I suggested that the couple seek therapy, then went home to write a column on "The Aretha Principle: Respect Your Relationship Enough to Treat Your Partner Right." Readers responded appreciatively. (Phew.) I remained the relationship fairy, sprinkling good love advice around.
After Montel, I quit tabloid talk-TV, but did accept a Learning Annex request to host a seminar. I nixed their first idea, "How to Steal Another Woman's Man" (integrity alert!), but signed on to lead "Picking Up Girls—For Men Only."
Considering my tendency to hang in a corner at parties, too self-conscious to even smile, I was going to need balls to counsel 40 penis-owners on flirtation tactics. Channeling Carrie Bradshaw, I strode to the front of the classroom and asked the nervously giggling, mostly fashion-challenged crew what they hoped to gain from the evening. The first answer, "Help! As soon as women look at me, they run for the hills," aroused my sympathy. The second, "I want to see what chance I have if I leave my wife," did not. I suggested to the would-be adulterer that marriage counseling might be a better option.
One of my acolytes was kinda cute, funny even. Why was he here? If only he would ask me out. But wait—that was why he was here: no guts.
Quickly, I donned my "expert" cape. "You see, gentlemen," I lectured, "it's not about putting on an act, but about being yourself." They looked at me like I'd cracked open the Holy Book.