Dear Margo: And I Am Marie of Romania

Could my sometime boyfriend be lying to me? Margo Howard’s advice

And I Am Marie of Romania

Dear Margo: I’ve been seeing a man for a year and a half — but heaven knows not on a regular basis. Sometimes we will see each other a few days in a row, but then he will disappear for weeks at a time. He tells me he can never predict his schedule because he works as an undercover operative for the CIA. That’s also the reason he gives me for why we never go to his place — because “the agency” doesn’t allow it. This is getting to be pretty hard on me because I can’t make plans, I don’t know where this relationship can go, and I fear I might be wasting my time. (I am 40.) What does all this sound like to you? –Wasting My Time?

Dear Waste: To be frank, it sounds like you are extremely gullible. I again trot out my favorite saying about the wishful acceptance of something highly unlikely: “It is like believing that a dinosaur died standing up in the museum of natural history.”

For one thing, I do not think undercover CIA people are allowed to tell anyone but a spouse what they do or for whom they work. (Often, friends of CIA administrative personnel know what they do.) Having actually known a few spooks myself, the thing about not having people over is simply not true. Often, undercover operatives tell friends their employment is working for the government/Department of Defense/FEMA … anything but the CIA.

And so, my dear, I don’t know if this guy is married, a criminal or just a guy who is not interested in a real relationship, but he is lying to you, and I would bid him adieu soonest. –Margo, stealthily

True or Not, a Novel Way To End Things

Dear Margo: I know that this has occurred since the beginning of time, but why do married men think they have the right to step all over someone’s heart? Granted, it takes two to tango, and the heart wants what it wants, but now I wish we had done things differently. We are both married with families, but were drawn to each other in the beginning in what he said was a spiritual friendship. After a year, we were drawn to each other physically. This went on for the next two years. I thought it would be only a diversion, but now I feel I love this person.

Recently, he informed me that he was asked to be part of an old Native American medicine society that requires pure thoughts and actions. He is serious in fulfilling this obligation, and part of this is giving me up. He admits that two years ago, when our relationship began, he was at a vulnerable point in his life. I feel despair at the turn this has taken. I will miss the closeness we had. He wants to maintain our spiritual friendship. I’m not sure I would like to. A part of me feels anger toward him, and now I feel I was a fool. I would like to get over my anger and be friends, but I still have feelings for him. What do you think I should do? –Heartbroken

Dear Heart: This scenario hasn’t really been taking place since the beginning of time … if only because Eve had no one to step out with. But yes, it is an old story. In your situation, you do not say whether this man is a Native American or a “guest” in this medicine society. It is possible he made up this society mandating purity — but that hardly matters. He wants, for whatever reason, to end the intimacy part. I think in some instances it is not useful to remain “friends.” For you to do so would cause you pain, so let the break be a clean and definitive one. Absence will help your feelings diminish, as will remembering that he wanted it to end. –Margo, reconstructively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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96 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I sincerely hope that LW#1 is a prank because frankly, I don’t know how someone so naive/gullible/dim  could survive 40 years without walking in front of  a moving truck by now.   Assuming it is not a prank, then sweetie, get a grip, change your phone # and email account, sign  off of facebook or anyother social networking sight, and lose this guy.  Best case scenario,  he is married or has one or more other women in his life that he does undercover *operations* with when he is not with you.  Worst case scenario he is a sociopath or con man (I hope you haven’t *loaned* him money or otherwise put your finances  at risk with him).  This guy comes not only with red flags but a red banner as big as the green wall in Fenway. 

    LW#2:  Your *spiritual* journey with this guy is over.  Interesting that you see that only married men have the capacity to break hearts. I suspect your husband, were he aware of your spirtual odyssey with this man(not to mention his wife), would observe that married women are equally capable of trampling on hearts.   I’m not going to say that your lover’s  membership in an old Native American medicine society is as bogus as claiming to be a CIA undercover operative…but… sounds like a way to kiss you off while at the same time making you feel morally inferior.   Its over.  I would like to offer some condolences but am finding it difficult to empathize with you since this spiritual odyssey of adultery was going to hurt someone no matter the final destination and I find it hard to be worked up that the person ending up with a trampled heart is one of the adulterers as opposed to one or both of the innocent spouses. 

    • avatar Constance Plank says:

      I tend to think that both these letters are pranks. However, Katherine, I applaud your response to #2.

      Constance in the Sierra Foothills

    • avatar Sue ZQ says:

      You wrote “I would like to offer some condolences but am finding it difficult to empathize with you since this spiritual odyssey of adultery was going to hurt someone no matter the final destination and I find it hard to be worked up that the person ending up with a trampled heart is one of the adulterers as opposed to one or both of the innocent spouses.”

      Well spoken.

    • avatar Ella Regan says:

      Katherine: Agreed on both counts. Well said.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Well, I certainly can’t guarantee that LW #1 is NOT a prank, but I know, personally, a 50-year old woman (one of my friend’s mom) who got involved with a “CIA” agent.  That man’s daughter won’t communicate with him.  One time FBI came knocking on her door trying to find him for impersonating a federal agent.  Another time, her own daughter couldn’t flush the toilet and ended up taking it apart and found it loaded with bullets.

      And yeah, she’s still with him.

    • avatar BeanCounter says:

      ooooh SNAP!!!!!!!  (on your reply to #2)

  2. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – Have you been living under a rock?  He is obviously married and how you can not realize this is beyond me or any other intelligent person.  I, like others, think this is a crank letter but just in case it is not, run – run far and run fast away from this jerk.  And then take a look at your actions and why you would believe that he is CIA or anything else with out seeing proof – like a badge, etc.

    LW2 – you are just pathetic, you get what you deserve.  You betrayed your husband and children with someone and now whine when he ends it.  I hope your husband finds out and leaves you you worhtless piece of garbage.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      LW1: Well, I’m going to go out on a limb here against the other bitter harridans on this board and say that you should stay in the relationship with him and try to work on things. At 40, you have little to no chance of finding anyone else—so I would take what I could get. And while living the life of a spy’s wife can indeed be dangerous, from what I’ve seen in the movies it’s also extremely exciting and sexy and full of last-minute travel. Just don’t answer the door if hubby’s co-worker comes over by himself (this means he’s going to try to kill you), build a panic room, and keep a gun in EVERY room, not just the nightstand. Lucky!

