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Published: Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:25:51 -0500


Auntie SparkNotes: Campus Catholic Crushing

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 14:25:51 -0500

Good morning, Auntie! I’m a college junior, and I have a friend who we’ll call “Bob.” Bob and I have been friends for a year now, and 11 months ago, Bob confessed that he had feelings for me. I didn’t have feeling for him, so I let him down gently, and we’ve just been close friends ever since. Something else you should know is that we’re both Catholic, and we’re both the co-vice presidents of our Newman Campus Ministry. I can’t exactly say that I’ve developed feelings for him because I don’t feel overwhelmingly interested in him, but I've recently been feeling as if all of our “friend-dates” go unfinished when we part ways. I don’t feel a distinct romantic twinge for him, but at the back of my mind, I feel very close to him and am curious as to whether or not I could be more than friends with him. I adore giving him gifts and making him happy, and he’s done very sweet gestures for me in the past. Here’s the problem, though: there are things he doesn’t know about me, and I don't know how he'd react if he found out. This is not a problem if we’re just friends because there's no reason for me to tell him, and although I doubt he would resent me if he found out these things about me, he might feel betrayed and hurt. Firstly, I’m bisexual. He’s friends with many LGBT people and doesn’t want to force his beliefs on them, but because I’m Catholic and am a member of the ministry executive team, he might react differently to me. As friends, this never bothered me, but if we start dating, I know it’s something I must tell him. Secondly, he doesn’t know that I’m not a virgin. He’s against contraception, and he also doesn’t know that I’m sex-positive and have had FWBs and casual relationships. Again, he doesn’t want to force his beliefs on those who disagree with him, and his beliefs don’t matter to me because I respect him as a friend. But if we started dating, our intimacy needs will clash. Lastly, if we somehow end up getting married, I know he wants kids. I’m not sure if I want to raise kids, but I know for a fact that I don’t want to be pregnant. If we end up adopting, how do we raise the kid? He’ll want to raise them in the Church, but I want to let them choose their own beliefs when they get older. And what if the kid’s beliefs grow different from Bob’s? I’m fine with my hypothetical kid developing different views from me, but what about Bob? Us becoming a couple might work when we’re in the dating stage, but would end up being a recipe for disaster if we got more serious. The best solution I suppose is to just stay as we are, but I also don’t want to regret not pursuing him. Furthermore, talking about this with him might burn the bridge between us if I end up reopening the wounds from letting him down eleven months ago. How do I make peace with how we are? Off the top of my head, Sparkler, you could start by reading your own letter! Because in all of Auntie SparkNotes many long years of agony aunting, I have never seen anyone lay out a more convincing and logical argument for not pursuing a relationship, right down to the part where you are literally asking to be talked out of one. Of course, I have also never seen anyone fret so thoroughly or extensively over their longterm prospects (let alone their hypothetical parenting strategy!) with a person who they not only aren't dating, but have no romantic interest in—and who they've already rejected once for exactly that reason. I mean, forget your lack of intimacy, your various incompatibilities, and your divergent outlooks; can we just talk about the part where you don't have one single iota of romantic feeling for this guy? And where your only stated reason for pursuing him is that you're afraid you might someday regret it if you don't, except why would that ever happen when you never liked him in the first place? All of which is to say, you do not need to be talked out of a relationship with Bob; you've just gotta stop trying to talk yourself into one just because[...]

Snapchats from Classic Literature

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:00:10 -0500

Don’t pretend you’re too good for Snapchat. The truth is, nobody is too good for the dog filter—not you, not I, and not even classic literature. We’ve done a few of these things before, so I’m guessing by now you know the drill. I make the slideshow, you chuckle. You go back to studying for your English test, I go back to the haunted witch-hovel that is my house so that I can cry watching reality cooking shows. Let’s just get to the good stuff, shall we?

QUIZ: What Annoying Question Is Your Family Going to Ask You on Thanksgiving?

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:00:53 -0500

The holidays are upon us, which means it's time once again to stuff our faces with carbs while sidestepping questions like "So why don't you have a boyfriend yet?" and "So what are you going to do with your life?" If your grandma's going to fling this sort of curveball at you over pumpkin pie, you might as well be prepared. What question is your family going to ask? Let's find out. [viralQuiz id=396]

If Fictional Characters Had Tinder

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 10:00:50 -0500


Open Thread for the Weekend of November 17!

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:00:23 -0500

Classic Literature: Expectations vs. Reality

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:00:21 -0500

When it comes to the books on your English syllabus, you usually know what you’re getting yourself into. Whether you’ve read them already or not, you have at least some idea what to expect. For instance, Romeo and Juliet fall in love so hard they die. Frankenstein is about the consequences of man playing god. Moby-Dick has a whale in it. But sometimes you find that your expectations were way off-base. The reality is something else entirely. Beowulf Expectation: There is a wolf involved. Reality: There is not a single wolf involved, but someone’s arm gets ripped off and then there’s a dragon. Lord of the Flies Expectation: A group of young boys gets stranded on an island. Eventually, they learn to work together to build a signal fire and communicate effectively. Reality: Everyone commits at least one murder. The island is on fire and chaos reigns. Hamlet Expectation: Hamlet successfully avenges his father’s murder by killing his uncle. Reality: Hamlet more or less avenges his father’s maybe-murder by killing his uncle after procrastinating for 90% of the play. Les Misérables Expectation: The overarching theme is “Life sucks, and then you die.” Reality: The overarching theme is “Life sucks, and then you are offered one feeble glimmer of hope in a lifetime of pain and misery before being granted the sweet release of death.” Romeo and Juliet Expectation: Two people fall in love and then die. Reality: Two teenagers fall in love after knowing each other for all of five minutes, commit suicide together, and take four other people down with them. The Odyssey Expectation: A man takes the long way home. Reality: A man loses 90% of his crew as a result of terrible decision-making. The other 10% die because they ate the sun god’s cows. Heart of Darkness Expectation: A man is sent to locate another man who is lost in the jungle. Reality: There’s no telling where civilization ends and savagery begins. The real evil is imperialism. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Expectation: Huck Finn goes on a fun trip down the river. Reality: Huck fakes his own death and almost dies for real multiple times. Tom Sawyer shows up to play a game and winds up getting shot in the leg. The Great Gatsby Expectation: Gatsby throws some parties, there’s a car accident, and everyone learns a little something about personal responsibility. Reality: No one learns one single thing about personal responsibility.

The 6 Biggest Spoilers in Shakespeare

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:00:48 -0500


The Thirstiest Literary Characters, RANKED

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 10:00:15 -0500

Thirsty-ness, it can happen to anyone. Anyone who has zero cool, lots of enthusiasm, and a massive crush on someone who maybe isn't aware of your existence. But never fear, even if your latest conquest has now changed his phone number because you texted him "Hi!!! I saved you in my phone as Mr. Darcy! Do you get it? We're going to get married!!" too many times, you're in good company. Literature is ripe with characters who go for their crushes in big ways, often receiving no reciprocation and a lot of panicked running away as a result. From the ever-so-slightly desperate to the mad-dehydrated-thirsty, we've got your thirstiest literary characters right here.

Open Thread for November 16!

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:00:06 -0500

Auntie SparkNotes: My Parents Are Making My Brother Get a Vasectomy

Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:29:20 -0500

Dear Auntie, I have a 17-year-old younger brother who we'll call Bob. Bob has had low-functioning autism all his life and cannot speak (although he can make humming and grunting noises). However, even though he's been confirmed by psychologists to have a lower-than-average IQ, he has developed a lot despite his condition. He makes eye contact regularly, he doesn't mind it if people touch him, he can make his own small meals (like cereal and sandwiches), he can do laundry, he participates in special-needs sports teams, and he communicates perfectly with a special tablet that has a text-to-speech program in it. Here's where the conundrum lies: my mother wants Bob to have a vasectomy. This is so if in the event that Bob is sexually abused by anyone, nobody gets pregnant and gets any unfair leverage over Bob. (Example: a woman sexually assaults Bob, gets pregnant, then tries to get child support money because Bob would be the biological father.) Bob, having the mentality of a 7-year-old, knows nothing about sex aside from "don't let anyone touch your wee-wee or your bottom," which makes sense since he doesn't have the mental capacity to understand a sexual or romantic relationship and consent properly. My parents have already met with a urologist to discuss this last year, and after the urologist went to consult this subject with other doctors and a medical board, it was agreed that Bob should be brought back next year when he's 18 to do the procedure. I've mostly been on board with this since my mom first decided this last year, but I'm starting to have second thoughts. Is this something that my mom is morally okay to do, or is this a complete breach of my brother's autonomy? Although my mom is not keeping my brother completely in the dark about it ("The doctor's going to do surgery on your wee-wee."), there's no way for my brother to fully understand what he'll go through and why. My mom is doing this to protect him, but is this doing more harm than good? I don't think I have any control over this situation if I was 100% against it, but should I be against it? To my immense relief, Sparkler, I cannot answer that question. Because despite what you may have heard, Auntie SparkNotes is not the kind of grand high authority who can tell you what to think about the thorniest and most complex issues of morality, autonomy, and parental responsibility. (At best, I am the kind of authority who can tell you what kind of condiments it is ethically advisable to put on your hot dog.) (NOT KETCHUP.) Everything else is entirely up to you—and you should be prepared to invest some serious time and knowledge-gathering into forming a critical, thoughtful, informed opinion. Fortunately, there's no hurry on that front. Because you're right: until or unless you become his guardian, your brother's medical care is totally beyond your control. And as much as your ambivalence about this situation is totally valid and understandable, it's important not to lose sight of that. We're talking about a decision made by someone who is not you, on behalf of someone who is not you, with the input of a board of professionals whose job it is to weigh the moral, ethical, legal, and medical implications of the situation precisely because it's so complex. No matter what conclusions you reach vis-a-vis the overall ethics of preventing developmentally disabled adults from having children, and even if you believe that your parents shouldn't have gotten your brother a vasectomy, it's ultimately their prerogative to do what they think is best for their kid—and if there's one thing that's clear from your letter, it's that it's a decision they didn't make lightly. With that said, it sounds like your mom has all but invited you to ask her how they came by that decision, and asking would be a great [...]