Advice From The Comic Hack 171 – The Soap Opera Villains And Cowardly Father Edition

Aug 26

Advice From The Comic Hack 171 – The Soap Opera Villains And Cowardly Father Edition

Magnificently bearded, devastatingly charming, epically talented and distinctively gravelly-voiced playwright, activist, and tony award-winning actor Harvey Fierstein once fog-horned this quote melodically, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim.  Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.

When is it suitable to tell the truth? When is it acceptable for you to get angry? What is the right time for you to unleash you wrath? Who gets to decide what you are going to be and who your family is? Are there any relationship lines that cannot be crossed?  Why have I started this introduction with so many questions? Today we deal with betrayal, a father who has failed, and a trope right out of fairy tales – both modern and hoary. And anger. Today we deal with so much anger.  19th Century German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic Heinrich Heine tells us “We should forgive our enemies, but not before they are hanged.” Today a Darling Reader asks me how she should deal with a betrayal most foul and a villain, an Honest-to-Neil-Degrasse-Tyson VILLAIN. The Darling reader is proud that they suppressed their characteristic anger and while I’m not suggesting like Heine that a noose be tied – I am wondering if it should have at least been considered? After you’ve read today’s column please do all those things I keep asking you to do to help me share this work. MOST IMPORTANTLY – I really want some interesting questions for upcoming columns. Submit your questions to 


I'll wait...

I’ll wait… DAMN! I should have said “I’ll hang around”


I have always had a good relationship with my father until recently. About six months ago he got married and at first my step mother and I got along really well. About two months ago I was hanging out with her and out of nowhere she told me that she wants to start another family with my father and that meant that she wanted him to cut my sister and I out of his life so they can completely start over. I was surprised and angered but I didn’t do anything harsh in fact I just got up and left. Which honestly is a big step for me since I am usually quick to get angry and start yelling. I found out two weeks ago when hanging out with my sister that my step mom still invites her over there. I am confused and do not understand what she has against me. I have talked to some friends some of them say that I should keep trying to call even though no one is calling me back. Some say I should go down there in person and refuse to leave until they talk to me. The rest think I should just give up and forget about them. I am confused and don’t want to lose my dad in my life. Just wanted to see if you have any suggestions of stuff I can do. I have ready your articles and i like your advice I think if you feel you can that you really help me out. Not sure what to do

This foreshadows my answer...

This foreshadows my answer…


 You’d be AMAZED at the anger and aggravation this question has inspired in the Comic Hack’s Cave this morning. My editor – usually a paragon of patience and politeness is pissed. “Fuck that Step-mom” she says. (editor’s note: I never said that – but I certainly believe it)Where the hell is her FATHER in all this?” she says (editor’s note: Okay, yeah, THAT I said). My initial response was no-less angry, no less dumbfounded. “What is this a soap opera? Is this woman a villain from central casting? Who even says something like that?” What we’re both saying here is if this is actually what this woman said to you, make no mistake SHE is the bad guy… I can’t begin to guess if she’s narcissistic, or sociopathic or just cruel, stupid, selfish and mean but WOW.

I LOVE this.

I LOVE this response.

Let me – as I often do at this point – address the elephant in the room. I have to at least mention the possibility that you’re an asshole and that this I just the family’s less-than-subtle attempt to divest themselves of your puckered foulness. I have to at least grant that you could be such a horrible person that this woman – with her graceless affront and tactless words – isn’t the instigator but only the harbinger, the messenger, merely delivering the edict of the family unto your vile noggin like Mercury pouring poison into the porches of your ear – Wow is THAT ever a jumble of disparate literary references!

Only YOU can determine – whether through poling your responsive friends and family members or through deep introspection – if you are at fault. Only you can know if you deserve to be isolated from hearth and home; kith and kin. Though now that I have actually looked up the definition of that archaic expression I guess I should amend it to “Kin, step-kin and half-kin-to-be”. But there are enough other red flags for me to fairly certain that you’re the victim and not the one in need of ostracizing. If this was your fault all I’d have to do is find one of the countless “Don’t be a dick” memes, post it here and take the rest of the day off.

Credit where credit is due. (So hard NOT to write Shut up Wesley")

Credit where credit is due. (So hard NOT to write “Shut up Wesley“)

But – if indeed the proverbial wicked step mother gave this direct, unsolicited insult, this crass, heartless and reprehensible declaration; she’s the shitty one. What’s next? Is she going to don an old-lady disguise and offer you a poisoned apple?

Not what I meant...

Not what I meant…

But seriously folks – There’s a lot of sad crap to unpack here. My heart breaks for you that this is the hand you’ve been dealt.  As I first read your message I was struck by “…do not understand what she has against me”  Again – maybe you’re a horrible person. It’s not for me to say. But even if that’s the case – this ham-fisted, dishonest, passive-aggressive shattering of the familial bonds is uncouth and uncalled for.  I’m left with so many unanswered questions. There’s so much of this that stinks. Look at the timeline: This evil shrew actually tries to cleave you from your papa and monopolize his time and love just four months after they’re married?  Damn this really is a soap opera, or a cautionary fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm.

My biggest question is – Just WHAT the HELL is your Daddy-dearest thinking and doing during all of this? Because of my own, trailer-park, single-mom upbringing I hold the responsibilities of being a father very seriously and to a very high standard. I know what a father should do and should be – because I was denied that. Your father is failing you and I want to know why – all the motives and circumstances – almost as much as you do. You say you’ve had a good relationship with your Old man but maybe your relationship is not as good as you imagined? The core question; the one thing that MUST be addressed and cannot be ignored or worked around is this: Does your father KNOW what’s going on? Is he condoning it? Turning a blind eye to it? Is he ignorant, cowed or complicit? And part of this makes me wonder –  How is it that none of your calls are being returned? Who is responsible? You need answers because either they’re both terrible people, he’s being played or she’s a villain and he’s a coward. You owe it to yourself to determine that answer.

