I know you're confused about the current state of our world. I am, too. There is a lot of uneasiness right now. Try not to worry about it. Mankind has been fussing like this since the dawn of Duke's Mayonnaise.

DEAR MISTER SEAN:

I'm having doubtful thoughts with everything going on. I'm confused and disappointed. I want to ask you a question. Is God real?

Sincerely, REGULAR TEENAGE GIRL

DEAR REGULAR GIRL:

My God, darling. Why couldn't you have asked me about my favorite brand of mayonnaise instead? I'm an expert in the field of egg-based dressings.

I am not, however, the fella to ask about God. I have few answers on such high-minded matters. I can't even figure out which eleven herbs and spices go into KFC's Original Recipe.

And believe me, I've tried.

Yeah, I know you're confused about the current state of our world. I am, too. There is a lot of uneasiness right now. Try not to worry about it. Mankind has been fussing like this since the dawn of Duke's Mayonnaise.

Once, I saw a fight break out in a Pelham, Alabama, beer-joint. The subject of tension: God.

A loud-talking man claimed that God was nothing but barnyard fertilizer. It offended my friend, whose mother sang in the church choir. Thus, he challenged this man—who was six-times his

size—to a fistfight.

Before we knew it, my buddy went down under the power.

On the ride home, we four teenagers discussed mysteries of the eternal, using our serious voices.

Finally, someone asked, "You think God's real?"

I answered without thinking. And in a sentence, nine-hundred-year's worth of Bible-Belt heritage came out.

I said, "You damn right he's real."

And I sounded like a boy who needed help spelling his name.

The fact is, when some folks talk about God, they're not talking about God at all. They're speaking about miracles, greasy televangelists, faith healers, or a celestial Santa Claus with a white beard. I may be uneducated, but those aren't God.

Nevertheless, you asked me a straight question, so here's my answer: Cassidy.

She's my answer.

Cassidy was nineteen. Beautiful. Her parents died. Her grandmother raised…

I appreciate your honesty. Allow me to return the favor.

DEAR SEAN: A friend of mine introduced me to your writing. I've only read a little, but as a retired copy editor, and author of two books, I think you could use some work.

You write about life. Well, I was married twenty-four years... My husband had an affair with a much younger woman. I know a little about the pain of life.

I've never lived on my own before, I'm in my late-fifties, I've raised two kids, and I'm all alone this year.

Your brand of goody-goody writing represents what's wrong with this country. I'm sorry to be so blunt, your intentions are probably pure, but you're still too ostensibly young to know how hard life is, honey. People don't need more lovey-dovey ignorance crap. Sometimes it's healthy to embrace anger.

Sincerely, JUST BEING REAL

DEAR REAL: I've always wanted to do the Dear Abby thing, so thanks for signing your letter that way. Also: I won't lie, I had to look up "ostensibly" in the dictionary.

I appreciate your honesty. Allow

me to return the favor.

You're right about me. I don't know how hard life is. My father shot himself with a rifle the day he got out of jail. My mother locked herself in her room and cried for years. My family eroded. I was twelve.

I don't want to talk much about it. It's ostensibly difficult.

I hope I used that word right.

What I can tell you is that we lived on a farm. The day Daddy passed, adult-chores fell to adolescent-me. So did the laundry. I was angry. Not just with my father, but with my peers, for having easy lives.

Eventually, we lost the farm. We lost lots of things—that's what happens to poor folks.

Mama cleaned condos, I swung hammers. We delivered newspapers, laid sod, painted houses. We got good at hocking things. Once, I even took a job digging a…