      LW2: Your lover left you because of guilt, or boredom, or that he found someone new. Accept it—it’s no different than the disconnect between you and your husband that led to this situation in the first place.

  3. avatar Amy says:

    I’m a little stumped at both of these letters, honestly. I’ve been duped by seemingly unbelievable men in the past – once even within the last three years. I’m not proud, but when love is involved it’s amazing how much people are willing to suspend disbelief. That said, ANY guy who goes off for weeks at a time and won’t let me over to his house, CIA or not – you don’t need suspension of disbelief, you need to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Frankly, if there wasn’t the possibility of this guy being a criminal or a creep I’d walk up on our next “date”, point in his face, laugh my behind off and wave him a fond farewell.

    As for LW#2…what nerve you must have, writing in to complain about how married men can break hearts when you yourself are nothing but a homewrecker and a trollop! Seriously, toots…get some perspective and for the love of bacon, don’t try that “men are scum, he broke my heart” routine. You deserve no sympathy and I sincerely hope your husband finds himself a damn good defense lawyer. Some women…yeesh.

  4. avatar Michelles11 says:

    If either one of these letters is for real, I am going to cry in my coffee.  What is the world coming to??

  5. avatar Laurie Deer says:

    LW2 for the record I am Native American and grew up in a very spiritual home. Nowhere in my teachings was I taught to give up things for purity. Our culture is about being in balance with nature. You were strung along for the full advantage of “Limping Horse.”

  6. avatar Robert Smith says:

    LW1:  Most likely married.

    LW2:  P.S.  And stop committing adultry.

  7. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    Margo If school had started I would think both these letters are from Yale on the other hand I have known women as gullible and it never ceases to amaze me.

  8. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    Excellent advice to both letters, Margo.

    As for letter #2, I no longer believe healthy hetero men and women can “just be friends” over the long-term. Never thought I’d come to think that way (liberal that I am), but the past 5 years has generally proved me wrong.  I also no longer believe people who don’t have some sort of genuine mutual *commitment* to each other can share a spiritual bond. And the word “spiritual” can be so vague; basically it seems you were both at crisis points in your marriage, emotional and vulnerable…and your baser human nature (physical involvement) got you both eventually. The only “good” outcome of this is he’s still willing to be friends (which I don’t think is advisable nor will work); he didn’t just overnight coldly cut you out of his life without a backward glance or partial explanation. Let bygones be bygones. It’s already done. **Work on your marriage** now; look to your husband and to your future with him. I’m wondering why you’re still married to your husband, but it’s none of my business. Move on…move on!

    • avatar John Lee says:

      “I no longer believe healthy hetero men and women can “just be friends” over the long-term.”

      Really?  Hum…  Even taking out the moral/ethical aspect of cheating on a spouse, what about the superficial aspect of it?

      I mean, say a happily married healthy hetero man has a woman friend who is also happily married.  They’ve been good friends for a while and while they find each other to be completely unattractive physically, they enjoy some kind of arts or sports together.  I know of plenty of situations like that.  I have numerous women friends in that category.

      You seriously tihnk that they couldn’t “just be friends” over the long-term?  What if the woman was 20 years older?

      Those are extremely examples, but I’m sure plenty of normal healthy men and women can be friends over the long-term.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      I happen to have very good male friend who I’ve been friends with for over 20 years, even a little crush years ago, but never went beyond a kiss on the cheek. It can happen.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Cindy, I’m with John on this. I mean — are you attracted to every male you meet? Do you think men are attracted to every female?

      I had a male friend who I met scuba diving way back when. He was smart, good-looking, well-read, we enjoyed a lot of the same activities, and had the same views on kids. He would have been a PERFECT match, but for one thing… no attraction whatsoever.

      I went on to be attracted to someone else. We are still together after nearly 20 years and both have friends and co-workers of the opposite sex, no problems.

      And I would still be scuba diving with my old friend, except that he lives 2000 miles away now.

  9. avatar tips says:

    The title triggered a memory so I had to hunt up the poem.  It’s by Dorothy Parker:

     Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
    A medley of extemporanea;
    And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
    And I am Marie of Romania. 

  10. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Hmmm…as far as L#1 being a prank…consider just how many people fall for Nigerian banking schemes, faux charities, door-to-door hustlers selling bogus products, etc.. Now, I give you certain bad actors I have known, who convinced their gullible female counterparts that they were, variously, Rhodesian mercenaries, CIA operatives who were working undercover in Honduras and South America, and double-agent spies working for Columbian Drug Cartels and the DEA simultaneously. I absolutely kid you not. It’s always amusing doing a bit of poking around, and discovering that the little creeps have never been away from home for more than a week (from their parents, no less, with whom they’ve lived…generally in the basement…forever), or that they aren’t even old enough to remember when Rhodesia was Rhodesia…or that they were basically declined by the military for physical and psychological reasons…and have never fired a weapon in their puny lives. Yet a certain kind of woman…not all young enough to still have license to be purely stupid…seems to fall for these method actors every time.

    LW1, he’s a poser, regardless of the reasons why. Give it up, already.

    Regarding L#2, why do married women think they have right to step all over someone’s heart? For instance, your husband’s, or those of your children. I’m having a little difficulty reaching down into my heart and finding a squib of empathy for you, for some reason. He’s finished with you, and your “spiritual connection”. Maybe his wife discovered some, ahem, ectoplasmic evidence. Be careful with that righteous anger at being played for a fool (like your husband, for instance? Or the man himself, whom you initially considered only a “diversion”?), and that despair because all that good lovin’s gone…because you can be successfully sued for alienation of affection in quite a few states now.

    Not that he’s any better than you (I keep thinking of his wife and children…and I hope, if she did catch him, she maintains her dignity and ignores you like you don’t exist, and walks it right to him just as hard as she can), but stop whining and kvetching and let it go. He really doesn’t want to be your spiritual friend…and he probably backed off because he sensed your need for more, more, more. He also has been intimately involved with you for two years, and knows that you won’t accept mere friendship…and would be delighted to know that you don’t want to be friends. Not that these make him a prince among men. In fact, one might describe him as a fungus of the slime mold variety.

    But then, dear, so are you.

