end up in jail!



Ask Johanna: Dating After 50

Dear Johanna, 

I’m a 51-year-old woman who has not dated for at least 10 years, since I’ve been so busy raising my son (I’m a single mom).  He’s now heading off to college, and I’m wondering how to go about getting back into the dating scene.  I’m feeling pretty out-of-it, since I haven’t done anything like this in so long.  Any suggestions?

Rusty in Roxbury


Dear Rusty,

I’d say it depends on what you are looking for.  If you just want to go out and have a few good meals paid for by someone else and you don’t care if what you end up with in the bargain is a guy who 1) plagues you for advice on how to win back his ex-wife or 2) talks all night about all of  his unsuccessful investment schemes (“But this one is going to work. I can feel it.”) or 3) describes how great his mother’s bread pudding is, down to the last raisin-filled bite,  which, by the way, he polished off at the house he shares with his mother before coming to take you out, then I’d say try  If nothing else, you can end up with some doozies to entertain girlfriends with over coffee.  But if you are really interested in meeting an interesting man, do what my friend, Sadhvi, says and go do things you enjoy doing: volunteer in a political campaign, learn to ballroom dance, attend lectures at your local university.  If the activity is interesting, at least you won’t feel like you’ve wasted an evening. But I don’t know about her bowling suggestion, since I’ve never been too crazy about the guys who hang out in bowling alleys.  Maybe the best idea would be to hang out in the lobby at a therapist’s office, since a lot of men over 50 are probably inside on the couch. Continue reading Ask Johanna: Dating After 50

Ask Johanna: Wrinkles

Dear Johanna, my face is turning into a mass of wrinkles. It’s as if I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning looking like a dried-up prune. Any suggestions?

Wrinkled in Wrenville

Dear Wrinkled,

First of all, I happen to like wrinkles, as I have previously stated in this column. I see them as badges of honor on the battlefield of life! However, if you insist on trying to get rid of them, here are some suggestions:

1) open your mouth wide and close it again, several times a day–that stretches the skin around your mouth

2) rub your cheeks with some kind of lotion before going to bed each night

3) and this is the best of all: get some congealed chicken fat and rub it on your skin–it does wonders for your skin and, even better, it really turns on men over 50 (who get excited over anything smelling like KFC).

Best of luck! Johanna

By the way, the chicken fat solution also works well for younger women–who are having trouble with engorgement while breastfeeding. I can testify that it works beautifully at rubbing away any hard, stopped-up places and gets the milk flowing. And babies like the taste!!!


Ask Johanna: Menopause Woes

Dear Johanna, I seem to have no memory any more.  I forget things all the time.  The other day my daughter called me to give me the telephone number at her new job, so that I could call her later that afternoon about something important.  She told me to write down the number, but I was sure I could remember it.  The next minute, it was gone!  What can I do?

Forgetful in Florida

Dear Forgetful,

I am just happy to say that I don’t have this problem any more, and I’m as old as the hills.  My children praise me all the time for remembering stuff.  In fact, I even keep track of my husband’s meetings.  And when I go out with my girlfriends, I’m the one who remembers where we parked the car.  It’s amazing, isn’t it, how some people get memory loss with menopause and some just don’t?  Now, tell me again, what was your question?

Dear Johanna,

What can I do about my “chicken fat” arms?  I’ve lost weight recently, and I look fairly good in every place except the very flabby undersides of my arms.  They flap in the breeze and make me feel totally unattractive.  I can’t stand to wear short-sleeved shirts any more.  Help me, Johanna!

Flabby in Forest City

Dear Flabby,

I’ve heard this complaint from lots of people, and I, for one, am tired of women worrying about their flabby arms.  When I see a woman with flabby arms, I just think to myself, “There is a woman who has lived through a lot, experienced a lot, probably picked up a lot of babies with those arms or carried a lot of some man’s dirty clothes up and down stairs. She is certainly not someone who had time to go work out at the gym all the time and keep her arms looking trim.”  I think we should start a movement to protest people’s prejudice against flabby arms.  I say wear those no-sleeve shirts with pride!  You could even get a t-shirt printed that says, “I’m no spring chicken!  I’ve got chicken-fat arms!  Watch out! I might knock you out with one of them!”

Dear Johanna,

I am always tired and have very little energy.  I don’t have hot flashes, but I seem to have every other symptom of menopause, and I’m really tired of the whole deal.  To top it all off, my husband still thinks I’m beautiful and wishes I were interested in sex more often, but the thought of it doesn’t do wonders for me.  In fact, it’s the opposite: I’d almost rather do anything else!  Will I ever feel normal again?

Droopy in Detroit

Dear Droopy in Detroit,

Honey, you need to tell that man the truth:  unless they invent a drug that reverses menopause, he won’t be getting back the hot young thing he married any time soon, so he needs to either get used to living like a monk or come up with some new strategies.  Here are some time-honored ones that have been found to work well with women over 50 (and I actually recommend doing them all, in order):  HE SHOULD 1) cook dinner for the family; 2) clean up the dishes; 3) scrub the toilets in the bathrooms; 4) fold all the laundry; 5) plan the family vacation without any input from you; 6) tell you he loves that one little hair on your chin–it turns him on–and he especially loves your adorable, flabby arms; and 7) promise you that you can sleep late the following morning and he’ll get up and let the dogs out!