Dear Audrey

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Dear Audrey,

I'm a very busy freelancer, so to blow off steam I go out swing dancing about five nights a week, which I think is healthier than getting drunk with my co-workers. Unfortunately, I've found that since I've stopped attending any advertising parties, I'm out of the loop and my freelance practice has suffered. What should I do?

Hep not Hip

Dear Dork,

I don't mean to step on anybody's toes here, but isn't swing dancing just another way for human beings to "reach out and touch somebody" without the risk of pregnancy, a host of fatal diseases or a restraining order? After all, you've got more than .01 mm of polyurethane between you and your partner, you've got five yards of poodle skirt. Besides, where else can you have a woman's thighs wrapped around your chest without the expectation of an answer to, "Do you love me?" Or, at the very least, "Do you have protection?" And because a song only lasts three to four minutes, even the most relationship-phobic Manhattanites can commit to a swing dancing partner. It's perfect for today's alpha male, not to mention advertising executive.

But like any veteran 12-step participant will tell you, the solution to your problem lies in admitting you have one. In this case, it might be more than 12, but the fact is, it's time for some self-examination.

Although this swing thing has come back in recent years like some virulent strain of meningitis, it's safe to assume its demise is imminent - as soon as they find a vaccination for it. My advice to you is to go back to the advertising parties and get drunk, for Christ's sake! What, are you, sick?

Dear Audrey,

I used to be a really cool art director. You know: Livin' it up in New York, getting stinking drunk and dancing in cages with transvestites until 4 a.m., then ripping off my false eyelashes, pulling the stuffing out of my silver bra and going to work on the hard streets of New York. Now I live in San Francisco, have kids and schlep to work in my Birkenstocks and jeans. What happened to me?

Used to be Cool

Dear Used,

San Francisco happened to you, my foggy-weather friend - running out west the minute things got a little too tough in the big city.

"Boo-hoo, I can't see the sky."

"Boo-hoo, they use too many legible typefaces here."

"Boo-hoo, I can't raise my kids in a neighborhood where they sell crack."

Well, I'm sorry to pull a tough-love thing on you, sister, but you made your waterbed, now lie in it.

On a less militant note, they do have babysitters (I'm sorry, "observance providers") west of the Mississippi, don't they? Unless you want to put your kids up for adoption, I suggest you leave them with one, along with enough granola for the night, then slap on some patchouli oil and hit the club scene. After all, they've got a few resident transvestites of their own in the Bay Area. On the upside, if you're still breast feeding, you may not have to stuff that silver bra anymore.

Dear Audrey,

My male boss has been hugging me a lot lately, especially after I show him work he likes. I want to confront him with this, but I wonder whether it's better to talk to Human Resources instead. Or should I just kick the shit out of him?

Hugged and Bugged

Dear Hugged,

In most parts of the world, hugging is a sign of affection (except areas of Long Island and Sicily where it's accompanied with a barely audible "I know you betrayed me" and a bullet to the brain) . Of course, it all depends on where the hands are located. Anywhere near the buttocks or breast region is off limits to bosses and co-workers unless you're a member of a professional sports team or an altar boy.

I used to have a boss who slapped my ass whenever I walked by. At first, it was a little disconcerting, but then I decided to look on the bright side. At least it wasn't a slap across the face or, as is more prevalent in advertising, a knife in the back. So unless you plan on slapping him with a sexual harassment suit, I'd recommend not only tolerance but a, "Please sir, may I have another?" attitude.

Advertising is a very exclusive club; only the most creatively brilliant or devious hacks rise to the top. You should feel honored.

Audrey De Vries is a freelance copywriter in New York.

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