From a Submariner's Perspective is a weekly column, written in response to the letters sent in to advice columnist "Prudie" at Each week, The Submariner responds to the letter writers in a way that author, Emily Yoffe, probably can't (but perhaps would like to...). Each entry is headed with a link to the orginal questions and Yoffe's answers. Enjoy!

Also, if you have questions that you'd like answered by The Submariner, or anyone here at "The Fly", just write to me at and I'll forward to the appropriate party/parties for an answer (or you can write to them directly via the e-mail addresses on their pages)! Once the answers are published, I'll drop you a note letting you know.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(NEW!!!) ...on Sisters, Brothers, Mothers and even Extended Family

Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found Here.

Hey hidey-ho-ho-ho, Shippers!  How in the hell are ya on this fine-fine, pre-holiday Prudie Day?  I hope that you’re all well, that you’ve family around, that the lovely aroma of cookies is wafting all through the house, and, that you’ve had the chance to sip tea or coffee or your holiday beverage-of-choice while watching those movies you’ve been too busy to watch up until now.  I wish for you all a wonderful and merry holiday season, however and in whichever way you celebrate it.  And, now with that said, and since we’ve got letters, why don’t we get crackin’?!

LW#1:  Dear Prudie, I like my family’s tradition of spending Christmas Eve at my parent’s house with my brother and our parents.  All together as one happy family.  Just us.  But, since my brother got married, not only has his wife and her family tagged along, but, we’ve spent Christmas Eve at their house!  And now they want us to do it again!  Now I’m dreading Christmas and don’t know if I even want to go.  Why can’t it be like it’s always been, without all of the intruders and interlopers changing our traditions?  And who moved my cheese?!  Signed, Longing in Lawrenceville

Dear Longing.  Listen, I understand what you’re saying.  I do.  But, not once did you say anything negative about your in-laws (and yes, they’re your in-laws, too, even though you made a specific point to divorce yourself from them in your original letter to Prudie) other than that you don’t like their son, due to some high school indiscretion or other.  You can certainly stew on this situation.  Plenty of people do.  They’re known as “Grumpy Aunt Sarah, the Spinster” or “Drunk Uncle Sam, the Curmudgeon”, etc.  They’re the bane of everyone’s holiday celebrations, but they also make for the best stories afterwards.  So, by all means, keep feeling put upon when invited to share hospitality with people who are nice to you.  You’ll be appreciated for the water cooler fodder you provide in the New Year.  And, too, yes, I do get that you’d like things to go back to how they were.  Hell, I would love to press a “reset” button on life, too.  There are tons of things that I’d do differently, and tons I’d just like to do again.  But, as appealing as that sounds, it’s not real life.  Nor is it how things work.  Real life is staring you in the face and you can accept or not the fact that your brother has grown up and is making a family of his own.  You can choose to be a part of that family that your brother takes forward into life or not.  That's your choice.  Don’t worry.  This stuff happens to the best of us.  And sometimes, it’s even for the better.  Hang in there, okay?  You might find that if you give it a try without any preconceived notion, you might even enjoy something new.

LW#2:  Dear Prudie, my family and I have been estranged from my brother for nearly ten years.  For years of living with us he’d been a hateful shit to my sister, me, and our parents.  And, worse, once he moved out and married, he continued in his shittiness by writing letters to us, blaming us for imaginary slights we’d put him through and in particular attacking our generous and loving dad.  Well, he's recently divorced and has been making an effort to reconnect with us.  He’s reached a fragile peace with my parents and my sister.  And recently a whole stack of Christmas presents from him arrived for me.  Should I acknowledge them with a thank you?  Ignore him (as my impulse says to do)?  Or what?  How can I best move forward?  Confused and Hurting in Cincinnati.

Dear Confused.  Look, I know this seems very complicated, but, it’s far less so than it you’re making it (which is understandable--it’s a sucky situation!).  Just ask yourself this:  will your ignoring him be more of a strain on you (including any worry you may have about how your family will react) than the peace of mind you’ll gain from continuing to keep him at a safe distance?  If the answer is yes, extend an ever-so-cautious olive branch.  Otherwise, don't.  If you need to stay distant (something which you’ve every right to do, and which you’re completely allowed to do), simply explain to your parents and sister that you can’t open up that part of your heart again right now.  Explain that it’s still too tender.  And know that that’s fine.  As long as you’re not actively rude or disparaging or judgmental of their contact with him, your distance won’t hurt their relationship unless they choose to make it an issue (which is not your fault).  Maybe later you’ll feel that you want to give it a try, but, right now, explain that’s not how you feel and that they need to respect your feelings.  However, if you do choose the path of continuing to ignore him, under no circumstances are you allowed to keep the presents!  Return them unopened, with a note that simply says, “I’m cannot accept these, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.  I wish you peace and happiness.”  And then enjoy and embrace the love of the family that’s always been there for you.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie, I enjoy visiting my family for the holidays, but I hate the annual ritual of attending mass.  And it’s not as if my parents are particularly religious.  They only go on Christmas and Easter.  Yet, my mother will be very hurt (and it'll show) if I don’t go to mass with them.  My father, ever the peacemaker, would rather that I go along to appease my mother and to keep her from pitching a royal bitch and ruining the holidays for the whole family.  But I'm just as stubborn as she is.  What should I do?  Signed, Hating the Hypocrisy in Hoboken

