The Von Merzenburg Fund for New Initiatives

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Dear Franz,

I married “Raymond” in 2004.I met his son, “Bill,”a year before the wedding and have been in a relationship with him ever since. (He’s married.)

Raymond provides all the necessities —house, car, food, clothes, etc. But Bill supports me emotionally.

I have learned that marriages dissolve for one of two reasons: money or sex. The money is there, but Raymond and I are no longer romantic.

Am I walking into a ring of fire by keeping the relationship with Bill? Ray says he loves me and cares about me, but only when I ask how he feels about me. With Bill, I don’t have to ask—he says it.

Are you walking into a ring of fire??! Is that a serious question?

You're a filthy whore who already has her place in hell secured. Believe me. You'll definitely be in that ring of fire for all eternity - simply for grossing out me and all my readers.

Reading your letter gave me the creeps - to put it mildly, so I can't imagine what your husband will go through when he finds out. And he will! It really doesn't matter that Bill says he loves you. What's important is is that you're a whore and a slut who is really going to have be put through the ringer when everyone finds out about this. And let me tell you - "Bill's" love will not provide you any comfort when people are shouting out "whore" "skank" and "slut" as you walk through Wal-mart.

You will rue the day you got yourself in this mess.

So what's the solution?

First of all - do NOT kill either of them. It will just make things worse, and you'll end up in prison. Though you should be in some kind of prison right now. I know what's on your mind right now - and since you have no morals, I have to warn you - don't do it!

Second - divorce "Raymond QUIETLY as possible.
Third - end it with Bill. Not third, but immediately.
Fourth - immediately find a new husband to associate yourself with someone else. As soon as possible.
Finally - deny everything that happened. Until the day you die. At least it gives you the appearance of a little shame.



Monday, December 5, 2011


Dear Franz,

My Husband does not write anybody any time for anything. I gave him a 53rd birthday party with 30 guests attending and wonderful gifts. He refuses to write them thank you cards and said if I want to send them do it myself!!!

Please help... Should I write them and sign his name? I really so feel like it is not my responsibility. Not my birthday, not my gifts??? I need your omnipotent knowledge! We have been married 18 months!

As far as I'm concerned, your husband's secretary should be taking care of that mess. I've never written a thank you card personally, but they're always received!

I asked for an example of my "thank you" notes, and it turns out I have different ones for different things. One for "gifts" and one for "donations in my name." I think that's it. But it's written in third person in both German AND English, "The Duke of Merzebnurg thanks you for his gift.." Blah blah blah.. I don't think anybody actually reads them, but it's the thought that counts.

So why not have your printer have some engraved in the third person and neither you nor your husband will have to worry about it.

One special touch people enjoy (or rather I assume they enjoy) is when a personal photograph is added to the note - for example, a photo of your last portrait. It's something they can treasure and it makes them feel special - a special "treat" for their gift they've given.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Each year, millions of dogs are sent to shelters where most of them are put to sleep when they are not chosen for adoption. Isn't that horrible?

And did you know that, among these millions of pooches who are killed there are many that are pure bred!

Most of these animals are not recognized as pure bred and this can lead to their premature death!

Let's stop the killing and demand that our city dog pounds STOP euthanizing pure bred animals. Pressure your representative in government to make it a law!


Dear Franz,

I just got out of college. I have been job-hunting for months, and was recently given an opportunity even before it was advertised. I was happy with my stroke of luck. It’s a small company that just started recently, so the salary is low and the commute takes a while, but I am excited to see a different aspect of the field I majored in.

Despite my joy, my parents don’t seem too happy about it. They think it’s not relevant or good enough, when it’s actually a great opportunity to learn new skills. I’ve tried to reason with them that the pay will get better in a few months and that I can accomplish many things on the job, but they want me to find a “better” opportunity now. My mom even searched for jobs that I could have applied to instead, which offended me greatly, although I do not want to make the situation worse by telling them that.

I am just tired of the wave of disapprovals from my parents. Whenever I find something I truly want to pursue, they somehow get in the way, and I give up in fear of losing something bigger or making the situation worse.

Is there a way to deal with this complex of mine? I’ve tried communicating my sentiments before, but they always dismiss them as excuses, which is really frustrating. I really think they just need to chill it a bit.

This is an easy question to answer. The problem isn't really that your parents disapprove. It's just that they don't want to hear about it. Sometimes it's hard always having to listen to other people go on about things that interest them. I know that for me it is.

But there's a simple solution to your problem: Stop with these interests and career things. You've probably come into your money by now, so why not live off of that? Use what your family has given you - don't act like it's not good enough and go off trying to make more money elsewhere.