I see what the problem is...

I see what the problem is…

You’re proud of yourself for having suppressed your anger but maybe you should have gotten mad? Maybe you should have been positively Hulk-like in your implacable, righteous rage? I love confrontation. I love getting the truth out in the open. There are so very few circumstances where I won’t vigorously advocate for confession, confirmation and communication. You deserve to have some answers. Since you didn’t get them at the time I think you should do (almost) whatever it takes to sit these people down and make them explain themselves. Especially your daddy-kins!

Those friends of yours who are suggesting that you “go down there in person and refuse to leave until they talk to me.” are right on target. By all means go. I want you to look your father in the eye and make him tell you that he knows what this woman is saying and explain to you why he’s allowed it. This direct approach, like “nuking the site from orbit” is the only way to be sure. Even if “Father of the year” and “Evil step-witch” don’t reply, you’ll get an answer from looking into his face. As a caution and a courtesy let me counsel you: Be prepared to hear things you don’t want to.  I don’t see any easy outcome for you. When the best case scenario is revealing to your pappy that his beloved is an evil – what’s the word again? Bunt? Hunt? Punt? It’s on the tip of my tongue (as often as I can arrange it to be!) Whatever that word is; you’re in a tight spot. You have tough times ahead.

Naughty Fruit - In case you're tired of apples

Naughty Fruit – In case you’re tired of poisoned apples

To the folks who have counseled you to give up and forget them – Ummm. Whut? Why would you ever abdicate the man who sired you without a fight or an answer? It is a distinct and sad possibility that you MAY lose your forebear… in which case (again barring that you’re a complete asshole) this means that he has abjectly failed as a man, as a dad and as person. Perhaps you’re better off without him? So Yes, go on down and stage what my editor calls a “Come to Jesus meeting!” Get your answers. Make your father aware, or own up to – what his shrew-wife has put you through. I wish I could see a path where you didn’t get hurt. The best I can offer is my sympathies.

... And a toast from Gatsby?

… And a toast from Gatsby?

And there you have it. I hope this found the answer to this most aggravating of questions fun, frivolous and yet still helpful to you. (as if!)  I’m sure by now you’re going to realize that I am going to ask you to leave comments on today’s article by using the “Comments” link. If you liked what I wrote today why not use the “Like” link; it seems appropriate. Finally use the provided link to “Share” share and share some more. You may (and absolutely SHOULD) submit questions for future columns by emailing me at  Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you right back here next week.


  1. Your Humble Comic Hack /

    Should I not have asked this Darling Reader if she was at fault?
    What would you have told her if it were your column?
    Why is the sky blue?
    I await your comments!

    • Jennifer /

      First, you were right to ask, Oh Wise Comic Hack.

      Second… some good dads get… um… “confused” or “distracted” when it comes to their partner. (Trying not to be too crass… but for a lot of men, the kitty-cat rules the roost.) My own father took our step-mother’s “side” for years before he reached his own breaking point and apologized to us. Apparently, step-mom had been sexually abused as a child and was jealous – seeing us as a threat to her relationship with Dad. With a little pressure, our natural brattiness kicked in and she was able to pick us off, one at a time, until she had him on her own. Over the years, their relationship crumbled, he apologized to us, and things returned to normal. (Took about a decade, really…) But I couldn’t help but wonder if this situation is something similar. Or if, perhaps, the step-mother has a mental imbalance or is shockingly immature (is she, like, 15 or something?) Did the reader have a history with step-mom before the marriage? So many questions… so many variables…

      In this case, I’m not sure confrontation will “fix” anything. Especially if the woman is ballsy enough to baldly state she’s cutting the reader out of her father’s life. Heaven knows what dirt she can find/create to make life even more miserable.

      I hope the reader’s mother is around and able to provide some solace & wish her the best of luck!

      • Your Humble Comic Hack /

        Great insights! Thanks for sharing your own experiences with us. I must confess that even in my role as “Dispenser of Advice” I’m a petty man. I don’t imagine that this confrontation is likely to “fix’ the situation – it might but that’s not a smart bet – but my sense of justice requires confronting the dad on what he’s doing.

        • Jennifer /

          Truly, it’s not petty. It’s powerful. The benefit of confrontation for the reader is that she will know exactly where she stands with her father, even though she won’t necessarily get the “Why” of the matter. Which is why you’re doing the advice column & I’m merely commenting! 🙂

  2. Georgia /

    I think dear old step mom is lucky she didn’t get a swift kick to the face but your advice is sound, a come to Jesus is most definitely in order here

  3. Valentina /

    Advice is perfect here. Sometimes family really IS this shitty. I recently read a blurb and thought it may be helpful “Become your own healthy family by treating yourself with kindness, consideration, and respect, and expect others to treat you the same.”

    • Your Humble Comic Hack /

      Wow. A LOT of things, healthy things begin with self-love.
      (And not just the kind so often practiced by teen-aged boys!)

  4. Spot on in sight. What kinda of a father does the woman think a man could be by discarding his older kids like that? A poor one. I do think confronting them with a support person (they could be the driver on the way back) would work. Also the sister should be supporting her sister, cause she’ll be cut out next.

  5. Mama Bear /

    I think that was a great response. I would include some cautionary advise to be mindful of the dangers of enlisting advise of others. When it comes down to it it is about what type of relationship (if any) you want with your father… Your step-mom and even your friends can never determine that for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *