“You wanted to see me?” she asked.“Yes. Please close the door and have a seat.”Something in his formal tone told her this had nothing to do with outdated dairy products. She waited for him to open his mouth and breathe some fire her way, but instead, he opened a folder that sat waiting on his desk and shuffled through the stack of papers inside. It didn’t take long for Dara to realize the folder contained a collection of her printed columns.He pursed his flaky lips and narrowed his eyes as he looked at her.“I’ve read over your columns, Dara, and I’m very concerned.”
“Really? Why would they concern you?”
“I’ve never seen an advice columnist let loose on her readers the way you do. You’ve been writing this column for, what, almost eight years?”
Dara nodded slowly.
“I understand that a column will progress along with the columnist over a period of time. It’s only natural—but in your case…”
“Well, I find the progression quite disturbing.”
“Disturbing?” she echoed with surprise.
“Well,” he said, mustering professionalism, “early on, your column was more like a pep talk, more hopeful. That’s good. That’s what people want to hear, but lately…”
The Beast tapped his bony fingers on his desk while sighing.
“You can get to the point, Bob,” she said with some irreverence. The change in tone brought out the editor she was starting to know and hate.
“Telling people they’re better off on their own is not the best romantic advice.”
“It is if they’re dating a creep.”
“Last month you suggested that a forty-eight-year-old woman,” he shuffled through the file so he could quote her accurately, “‘would be better off with goldfish for company than the pathetic stream of misfits polluting her dating waters.’”
“Well, it’s true,” Dara defended matter-of-factly.
He pulled out another page with a huff and started reading. “And from March, you told Stymied in Santa Monica that, and I quote again, ‘Couples therapy would be a waste of time considering your fiancé’s obvious obsession with killing small, defenseless animals.’”
Bob looked sternly at Dara. “So he’s a hunter,” he said with annoyance. “Lots of people are hunters. That doesn’t disqualify such a person from couples therapy—or good relationships.”
“It does when the person does it every weekend instead of paying some modicum of attention to his fiancée. My God, they’re not even married yet, and he’s totally ignoring her, not to mention murdering innocent wildlife.”
“Well,” Bob added as he pulled Exhibit C from the pile, “at least you’re an equal opportunity offender. You told this man that his girlfriend was ‘clearly a narcissist who will play nice until she sinks her claws deep enough into your skin to hold you down and eat you alive.’ Then you quoted lyrics from a Hall and Oates song, ‘Maneater.’”
“Yes,” Dara commented coolly, “I’ve seen it happen many times with women like that.”
“You told him to ‘get over his hard-on for bitches unless he wants a life of pain and misery.’”
She nodded with assuredness. “Sound advice.”
The Beast huffed at her again and began to raise his voice, “First of all, you can’t diagnose someone with a personality disorder when you’ve never even met her.”
“Oh, come on, it’s so obvious though—” she started.
“And, second, if he breaks up with her after reading this, we could have a lawsuit on our hands!”
“We have a disclaimer, remember? This is only for entertainment purposes, blah, blah, blah—”
“That doesn’t mean someone won’t start trouble anyway! We live in a very litigious state.”
The Beast tried to calm himself with a deep breath.
“Dara, your column is way too… depressing.”