But perhaps they haven't given you your money yet. What then? This is just a control period that your parents or guardians are using. It's their last chance to control what you do and how you receive your money. Indulge them a little bit and let them have their fun. They probably like giving you a little extra now and then - even though they may roll their eyes!

Otherwise, remember to just quit with the career business and the low paying jobs - relax and stop obsessing about it. Be happy with WHO you are, and WHAT you have and remember to just HAVE FUN!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Dear Franz,

What are your tips on becoming a more spiritual/centered person? What are your views on religion? I'm really wanting to join a church or become spiritual, but I'm not sure how to go about doing it...

Dear Reader,

I think that's a question that people often wonder about me but never ask. How am I such a centered, spiritual person?

Well, let me tell you - it's something I strive for: to be the most spiritual person I can be. I also strive to be more spiritual than other people - so perhaps that's why I come across as so spiritual. Some may even say holy. I mean - I would never say that about myself, it's just that I think that other people might say that.

But how to I achieve this? Let me tell you bluntly that it's not easy. And not everyone can do it.

First it takes quite a bit of money. I have my foundation and I give a lot to the church. Catholic, please! No substitutes. For over 500 YEARS there have been a lot of stupid idiots that have tried to "improve" the church, but have failed to do so. I think the biggest idiot (and asshole) was Martin Luther. He decided that the Catholic Church was not good enough for him and he practically ruined everything. First there was one protestant church, and now there are thousands.

In America these churches are everywhere. There's even a woman there running for president who handles snake and speaks in tongues!

But be that as it may, the first thing to do is give a lot of money to your church (Catholic). If there is ANY opportunity to repair something like a roof or a one story crucifix - pay for it and have a plaque made with your relief on it, letting everyone know what you've done. It'll just make you feel better.

I think the most important part of my spirituality is my attendance at mass - every single day. A lot of people don't believe me. But I must admit I have a little trick, but it's not against the rules - I checked!

Every morning in my bedroom, a priest says mass for me. And though I may not be awake, I AM present. And the rule for communion is once a year, so I only have to wake up once a year, and I don't consider that too much of an imposition. Not for MY immortal soul. Other people may find that too much, but - I do it. I offer it up. Actually, I probably do it more than once a year, because I find that His precious blood does wonder for a hangover (or A.I. disease).

Other than that, I collect antiquities, many of them religious. I also collect French iconography from (ca.) the 12th - 13th centuries. I think that does a lot. I mean, I could collect abstract expressionism, but I chose to have this spiritual theme.

Why not try these tips to help YOU become a more spiritual/centered person?

Just do not go to a protestant church. It's not worth it. They may try to brainwash you, but more than that - it's not worth your immortal soul..

Speaking of your immortal soul. My book "Dear Franz" is available on iTunes for your little iPads and iPhones. And it's available for your little Kindle as well on

Friday, October 28, 2011


Dear Franz,

I live in public housing in an upper Midwestern state. I have been told that vulgar language and obvious drunkenness in my building community room are acceptable because the offenders are just poor people trying to get along. I especially don’t like vulgar language used in the presence of a school-age child. I was told that teachers now tolerate such language.

My past boyfriends have always used the language of gentlemen. A blind date did use four-letter words with relish. I told him to clean up his language or take me home.

I know a lady is limited as to what she can do in public, but what should she do in a social arena with people she lives near?

First question: Are you Blanche from "A Street Car Named Desire?"

Second question: You are aware that you live in public housing? You've just written that to me, and yet - you act like that's a non-issue. You do know that that's not exactly a "good thing" to live in public housing.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but life in public housing is not exactly like an episode of Good Times. I can say that without ever having entering public housing - or a "project." I would be curious to walk through one one time, just to say that I've done it. It would make great cocktail conversation.

But I think it's common knowledge that public housing is full of vulgar and drunken people - it always has been and always will. And it's not that they're just "poor people trying to get along" it's more that they're just vulgar and drunken.

So instead of complaining about it - you're never going to fix the problem - why don't you apply for a job so that you can earn money to live in a real home? Wouldn't that be nice? That way you can control where you live and what kind of people you'd like to surround yourself with.

It is a shame that vulgarity isn't a crime. That and soooo many other things. But if you can't change things - you can always run away from them.

Monday, September 19, 2011


When it comes to choosing a boat, I get a lot of questions.

Why me?

I don't know. People ask me about everything.

The only thing I know about boats is this: Beatrix III is mine and she's not for sale.

But if you're really serious getting into yachting, here are some of things I think you should look for are:

1. Number of bedrooms. Do you plan on entertaining? Don't pack your friends in like sardines. It'll be embarrassing for you and uncomfortable for your friends.

2. Storage. Basically I mean there has to be a lot of refrigeration space for champagne. What's the point of being out to sea without that? What's the point of being anywhere without it? But seriously - have you ever been onboard or anywhere, where you've requested a new bottle - only to be told that there wasn't anything cold? I can't think of anything more disappointing than that.

That actually happened to me a couple of years ago. I'll never forget it. I was at a party on the coast in Sardinia - And the party was going fantastically - we were all laughing and having a good time, and then we were told that there was no more champagne - or at least, we had to wait for it to be chilled. Can you believe that? At a party! Needless to say, the party kind of died after that. Maybe that could've been the fault of the crew, and it had nothing to do with the boat - but just the same - I imagine that if there was more room then it wouldn't have been a problem.

3. The only other thing I can think of is to make sure it's been refitted and remodeled in the last few years. There's always something creepy and "musty" when you feel like you're walking into some 70s time warp. I can't stand that. It's actually very depressing..

Other than that. If you're serious about buying a boat, have your team study the issue of Architectural Digest where Beatrix III is featured. Not the one for from the late 80s of course, but the one from a couple years ago when she was refitted after that design contest. I'm not sure which issue it was, so call AD and ask them. I'm not sure who to ask for, but I remember the photographer's name was either Thorsten or Thor... something......

Anyway - people often tell me how that issue inspired them in some way or another.

I tell them simply, yes - I'm inspired too..........every time I step onboard.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Dear Franz,

I met a girl, we hit it off immediately the night we met. Things went great for a month. She would say things like, “I really like you.” We both willingly supplied information about our exes, including that I still own a home with mine (I was not living there).

New girl and I spent a lot of time together, including holidays. After that, all of a sudden she wants to break up. “You’re a great guy, but I still have feelings for my ex.”

I was crushed but was getting over it. Lately though, for months, she’s all I think about. I’ve contacted her here and there just to say hi. Sometimes she responds, others not, and she has told me she has a boyfriend.

I can’t help feeling, though, that it was because I still had connections to my ex (just financial), and that maybe she was waiting for me to get my act together. I still have tremendous feelings for her and I think these feelings have grown in our time apart.

How can I find out if there is still a chance between us without playing the “stalker” role? Or should I just let it go? How can things go from white-hot to code blue in just a matter of days?

Too late!

You mentioned the holidays: no one wants to be alone during the holidays. That's why she found YOU. At the very least, you too were able to spend the holidays not alone. That's nice isn't it?

Also, the reason she was with you, was to make her ex feel jealous - to let him know that she could find somebody else if she needed to. And she could - and she did!

So that's how it can go from white hot to code blue in a matter of days. Or at least one example...

Also, you seem to be very sheltered and not very savvy about the ways of love. So I wouldn't recommend getting in a relationship anytime soon. Have as many of these short little affairs that you can, to get yourself used to how people really "work." And then - when you've found that special someone, so won't be so naive and clueless. That's the worst!

And remember - don't be needy!

And if you want - while you're looking for that next date - why not have her new boyfriend followed? just for the fun of it! You may find some interesting information you can give this young lady, and perhaps she'll come back to you!

And P.S. Don't forget about the book, "Dear Franz" now on iTunes - and for your little Kindles!

Monday, September 12, 2011


Dear Franz,

I have chosen to stay at home to raise my children despite having an advanced degree. I have found that this is a very unpopular decision and avoid mentioning it when possible, as others immediately assume that I am incapable of saying anything of interest on any topic.

Some individuals go a step further and expect me to defend my decision. Unfortunately, the reasons are such that I don’t wish to air them in public. Recently a dining companion addressed the issue thusly: “I can’t imagine what I would do with myself if I were home full time. How do you manage to keep yourself occupied?”

The demands at home are such that I have relatively little unencumbered time, and it is difficult to schedule it in advance, so I don’t have a major hobby. What interests I do have are not pursued with the intensity that would be expected for a lady of leisure.

Is there a polite way to finesse the subject so as to make my admission and move on, or do I just have to accept this as the natural fallout of my choice?

I think that's all in your head. MOST people I know with advanced degrees (like me) also choose to "stay home." Though I have no children, I do have a pet that I care for and who means everything to me.

I've often given the advice to make up a title for yourself. Start a foundation and say that you run it. Many people do that, and people are impressed.

I tried to do that - but when people ask me the details of my "Franz Foundation" I just go cross eyed with boredom and can't bring myself to even pretend that I care. Many people are different though! Maybe you really care for my foundation. (Boring!)

I just try to be real - I have no one to impress, so I just tell the truth. "How do you keep yourself busy?" Is not a question that I care to think about. But when people ask - I just tell them the truth. "I was onboard Beatrix III for the last three months, I was at weightloss spa the previous two months. Before that, of course was a party bender that lasted 3 months (thus the need for the spa).." What's there to be embarrassed about?

I don't have to lie and say that I was at some anti-landmine rally. For me personally, I wouldn't want to hear about that anyway. I don't like to hear about pain and misery - I know it exists, but what's the point in knowing about it? Life is so short!

Anyway - I hope I'm not getting off the subject. The point is, I don't care what you do - and neither should you. Perhaps since you get so worked up about what other people think - you're really actually bored....

Why not go on a trip somewhere and get your minds of things? Take a lover or something. I don't know. Just make sure you don't let what other people think bother you so much.. You'll definitely start to feel better about yourself and sound less bored, passive-aggressive and bitter.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Dear Franz,

My nephew, “Charles,” a minister in his 50s, confided to me that he is unhappy in his marriage and is attracted to someone else. He asked me to keep this confidential, and I have. Charles’ wife and I are together a few hours per week on a regular basis. She is concerned because he seems depressed and spends most of his time at home sleeping. She knows Charles considers me a mother figure now that both his parents are deceased. She is suggesting that perhaps he has shared with me some of the reasons for his depression. I feel horrible. If this comes out— and it will—Charles’ wife will feel betrayed on many levels. I don’t know what to do. Can you help?

I love this and can't wait to hear how this turns out!

You see, this just proves that ALL "ministers" and evangelicals are hypocrites who are eventually exposed for the world to see!

Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Elmer Gantry!

It's just one of those things people live for. The public loves the fall of a "preacher" better than a happy ending or the birth of a baby! I guess it's just human nature. I'm just saying this so you don't have to worry about it. You don't have to worry about it - just watch it unfold. Hopefully he has a different last name than yours, so you won't have to get tied into it.

More than likely - it won't be just his adultery problems that come to light. I bet you dollar to donuts (did I get that phrase right?) that there will be tax issues, and embezzling! Who knows what else.

But do realize: this too shall pass. That means, after the scandal (and if there's any prison time involved for the money issues), all he has to do is cry before his congregation and beg for their forgiveness. Most people don't like to admit they were wrong - and your nephew's congregation won't either. They've given him so much of their money, they don't want to feel like they've been duped. They'll all go on like nothing happened, and in a couple years, your nephew will be back to his holier-than-thou ways.

Make sure to email me the name of your nephew so that I can receive "google alerts" concerning the unfolding scandal.

For more great advice like this - make sure to buy the book "Dear Franz" now available on iTunes! OR for your Kindle!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Dear Franz,

I work for a rather large company and do not know nearly all of my “coworkers,” but do know some of the employees.

Recently, on the way to the building entrance, I “messed” my pants. I had been feeling fine up until then, but it just happened.

Totally embarrassed, I ran back to my car, as it was starting to show through my pants, and drove home. I called my employer and told them I was sick and would try to be in that afternoon. I did return to work in the afternoon. What should I do if someone noticed this more-than-embarrassing moment?

This is one of those questions that I get - that I don't believe people are seriously asking me.

Tell me: how do you know that somebody, anybody noticed?

Just say someone asks you innocently, "Were you alright this morning? I saw you running to your car, with your hands covering up your butt."

I assume this is your nightmare-scenario-question, right? The one you're dreading to hear?

You answer could be any of the following. I'll let you guess which is the right answer:

a. "Yes, I accidently crapped my pants on my way into work. I didn't want anyone to see it bleeding through my khakis, so I cupped my hands over my ass. You didn't see the stain did you?"

b. "Yes, I'm having bowel and bladder control issues. I'm just not ready to start using adult diapers though, so it's just something I'm dealing with...."

c. "Yes - I am one of those last Olean addicts. The seepage problem is new to me. Any advice?"

d. "O God! That was horrible! I thought I had gas and then..... thrppppppllllhpppp..." (I don't know how to spell a raspberry sound..)

e. You can look at them as if you have no idea what they're talking about and tell them that you forgot your wallet and had to run home.

Which one do YOU think is the correct answer? There's only one, and I'll let you be responsible if you choose the wrong one.

But please know that nobody who witnessed such gruesomeness, such gore - is ever, ever going to confront you about it. They may tell other people, but you're just going to have to deny it until the day you die. Forget it ever happened. Forget it. Because if someone actually witnessed it, that's exactly what they're trying to do themselves.

More advice on iTunes and on


Dear Franz,

I am 69. I have four children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Although I love them all, my first family is grown and moved on from my day-to-day life. My new life includes two “girls,” both yellow Labradors.

