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Aunt Pythia’s advice

August 1, 2015

Readers! Dear readers! Aunt Pythia lovers everywhere should stop what they’re doing and watch this trailer immediately, all about the female orgasm:

It looks adorable, n’est-ce pas? Aunt Pythia planning to watch it in its entirety very soon. Stand by for a review.

But enough dilly dallying, readers, Aunt Pythia has a serious job to attend to! If you enjoy her intemperate, unreasonable ramblings, then before you go,

ask Aunt Pythia any question at all at the bottom of the page!

By the way, if you don’t know what the hell Aunt Pythia is talking about, go here for past advice columns and here for an explanation of the name Pythia.


Dear Aunt Pythia,

We had two interactions recently with the police and my wife disagrees with me if this is an example of “driving while white”, so I wanted your opinion of how this would have gone if I was African-American.

1) My 18-year old son was driving our Tesla on the PA Turnpike and was pulled over by the police. The officer walked over to the car and complemented him “Nice car.” And walked away without giving any other reason for stopping him. Do people actually get stopped to get compliments?

2) I was driving through Baltimore and looking for a rest stop. I took an exit and realizing that it was simply leading to another highway, I pulled off onto the very ample shoulder and then walked into the woods to pee. When I turned to return, I saw two Baltimore police officers with their hands on their holsters. They asked me what I was doing in the woods. When I told them they gave me a warning, saying I should “keep an empty bottle in the car for emergencies” and let me go on my way. Did I do something wrong? What did they think I was doing?

Why He Is Traffic-Stop Exempt


Well, I’m also white, so I don’t have first hand knowledge of the counterfactual, but I’m happy to think about it with you.

I don’t know why anyone would be stopped for no reason at all, so let’s think about why your son was pulled over. I’ll wager it was because he was too obviously young to afford a Tesla, and the cop was wondering if he had stolen it. If that is the case, then the fact that your son didn’t appear overly nervous once he was stopped could have contributed to his not getting harassed further. On the other hand, imagine how it might have gone another way for the son of a black Tesla owner. The very act of being pulled over and confronted by a cop with suspicions might have freaked him out, not because he was guilty, but because he was aware of how cops treat young black men.

Similarly, why did those guys care about you peeing in the woods? I don’t know, but their hands on their holsters tells us they were ready for something violent. Again, the counterfactual is always missing, but then again unless you’ve been living under a rock it’s hard to rule out something ridiculous happening in both cases.

In summary, I can easily imagine how this could have gone differently for both you and your son had you been black, but I’m not sure that means there is something truly out of the ordinary going on in either case. That’s the thing with discrimination, it’s statistical rather than deterministic.

To answer your original question, I’d say that instead of thinking about specific events being white privilege events, think overall about how often your interactions with power are pleasant or unpleasant; after all, you have more than two data points. Personally I have gotten out of illegal driving maneuvers by crying, having kids in the car, and even once just because I had kid car seats in my car. I am most definitely a white woman and it has worked for me. Of course, those police might just have been nice to everyone; again, it’s statistics, and I can’t prove my white privilege, but I don’t doubt it one bit either.

Every now and then the situation is more clear cut. I was walking up Broadway the other day and I walked by a scene where a white man was getting a parking ticket from an black female cop. He was very upset about the ticket, and was swearing at the top of his lungs, stuff like, “This is complete shit! You’re an asshole! Fuck this ticket! I was only gone for a few minutes!” The cop said absolutely nothing while she wrote the ticket. She remained calm, and while I didn’t stay until the end, I presume she simply handed the guy his ticket at the end. I kicked myself afterwards for not whipping out my phone and recording it, but I do think it was absolutely inconceivable that if the roles had been reversed, and it had been a white male cop giving a ticket to a black women, I would have seen her acting in the same way.

Aunt Pythia


Hi Aunt Pythia,

A while ago, someone sent you a music video for “Dangerous” and you didn’t much like it. I just ran across this alternative video for the same song, and I think it meshes with your aesthetic much better…

But It’s Good! Don’t Argue, Try Again


Very clever, I like it!

Aunt Pythia


Aunt Pythia,

Bad answer to the anal sex guy. I happen to like it myself, but seriously how many times does his girlfriend have to say “no” to having his dick in her ass before he listens? Your answer should have been more like “you first with a dildo.” Their tune changes very quickly when it’s their asshole being probed.


Dear Answer,

First of all, he might have been fine with a dildo up his butt; some people are just kinkier than other people. Second of all, I don’t think it’s great marital advice to tell your spouse to “shut up about their sexuality already.” That might work fine at work, or with an acquaintance, but with a spouse you’re really in it for the long haul and things could go badly if that’s your attitude. I stand by my answer.

Aunt Pythia


Hi Aunt Pythia,

Do you have any friends who just suck your positive energy away? I do. This friend always has something to complain about her life, with so much drama. She is a really dear friend too, so I feel quite strong sadness with her every problem in life. But when someone is just dumping their problems on you (I know she is more like sharing them, but still), how sustainable that relationship is? It is horrible to abandon people when they need you, but is there a good time/reason/way to restructure your friendship with someone?

Friendship Rest In ENjoyable Distance


I feel your pain. Or actually, no I don’t. But I do acknowledge your pain.

And therein lies the difference, and my advice. Make time for your friend to tell you about her problems, but don’t make them your problems. Listen to her, have compassion, smile and give her love and support, but don’t get yourself empathetic to the point of suffering yourself, because that’s not helpful to either of you. That’s the first piece of advice I have for you.

Second: indicate to your friend that your conversations are somewhat lopsided, and you’d like to discuss happier things as well as struggles, because that way it is more fun and forward thinking. Tell her three things you are grateful for from the past week, and make it part of your relationship that you talk about more than her problems.

Another possibility, if that seems unlikely or too difficult to handle: make your meetings about something, rather than straight up bitch sessions or coffee. Go to Magic Mike XXL with her, or take a walk, or take her to the yarn store, or get her engaged in a project of some kind that she would like. Make the meetings about that project and the future.

If all else fails – and do try a couple of the above first – give yourself a break and tell her you are busy when it just seems like too much work to listen to her. Wean her off of you gradually, and she will find other people to talk to.

Good luck!

Aunt Pythia

p.s. One piece of advice I didn’t give you is to give her advice on her problems. I do this by nature, so I assume you’ve already tried it, but the truth is I don’t think it helps very much. I mean, it helps me think I’m being a good friend, of course, but my experience is that people who talk a lot about their problems don’t want advice to fix them. Of course, some people do ask advice and take it, but they are typically people who talk only infrequently about their problems. And also, giving advice extends the time that you spend talking about her problems instead of something else.


Readers? Aunt Pythia loves you so much. She wants to hear from you, and then tell you what for in a most indulgent way. Will you help her do that?

Please, pleeeeease ask her a question. She will take it seriously and answer it if she can.

Click here for a form for later or just do it now:

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