Dear High School English Teacher Pressed Into Duty As The JV Basketball Coach After The Previous Coach Abruptly Resigned,

We have a problem at my house. I know these are tough economic times, but my wife pinches too many pennies when she buys groceries. Instead of choosing items we'll all enjoy and buying enough for the week, she goes through the grocery circular, finds the best deals, then buys what's on sale whether we like it or not. Because of a two-for-one special, I've been having baloney sandwiches for lunch all week! How can I broach this topic with her?

—Can't Abide Baloney in Boston

Dear CABB,

Okay, everyone, huddle up. I'm sure you've all heard that Coach Roberts had to leave to take care of some personal business, so for the rest of the season, I'll be your coach. It was a surprise to me too, but that's the way it is. Anyway, I'm not a basketball whiz or anything, but I did play a little hoops when I was younger. I was talking to Principal Shields, and he said that you've been having a pretty good season so far. So I don't know see any reason to change things up too much. Who's the team captain? Rich? Okay, great. Where did Coach keep his playbook? Guys, Rich is going to lead you in some, um, layup drills for a while. Then maybe you can practice some defense. Just whatever you think you should work on. Okay? Sound good?

Dear High School English Teacher Pressed Into Duty As The JV Basketball Coach After The Previous Coach Abruptly Resigned,

We always use the same house sitter to look after our cats when we're on vacation, and we've never had any complaints. This last time, though, a pair of my earrings went missing from the dresser. Obviously, I can't prove she took them, but I can't see any other explanation. I hate to think that it has to come to this, but should I install some webcams to protect my valuables next time I go on vacation?

—Lost Our Sense of Security

Dear LOSS,

Guys, I can't find the dang playbook anywhere, so I guess we should just work on some fundamentals. Did Coach Roberts have you all up to speed on bounce passes? Well, it's always good to practice. Give me the ball. I used to be a pretty good bounce-passer. The secret to a good one is that you throw from the chest. Do about 20 of those, and then we'll work on some three-man weaves. Then some more layups, I guess, and then I don't know. Shoot some H-O-R-S-E, maybe. Is there something that helps you guys get fired up? Hey! Come on! I don't want any lip, you guys. Just do those drills or you'll all be running sprints, if that's what Coach Roberts made you do. I wish I had that stupid playbook.

Dear High School English Teacher Pressed Into Duty As The JV Basketball Coach After The Previous Coach Abruptly Resigned,

My son has suddenly expressed an interest in learning the violin. I know I should encourage him to play an instrument, but we're a family of limited means, and I'm worried that he'll try it for a month or so, then give it up, leaving me with a violin we could barely afford in the first place. How can I be sure he's committed?

—Do I Have A Mozart On My Hands?

Dear DIHAMOMH,

Nolan! Alioto! Goddammit, knock it off. No way you acted like this when Coach Roberts was here. Don't let me catch you throwing your balls at the girls' locker room ever again. You think I don't see what you're doing? Give me 20 laps and think about what you did. The debate team never gave me this kind of attitude, and I expect the same from you. It's not like I asked for any of this, okay? If Coach Roberts hadn't done what he did I'd be home grading essays on The Scarlet Letter right now like I should be, so let's not make this any harder than it already is. No, I don't know when he's coming back. Maybe next month. Maybe never. Just try to forget about Coach Roberts for a second and focus on getting through this practice. God.

Dear High School English Teacher Pressed Into Duty As The JV Basketball Coach After The Previous Coach Abruptly Resigned,

Every year, my buddies and I watch the Super Bowl at one of our houses. This year is my turn to host, but the problem is, my wife left me a few months ago and I still haven't bounced back. The house is a wreck, and I don't have time to pull it all together, plus make snacks, before the game. Is there any way I can back out of this gracefully, or should I just suck it up?

—Reluctant Host in Buffalo

Dear Reluctant Host,

Why are we still talking about this? I told you already, pending investigation, Jerry—I mean, Coach Roberts—is on administrative leave. Until he comes back or they hire a replacement, I am your coach and you will listen to me, got it? Now can we please just move on? Where were we? Shh! Quiet, you guys! Stop bouncing those stupid basketballs and just let me think. What time is it? What? How can we only have 45 minutes left? Oh, goddammit! Look, I don't know what else to do here. Your coach's little joyride really messed everything up. No, you can't leave. You're not allowed to leave. Because I said so, that's why! Just plant your asses on the damn court and sit still for a few minutes. I have to call my union.

Confidential to Burned-out in Birmingham,

Just another week or two. That's all. Coach Roberts, that idiot, may have screwed things up big time, but you can fix this. Easy. Easy peasy. Just follow the playbook, stick to the formula, and—hey! No! Get off the bleachers, you guys! Jesus Christ, what is wrong with you goddamn animals?