They each have a vocabulary of about 200 words. They know when I am happy, sad or mad. They learned to sneak up on the foot of my bed without disturbing me. It’s their home, too. Brandy and Duchess are part of my family; it is not a joke. Those who think it is have never known the unconditional love a canine can have for its owner, or the owner for his or her companion. I would suggest that doubters have a little more compassion for those who find comfort in a life form that, if treated with love and kindness, is incapable of betrayal, and is always at the door to meet you.

Ok. First of all, I have to say that this letter is about the saddest I've ever gotten! Wow!

You're not even asking me a question, just telling me that about your dogs! And I'm not pointing this out to be mean to you. I'm really not. Obviously I'm here to help.

And since I'm here to help you - then I need to bring you back to earth! Nobody is trying to take away Brandy and Duchess from you, OK? I know you're a little old, and you don't have much to think about. This means that your mind wanders and you come up with crazy scenarios that aren't true.

Am I right? What else do you have to do as the hours pass slowly by you?

Just know that most people just don't care about your relationship with Brandy and Duchess. It's not that they think it's a joke, or don't believe that these dogs talk to you (which they don't), it's just that they don't care.

You see?

I know this from experience, too - and I'm neither old, bored OR senile. I've come to terms with the fact that Lulu isn't automatically treated with the same respect as I am. But I just have to take extra steps to make that happen. I make sure that Lulu hosts a party once or twice a year, to ensure that she in turn gets invitations to parties herself. Little things like that. I just don't go writing to strangers and complaining about it.

And one more thing. I don't know how okay it is that you're soooo attached to Brandy and Duchess. The reason being, I'm not sure how loyal big dogs are. Little dogs are devoted and loyal and part of the family for life. Big dogs seem like they might run away if given the chance. So if that happens, I'm afraid you may be crushed - so be a little more guarded than you are, ok?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Dear Franz,

I adore my husband and our two young children, but I am at a loss as to how to see my husband’s love and affection as anything other than yet another demand for my time and energy. He is loving, affectionate, kind, passionate but when he comes to give me a hug or anything along those lines (whether it’s JUST a hug, or a hopeful lead-in to something else), I think, “Go the hell away and take care of yourself.” What is wrong with me? My head knows he is fabulous in every way.

I wouldn't say that there's anything particularly wrong with you. I imagine, like me - most people are mystified by the act of "hugging." Why do it? Who started such a stupid thing?

Personally, I can't stand it - "hugging." I imagine most people feel like I do. When someone wants to grab you and put their arms around you, who likes that? It's like being strangled or suffocated. You just want to scream and gasp for air!

Nobody likes that! Am I right?

But in your case, it may be different. Since you are complaining about "hugs" from your husband and not your children - it may be your husband who's suffocating you figuratively. And when he moves in with his big arms like a giant octopus - it reminds me you of how he represses you and tries to suffocate your hopes and your dreams.

Can I be on the right path?

You may be in the midst of a power struggle at the moment - and you may be losing! Try to gain some ground, if you can. Find his weak spots and expose them. It would be better for you if your husband was the one who feared your advancing claw arms - and not the other way around.

In the meantime, have a talk with him. Tell him how hugging disturbs you. Make sure he knows that you're not alone and that most people can't stand that nonsense. If we, as a society want to see an end to people grabbing and suffocating each other - then we need to start in our homes.

P.S. Don't forget to buy "Dear Franz" the Book - now available on iTunes! Or, for your little Kindles, you buy them here on Amazon!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Dear Franz,

When my grandfather died, he disinherited my father and left everything to Dad’s younger brother. There really wasn’t any money involved, just possessions. My uncle gave Dad nothing, not even a photograph! When my father died 10 years after my mother passed away, he left everything to my older sister. There was money involved and everything my parents owned, including many items from my mother’s family. My sister shared nothing with me . . . again, not even a photograph.....

Boo hoo hoo.....

I hate it when people act stupid on purpose. Please don't play dumb.

Nobody disinherits someone else without a reason. That's all there is to it.

It sounds to me like it's pretty simple: You pissed off your father. Your father pissed off your grandfather. Like father like daughter. And why are you whining about photographs? Do you really want a specific photograph? Ask your sister for a copy. She has everything. Surely she won't begrudge you that.

But honestly. You don't want a photograph. You're just trying to act like you've been wounded. When you say photograph, we all know that you're thinking about a certain Miro painting or an Andy Warhol silkscreen you've always had your heart set on....

"Not even a photograph..."

O, please! In German, we would say you were "unverschämt." You're unverschämt!