Dear Hating.  This is a common and real concern.  And in your case it’s made even more prickly in your mind because of what you perceive as your parents’ spotty attendance at church.  Here’s the thing, though:  you need to think of this like a scale.  On the one hand of the scale, you have the shittiness that your mother will doll upon your and everyone’s head if you don’t go to mass, hypocritical though that may be (and it is).  On the other, you have the shittiness that you’ll experience if you do go.  If you want to know who’s right in this situation, it’s you.  You win nothing for being right, of course, but, you are in the right to feel as you do.  No person should ever be forced, especially by guilt and shittiness, to do things that they don’t want to do.  On the other hand, taking us back to our scales, how long will the shittiness last if you don’t go versus if you do?  I’m not saying that your mom’s in any way correct, but, seems that she’s probably capable of making the whole holiday about the fact that you didn’t go to mass.  And involving other family members.  Emotional blackmail-style.  Or, you can choose to go and simply employ the philosophy of WWABD.  That’s “What Would Alec Baldwin Do”?  And we now all know the answer to that question.  He’d play Words With Friends while spending an hour and a half in mass because he knows that’ll be less pain, time-wise, than dealing with Mama Baldwin’s complaining about the fact that he and Stephen and the other brother, the one with no talent, didn’t go to church with her.  You should follow Alec’s lead and go to mass, too.  Even though it’s wrong and you shouldn’t have to.   And while there, you should play Words With Friends.  It's not just any game, mind you.  It’s a word game.  For smart people.

LW#4:  Dear Prudie.  My sister and I each receive a check for $30 every Christmas from an Aunt and Uncle that we see only once per year.  Now that we’re adults, not only does the tradition seem weird, it means that I have to write them a thank you note for the check.  I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s all a bit gauche.  What should we do?  Signed, All Grown Up in Albuquerque

Dear All Grown Up.  No, you’re not.  Look, I get that you and your sister think it’s a little weird to get a $30 check from your aunt and uncle each Christmas.  Especially now that you’re in your 30s, have families of your own, and are near the age of writing Christmas checks to your own ungrateful, shitty nieces and nephews.  But, what gave away your lack of maturity, grace, and even basic empathetic ability (or concern) is the fact that you clearly seem most upset by this arrangement not because you find it weird, but because you’re compelled to “go out of your way” to write a thank you card.  You know, if you don’t want to send a thank you card, don’t.  You don’t even have to cash the check.  Some people don't consider that a chore.  You do.  Why hide it?  Plus, you could always send back the check with a note that says, “Cashing this tiny little check isn’t worth the effort that’s going to be required to write you a thank you note each year, so, could we please just share annual pleasantries at Thanksgiving and call it good?”  I realize it’ll take some effort to write that out (try some Icy Hot afterwards, it’d good for the hand cramps), but, rest assured, if you do it correctly, you won’t have to do it again next year, or ever again.

Well, Shippers, that about does it!  I hope that you have the best holidays ever.   May your coffee or hot chocolate warm you, may your Christmas cookies fill you, and may your travels both now and over the coming days, be filled with time well-spent with loved ones and tater tots and grand adventures.  Fair winds and following seas, Shippers!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

...on a Cat Woman, a Princess, a Jewess, and a Reasonable Writer

Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found Here.

Hey hidey-hoy, Shippers!  How in the hell are ya on this fine-fine Prudie Day?  Are you finishing classes maybe?   Taking that one last test, or turning in that last term paper?  Or, maybe work is winding down before taking time off for the holidays?  Or all of the above?  Whatever your situation, I wish you a happy and wonderful next few weeks (and yes, that includes Christmas, but it also includes Hanukkah , Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter Solstice, and even “Sunday the 25th”, a purely secular day for some).  Regardless of how you spend the holidays, my sincere wishes for a wonderful time for you all!  :-)  Except for maybe a LW or two, who truly don’t deserve it!  To that end, let’s get crackin’ on these letters, shall we?

