DEAR EXENE: My father is in his 70s, widowed and still works full-time. He does not have any close friends his age, preferring to befriend young waiters, waitresses and others he hires to do various tasks by routinely taking them to dinner—always his treat. His closest “friends” are part of a group in their 20s who get not only free meals, but also new sneakers, computers and bottles of booze. It's dad's money, and he can spend it however he likes, but I do worry about what happens when he no longer has a steady paycheck. When I mention he is being taken advantage of, he gets very defensive, saying he prefers hanging out with young people to those his own age because old people make him feel old. But when his young friends are too busy for him, he whines about how lonely he is.
Should I just butt out and let whatever happens happen?
Tom In San Clemente
DEAR TOM: That sounds like a sad situation. Is this new behavior, or was he like this when he was younger? I'd try to get him to the doctor for a checkup, blood work, that kind of thing to make sure there isn't a body/mind cause. And you can't really tell him what to do because he won't listen. Maybe he'll get the message when these kids break his heart. That's a bad way to find out, but sometimes, it's the only way people learn.
DEAR EXENE: I laugh when I hear people today complain that these are unprecedented times. Having been right there in the thick of it, with X as my personal soundtrack, these times remind me so much of the mid- to late-1970s. On one hand, that's exciting because maybe we'll finally get some great music—like punk rock. On the other, I sure as fuck don't want to live through another Reagan. What do you think?
Pat Brown In Costa Mesa
DEAR PAT: These are unprecedented times in U.S. history. It's McCarthyism, suspension of the Constitution, internment camps, the Depression, war, a police state, government corruption, corporate fascism—all happening at the same time! The National Defense Authorization Act, for instance, and now the newest presidential decree (check it out on the White House site). Martial Law is on the way. Worse than Reagan? Way worse.
This column ran in print as “Worse Than Reagan.”