From the Archives of Dr. Laura
It occurred to me one day, as I was driving to work listening to her show, that Dr. Laura would have very some very interesting things to say to JA's characters...
DL: Hello, I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Dan's producing and taking care of the music, Carolyn's screening your calls, and me? I'm my kid's mom. Fitzwilliam, welcome to the program.
FD: Good morning, Dr. Laura. Thanks for taking my call.
DL: You're very welcome. How can I help you?
FD: Well, I met a woman last fall, and I just can't seem to get her out of my mind.
DL: So what's the problem, Fitzwilliam?
FD: It's her family. I know this will sound terribly snobbish, but, well, they're vulgar.
DL: Define "vulgar."
FD: Her mother is a loud, silly woman who is only interested in marrying her daughters to rich men. Her father is a gentleman, although he fails to act properly as the head of a family should. Her older sister is all right, but her three younger sisters do nothing but chase men and make spectacles of themselves in public, and their parents fail to control their behavior. Their mother, in fact, encourages it.
DL: The parents can't be all that bad. They got two out of five right.
FD: I believe that the two oldest sisters have benefited from their natural intelligence, which causes them to reject their family's behavior.
DL: Hmm. So how exactly do you feel about this woman?
FD: I love her, Dr. Laura. I want to marry her. But I simply cannot countenance her family.
DL: Do you think she will agree to be cut off from her family if you are married?
FD: No. Although she is embarrassed by their behavior, I believe that she loves her family, particularly her father. To be honest with you, I find that this benevolence only increases her charms in my eyes.
DL: Okay, Fitzwilliam, here's what you do. If you love this woman as much as you say, you marry her. You invite the family over at Thanksgiving and Christmas, you grit your teeth, and you put up with their tacky behavior. It's a package deal. You can't cut her off from her family and expect her to be happy in marriage. You can put up with them for a couple days a year.
FD: You're right. Thank you, Dr. Laura.
DL: Go to it. On to our next caller. Marianne, welcome to the program.
MD: Hello, Dr. Laura. Thanks for taking my call.
DL: You're very welcome. How can I help you?
MD: Well, my fiancé--
DL: Do you have a ring and a date?
MD: Pardon me?
DL: You say he's your fiancé. Has he given you a ring? Have you set a date for your wedding?
MD: Well, no, but every day that we were together he implied that he loved me. Such passion can lead only to marriage.
DL: No ring, no wedding date—guess what, Marianne? You're not engaged.
MD: I suppose you're right.
DL: All right. What's your question?
MD: The man that I've been seeing has disappeared from my life. He left our neighbourhood suddenly, with no proper explanation. I followed him to another town, and I've tried to contact him many times, but he has not answered my messages. And now I've heard that he is engaged to another woman. I'm so confused, Dr. Laura. He begged me on bended knee for a lock of hair. His behavior in every way indicated that he felt the same passion for me that I felt for him--
DL: Listen to me, Marianne. Are you listening?
MD: (Sobbing) Yes, Dr. Laura.
DL: Okay. Forget about this guy. He's moved on. I know it's painful, but it would be a lot more painful if you married this jerk and made babies with him and he left you then. He's probably shacked up with some honey and has forgotten all about you. I'm sure there's another man, perhaps in your old town, whom you could love just as much.
MD: But, Dr. Laura, I could never love another man! Such love as I felt for Will--for him is felt only once in a lifetime!
DL: Oh, stop it.
MD: Pardon me?
DL: Marianne, how old are you?
DL: (Laughs) Well, that explains a lot. To never experience love after seventeen! In my opinion, no one should get married before they're thirty years old.
MD: Thirty years old? A woman of thirty could not possibly feel such passion as I felt for this man.
DL: Marianne, let me tell you something. Love is not an age. Love is mutual respect and support. Read your Bible. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." You should look for a man who encompasses those qualities. You may already know him.
MD: You sound like my sister.
DL: It sounds like your sister is a very smart woman. You should listen to her.
MD: All right, Dr. Laura. Thank you.
DL: You're welcome. Who's our next caller? Mary, welcome to the program.
MM: Hello, Dr. Laura! It's an honor to talk to you. By the way, I'm my kids' mom!
DL: Excellent. How many and how old?
MM: Charles is three, and Walter is two.
DL: I'll bet they're quite a handful!
MM: That's why I'm calling, Dr. Laura. When I try to discipline them, my husband constantly interferes.
DL: I think it's wonderful that their father wants to be involved in raising his children.
MM: If he were actually in the house, it would be more helpful. But he goes out every day, even when I am too unwell to properly care for the children. He leaves me all alone all day long and then criticizes my child-raising methods. One time he went to a dinner party after our eldest had fallen from a tree and dislocated his collarbone.
DL: He goes out and leaves you alone with the kids when you're sick?
MM: He doesn't seem to understand that I am really very ill.
DL: Well, you tell him for me that he can't go out fooling around with his friends and still expect to get the kids' respect when he decides to come home. A father's first commitment is to his children.