  11. avatar amw says:

    The first letter screams married man. Wake up!

    The second letter…well, I find it hard to feel sympathy for someone who is just as guilty of stepping on someone’s heart…your husband’s.

  12. avatar redbird825 says:

    LW1–If you are really that clueless, how did you write the letter?

  13. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    These two (letter writters) are an embarassment to all women.

  14. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – Margo is wrong. This guy does work for the CIA and everyhing he told you is true. Quit being so mean to him by putting demands on his time. The world is a scary place right now and we need him to be focused on all his spy stuff. You just be there when he needs you. By the way, I’m a Nigerian Prince and need a place to stash some money since the bad people overthrew my really cool government. You seem like a nice, smart lady. Email Margo your bank account number and I’ll put all my money in it (billions and billions) and then give you 10%. Oh yeah, I’ll need some blank checks too just to make sure you’re not going to screw me. Run this by your boyfriend first since, you know, he works for the CIA and all, he’ll know all about it. Thanks!

    Your new friend,
    Gorundii Ka Niaktrallu

    LW2 – Not only are you a tramp you’re a hypocritical and stupid one. Dang lady, did you even read your own letter after you wrote it?  As soon as I’m done working my Investment Opportunity with LW1 I’m going to call your husband.

    • avatar J. Lovely says:

      Your post is even funnier than the letters from those two lunnatics!!

    • avatar Lourdes says:

      R Scott, you made me spill my coffeee, your responses are absolutely hillarious, loved them!!!

      • avatar MB T says:

        I am going to guess that Lt1 has already given a portion of her savings and/or credit card numbers to her very important, super secret, SPY vs SPY boyfriend.  So fortunately, she will be able to allow you to use her bank account as it is already empty! 

        (There is part of me that almost feels a little sorry for her…) 

    • avatar francophile1962 says:


  15. avatar JJ Flash says:

    LW1- this guy just used the same come-on as Bill Paxton in True Lies.  Hey, if it worked to hook Jamie Lee Curtis, why not him? Once again, life imitates art.

    LW2- “spiritual togetherness”?  Now I’ve heard everything!

    • avatar Jen McK says:

      LW1: It had True Lies written all over it for me too! 🙂 Please tell me people really aren’t this gullible at this day and age!
      LW2: You cheated on your spouse with another married person. What exactly were you expecting to have happen? Obviously he’s eventually going to find that his “spiritual togetherness” has flown on to someone else – possibly even his wife if she found out and laid the smack down.

      • avatar MB T says:

        I think LTR1 should rent True Lies and have her CIA boyfriend over for a little movie and popcorn night. Then sit there a watch him get more and more uncomfortable. 

    • avatar Sue ZQ says:

      I’m struck by how often ‘spiritual connections’ seem to go together with extramarital affairs.

    • avatar martina says:

      I thought that too!

      I had a friend who’s boyfriend of many years told her he got assigned to work in Europe,which was somewhat plausible because he worked for an international pharmaceutical company, and he could only see her occasionally because he was usually out of the country.  She believed him. She even told her close friend that she was lying and almost broke up the friendship when that friend told her she spotted him in a bar with another woman when he was suppose to be overseas.  Women can be that gullible especially when they are desperate.

      • avatar SMALL TOWN GIRL says:

        yea and Scott Peterson was working in France all the time when he called his  extramarital
        girlfriend                   WATCH OUT

    • avatar R Scott says:

      I’m just grateful she didn’t didn’t use the gagworthy term “soul mate”. 

  16. avatar normadesmond says:

    thrilled that margo cleared up that garden of eden nonsense.

  17. avatar D C says:

    You know, it was a full moon last night.  Obviously the crazies are out (LW1 and LW2). 

  18. avatar Linda Myers says:

    A little bit of light reading this morning! I would say gullible is an understatement in both scenarios.

    #1 Sounds more like a James Bond wannabe, though he probably has other aliases which are used in the weeks away – the guy lives an imaginitive life at the least. His cell phone probably holds a directory of feeds. Let him go.

    #2 It irks me personally, when being spiritual or religous is being used as a cover for justifying the choices in life, rather than coming clean. If he truly sees himself in the role of the ancient spiritual medicine society, he also could quite possibly identify himself as being a Berdache, two spirited and in this time of history identified closer as being Bi-sexual, which would explain his withdrawl also. Frankly, I think he is just closer to mixing theroies to find an out. Let him go.

  19. avatar J. Lovely says:

    LW#1- Same thing happened to me years ago although the guy didn’t use such a bad line.  He never took me to where he lived saying it was a one room apartment and he was the one always calling me.  Sometime later his best friend came up to me and said the jerk had a wife, a toddler girl, and a newborn boy.  Oh, the friend also let me know that the jerk was also cheating with two other women.  I was crushed to say the least, but it taught me not to believe in anything that was said to me as the absolute truth. 

    LW#2-  As someone already mentioned, it is quite difficult to have sympathy for someone who would stoop so low to be someone’s other woman, because in the end that is all you were to him.  It’s not like you are the offended party, if anything, you were the reason why this man’s marriage was at risk.  This man probably let his wife know that he was messing around with you and he is just throwing that whole “want to keep our spiritual friendship” in because maybe he is not done having is fun with you.  I really hope that you are reading this, sweetie, because neither the scum nor you are getting any sympathy from anyone.  You decided to be with a married man while yourself being married, thus you set yourslf up for a heapind serving of heartbreak and an overdose of reality.  And lastly,  I hope your husband knows the piece of work he is married to.  

  20. avatar J. Lovely says:

    I apologize for some typos on that last post.

  21. avatar MKE says:

    LW1- …hahaha. thanks, I needed that. And honey, if that was real, you need to get an acountabilibudy or a wingman or something to go with you while you meet men, so that they can warn you against liars and lunatics, which your man is surely one or the other.

    LW2- you cheated, he cheated, and now hes done with it. you did wrong and you got hurt, it sort of comes with the territory…all I can say is: life’s hard, get a helmet. oh, and making better decisions helps too…. so no, don’t be friends with him any more, let it fall away to the place where past mistakes go, because thats what your “spiritual” journey together was. a mistake.