Just let that be a lesson to you. I don't know who's left in your family, or if you're in line for anything else. But remember to treat those who may be in the position to will you something - treat them with kindness. Especially if it's crucial for your financial survival. It may be humiliating but, that may be the position your in..... Sorry.

In summary, my advice to you is to quit the whining. Realize your mistakes. Know that you haven't been a pleasant person, otherwise your father would have left you in his will. Or perhaps, left you "a photograph." Haha! It sounds like your sister is the one you need to start being nice too, right?

If you choose not to start being more pleasant, then I do have one last thing you can do: Start having copies made of the photographs you'd like to have, that way you won't be disappointed when other relatives leave you nothing..

P.S. Don't forget to buy "Dear Franz" the Book - now available on iTunes! Or, for your little Kindles, you buy them here on Amazon!


To all my Readers,

I apologize for being gone for the last several weeks. But you know how it is with me!

You're at a party, and next thing you know you're on private jet to Tunisia! The weather turns out to be wonderful and you end up staying for much longer than intended. In my case it was weeks. I'm not sure. How long was it?

Good thing I felt like going shopping in Paris or else I would still be laying out in the sun!

In any case, I just assumed that my assistant would have the brains to take care of what I wasn't, but unfortunately: that just wasn't the case. At some point they'd quit and I didn't know it it. Is that sickening? And yes - I COULD really use the positive thoughts and prayers from all of you - that I know are coming anyway - just so that MAYBE I can find someone to work for me that isn't completely mentally incapacitated. I don't know anybody who has to go through this except me!

So, in the meantime - I'll be on the search again for a new "helper."

I've never asked for reader help before - but if any of you know of anything to help me out, then I would appreciate it. I've told you before - I thought I've tried every race, color and creed of human - but still, I come up with nothing!

In the meantime, I've employed my cook to help me, since I'm fasting at the moment. He thought he could take vacation and I told him, "Not so fast stupid!" So all of your new and awaiting questions will be answered shortly. The minute we feel like it!

Talk to you all very soon!

P.S. Don't forget to buy "Dear Franz" the Book - now available on iTunes! Or, for your little Kindles, you buy them here on Amazon!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I didn't read the contents of this article, but I'm sure it makes sense. I eat chocolate all day, and I would say that it's a safe bet that the same goes with Champagne.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Dear Franz,

We have been lucky to have the same wonderful, caring nanny since our 2-year-old was 3 months old. She lives with us, so often she is around even when off-duty.

It has been great in many ways because my husband’s and my leaving for work causes our son no stress, and he is in great hands.

At times, though, he wants to play with the nanny rather than us, or asks for her when she’s not around. A part of me says this is good — I have so many friends whose kids cry when they leave — but the other part worries he doesn’t understand who the parents are. Is this something to be concerned about?

No. This is nothing to be concerned about.

Isn't that a good thing that your child asks for the nanny and not you? Would you like the alternative? Hearing that child scream your name all the time and having him ask you to do certain things?

That doesn't seem like fun to me!

Your child will know who his parents are. Trust me. At this point, it's just playtime and wanting this and that. Cookies, I imagine. And ice cream - I remember I was always asking my governess for ice cream.... And foie gras - could never get enough!

But there will come a time when the nanny won't be able to help him. The nanny won't be able to pay for his vacations, or school or first house or car or boat. She won't be able to fill the boat's gas tank! And that's where you come in - and that's when your child will know who's really in charge.

Besides that - isn't there boarding school in the near future?

In any case, consider your situation a blessing. Go on vacations and travel the world! You don't have to worry about the child missing you since he won't!

Make sure to buy the eBook, available on Amazon: Dear Franz, Advice for Everyman from the Duke of Merzenburg! UPDATE: It's soon to be available on iTunes, Sony and Barnes & Noble... I'm not sure what all this means, but if it has meaning to you - make sure to buy it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Dear Franz,

My husband and I have been trying to conceive for over two years. I feel like my life is in a holding pattern. We’ll be starting IVF soon. Already tried some other high-tech procedures. I can’t plan a vacation or commit to anything long-term outside of work because “soon I might be pregnant.”

After living my life like this for two years, I am getting really tired of it. We really want a child. I’m 35, so I don’t feel like we can take a break. Any advice? This stinks. Oh — also, almost all of my friends are currently expecting their second children. And my brother and sister-in-law gave their child the name we’d always wanted to name ours. How to move past this? Or through it? Or something?

The best advice for you is this: Forget about "having a baby" or whatever - and do something else! Obviously you're not having a good time - why not do something fun?

