Profiles

Dear Abby: Happy Birthday, Can I Take Over Your Column?

There is so much to celebrate on July 4: our country's independence, hot dogs without nitrates and Pauline Phillips's 94th birthday! Who? Pauline Phillips is also known as Abigail Van Buren and even more known as the one and only advice guru Dear Abby.

As an Abby myself, I have always had something of a connection to the woman. I cannot tell you how many people have e-mailed me over the years with a taunting "Dear Abby, I'm having issues with my husband.. ha-ha, just kidding, we are rejecting your story submission." As a fifth grader, I had a teacher that found it amusing to call me Ann Landers, who is the sister of Dear Abby, which never made sense to me. It still doesn't.

Whether you are an Abby or not, appreciating the impact that Abigail Van Buren has had on the advice scene is irrefutable. The column began in 1956 and continues to run in syndication in roughly 1400 newspapers worldwide. The column also runs online and is seen by a combined total of 110 million daily readers. According to her publisher's Web site, she still receives over 10 thousand e-mails and letters per week.

Dear Abby is known for her candid yet friendly advice on any topic you can imagine. Van Buren seems to know a lot about a lot. While she is not writing anymore, she handed the pen over to her daughter upon retiring; Dear Abby is still dishing her "uncommon common sense." Amen.

In honor of her birthday, I dug through the columnist's archives for some odd questions that were asked over the past decade and took a stab at answering them myself. For some reason, I do not think I am qualified for this type of work, but you can be the judge of that.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig