I like to complain because it doesn’t take any real effort, and even if you have nothing to say, complaining makes it sound like you do.

    My Grandma Harriet had nothing to say but she complained constantly and you couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

    On her birthday, when someone handed her a present she’d say, “I don’t need any presents, why did you get me a present?” 

    Then she’d say, “I hope you didn’t get what you got me last year” before she opened it, and after she opened it, “Why did you spend so much?” or “Why would you get this for me?”

    It was always a pleasure buying gifts for Harriet, if by “always a pleasure” you mean “a fate worse than watching a favorite movie during a PBS pledge drive.”

    Before anyone could answer Harriet, she was on to the next complaint and then she was off to the bathroom.

    She died in the bathroom on her eighty-seventh birthday. 

    We could hear her call, “Why is everything getting so dark in here, my eyes are glazing over!”

    But we thought it was just another complaint so no one did anything about it until twenty minutes later when we all realized we were having a great time, and then figured out why.

    When people complain to me my eyes glaze over and I get hungry.

    When people don’t complain to me my eyes glaze over and I get hungry.

    Go figure.

    Married couples complain to other people about each other, and usually it’s about sex.

    When I was 16, my Uncle Pat pulled me aside for a “man-to-man” discussion that made me wish I was back listening to Grandma Harriet.

    He said, “My wife has an orgasm, then she complains about my technique, then she has another orgasm.”

    He taught Latin in college, and when his wife died in a freak trampoline accident, he had a phrase engraved on her headstone:

    “Veni, queri, veni denuo.” I came, I complained, I came again.

    My wife complains that I don’t understand when she tells me she needs more from life than being my wife and taking care of the house. 

    I complain that she goes out to book clubs and art galleries and concerts every month of the year instead of staying home so there’s always someone here I can complain to.

    They have an official month for everything but not for complaining. 

    I’d complain about that but I don’t know whether to call my Senator or my Congressperson and there’s no one to complain to about that, either.

    People complain about politicians, but they should really complain about all of their fellow citizens who never bother to vote. 

    Political parties shouldn’t have to run “get out the vote” campaigns. 

    They also shouldn’t try to discourage people from voting in areas where people are likely to vote against them.

    Those activities would be moot if everyone voted, and I’m waiting for the day when everyone does.

    I’m also waiting for the tooth fairy to tell me she missed a few teeth and has back pay for me plus interest.

    I want to make my wife happy so I’m trying to live a more interesting, active lifestyle, and I think complaining should qualify as an activity.

    But I don’t think it does. 

    If it did, they’d probably have franchised indoor complaining centers where you could complain while you got a massage or ran on a treadmill or took an aerobics class.

    Oh.  That’s right.  They do have them. 

    They’re called “women’s fitness centers.”

    If you’re a woman, and you want to complain about that line, use the suggestion box at Lucille Roberts. 

    Mine is full. 

    I keep putting complaints in, but no one ever seems to take them out, and I don’t know who to complain to about that.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   In your essay “Complaining and Orgasms” you state that if a woman wants to complain about your line dealing with women’s fitness centers, she should use the suggestion box at Lucille Roberts.

   I live in E. Park Falls, Wisconsin, and the nearest Lucille Roberts is 300 miles away.

   Is it okay if I complain about that line in a letter to you, instead?

Martha Hayball

E. Park Falls, Wisconsin

Dear Martha,

   You just did, and please don’t send any more letters about it.

   You may, however, complain in a letter about anything else in the essay.  I, myself, find several lines to be highly objectionable.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   So women have to use the suggestion box at Lucille Roberts to complain about your Lucille Roberts line, but men don’t?

   What kind of sexist pig are you?

Rosy Boarfoot

Sowsnest, Nebraska

Dear Rosy,

   Let me address your second question first.

   I am preparing a multiple choice survey on the specific subject of classifying sexist pigs, so keep an eye out for it, and once I publish the results, you should be able to answer the question yourself.

  As for your first question, it would appear to be moot under the circumstances: I can’t imagine a man complaining about my Lucille Roberts line in the first place, can you?


Dear Major Ashpole,

   As an operator of franchised complaining centers, I find it unfortunate that you would assign that function to Lucille Roberts centers, which don’t begin to offer the options that consumers of both sexes can find at our locations.  

   We give our customers more reasons to complain than anyone.  I wouldn’t ask you to list our locations under “fitness,” and Lucille Roberts shouldn’t be considered a complaining center.

Rusty Earman

Sr. Vice President, Customer Neglect

Verizon Wireless

Dear Rusty,

   I stand corrected. 

  Verizon is undoubtedly the worst large company in America to deal with that isn’t a health insurance company, and is entitled to all of the recognition it has worked so hard to deserve.

   Can you hear me now?

Dear Major Ashpole,

   At our affiliated PBS stations nationwide, on-air fund drives are a necessity for financial survival.

   On the other hand, there is no good reason why we only show our best movies and specials during pledge drives, when they are interrupted repeatedly for 20 minute pledge breaks, which I assume is the target of your remark.

   There would seem to be an inherent contradiction when a network that prides itself on limited commercial interruptions nevertheless interrupts movies like “Beckett” for a total of an hour and twenty minutes over a three hour period, every time it’s shown on the network.

   Were I Bill O’Reilly, I would undoubtedly say, “Show me where I’m wrong,” but since I’m not, I’ll simply retire from the discussion in marked embarrassment.

Will Nodoff, Sr. V.P., Pledge Drives

Public Broadcasting System

P.S. As you know, we appear on air as if we’re all underpaid semi-volunteers, while we are in fact extremely well paid, and I would appreciate it if you would refrain from bringing that to the attention of your readers in any of your future writing.

Dear Major Ashpole,

   I find your complaints about your wife wanting to lead her own active lifestyle to border on spousal abuse.

   It is important for married women without careers, especially those with an empty nest, as yours appears to be, to find their own activities that provide fulfillment, and that allow them to lead a full and rewarding life that works for them, rather than just spending their time meeting their husbands’ needs.

   How would you like it if your wife complained about the things you like to do that bring you fulfillment?

King Abdullah

Almost As Rich As Queen Elizabeth

Riyadh, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Center of the Universe

Dear King,

   My wife complains about everything I do that brings me fulfillment, except one, and that’s no one else’s business.

   In the meantime, I’ll continue to follow your lead so I can learn how to respect and honor women.


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