MM: I will, Dr. Laura. Thank you.
DL: Thanks for the call. Hang on the line a minute, Mary, I'm going to send you an "I'm my kid's mom" T-shirt. Fanny, welcome to the program.
FP: Thank you, Dr. Laura. I'm a little nervous.
DL: Don't be nervous, Fanny. It's just a radio show, broadcast to millions of people across America.
FP: I was brought up to not put myself forward.
DL: Well, Fanny, you're not going to get much out of life if you don't start standing up for yourself. How can I help you?
FP: Let me give you some background. I'm eighteen years old, and for the past eight years I have lived with my aunt and uncle. They have four children of their own. They have given me an excellent education, and my cousins have been generally very kind to me. Well, I went back to visit my family for the first time, and I am ashamed to admit that I was revolted by their reduced circumstances.
DL: Revolted? What do you mean by "revolted?"
FP: My mother is a kind woman, but she has no idea how to handle servants or run a household properly. To be perfectly honest, neither does my aunt, but she can afford to hire good servants to run the house for her.
DL: So what you're saying is that you don't want to have anything to do with your bio-family.
FP: Oh, no! I truly love my brother William. He is a sailor and sent me a beautiful amber cross that he purchased with his first prize money.
DL: Oh, that's nice.
FP: Yes, he's wonderful. But my parents--my father barely acknowledged my presence and my mother is so harried. I did my best to help her while I was home, but she seems unable to do anything to help herself. My parents exercise no control over my younger brothers and sisters. My sisters constantly squabble, and my brothers run about making a frightful noise. The house is filthy and the servants are disrespectful and slovenly. Some acquaintances called while I was staying with my parents, and I was mortified. Luckily my father was not as coarse as he is within the intimacy of the family circle. Dr. Laura, I'm so ashamed of feeling this way about my nearest relations! I feel that I am breaking a commandment by failing to honor my mother and father.
DL: You say you had not seen your family for eight years?
FP: That's correct.
DL: Why not?
FP: My father's income was not sufficient to maintain us, so my uncle took me to raise.
DL: I can't believe these people who keep making babies when they can't afford to raise the ones they already have. Well, Fanny, sounds like they tore up their parent cards when they sent you away. Your aunt and uncle who raised you deserve your love and respect. Don't feel guilty because you don't want to spend time with your bio-family. They don't seem to want to spend much time with you.
FP: All right, Dr. Laura. Thank you. I feel better.
DL: You're welcome, dear. Eliza, welcome to the program.
EW: (sobbing) Dr. Laura? I'm so glad I can talk to you.
DL: What's the matter, dear?
EW: Well, my fiancé--
DL: Do you have a ring and a date?
EW: Well, no, but we--
DL: Then you're not engaged. Girls! How many times do I have to say it? You get a ring, even a crummy little fake stone, which shows the world that you are betrothed. You set the date for the wedding. Then and only then are you engaged. Shacking up with some guy does not constitute engagement. Okay?
EW: (still sobbing) Okay.
DL: Okay. Go ahead.
EW: The man I've been seeing--well, we were living together for a time--(Dr. Laura sighs audibly) has left me, and I don't know where he is. I gave up all my connections because I thought he loved me, and now he has gone.
DL: So you were just shacking up with this guy, Eliza? Well, you really have no right to expect him to stay. He made no vows before God, and there is no legally binding contract between you. I'd say you had best get over this guy and move on.
EW: But, Dr. Laura, (sobs) I'm with child.
DL: And whose fault is that? I sure hope it was a good orgasm, one worth bringing an unwanted child into the world. Where are your parents, Eliza?
EW: My mother passed away when I was three. I don't know who my father is.
DL: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? Do you have any other family?
EW: My guardian, a military man. But I'm afraid to contact him. I haven't spoken or written to him since I eloped with Will--with the father of my child.
DL: Eliza, I think you should contact your guardian. He can help you track this guy down so you can take him to court and get child support. But I really think you should consider giving the baby up for adoption. A child needs the benefit of a loving home with two parents. I'm sure you'll agree with that.
EW: All right.
DL: Okay. Hang on the line a minute--Carolyn, will you get her address? Eliza, I'm going to send you a copy of my book, Ten Stupid Things That Women Do. Okay?
EW: Thank you, Dr. Laura.
DL: You're welcome. (sighs) That's a lesson for all the young girls listening to the show. On to the next call. Catherine, welcome to the program.
CM: Good morning, Dr. Laura. Thank you for taking my call.
DL: You're very welcome. What can I do for you?
CM: Well, I have a moral dilemma. A young man of my acquaintance has invited me several times for unchaperoned rides in his gig. It has now come to my attention that such behavior is not proper for a young lady.
DL: How well do you know this guy?
CM: He is a particular friend of my brother, and his sister is a particular friend of mine.
DL: So where are your brother and his sister while you are riding around with this guy?