LW#1:  Dear Prudie, I’m in my 30s, have met the man of my dreams and am ready to marry and start a family.  The problem?  I have a cat and my beau is deathly allergic.  My cat is eight-years-old and I feel super-guilty about trying to figure out how to best place him in a loving home.  My rigid, judgmental, asshole friends are basically accusing me of the equivalent of abandoning a child, and, too, my cat is starting to develop behavioral problems because I spend so much time away from home at my boyfriend’s house.  What can I do to assuage this guilty feeling?  Signed, Broken Hearted in Belleview

Dear Broken.  First off, tell your friends to shove their judgmental attitudes up their own (or each other’s) asses.  Either, a) they’re jealous old bitties from whom you’d do well to extricate yourself, or, b) you’re reading too much into what they’re saying due to your feelings of guilt.  Either way, Prudie’s suggestion of enlisting them to help you place the cat in a loving home is right on target and will tell you a lot about their motives in tearing you down and criticizing you.  Too, though, if you do need judgment, and want it from me, you’ve got it:  if you’re spending so much time away from home that your cat is developing behavioral problems as a result, you’re already way past being a shitty owner to your cat.  Finding a loving new home for a beloved animal due to changing life situations is not a crime, and sometimes it’s just the way life works when you wear big girl panties.  However, frequently leaving a cat for what’s obviously several days at a time without love or care?  That’s just shitty.  How you or your friends could possibly think that’s better than placing your cat in a loving home is beyond me.  You want to feel guilty about something, feel guilty about that.  And then fix it.  Pronto!

LW#2:  Dear Prudie, I have a wonderful husband who loves me dearly.  He spontaneously gives me presents, shows me great affection, sends flowers for no reason at all, gives tender, loving words, etc.   But, when it comes to planning for big events like birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc., he’s pretty terrible--to the point of barely making an effort at all to spend money on me.  I, on the other hand, get him thoughtful and appropriately-awesome gifts for those days.  Every time.  How can I tell him that it feels like a personal attack on me, our love, the very foundation of our relationship and our family’s future that he doesn’t pay special attention to me on those days and that I’m planning a major crying jag complete with holiday-ruining door-slamming (and other tirades) if he doesn’t come through in a big way this Christmas?  Signed, (Already) Buying Tissue in Birmingham

Dear Otherwise Great Husband’s Wife.  So, let me get this straight.  He loves you dearly, is loving and affectionate and generous, but, he blows it all by not planning ahead for and getting you gifts on big days?  Is that right?  I’m not meaning to trivialize your complaint, I just want to make sure that I understand the issue.  No, look, I’m being a little heavy-handed, but, you have to realize that you’re falling victim to “princess syndrome” (PS).  PS dictates that, not only should your husband be the most awesome man ever, he should also be able to magically predict your desires without hints or clues from you, know you so well that he just “knows” what you want, and then deliver it in such grand style that you feel you’re the only woman on Earth.  And, truth is, I can understand that desire.  Hell, I’d like that, too!  But, fact is, that’s not how things work most of the time in the real world.  I know that you think that you do great by him, but, you know what?  I bet if he gave in to PS, he’d be wondering why you can’t do things a different way for him!  And the shame is that you both think you’re doing well for the other!  He thinks he’s being awesome by showing you how much he loves you all year long.  You think you’re being awesome by buying him big ticket items that he may or may not need or want, but, by golly, I guarantee you he’ll pretend he loves them because, well, you guys (or at least you) aren’t communicating!  Prudie’s right.  You need to be proactive and quit pretending that if you leave a hint or help your husband give you what you want that the effort he then makes and the gift he then buys will be somehow tainted or of less value.  That line of thinking is best left to Disney movies and fantasy.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie.  I’m Jewish.  My husband is not.  His family is not.  But I am!  I just had a little boy who I’m raising Jewish.   My in-laws are great, supportive, but simple, uneducated people.  They’ve traveled at great expense to my son’s bris and though they don’t know any Jews, have tried to be understanding of my culture and my religion.  I am traveling to see them over Hanukah and they would like to give my son presents.  I’ve directed them to wrap the presents in Hanukah paper because my son is Jewish and Christmas paper will stain his soul.  They claim that Christmas is a secular holiday and that receiving Christmas presents from them won’t permanently scar my son or exclude him from Heaven and God’s grace.  How can I help them respect my wishes.  Signed, Jewess in Jersey

Dear Jersey.  I’m going to try to be as tactful as possible.  I, too, worry for your son’s soul.  But my worry isn’t due to Christmas paper or other exposure to Heathen activity.  It’s due to his mother’s selfish, self-interested, elitist snobbery.  Listen, I don’t know if you know this, but, there are other religions, other cultures, other traditions in this world outside of your own.  And your son will be exposed to them.  And you can make that exposure so vile and nasty that you drive him away from you and your own culture and tradtions, or, you can recognize that you married a non-Jew.  That you chose to break with Jewish tradition in doing so, and that you are at fault if you think that you can now go back on that and make everything in your son's life be about you and your ways.  Whether you let your husband touch the child or not with his goy hands, he is the child's father, and his family is your son's family.  Didn’t you realize your husband was a non-Jew when you married?  What, did you just not give a shit because you reckoned that, like his weak, wimpy ass, his entire family would just bow to you and your desires?  You know what?  Call it Hanukah, call it Christmas, call in Solstice, I don’t care.  One thing I’m pretty sure of is that it’s supposed to be a time of grace and giving and tolerance.  Maybe you should ponder that part of your tradition, eh?

