Funny stories in under 500 words.

How to Guilt Others Into Devoting Their Lives to You: A Guide for Women

It helps to wear low-cut blouses and lean close across counters when asking for help or to have the rules bent for you—just this once.

It helps if you purr, not growl, and amp the wattage of your smile.

It helps, too, if you carry the sting of every slight, every rejection, every injustice—whether perceived or actual—close in memory, so at any given moment you can recite your litany with a pathos so plaintive and powerful it draws the unsuspecting in instantly, eliciting their sympathy—a hand on your shoulder, an offer of prayer, or better yet, cash.

To paraphrase the great writer Seneca: wherever there are human beings, there’s an opportunity to manipulate them into providing for your emotional and financial needs.

Cultivate the ability to cry at mere thought of past difficulty. Keep your troubles fresh and churning. Allow the slightest provocation to send you into a downward spiral, one that convinces others you are helpless so that they call doctors and pharmacists, social workers and food banks on your behalf while you sob in bed with a wet washcloth over your brow.

It’s important to give the impression of trying to make progress—applying for food stamps, or welfare, or disability—without actually succeeding in securing aid from federal, state, and local governments that cannot be manipulated by your mood swings, or guilted into inviting you to live with them because of your suicidal tendencies.

In the event you lapse into anger either directed at your benefactors, or at others in your benefactors’ presence, mask it instantly with an apology using one of the following excuses:

“Sorry I yelled at you, but my (insert name of malady here) has been so bad I haven’t slept in (number between 1 and 10) days.”

“I’m sorry, but that guy reminded me of (insert name of past lover here) and you know what he did to me: (insert description of incident here).”

“I know you are just trying to help me. You’re the best (insert relationship status here) ever and I never want anything to come between us.”

Remember the wisdom of Depak Chopra who says, “Giving connects two people.” Always provide friends, family, and random strangers with the opportunity to connect with the less fortunate by giving their time, energy, compassion, and resources to you. Do this by avoiding responsibility for any actions you’ve taken in the past, and refusing whenever possible to exercise personal power in your own life now.

It may take some work to convince yourself you have no agency, but with practice you’ll get the hang of it, and soon people will devote themselves to your needs and bidding.

Lastly, keep in mind this inspirational quote: “Kindness is one of the jewels that adorns one’s soul,” and you want scads of cubic zirconium.

This story was written by Cathy Warner, a writer, editor, home renovator, and realtor in Puget Sound. Her first book of poetry, “Burnt Offerings” was published in 2014.

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