  22. avatar BeanCounter says:

    Do any of you think it would change your response to #2 if she had an open relationship with her husband?   How would you reply then?  Just wondering.    I know couples that have open relationships with their spouses or partners and them having sex outside the marriage or commitment isn’t a biggie to either of them.   What say you?

    • avatar Debbie Ciaravino says:

      If they had an open marriage and her husband and her lover’s wife knew they were having sex, I don’t think I would be as outraged at her question as I am. Most of the posts I read are upset because she is thinking about her desires and never considered the feelings of the innocent lives she would ruin by the affair. If that was taken out of the equation, then I would still tell her to break off  contact completely with her lover. Friendship is not possible once you’ve slept together and one of the 2 people wants to end it.

      Having said that, I don’t believe in open marriages. If you want multiple sex partners, then don’t get married.

    • avatar Shirley T says:

      IF it was an open relationship, then no problem, but that is pretty important info for the LW to leave out, dontcha think?

    • avatar MKE says:

      …ok even though it seriously sounds like at least one of them WASN’T in an open marriage..(all the nonsense about him being in a vulnerable place at the time, and how the two started out as just friends but “couldn’t help” becoming more, how she thought he’d only be a diversion…blah blah blah) but for argument’s sake lets say that one or both of them was in an open marriage…

      A. open marriages don’t work. thats not marriage. thats just sleeping around, and one of your partners is more frequently visited than most, and possibly helps pay rent.

      B. When you have an entire family structure outside of a different relationship, its not going to work. its just not. “hey kids, dad is at the dentist right now, and I’m going over to my boyfriends house for some adultery, so I left some casserole in the fridge for you to heat up! teehee!” ….jesus, if thats what you want, again, DONT f-ing get married and SERIOUSLY DONT have kids. what sort of example are you setting for them anyway, even if no one else is hurt by your actions? “Mommy is just a little heart broken because her crush doesn’t like her any more :'(” you and your kids can mourn your childish infatuations together once they reach their teenage years, i guess.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Generally speaking, letter-writers mention circumstances such as open marriages in these situations when contacting Margo…and I just know Margo would include that in the website version because it is too good an opportunity for thread controversy to pass up. If LW2 and her married ex-lover were in open marriages…then this would be a situation in which I’d guess he’d simply gotten tired of her, found someone else, or decided, as I previously stated, that she was desiring too much involvement with him.

      I don’t personally have problems with open marriage, per se, though it causes me a bit of cognitive dissonance when I attempt to logically work out why two people who desire multiple partners on a regular basis want to commit to each other. It seems utterly mined with opportunity for excessive angst, drama, remorse, guilt and complications…even those of a potentially lethal sort. I also can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of open marriage with children. Too much potential for insecurity, inconsistency and lack of direction. But those are strictly my opinions. And yes, I have known people in open relationships…and most collapse after a certain period of time…mostly due to jealousy.

      In the case of L#2, I didn’t get the open marriage vibe…I got the impression of an egocentric, unhappy, uncaring and selfish woman who is lacking in accountability for what has passed between her and her former lover.

    • avatar Deeliteful says:

      BeanCounter isn’t suggesting #2 is in an open marriage; merely wondering what the responses from posters would be if that (open marriage) were the case.

  23. avatar Debbie Ciaravino says:

    LW #1, it wasn’t a waste of your time if it taught you how to identify a liar and a con man. For heaven’s sake, don’t give him another thought and move on. I would get tested for STD’s though, you never know what kinds of diseases he may have picked up while away “on assignment”. At 40, you must have really low self esteem if you don’t feel like you deserve better.

    LW #2, The spiritual connection and closeness you are going to miss from your lover should be what you feel with your husband. You are a selfish and uncaring woman who deserves any heartache you get. Make a clean break from the affair and put the same kind of effort and passion into your marriage. Either it can be saved or it cannot, but your husband deserves better than a whiney, self absorbed harlet. You give good women everywhere a bad name.

    • avatar sadrunner says:

      What if your husband is an egocentric bully who controls your activities and friendships, ignores you day-in-day-out and delegates raising your children to you? What if he tells you to shut up for expressing your opinion or throws tantrums if something doesn’t go his way?

      What if you meet a sweet guy one day who treats you with respect and admiration? What if you suddenly have someone to talk to who hangs on your every word and tells you how amazing you are? What if your battered self-esteem gets a lift and you unexpectedly feel happy for the first time in years?

      I know it’s wrong to cheat. And I know it hurts when it ends, especially if you’re still in the same boat you started in with your life-preserver gone. I empathize with LW2, because I’ve been there and it’s not always as black and white as some people think. I totally recommend not to try to stay friends and keep in touch with him, because that will just hurt you over and over and over.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Why do you whine about how poorly “married men” treat the women they cheat with? Why do you refer to the married man you, also married, were cheating with, as merely a “diversion”…until now, when he’s finished…and you have “feelings” for him and think you love him? Why are you behaving like a self-centered, spoiled child? Why have your children seemingly no importance in your life (sorry, but even if your husband is a monster, and I’ve divorced two of those, you should still have some regard for your children. You brought them into the world…and no matter what he does…it is NOT their fault. They’re the real victims)? Why don’t you get a grip, realize he never made any promises, that you were both engaged in something clandestine, hurtful toward your children (if not your respective spouses, and we have no evidence that her husband was a malignant, abusive wretch…or anything similar regarding his wife), and based on shallow need, not want?

        And why is there always someone who wants to project her own, unique, miserable experience on a given situation, and, contrary to all appearances given the letter itself, extrapolate that the LW is a poor, mistreated, victim and undeserving of any negative commentary? Especially when the wretch is a woman.

        • avatar moonrevenge says:

          And why is there always someone who wants to project her own, unique, miserable experience on a given situation, and, contrary to all appearances given the letter itself, extrapolate that the LW is a poor, mistreated, victim and undeserving of any negative commentary?

          Because of guilt. Seeing the comments pointing out that the LW is wrong might make someone else who cheats have to think about how their cheating is wrong.