CM: They often go for rides in my brother's equipage.
DL: Aha! Catherine, have you ever considered that they may have an ulterior motive in encouraging you to go on rides with this guy?
CM: Why, no, Dr. Laura. I had never thought anything of it.
DL: Well, Catherine, I don't think that young people should be alone together without supervision. It's just an invitation to trouble. I would suggest that you not go on any more rides with this young man.
CM: I won't. Thank you, Dr. Laura.
DL: You're welcome, dear. Thank you for the call. Lydia, welcome to the program.
LB: Hello, Dr. Laura. I hope you can help me. I am engaged to be married in a week's time. My fiancé and I had been staying together in his lodgings, but my aunt insisted that I be married from her house.
DL: Sounds like a good idea to me.
LB: But, Dr. Laura, we are here in the city and never set foot outside. Not that there is much going on this time of year, but the little Theater is open. I think my aunt is punishing me for eloping with my fiancé.
DL: You eloped? So why aren't you married yet?
LB: Well, I knew we would be married sooner or later, and it did not much signify when. Then our friends found us and are giving him a--financial motivation to marry me.
DL: Oh. I see. Well, Lydia, I think your aunt is absolutely right to keep you locked up until the wedding. You've already shown that you can't be trusted to behave properly when left to your own devices. Your father should have locked you up a long time ago!
LB: (snorts) What a joke! My four older sisters cannot get husbands and I have gotten one so easily! My father should let me find husbands for them all!
DL: Lydia, if he had to be paid to marry you, I'd seriously question his motivation.
LB: My dear Wickham is devoted to me.
DL: Okay, if you say so. But I still agree with your aunt. You're going to be spending the rest of your life with this guy; you can wait another week.
LB: Hmm. I suppose you're right. But it does seem a waste.
DL: Thanks for the call. Sophia, welcome to the program.
SG: Thank you for taking my call, Dr. Laura.
DL: You're very welcome. What can I do for you?
SG: My fiancé--
DL: You have a ring and a date?
SG: Oh, yes. We are to be married in a very few weeks.
DL: All right. Go ahead.
SG: I recently found out that my fiancé is receiving letters from another young lady.
DL: Who is she?
SG: He claims she is just a friend, but I have heard rumors that Will--that he was quite enamored of her for a time.
DL: Was this while he was engaged to you?
SG: No, we did not have an understanding at the time, but we were very close to one.
DL: Well, if you weren't engaged at the time he was flirting with this honey, then you can't say anything to him about that. However, I'm a little worried that he is still getting letters from her. It's setting a dangerous precedent for your marriage.
SG: I feel the same way, Dr. Laura. Do you have any suggestions?
DL: He is betrothed to you, Sophia, and this can't go on. He's just going to have to write to this young lady and tell her in no uncertain terms that their relationship is at an end. Better yet, he should send all her letters back to her. She should get the message.
SG: All right, I'll tell him that. Thank you, Dr. Laura.
DL: You're welcome, Sophia. Augusta, welcome to the program.
AE: Well, hello, Dr. Laura! We listen to you all the time down in Bristol. My brother-in-law, Mr. Suckling, is especially fond of your show. He always says, "Dr. Laura is a very wise woman."
DL: Thank you very much, Augusta, and thank your brother-in-law for me. What can I do for you?
AE: Well, Dr. Laura, I have a moral dilemma. My husband is a minister, a highly-respected man in our community.
DL: I'm sure he is.
AE: I do not like to boast, but I also involve myself in the daily life of my caro sposo's parishioners. One young lady in particular has captured a great deal of my attention. She is orphaned, in a reduced state, but was lucky enough to get a fine education, one that will enable her to earn her living in a properly genteel way.
DL: Good for her. I can't stress enough how important education is.
AE: As you can imagine, I have looked far and wide through my extensive acquaintance to find a proper situation for this young lady. In fact, I have found her an exceptional situation with a family that is positively top-drawer. But she refuses to allow me to finalize the arrangements. I simply cannot understand her reluctance, Dr. Laura. Such situations are not easily found and should be spoken for as soon as they emerge.
DL: Augusta, is it possible that she has a good reason to delay her acceptance? Perhaps she has found a better job on her own.
AE: I cannot imagine how. My connections are the best, and she is a simple country girl, an orphan with few friends.
DL: Maybe she has met a man in your area and doesn't wish to leave.
AE: I doubt it, Dr. Laura. She has no dowry and little prospect of marrying, despite her loveliness and accomplishments. Can you tell me a way to persuade her to accept?
DL: Augusta, you have to respect her wishes. Tell your friends that she cannot accept the position at this time, but to keep her in mind if another position opens. That's all you can do. I'm sure if she could tell you why she is refusing, she would. Bide your time and the truth will probably come out. Thanks for the call. Now go and face the day.
I truly value feedback and constructive criticism from my readers. Leave feedback or discuss this story at the Beneath the Trapdoor discussion forum.