But if you really can't get past the desire to have a baby - try holding off. Perhaps adopt a child or two when you're older and there's less to do - less to fill your days. Right now, you're in your thirties. It should be the best time of your life. Why do you want to be anchored down?

And if you really, really, really just have to have a baby (i.e. are obsessed) - then why not combine the fertility treatments with a vacation? You are aware that they have doctors in almost every part of the world? From Majorca to Tahiti!

And about your relative stealing your baby name. Don't worry about it. If you ever do have that baby - just use the name anyway. But make sure to spread the word that your relatives stole that name from you - and that your child is "the real Winthrop Witherspoon" or whatever.

Make sure to buy the eBook, available on Amazon: Dear Franz, Advice for Everyman from the Duke of Merzenburg! UPDATE: It's soon to be available on iTunes, Sony and Barnes & Noble... I'm not sure what all this means, but if it has meaning to you - make sure to buy it!


Dear Franz,

Maybe you are too young to understand this, but what does one do when getting old? I don’t have the energy I once had. My quality of life is going down. I need to find a better job but I am getting nowhere. The future seems so bleak. There is nothing to look forward to. How do I cope with the next 20 years of misery?


How do you know you have 20 years left? One never knows. You may have 30 or 40. You could live to be the oldest person alive! One never knows. Be prepared!

I imagine that this question has more to do with your loss of looks. Is that it? Are you wondering how you're going to survive the coming years with the way you look now?

Because you don't have to settle for that. Change your looks!

It seems to me as though this reader hasn't heard of the miracles of pills and plastic surgery! Don't you all agree?

What you need to know reader, is that there's pretty much a pill for everything nowadays! Think about it - it's 2011!

Sad? There's a pill for that.
Slap happy? Take a downer.
Fat? Take a diet pill.
Unmotivated? Take an ADD pill.

And so on, and so forth... (It sounds like the reader needs quite a combination!)

Perhaps there's a stigma that comes along with taking too many pills. But that's up to you to feel guilty about it. Why not try giving your pills a new name, like "dolls?"

Red doll makes me happy, Blue doll makes me sleep...

You know!

And I can already hear the emails being read to me: "You copied that from that book 'Valley of the Dolls!'"

And well whatever, yes. It's true. But apparently not everybody's read it. I'm just giving the readers some "tips" and "ideas" from the book in case they haven't!

There's a reason why that book has been in print for 40 years: so many wonderful tips and life lessons to help out everyday people - just like this depressed reader!

But remember that the title of this classic novel/self-help book is somewhat misleading. A "valley" is a low-point, it's true. But you have to remember - that with every valley, there are hilltops! Just like Neely O'Hara, you too can climb back up those hills with a little help your "friends." So shop around for doctors, and keep experimenting. Find out what's going to work for YOU!

Make sure to buy the eBook, available on Amazon: Dear Franz, Advice for Everyman from the Duke of Merzenburg! UPDATE: It's soon to be available on iTunes, Sony and Barnes & Noble... I'm not sure what all this means, but if it has meaning to you - make sure to buy it!

Monday, July 25, 2011


Dear Franz,

Is it ever right to tell someone that they weren't really wanted?

I know of at least three people who were told their parents would have had an abortion if they'd had the money/the mother wanted to put her head in the oven when she found out she was pregnant/the child was conceived despite birth control and wasn’t wanted. Is this normal?

I can't be certain - but most parents feel this way when they discover that they're about to have children. No child can really say that their mother didn't want to "stick her head in the oven" when she found out that she was pregnant.

Finding out that one is going to have a child can be one of the most devastating experiences a human can have.

For the mother, it means stretching and deforming of the body - sometimes with irreversible results. For the father, it can mean letting go of the majority of his income - a drain on his inheritance that one can never plug.

I can't imagine what that would be like.

My mother told me almost everyday of my life (when I saw her) that she couldn't believe that she'd gotten pregnant. ("I was soooo careful! I was always sooooo careful!! Good God!" ) So I simply grew up thinking that was a normal thing to say - like, "Good Morning" or "Did you sleep well?"

But apparently for other people - this is something that is hard to hear - difficult to grasp.

Why is that? I couldn't tell you. People are weird. And they need to get over it.

But if someone you know is suffering from hearing this for the first time - let them know that it's ok. It's perfectly normal and it's something that all mothers tell their children sometime or another. Some hear it more often that others, but still - we all hear it. Just think of it as normal fact of life and move on! And if that doesn't work - make sure to stress the positive: They're here, they made it - and their mother never did stick her head in the oven. Some people are big on "stressing the positive", so if they are, perhaps you could pander to that need.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Dear Franz,

After 24 years of a committed relationship with my boyfriend, "Jesse" -- who I thought was my knight in shining armor -- I have decided to end it because he doesn't want to marry me or have children with me. We're in our 40s now and have dated since high school. We don't live together.
If I leave Jesse, I know I'll be broken-hearted, but there's another man, "Pete," I have known almost my entire life, who has made it clear he'd like to be more than friends. I have recently found myself becoming more and more attracted to him.
Should I allow the friendship with Pete to develop into an intimate one, or could it spell disaster?