          Really, if a situation is that miserable, get out. If the spouse is truly intolerable and abusive, *really* get out, since those types would probably kill you if they found out you’re cheating.
          There is nothing noble about cheating.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            “There is nothing noble about cheating”

            I know this all too well…and I never said that there was. Unfortunately, you missed my point. Allow me to clarify. There is no evidence in L#2 that the LW is anything but an entitled, selfish woman who started an affair with another married individual on a whim, as, in her words, a “diversion”. Now she is blaming him for everything that went wrong, because she has decided she loves him, and he’s decided he wants out. There is nothing to suggest that she is in a marriage with a controlling, abusive, unpleasant husband…or that her ex-partner in adultery is that sort of man. Not one thing. It sounds more as if she was bored…that’s usually why one requires a “diversion”.

            It does no one any good to project one’s own horrible situation on LW2, not even as an example or warning. It doesn’t apply here. We know nothing of LW2’s husband, really nothing of her former lover except that he, like her, was unfaithful to his spouse (we don’t even know how is reasons for leaving were presented, if it was his idea of letting her down gently, if he is simply a liar…and he is no more of a “cad” than she is, they’re both cheaters…or if it is her that is the slightly unpleasant…or even psychotic person…and he used the excuse to make a bafflingly mysterious exit that would prevent her from going postal). After all, their affair began as a “spiritual relationship” (blargh), why shouldn’t he end it on a note of becoming “spiritually pure”, no matter how ridiculous this sounds? It’s all so…harmonious…in a cheesy, self-justifying sort of way. To extrapolate that both husband and illicit lover are both abusive, controlling, hateful men really is projecting far too much in order to empathize with a woman who’s really said nothing to indicate that she has any thoughts for anyone beside herself.

            O, and before you get truly up on some high and righteous horse…I was brought up by parents who had a mutually abusive, horrendous travesty of a marriage, was sexually assaulted for three weeks when I was 16 by a 64 year old family friend whom my mother later would invite to our house (yes, she knew, and didn’t care a thing), and divorced two extremely emotionally and verbally abusive husbands. I started an affair with my dear R. when I was still married to the second vicious bastard. I should have waited. I didn’t plan it. We’d been friends for nine years with nothing at all beyond friendship between us. We were married just five months after the divorce was finalized…and will celebrate our 17th anniversary in September. I know about terrible choices, vicious abuse, untenable, but seemingly inescapable situations, no sense of self, anomie and the sudden tiny spark that happens, and that fearful feeling that there might be hope…even if you’re too broken down to think you deserve it.

            In my case, well, things worked out…but it wasn’t easy, and we worked very hard and I had to relearn how to live. It does not excuse or justify the fact that I was unfaithful…no matter what drove me to it. No, for me it is not a religious issue…hardly…but one of ethics. I could have waited…it was only a few short months between our beginning and the end of my marriage. And I could give plenty of warning regarding affairs…though I’ve never had one with a married man knowingly (though I once found out that a man I was seeing was married, and promptly disengaged myself). But I will not go so far as to project what happened in my case onto an entirely dissimilar situation for any reason.

      • avatar moonrevenge says:

        To all of your questions, the answer is that you leave. Call a battered women’s hotline if you need help with creating an escape plan, but you leave. You leave because it’s the right thing to do, and you leave because it’s bad to let children grow up thinking that berating a partner is how proper relationships work. You leave because that “emotional connection” is just a fantasy built because you want an escape that doesn’t involve you actually rectifying your situation. You leave because if “the first time you’re happy in years” is because of another person, you’re doing it wrong: YOU are responsible for your own happiness.

        • avatar sadrunner says:

          Yup, I finally did. Although I deserved all the hurt, and I deserve all the bad names, I did also get a gift. I got the insight that I was being mentally abused, and I got enough self esteem to finally stand up and get out.

          In a perfect world I would have done that first. But I thought what I was living was normal, until someone showed me that it was not.

          I am now not reliant on someone else making me happy. I am now working on getting happy with myself and improving every day. My kids are awesome. I can take care of my home myself. My job is challenging and rewarding. My friends are the absolute best. I can breathe and I can sleep and I can run.

  24. avatar Pinkie says:

    LW1…..The guy can’t take you to his place because his wife would object. Pull your head out and BREATHE.

    LW2…..I can’t believe your married lover had the nerve to trample all over your heart and give you up. You’re obviously such a gem. At least your own husband thinks so.

  25. avatar Shirley T says:

    LW1 – Sweetie, he is either married or mentally ill.  Either way, lose him.

    LW2 – Poor, poor you, cheating on your husband (and family) then getting your heart broken. What about your husband and family’s hearts when they find out what a vile excuse for a wife/mother you are?!

  26. avatar Lila says:

    My Dad was CIA so I can fill you in a bit.

    First, there are varying levels of cover. NOC – Non-Official Cover – are the ones that the CIA will deny, and they are on their own if “discovered.” They are very, very rare, they are all overseas, and that’s all I will say on that.

    More typical is what my Dad was: Official Cover. These are the ones Margo is picturing, who are assigned credentials with some other government agency. They are generally assigned overseas to embassies/consulates, and the ambassador knows who they are. On rotations back to the US, they are usually assigned to Headquarters. My Dad’s career went: 8 years in one country, 4 years in DC, 6 years in three other countries, 3 as a Stateside instructor, 2 in another country, then 3 more in DC. He always had some government title. One of those titles even appears on my adoption decree.

    Then there are the hordes of analysts and admin folks. They need not conceal their employer, though is it wise to do so if traveling. I have traveled with their analysts to countries for which I worked policy issues, and they asked that we refer to them as our colleagues from our organization, which we did. Just better not to be more of a target than necessary.

    As for who they can tell: ideally, if under any kind of cover, the CIA would prefer you not tell anyone, but let me tell you, family life can get strange and eventually anyone with a brain will start to wonder. My Dad never told his parents because he judged that they would not be able to keep it to themselves. He felt guilty about that. My Mom also worked admin for the CIA, so no conflict there. We kids were told when he judged that we understood the importance of NOT saying anything. But at one point he was using a pseudonym, so – kind of hard to hide this indefinitely from your kids.

    But when he retired, one of the mementos he was given was a large CIA medallion with his service dates on it, encased in a clear display. So obviously – not THAT secret! At least – not in retrospect.

    As to having people over: of COURSE you can have people over. Duh.

    • avatar Pinkie says:

      Wow. This is interesting to know! I can see where the less said, the better.

