Meet a 30-ish writer named Amy, long brown hair, living alone with her little dog, possessing an uncanny knack for giving sound advice. No, not me. This is the other Amy; Amy Alkon, the Advice Goddess, whose nationally syndicated column appears in more than 70 publications, including our own Metro Times.
Though some of our personal philosophies differ, I greatly respect Alkon's earnest quest for truth. Her well-earned success has everything to do with a goodness of spirit that touches readers through the advice she so thoughtfully, logically and humorously dishes out.
Metro Times: So, you're from Detroit?
Amy Alkon: Yes. I grew up in Farmington Hills. I was a loser in high school — I mean, I didn't think so, but everyone else did.
MT: All the great people started out that way.
Alkon: Well, the funny thing is that I have gotten so much mail from people apologizing for being mean to me in high school.
MT: That's really something. I'm trying to think of how I would feel about that.
Alkon: I think it's pretty cool. And actually, one of the other uncool people from high school wrote to me and pointed out that all the people that were cool in high school are no longer. They're "post-cool" now; that's my word for it.
MT: It is funny. Kind of depends on when you peak. If you peaked out early ...
Alkon: Right. I just peaked last year, so I have a ways to go before I hit bottom.
MT: I understand you've syndicated yourself. How do you go about doing that?
Alkon: Pour out all your blood on the cement, scoop it back up, mail it to people, and have them not return your phone calls for four years. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
MT: To what do you attribute your relationship wisdom?
Alkon: I think part of where my advice comes from is the sort of perspective you get from being an outcast. Because I was an outcast, I spent my whole childhood reading. You get a perspective from books and from being outside that you don't get from being on the inside.
MT: Your advice is ensconced in wit; is this important to you?
Alkon: With humor, people will read advice. It's like they forget that there's medicine in there. So I hide all the advice in the humor; that way, people actually read it.
MT: What's your take on the book The Rules?
Alkon: I call it, "How to Erase Your Personality in Order to Trap a Wallet Attached to a Man's Body." I try to be the most myself I can be on a first date, because if someone doesn't like me, they should take a hike. And quite frankly, I'm perfectly happy by myself. I don't need to trap somebody into liking me.
MT: Your view on marriage, please.
Alkon: I don't believe in marriage; not the way it's practiced. I just don't see committing to be with somebody "till death do us part." I can live to be maybe 120 if I take care of myself. I believe in telling the truth, and I can't promise somebody that I'm going to be with them forever. It's natural that things die. And when something ends, you should move on.
MT: What about kids?
Alkon: What about them? I try to avoid them. I have a dog who wears clothing — this is not a metaphor for wanting a child; I simply didn't have good Barbies as a child.
MT: How about living in sin?
Alkon: My idea of a great relationship is one in which I live separately from the person I'm involved with. Then it's more like a date all the time and the relationship doesn't get boring.
MT: What's important to you in a partner?
Alkon: I, personally, don't care if a guy has a face like a shoe, if he's tall, nice and smart.
MT: Dr. Laura: Love her or hate her?
Alkon: I think she's horrible. She's an evil witch. I call it "car-crash radio." There's no reason to berate people like she does. I hate hypocrisy, and I think she's a horrible hypocrite.
MT: Does it bother you when people don't like your advice?
Alkon: It doesn't bother me if people disagree with me. It bothers me when people don't read it properly, then don't get what I'm saying. Because I really work hard at making it clear, so it's usually their fault. I mean, in America, school is free, so what's the problem? Learn to comprehend what you read.
MT: I love the saying, "You can't teach a cat algebra."
Alkon: Well, there are a lot of kittens who write to me. But I do get a lot of great letters saying I made a difference, and that makes such a big difference to me.
MT: Do you think feelings are a product of our thoughts, which we can control, or are we predisposed to feel certain ways?
Alkon: (Greek philosopher) Epictetus said, essentially, change the way you think and you'll change the way you feel. If you can't control somebody else's behavior, you need to just say, "gee, that's disappointing," accept it, and move on. It doesn't make sense otherwise, and it is anti-life, in essence, because you're not moving your life forward.
MT: Right. And we don't have control over other people, anyway, only our reactions to them.
Alkon: But people think they do — or think they should. They think someone should behave a certain way. Don't say "should." They're not treating you this way, so deal with it!
MT: Do you find people miss this point in life?
Alkon: My gripe with a lot of things people do — getting married, having kids, careers — is that they don't really consider it. Life is short; it's too short to live tossing a coin to make decisions. I think people need to engage their minds a little more.
MT: We're very glad you're out there advising the masses to think.
Alkon: Thank you; that means a lot.