Oh my God. That's depressing!

Are you sure that you weren't stalking this person for 24 years? Are you sure that you were really in a committed relationship? For some reason, I have to think that this was all in your head - for 24 years no less. It makes sense that I think that - doesn't it?

The only words of comfort I have for you: I hope that you were very,very,very happy living in a dreamworld this entire time. Because if you were happy and had no idea that this was never going to work out - then it's okay. All that matters is, is that you have or had fun. Know that you probably have to move on.

As for your friend "Pete" - go for it!

But make sure to wake yourself up (slap some cold water on your face) and try to use some "intuition" to figure out if he wants what you want: marriage and children. Which to me, it sounds like it may be too late for both - but women's ovaries are all different. Yours may still be alive, I don't know. Only a scientist can determine that.

However. I have to admit that, considering your past - you're probably living in a dream world with "Pete" as well. So don't get your hopes up. I admit I don't have a good feeling about it.

I don't know what your economic status is either.

If you have money - try being a philanthropist or something like that. It should keep you busy and you may meet someone worthwhile in the process. Probably not, but it will keep your busy - and it will keep your mind off of the last 24 years that you wasted.

If you aren't wealthy - as I've realized that a number of people who write to me are not - then start breeding cats and learning how to knit. Neither costs too much! Because if you don't start knitting now, then in a couple of years your motor skills may prevent you from learning how. You're not getting any younger! Anything to take your mind off the last 24 years. That's what's important!

In any case - ENJOY middle age. Your twilight years will be here before you know it!


Monday, July 18, 2011


Dear Franz,

A longtime friend celebrated her birthday some weeks ago. I was unable to attend her dinner party, and offered to take her out to dinner another night. The day we planned to go out, she called to cancel because of work. We rescheduled, and once again she canceled day-of because she was not feeling well.

She wants to reschedule yet again, and I do understand that her reasons for canceling were unpleasant and beyond her control. But after three weeks and two cancellations, I've lost the inclination to follow through on the original birthday dinner plan.

Am I still obligated to take her out? If not, how do I tell her that I'd still love to get together, but I won't be treating her to a birthday dinner?

You can't tell her that. But you don't have to go out if you don't want to.

What's the big deal?

Have a gift certificate sent to her. But make sure it's just enough for one person since you won't be there.

If the person is important - why not invite them onboard with you when you set sail? Give them only days notice so that they won't be able to come. But at least you offered the invitation and it's on the record!


Dear Franz,

My husband died almost two years ago. As many widowed people have learned, friends and acquaintances mean well but often say inappropriate things to those who are grieving, likely because they don't know a simple "I'm sorry for your loss" is all we usually need to hear. Now some of those well-meaning people have decided it is time I start dating.

How do I politely tell them that it is none of their business? When I explain I have no interest in dating, they typically tell me I'm "too young" not to date and presumably find love again. Some of these people get very passionate about my need to date, to the point where sometimes I end up feeling defensive or privately ending up in tears.

I wear my wedding rings, both because they are beautiful pieces of jewelry with a lot of personal meaning to me, and also as a symbol that I am most definitely not in the dating market. Some have even had the nerve to tell me I shouldn't wear my rings now, which is surely no one's business but mine as well. Should I ever decide to date in the future, it will be my decision and no one else's. How do I get folks to understand that until (or if) that should occur?

I wouldn't get too upset about that. It's just small talk.

People don't just say things like that out of the blue, I don't think. Because most people probably don't care what you do. I have to assume that you're divulging some type of information that lets on that you're feeling a little blue.

Are you constantly talking about being a widow?
Are you constantly talking about being in mourning?
Are you constantly talking about being bored? Lonely? Nowhere to go?

That kind of stuff?

That's kind of what I'm hearing.

In this case - people are just trying to think of what to say.

If you're really getting this advice unsolicited - and you have no need for it - Just do what you would do for any type of unsolicited advice:

Stare at the person without blinking for 5 to 10 seconds, depending on how offended you are. Then simply turn the other way and go on about your day.

That's pretty easy, isn't it? And that way you haven't said anything that you'd later regret.

P.S. Don't forget the wealth of dating and relationship advice found in the eBook, now on Amazon!