    • avatar MB T says:

      I knew someone who worked for the CIA, but in admin roles, they never spoke about their work.  I have also met two people who worked at “DOD”, etc. and lived abroad for years.  They too never discussed what they did at work, and we kinda just knew not to inquire. 

      LTR1 needs to get in line with the hundreds of other gullible women out there who have been taken advantage by these liars.  I am going to go out on a limb and think she met him online as well.

  27. avatar P S says:

    LW1 – *slap* Wake up!

    LW2 – *slap* Wake up!

    • avatar Diane Shaw says:

      P.S. Hahahahaha. That was great. Not much diff between Ltr. #1 & 2 today.  Is it a full moon?

  28. avatar D L says:

    LW#1 – I’m not going to fault you for being guillable (we’re all human and make mistakes) but being guillable for a year and a half?? Now I have to suspend my disbelief.

    Whether he’s married, a con-artist or has a harem at this house doesn’t matter. This man has no interest in pursuing a real relationship with you whatsoever. The fact that he disappears for weeks at a time and hasn’t once invited you over to his place in the past year (and a half!) are HUGE, WHACK-YOU-OVER-THE-HEAD RED FLAGS. I also think you may need some therapy to understand why you are only now questioning whether you’ve been duped.
    You asked, am I wasting my time? No – you’ve wasted your time.

    LW#2 – Nowhere in your letter do you even mention your husband or children (other than you have them). You don’t mention that you love either or are sorry for what you have done to them. Your self-righteousness over “married men thinking they have the right to step all over someone’s heart” is.. dare I say… ballsy (to say the least)? YOU cheated on your husband, YOU cheated your family and yet you can whine about how things didn’t go your way? You’re not even writing for advice on how to repair the damage you’ve done or that you regret your actions. Your only concern is whether you should “remain friends” with him or not.

    Lady, you are SAD and PATHETIC!! I hope your husband finds out, divorces you and takes the children to be with him. Then you’ll have all the time in the world for your “spiritual friendship” ~ what the heck is that anyway??

  29. avatar flyonthewall says:

    What strange letters today. Love the comments, everyone.

    L#1 Yes, you’ve been conned. Try doing a background check on him and see what you come up with.

    L#2 Anyone worth their salt in the area of spirituality will tell you that adultery is wrong. It is selfish and hurts others. Best to let that relationship go and focus on your marriage. Your husband will probably want a good divorce lawyer.

  30. avatar Mary says:

    OH my!  I’ve had a stressful day and just got to read these dear Margo’s.   What a fun way to end the day!!!

    Are people realy this stupid?

    Yes they are, and we have examples of this every day.  But these two letters just made me laugh.  Thanks Margo!

  31. avatar Sweet Dream says:

    I know a guy, let’s call him Mike. He decided that the grass on the other side of the fence is greener and told his wife (after started cheating on her for 2 months) on her birthday that he wanted out. This other woman that he reconected with is technically married but always running around with other guys. He reconected with her over a highschool reunion and really fell hard for her, knowing full well of her history. After five months of whirlwind romance she got tired of him and dumped him, but hoping for them to remain friends. He came whinning to my husband (who for the most part was helping him and symphatized with him). I asked my husband if he was aware of Mike’s lies (about his bad marriage) and he said no. Eventually Mike went crawling back to his wife, never told her what happened during their separation. I’m having a hard time to keep quiet (I like Mike’s wife), because I think she should be checked for possible STDs. I also have a strong suspicion that my husband was this other woman’s next target. The saddest thing is there are many people out there who don’t respect marriage aven do their damnest to destroy it.

  32. avatar MB T says:

    I had a girlfriend who was very beautiful, smart and had her act together.  We saw her bf all the time and never suspected anything.  After a year, she decided to “have the commitment conversation” with him.  It was then, while her head was in the refridgerator looking for something to eat, that her bf told her he was married.  She was sooo stunned and shocked that she saw white and didn’t completely pull her head out of the fridge when she closed it.  SHE BROKE HER NOSE!  It was tragic at the time, but we all laughed about it later.  (Of course she dumped him right then before going to the hospital.)

    • avatar Sweet Dream says:

      MBT, I’m sure glad that I’m not in the dating scene anymore. It’s almost impossible to tell who you can trust. If something were to happen to my marriage, I will stay single forever. I am so very affraid of STDs.

  33. avatar Deeliteful says:

    Back in the day LW#1’s man would have said, “If I told you I’d have to kill you.” when asked what he did. Didn’t play then, doesn’t play now.

  34. avatar Bella Mia says:

    In a culture in which such a large section of society admits to cheating – why don’t people make this the default assumption when thing seem squirrel-y? When the phone rings in the middle of the night – we assume it’s bad news for good reason. Ladies are we so intoxicated by love that we lose our ability for critical analysis – I’m afraid so. The price we pay is wasted time and energy with men who are users and predators. Fish in clearer and cleaner rivers.

  35. avatar Drew Smith says:

    Both letters are either jokes or written by people so hopelessly clueless that they are doomed to live lives of disappointment, regardless of the advice given.

    Seems to me that they were provided by Margo simply for their entertainment value, and they are entertaining indeed, but no more so than the responses, thanks to you all.

  36. avatar Grace Malat says:

    To the first LW, my, my, my if you’ve watched any type of ‘spy’ movies or TV shows, a current one is Covert Affairs, you would know that people who work undercover never tell anyone what they really do, even spouses and family members may never know, or not be told for many years. To tell someone they’re not serious with is a serious breach of protocol and would put both people at risk, if he were telling the truth.
    If this letter is true you’re just a lot on the gullible, naive side and at 40 are you feeling a wee bit desperate, and that’s why you’re willing to suspend all common rationale and believe the load of bull this guy is selling you?
    Most likely he is married.
    But it is a felony offense to impersonate and represent oneself as someone they’re not in any branch of law enforcement and the military. I’d report him, call the CIA and let them know what’s going on.

