Dear Margo: I'm a huge hockey fan, probably because I adored Peter Forsberg. I used to attend games with my father, but when he died, it hurt to think of being there without him. Recently, an aunt invited me to go with her. I was pleased and offered to pay for good seats, but she insisted we sit in the nosebleed section and she would pay. Margo, I hate those seats, and not because you can't see, but because the fans are drunken brutes. But hesitantly, I agreed.
The night of the game we sat near four college boys who drank more and more as the Avs lost. They were rowdy and crude, and they screamed a lot. Then they disappeared for a while (getting more alcohol, I assume), and a family came in and asked whether those seats were free. I told them no, and that they should keep their distance because the men sitting there were pretty drunk and belligerent. They heeded my advice and sat a few rows away. Well, sure enough, the drunks came back and noticed the family. One of the little boys was wearing a jersey from the opposing team. The college boys swore and yelled and said loudly they should throw the kid over the glass into the lower seats.
This seems to come with the cheap tickets: complementary drunk jerkwads screaming obscenities. I feel like I should have told security. Does security handle this sort of thing often, or are these just sports guys being sports guys? In Colorado, at least, it's always like that, so maybe it's the norm. How do you defuse such a situation? — Cringing in Colorado
Dear Cringe: First of all, hockey is anathema to me. The one time I went to see the Blackhawks, I watched for a while and blurted, "My God, they're on skates!" It is a violent sport, so I'm not surprised the spectators are prone to getting blotto. My guess is that security does handle behavior they deem unacceptable, but, as you say, it may be the norm and therefore "acceptable." The answer for you I would think is to stay out of the nosebleed seats. — Margo, puckishly
Wondering 'What If?'
Dear Margo: A philosophical sociological question for you: Is it wrong of me to think our culture might improve if, when one has caused harm, we had the suicide ethic of ancient Japan? — Moose
Dear Moo: I must admit this thought has occurred to me, as well. Too many people, most often in business or government, have overstepped so egregiously to enrich themselves or to accomplish an evil goal that, on a moral scorecard, the only appropriate compensatory gesture would seem to be to check out. The reasons this will not happen, however, are 1) this was never a part of Western culture, and 2) often the miscreants have rationalized their actions so they feel neither shame nor guilt. (Hence the popularity of the "victimless crime" defense.) The old standby of "everyone does it" has also diluted any sense of accountability.
Occasionally, even now, an Asian businessman who tanks a company will take himself out. ("To fall on one's sword" at one time was, literally, the way an Asian took responsibility for an action about which he felt guilt and remorse.) I can live without people falling on their swords as the ultimate apology, but it would be nice if people who had blundered disastrously or clearly violated trust — public or private — would offer a mea culpa and make a stab at reparation. — Margo, wistfully
Yours Would Be Some Farewell Note
Dear Margo: I'm dying. Should the family's secrets die with me? For three generations, I have been privy to the immoral, unethical and, yes, illegal behavior of some individuals in my family.
Before I die, should I tell my niece-in-law that her husband has had a 30-year sexual relationship with her brother? Does my own brother need to know that his youngest son is not his, but the result of his prim and proper wife's affair with a neighbor? What would the family think of sweet Aunt "Flo" if they knew she's been embezzling from her employer? Should Grandma be told that her stolen silver is in her granddaughter's attic? Does the family need to know that Uncle "Ed" exposes himself in the mall parking lot? How shocked would the rest of the family be if they knew Junior, the Eagle Scout, is also a drug dealer? Would home-wrecker "Sally" be interested in knowing that her new husband is still married to his first wife? I could go on and on. What are your thoughts? — Knows It All
Dear Knows: I think you are either a novelist or an undergrad at Yale, or you have one of the most screwed up, felonious families ever to cross my radar. But let's say, for argument's sake, that the question is genuine and the depictions accurate. Regarding your uncertainty about whether to reveal what you know, the question to ask yourself is this: Were you to out each and every miscreant, would the information be helpful to anyone? (And I'm wondering how it happens that you seem to be the only one who has the dirt on everyone.) So my answer to you would be to figure out another farewell message for your louche clan and let time work its magic. Some of the "issues" you mention have ways of making themselves known. — Margo, skeptically
The Message? You Are Not Alone.
Dear Margo: You have written: "I always listen to the voice of experience." Well, here I am. Years ago, I was in an abusive relationship. The red flags were everywhere, and it finally escalated into physical, sexual and psychological torment. I finally got out, leaving half my belongings because I knew he would never let me go. Strangely, most of our friends took his side and many called me an outright liar. I moved on, got therapy and am still working on myself. For the most part, I've forgiven him, if only for my own mental health, and I am at peace. However, I will always regret that I did not call the police.
Two years ago, his girlfriend phoned to ask for help with her abuse. I found out today his newest girlfriend is in the same situation, and her family and friends are frantic trying to find resources. I write this letter for a couple of reasons. First, to the women (and men) in abusive relationships: It may feel as if you are alone, but you're not. Call your local shelter and a neutral friend or family member. Although your abuser may tell you no one will help, trust me, someone will.
Second, believe someone if they tell you they need help. I strongly believe my ex will not stop until he goes to prison or kills his partner. I wish I had stopped him a long time ago, but now my hope is that this letter might stop someone from staying in a relationship that could eventually kill them. — Lucky (Very)
Dear Luck: You are right. I do always listen to the voice of experience, and your message, let us hope, will give courage to women who think there is no way out. It is hard, I'm sure, for those of us who have not experienced this kind of punishing behavior to believe anyone would stand still for it, but you and I know their number is legion. Thank you. — Margo, proactively
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dearmargo. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.