When the first edition of “Ask Eric Stuff” appeared on March 21, 2001 — five years ago tomorrow — we had no idea it would become the most popular newspaper feature since the invention of the comic strip. Then, when it first appeared in its online-only format in June 2004, we had no idea it would become the most popular Internet feature since porn. Yet here it is, the most wildly successful entertainment feature in the history of mankind. Who could have predicted it?
Do you have questions you would like to see Eric answer in a snarky manner? Yes you do. You know you do. So go to this page and submit them. But first read this fifth anniversary edition of “Ask Eric Stuff” and see if a tear doesn’t well up in your eye. If it doesn’t, try poking it.
Dear Eric: My boss just gave two weeks notice. Do you think that his quitting is a reflection on me? Am I that bad to work with? — Baffled Employee
Dear Baff: Why? Just because all your high school teachers committed suicide? Don’t jump to conclusions.
Dear Eric: I loved your old Web site because it had an actual photo of you. Why did you get all fancy and change it? — Heartsick in Hurricane
Dear Sick: Court order.
Dear Eric: How do I tell frinds of mine who are dating that their public display of affection grosses me out without them getting mad at me? — Grossed Out in Grosse Point
Dear Gross: You don’t have to worry about them getting mad at you. If they’re dating, and if they’re displaying affection publicly, trust me, they’re not even listening to you.
Dear Eric: What’s the most entertaining free activity outside the home? — Bored Like a Carpenter
Dear Boring: Making out in public.
Dear Eric: How do you get a three month old who is teething to go to sleep before midnight? — Frustrated Mommy
Dear Frusty: A little bit of liquor can work wonders. After just a few glasses, you’ll be too drunk to care about the baby’s screaming.
Dear Eric: How do I tell my roommate that a pair of pants she owns makes her butt look terrible without hurting her feelings? — Trying to Be Tactful
Dear Tacky: I’d say the more important conversation you should be having with her is the one where you explain why you’re always looking at her butt.
Dear Eric: I have a hard time asking girls out because they usually say yes and then I get all nervous about where to take them and how to act. Do you have any advice you could give me? — Don Juan McFly
Dear DJM: Yes, never being turned down is quite a curse. Believe me, I know. The best way to deal with it is to just throw yourself in front of a bus.
Dear Eric: Is purchasing an extended warranty ever a good idea? — Wishy-Washy in Washington
Dear Washy: Yes, on mail-order brides. Those things are notoriously temperamental.
Dear Eric: There’s a guy in my class who seems to like me. I’m attracted to him too, but I really don’t want to date him. What should I do? — Confused in the Classroom
Dear Class: Tell him you think he’s very attractive and that he’s a great guy, but that you don’t want to date him. I’m sure he’ll understand, because that makes PERFECT SENSE.
Dear Eric: Why do Irish people eat corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day? — Blarney Stone
Dear Stoned: That’s an unfair stereotype. Top o’ the mornin’! Faith and begorra! Irish people eat nothin’ but corned beef and cabbage! I’ll have you know Irish people also drink a lot of alcohol, to the point that most of them are alcoholics.
Dear Eric: I never have anything to do at work, and it’s really boring. My supervisor insists I stay busy and not just sit around reading things online. How can I convince him to either give me something to do or leave me alone? — Dontwanna Losemyjob
Dear Loser: So your problem is that your boss REFUSES to give you any work to do? Kindly let the rest of the working world know where they can apply for a job such as yours. (P.S.: Have you tried playing Snood? It’s awesome.)
Dear Eric: I am a teacher, and my students always freak out when I say it will be difficult to get an A in my class. How should I help them accept this and not try to talk me out of my harsh grading practices? — Teacher of Freshmen
Dear Fresh: Explain to them that grades are meaningless, that they shouldn’t care what you or anyone else thinks about their proficiency, and that they should learn at their own pace without regard to what grade they’re getting. Then, when everyone stops laughing, tell them to shut up and deal with it.
Dear Eric: Why do people with pets take so many photos of them, and then post them on the Internet? — Puzzled by Pet Photos in Peoria
Dear Peo: I don’t know, but it’s starting to bother me, too. Whoever owns that yappy stork called Paris Hilton, please stop posting pictures of it!
Get this: Tomorrow is indeed the fifth anniversary of the first "Ask Eric Stuff" column -- but I had no idea that was the case when I scheduled the column for today. I did an "Ask Eric Stuff" column this week because I was going to be out of town for several days beforehand and needed something that could be written in advance. It was at the last minute that I happened to browse the archives and discover the impending anniversary. How's that for serendipity? Surely the gods of comedy are smiling upon us.