    Second LW, while someone who is Native American stated that they’re never asked to give up something in order to be pure, I think if you think about it, in this case it makes sense. The guy wants to be spiritually pure and you can’t do that if you’re lying to your spouse and family. If you’re cheating on your spouse you’re not being honest and thus one cannot be spiritually pure.
    Other than that one reaps what one sows. You had an adulteress affair with someone who was also married. The fall out if this were to be found out would be horrifying, not one but two whole families possibly destroyed. And who knows the guy may confess to his wife as a way to purify himself completely so that he can start his new journey free of the lying of that transgression.
    You’re upset because he’s embarking on a new journey and you’re not a part of it. Too bad. Sounds like he’s trying to make amends and better his life, and all you can do is whine about how he has devastated you.
    Guess what? He didn’t do this to you, you did it to yourself. You went into this relationship as a married person having an affair with a married person, I don’t know what you were thinking and where you thought it would ultimately end. Maybe with the two of you riding off into the sunset happily while you left behind the destruction of two families? You are and have been selfish. It’s time to decide if you want to be married and at this time the only man you should be concerned about is your husband, either leave him or commit to him. But stop agonizing over an affair, it’s over, get over it and leave the guy alone.
    And no there can be no ‘spiritual’ friendship. You must sever all ties with him, now and forever.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Grace, I hope your reference to spy movies and shows like “Covert Affairs” is tongue-in-cheek… they bear very little resemblance to reality. FWIW, the closest fictionalized representation of that life is “The Good Shepherd,” which, ironically, many found to be a bore. (The inspiration for that movie was James Jesus Angleton, someone my Dad knew by sight around the hallways). The worst offenders for depicting spy life are such gems as James Bond, Alias, the Bourne series, Burn Notice, and The Recruit – which, sadly, tried to get it “right” but was waaay off.

      You are right, though, that one’s employment is NOT to be casually revealed. Which is why the employees don’t typically engage in shoot-em-up fiery car chases, rooftop jumping around, crashing through windows etc. A little subtlety is called for…

  37. avatar butterfly55 says:

    LW1, next time he calls tell him your other

  38. avatar LyleAustin says:

    The man described in LW #1 is a classic textbook case of a Sociopath. Intelligent, high charisma, socially charming, they are incapable of telling the truth even when there is nothing to be gained from the lie. The CIA operative is a common role they’ll put on, often displaying a coin or medallion or some other trinket they say is used to identify one another (CIA operative) with. Most sociopaths are men, though that may be changing as women are gaining much more prominence in the corporate workforce.

    A married sociopath is rare, as they do not like to be constrained in any way. They might claim to be a widower, having lost their wife in a tragic accident, or possibly as a result of the work they do; hence the need for you to keep your distance from their residence as the location might be under watch by enemies or foreign operatives.

    Because of their charm and charisma, many otherwise intelligent and educated people can fall victim to them and be swept into their fantasy world. This is when it is REALLY important to listen to that little voice inside you saying “Wait a minute. This doesn’t make sense.”

    Fortunately, thanks to the Internet, it’s much easier today to run a background check on these would-be CIA spies, Undercover Cops, Gang-land Enforcers, Military Heroes, etc. Most often you’ll find that rather than growing up on the streets, they came from normal, often well-to-do families; dead wives being alive and divorced (or long time abandoned/separated).

    He may not be married, but he’s definitely someone you would be well rid of.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents worth.

    • avatar moonrevenge says:

      That’s a good point, about the dude being a sociopath. I have a friend who dated one. My radar is usually pretty good, but this man was so charming. I really thought she’d finally met a decent guy! It was only months after they’d broken up that I found out he went from being nice to her to using her as a punching bag when he found out she was pregnant, among a bunch of other horrid things.

  39. avatar Briana Baran says:

    A few miscellaneous and curious thoughts arising from Margo’s amusing cinema noir selections for the day.

    Do some people live in such a narrow and small world that they automatically assume that anything even slightly outre, and beyond their immediate experience, must be a hoax, or even a joke? Do they honestly believe that all of the smiling shiny people they know are produced in a factory (in some exceedingly bland Town Somewhere, by Everyman Inc.), and spend all of their time being socially correct, driving the acceptable car, painting their picket fences, and making certain that their lawns, children, nails and lives are perfectly trimmed to conformist standards? I find this oddly hilarious.

    I also find it both extremely funny…and horribly disturbing…that people believe that what they see in “CSI”, NCIS”, various other incarnations of crime, law enforcement, forensics, and medical shows (not to mention action/thriller movies such as the Bourne, and other “spy” movies…”Salt” was a particularly silly example…also the “Die Hard” series, etc.) is accurate, true, actual, and factual…and base their beliefs on real-world law enforcement, military, and letter organization activities and procedure on what they view while watching entertainment media. It is fantasy-fiction-entertainment. It is hyperbole, of either a subtle or extremely graphic sort. It’s also why people like Casey Anthony walk away from murdering helpless babies. Give it a moment…you’ll understand.

    I’ve already discussed the peculiarity of the double standard as nauseum on this site. So many women scream bloody murder over all of the double standards that negatively impact women…yet freely engage in this same behavior by instantly implicating men in any situation in which both sexes are involved…even when it is beyond obvious that the victim is the man. Yet somehow that man will mysteriously, with all evidence to the contrary, become a looming, abusive, twisted, manipulating, controlling fiend…and the woman, no matter how wretched and vicious…his whimpering, cowed, helpless victim. To speak of the progress of the feminine in the presence of senseless, knee-jerk misandry is a slap in the face to every intelligent, strong, self-aware and thinking woman.

    I was a member during the last presidential campaign, and witness to the filibustering, flaming, personal insults, senseless, repetitive, insubstantial and completely unsubstantiated comments that filled the threads by the hundreds whenever any reader attempted a reasoned, researched, considered post. The latter posts, or any attempt to refute the raves, were all too frequently removed, while the incoherent and barely literate rants went untouched. It drove many good and highly intelligent people away from the site. I see the distant, early warnings of this…and I hope that I am wrong. Even on this thread, there is one comment that is simply a snide attempt from an ill-informed person of obviously limited experience to sneer at all of the “gullible” people posting. Apparently we amuse this person.

    That’s nice. I always like to throw peanuts to the baboons at the zoo…

    • avatar Lila says:

      Briana, even MORE disturbing: Apparently some policy wonks, who I can only assume were young, stupid, and steeped in fantasy-TV culture, actually watched “24” to glean ideas for dealing with prisoners at Guantanamo.

