Offering life advice a dangerous business

By Bob Huber: Local Columnist

It amazes me how brilliant I am about so many things and why folks don’t more often seek my counsel. My wife Marilyn used to say, “Maybe you should stop trying to solve world problems and straighten out your own life.” I miss her wit.
But to show what I mean, in Santa Fe I once hired a young woman who had lived six years with a guy, unabridged, unmarried, that sort of stuff. They had become significant others, to use a hackneyed phrase. You with me?
Well, the upshot was they bought a restaurant together, and this doll toiled all day in my office while her guy slept. Then at night she went to the restaurant and cooked, waited tables, washed dishes, tended bar, and took care of the books while her significant other socialized with customers in a hail-fellow, well-met frenzy of goodwill.
But one day this unique situation came to an end, as everything lopsided does, when they quarreled over work assignments. My young doll walked out the door and swore to open her own restaurant with proceeds from half the business.
But her money situation was complicated by the fact that Restaurant No. 1 was in the guy’s name, and even though she’d lived with him for six years, the doll didn’t legally own so much as a dirty fork. That’s because in New Mexico there’s no such thing as common law marriage.
Had they lived in Texas she could have legally tied the guy in a 50-50 ownership knot by simply opening a joint checking account. That’s a court-written law over there. I suppose, conversely, they could have divorced if they closed the account, although my research is sketchy on the fine points of that legal argument.
Anyhow, there was my hard working young doll, dumped with nothing to show for more than a half decade of love and loyalty except for a few memories of dirty dishes, accounting ledgers, and mops.
To make a story even shorter, she sulked for a couple of months, seriously contemplating the services of a hit man from Espanola, until one day she came to the office and announced, “I met a wonderful man last night. I think I’m in love again.”
And she was too, because she moved in with this new guy, and they were contemplating relocating to another New Mexico town to open a café-garage-motel business. That’s when my vast knowledge of the human race spewed forth. I couldn’t help it.
I told her, “This time marry the guy. You should have learned that lesson the first time around. Even if you happen to break up later, which may occur because odds are six-to-five against any marriage lasting these days, at least you’ll get half the business.”
She said, “You know, you’re right. I’ll propose tonight.” (That’s the way girls are in Santa Fe.) So they married and moved away to live happily ever after in their café-garage-motel business.
It was a year later that I got a Christmas card from her, which read, “We broke up, and I want to tell you, Huber, your advice stinks. (This guy) skipped town owing money all over the place, and because we married, I’m liable for half his debts including what we still owe on the café-garage-motel business. Bah humbug.”
In another incident a young woman one day spewed out a quandary she was having over a love affair with a married attorney. “He says he’ll divorce his wife and marry me when his children finish school,” she said. “What do you think?”
Well, I couldn’t help it. Someone had to tell her. “Dump the guy,” I said. “He’s lying. He can’t help it. He’s a lawyer. I rest my case.”
The upshot was, she ignored my advice. When his last kid graduated from school, sure enough he divorced his wife and married her. Her Christmas card read, “We didn’t break up, and I want to tell you, Huber, your advice stinks. Bah humbug.”
In still another incident, I advised a young fellow not to run for public office. Spurred by his obvious shortcomings he changed tactics, won, and went on to become a U.S. senator.
You can see why I’m hesitant to offer advice to seekers of wisdom who might know my address and can hire hit men from Espanola who will kill anyone for $50.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.