Deception (11/2/05)

Dear Zelda,

My "boyfriend" and I have been dating for almost a month now. We've been spending quite a lot of time together but I have yet to meet even one of his friends, co-workers, family members or his roommate. We are always at my apartment because his roommate is a total slob (according to him). Even though I say I don’t mind, he still says “nah your place is cleaner and cozier.” I can’t call him at work, and he can only be reached via his cell phone. Am I being naive here or is this guy really a “wolf in sheep’s clothing?”

Astray from the Flock

Dear Astray from the Flock,

Insecurity comes with the territory of a new relationship. In the beginning you’re both still strangers to one another, and all the pieces that make up the foundation of your relationship are still being accumulated and stored based on the events, conversations, and acquaintances that the two of you share.  Of course, it’s normal to ask yourself, “Does he like me as much as I like him?” And everyone at one time or another wonders, “Does he want to take this to the next level, or is he scared of commitment?” These kinds of questions are completely normal. But when we get into “Does he have a girlfriend or wife?,” “Is Larry his real name?,” and “Is he an undercover CIA operative?,” we know that things are getting a little fishy. This degree of evasiveness and secrecy from him is really not so normal, and you are right to want to get to the bottom of this case before getting involved any further.

So I’m going to give you two options, the ninja option and the real option. Let’s talk about the fun one first. Get yourself some camouflage make-up, a tight black outfit (think DKNY meets Kung FU), and the DVD of Mission Impossible. Then physically and mentally prepare yourself for a full-scale assault on the truth behind your beau. Set up some surveillance, or trail him from your house, and find out what the rest of his day is all about, if he really goes home to a wife and kids, or if his roommate is actually a slob after all. But wait... this is REAL LIFE, not the movies. More importantly, this is a relationship based (hopefully) on trust, so the worst thing you could do is spy on and deceive this person with whom you are trying to build an honest partnership.

Instead, you should try something even scarier... asking for the truth.  We all know the old saying “relationships are built on trust,” but sometimes we need “trust verification” to ensure our hearts aren’t being callously abused. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to see where he lives, meet his friends, or break bread with his relatives. Let him know that this kind of thing is important to you, and be willing to draw the line firmly: tell him that if he is not able to compromise on some of this stuff, that you will be forced to doubt either his honesty or his commitment to you. Ultimately, he may just be slow to warm up, so be patient with him, but stay firm on your principles. You’re worth it sister!

Don’t underestimate your suspicions and your intuitions. Ultimately you will know for yourself deep down whether you trust him or not, and it’s that gut feeling you should follow.

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Every night around dinner time my phone rings with a telemarketer on the other end of the line.  At first I listened and talked to them.  Now I am tired of having my dinner and TV time interrupted by these unwanted calls. How can I get them to stop calling?  My name must be on a list of sympathetic suckers.

Thanks,

Tired of Telemarketers
PS.  I've never purchased anything over the phone.

Dear Tired of Telemarketers,

There's nothing worse than having to talk with your mouth full! You're trying to enjoy a nice sirloin steak or piping-hot lasagna when the phone rings, and seconds later you find yourself having to explain exactly why you don't need a new set of Ginsu Knives That Will Never Go Dull. Let me tell you, anyone who gets between me and my dinner is likely to lose a finger. No, you’re not a sucker, we’re all at the mercy of those awful companies that deem it fair to sell our personal information to the highest bidder.

Unfortunately, most of the telemarketing companies have private or unlisted numbers, which makes it impossible to tell who’s calling, and with me it becomes a matter of curiosity killing the... um... cat. If I can’t see who’s calling, I drive myself crazy wondering if it’s some life-threatening emergency call, or some long-lost old flame calling on a whim only this once, or better yet, Ed McMahon calling to let me know I’ve won a million dollars! Of course, every time I’ve checked so far, it has been the Ginsu Knives guy.

So, here are a few suggestions to keep the phonies from phoning:

1.  Get on the National Do Not Call Registry (http://www.ftc.gov/donotcall). Telemarketers are supposed to check this list before dialing to disturb your delicious dessert, and they get in BIG trouble if they get caught breaking the rules. I can tell you from experience that this definitely helps, and it should be your first step.

2. Get an unlisted number. Most likely your phone company will charge a little extra for this, but it’s worth it, especially in this day and age when keeping personal information personal has become increasingly important, and increasingly hard to do.

3. When signing ANY documents, always be aware of the fine print. There’s usually waaaaaaaay too much small print in the small print, and the thought of reading it leaves us racing for the dotted line to sign away our lives. When submitting forms online, there is often a box you can check somewhere that says whether you will allow them to share your personal information. Obviously, check “no.”

4. If and when these sneaky salesfolk do breach your defenses, have a little fun. Try to sell them something like your daughter’s Girl Scout cookies while they are trying to hock their wares. It’s a little crazy... but definitely fun.

Finally, don’t get hung up while they chat your warm meal into a frozen dinner... simply HANG UP!

Zelda

Dear Zelda,

Last week I was walking through a mall and passed the window of a pet store. You know the song, "How much is that doggy in the window?" Well I spotted the most adorable puppy.  It was love at first sight and I went inside to ask about the puppy.  The clerk inside didn't have any information on the puppy's registration papers or history.  I love the puppy and am afraid someone else will buy it, but I'm also afraid of buying it and therefore promoting puppy mills.

What do you think?

Pro Puppy not Puppy Mills

Dear Pro Puppy not Puppy Mills,

If this puppy did come from a puppy mill, chances are likely that you could end up belting out not just “how much is that doggy in the window?” but probably also the less popular follow-up single, “how much more will it cost me in the long run to take care of that doggy in the window?” Adopting a puppy that may have come from a puppy mill not only perpetuates the cycle of funding to keep them going, you also run the risk of adopting a slew of veterinary bills. The Humane Society of the Untied States cites a study that claims as many as 25% of these dogs are afflicted with serious genetic problems (see link below).

We at Zelda Wisdom don’t want you singing the blues, and we know (trust us, we know) how hard it is to turn down the irresistible cuteness of a new puppy. We think puppies are great, and we want nothing more than to have your happy hallways hummin’ with that chart-topping ballad “Puppy Love!” But Puppy Mills are seriously bad business, and the best thing to do is to follow the Humane Society’s advice to try and avoid both supporting these institutions and getting ripped off with an inbred, mistreated, malnourished animal carrying loads of life-long problems.

If you do want to buy a puppy from a pet store, and decide not to just adopt from the Humane Society, revisit the local pet store and talk to the manager or owner to determine where they obtain their puppies. Don't accept their story that their dogs were not the product of puppy mills. Look specifically at their breed registry papers, or at the interstate health certificate (each dog should have one). These papers will contain all the relevant information about the breeder, and you should not buy a store puppy without seeing them.

Of course, many pet stores also buy their puppies from very responsible breeders, so ultimately the responsibility is on you, the customer, to find a pet store you trust, check their records and check out their breeders. Once you find a store you trust, waste no time in getting yourself one of those irresistible furballs!

For more information on the devastating problem of puppy mills, visit the Humane Society’s information page about them at the following website: http://www.hsus.org

Thanks for being Pro Puppy and taking the time to look into this important subject before making the leap! The future for us pups depends on caring, responsible buyers like you.

Zelda