      Hubby and I used to watch “24” as comic entertainment. The idea of a show progressing in “real time” was a novelty but the action was SO far over-the-top that we would burst out laughing at least once every episode. Well – after reading about policy wonks taking that stuff seriously – I wasn’t laughing anymore.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Lila, Rusty and I watch a lot of things purely for entertainment. I am not a fan of chick-flicks or serious cinema, slasher films or how-many-ways-can-the-characters-die films…but I do thoroughly enjoy certain hyperbolic action extravaganzas during which many highly improbable and illogical things occur in very public and crowded places, and explosions (I just love when things blow up…in movies), fire fights and car chases between Hummers and Ferraries are considered perfectly reasonable. In Downtown San Francisco. Ah, yes.

        I also know actuality from pure fantasy fiction. What you’ve just posted does not surprise me at all. I talk to a lot of people, and it is disheartening what people believe to be the truth, and the way things are done…all based on TV and film. All fictionalized. All embellished. All completely disassociated from reality. “But my friend said she saw it on NICIS so it must be true!”.

        In two years I will be returning to school. I will be primarily be taking courses in chemistry, criminal law and psychology…with attendant courses in forensic sciences and psychology. I don’t want to be famous or rich. I know the realities. I am the ideal lab rat, fascinated with details, incredibly patient and determined when working at a puzzle, able to work without constant prompting, and with no need for adulation or the admiration of others. It is a very demanding, and often frustrating job…and tailor made for me.

        Everyone keeps telling me, “It’s not like it is on TV!”.

        I know. That’s the pure pleasure of it.

        • avatar LandofLove says:

          Briana, congrats on going back to school. Sounds difficult but cool. I bet you’ll make it with flying colors!

  40. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Another point that I feel a pressing need to make: not all Native Americans (who are not “native” to the Americas any more than their European counterparts, they had to cross the land bridges to get here too…and are not the First People of the Americas either, as archeological evidence has empirical proof of caucasoid remains far older…by thousands of years…than any Amerind/Asiatic remains) share the same culture, myth cycles, religious practices and rituals, or societal values and beliefs. There were once hundreds of tribes…and many were exterminated by their own kind long before Europeans set foot here.

    I don’t have any historical or ancestral stake in this…I’m not even Anglo-European, and my family came here in the late 19th century through Ellis Island and went directly to Chicago. No one was oppressed…except, possibly, them, for being Polish and Italian immigrants. But isn’t referring to Native Americans in sweeping generalities a bit like saying, “What the hell, they all look the same anyway?”.

    Or do people just get it from the movies…?

  41. avatar jedikaiti says:

    LW#1: Are you effin kidding me? Go watch True Lies – you know, the one with Jamie Lee Curtis as the bored housewife who has a fling with a “CIA” guy who can’t hold his bladder.

    It does make me giggle, though – when I lived with the DC area, I had a friend who honstly could not discuss the specifics of his work for security reasons – he could say he worked for <agency> in <really general area>, but that was it. He commented once that he wished he lived somewhere else, because “I can’t discuss my work, it’s classified.” would have been a great pick-up line anywhere else. In DC, however, it’s met with a shrug and perhaps a thought of “Well, he should get good benefits, but do I really want to get involved with a guy who can’t honestly answer the question ‘Hi honey, how was your day?’?”

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      jedikaiti: It so happens that police detectives often cannot discuss open cases in which they are currently involved with there spouses. I know because I’ve both dated, and been friends with, both homicide and narcotics detectives.

      But here is an interesting thought for you as well: my husband is an IT administrator for a large petroleum company’s US office. He has access to to everything on those computers…everything…and I know there are things he absolutely can’t share with anyone, including me. There are a lot of jobs, if you give it some thought, that probably, for very practical reasons, require a greater or lesser degree of secrecy.

      But if I told you what they were…I’d have to kill you…

      • avatar jedikaiti says:

        Very very true, Briana. 🙂 There is, however, a difference between not being able to discuss details for privacy concerns (or so as not to jeopardize on ongoing investigation, or becuase of a confidentiality agreement) and not being about to say more than “I work for <agency> in <really general area>” lest you face criminal charges for doing so. 🙂

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Rusty could face criminal charges if he revealed certain things that he is privy to: The charges would be based under the general heading of industrial espionage. Exciting, isn’t it? (that was sarcasm). He works in the petroleum industry…and a wrong word can actually ruin an entire company’s prospects for a new drilling platform, or discovery rights, etc.. A man in his office sent a single email to another whom he considered a friend…and lost his job because of a casual reference to a very confidential move the company was considering. He could have been charged with espionage. Rusty could not tell me anything about the situation until long after the fact. There could have been actual jail time involved. It happens all of the time.

          The corporate world is as hush-hush and clandestine as the world of letter organizations. Kind of scary, isn’t it?

  42. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – I just read this letter (Monday August 15, 2011) and I am in the midst of the day from Hell. A customer service rep from Air Tran called me a Bitch on the phone. I stepped in the elevator in our office building and it dropped 3 floors (the scariest thing in the world and not at all like the ride at an amusement park) and I spilled something down the front of my blouse (I am wearing white today). 

    So needless to say I needed a good laugh and both the letter writer and Margo’s response has me smiling from ear to ear! 🙂

    Sweetheart, you are dating a liar and not even a good one! Put your big girl panties on and dump his butt! As someone that dated men from both CIA and FBI I can tell you from firsthand knowledge there are things they can’t discuss with you, but it is not as secretive as this idiot is trying to  make it. Someone has watched too much TV! 🙂 And Margo, I NEVER heard the one about dinosaurs, that is HILARIOUS!     

  43. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – I just read this letter (Monday August 15, 2011) and I am in the midst of the day from Hell. A customer service rep from Air Tran called me a Bitch on the phone. I stepped in the elevator in our office building and it dropped 3 floors (the scariest thing in the world and not at all like the ride at an amusement park) and I spilled something down the front of my blouse (I am wearing white today).

    So needless to say I needed a good laugh and both the letter writer and Margo’s response has me smiling from ear to ear! 🙂

    Sweetheart, you are dating a liar and not even a good one! Put your big girl panties on and dump his butt! As someone that dated men from both CIA and FBI I can tell you from firsthand knowledge there are things they can’t discuss with you, but it is not as secretive as this idiot is trying to make it. Someone has watched too much TV! 🙂 And Margo, I NEVER heard the one about dinosaurs, that is HILARIOUS!