LW#4:  Dear Prudie.  My sister and I would like to visit our childhood home.  We have many great memories of the place and would love to see the house, the yard, the rooms.  Unfortunately, our family no longer lives there and I don’t know how to go about asking the current owners if it’s okay if we come for a visit.  I know that my own parents would be quite derisive and object whole-heartedly to anyone making such a request of them regarding their house!  What should I do?  Signed, Homesick in Harrisburg

Dear Homesick.  Simply write a letter to the current owners.  Explain what you’ve explained here.  Offer proof of your identity--perhaps a picture or two of you and your sister in front of the house?  Unless the current owners are as horrible as your parents sound (and let’s hope not!), they will happily have you into their home, or, if they’re unable to do so (and there are certainly valid reasons why they couldn’t), they’ll at least write back explaining their sincere regrets.  Either way, it’s a very modest request and the worst you can receive is a no.  Good luck, and happy memories!

Well, Shippers, that about does it!  May your week be filled with fun, happiness, double burgers and fries!  And, too, may we all meet here again next week for more of that magical Prudie fun.  ‘Til then, fair winds and following seas to you all!  Cheers!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

...on Creepers, Skeeves, Painters and Pricks

 Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found Here.

Hey hidey-ho there, Shippers!  How in the hell are ya on this fine-fine December morn?  How’s life been treating you lo these many months gone by?  What are your plans for the many upcoming holidays?  Do tell!  Listen, I could go into a long explanation of what I’ve been up to over the last several months, and, too, ask you what you’ve been up to, but, fact is, we’re all here for the letters, right?  So, with that in mind, and to shake off the dust, let’s get crackin’ on ‘em, shall we?

LW#1:  Dear Prudie, I’m not going to give you a single bit of context or back story or even a single detail of my life save for these:  I’m miserable because my 58-year-old husband of (less than, but nearly) two years has just left me for my daughter of (fully) 25 years.  I now feel “heartbroken, betrayed and furious at the two people I love most.”  What do I do?  Signed, Miserable is Muskogee

Dear Ms. Miserable.  Damn!  That’s a kick in the titty, eh?  So, look, I’m not a “blame the victim” kind of guy, but, you say that your daughter is one of the two people in the world you love most.  As such, why would she ever dream of doing this?  How did things end with your first husband?  Did you leave him for someone else back when your daughter was in her formative years?  Is there some other powerful reason for your daughter to treat you with such little regard or respect?  These things don't usually just crop up out of the blue--especially with those we "love most."  If it was a passionate, short-term mistake (and those do happen) by an otherwise-loving daughter, she would have tearfully fessed up and distanced herself from Old Man Creeper.  But instead, she’s moving in with him?  And, then, there’s your 58-year-old ex (whom you love second most) shacking up with a 25-year-old girl?!  Boy, you sure do know how to pick 'em!  So, while I’m not blaming you, I do suggest that you go for counseling and tell the counselor everything you've told us (and, you know, the rest of the story, too), and try to find out why those you “love most” are such apparent duds.  Be prepared to hear, once you're done with your fainting fit, that your love of the dramatic is going to be just as much a part of what you need to overcome as the betrayed furiousness you now feel.  And, as for the new lovebirds, were I you, I'd simply wish them well.  Their fling will last only so long as you make it apparent that it bothers you, because, your daughter, having not fallen far from the tree, will quickly grow tired of your ex if she can’t get a rise out of you over the situation.

LW#2:  Dear Prudie, my FIL is a creeper.  His actions with my daughter make her (and me, and my husband, I think,) very uncomfortable.  The in-laws are rarely around, and their culture dictates that they be treated with extreme reverence when they are.  And, even though they treat me like shit, I’ve deferred to that dynamic in the past to keep the peace.  But I've determined that I won’t have my daughter at risk any more.  What can I do?  Signed, Standing Up in Scranton

Dear Standing Up.  Good for you!  Now, as Prudie says, get your husband to address not only the treatment of your daughter--have him tell them that she doesn’t like rough housing and that gramps is going to need to practice a much more hands-off approach this time--but, too, he needs to put the kibosh on his parents' poor treatment of you, too.  If he hasn’t already turned toward them when they condescend to you, eyes a full shade and a half of Hell and said, “Excuse me, but, that’s my wife, this is her house, and if I ever, ever hear her treated like that again, you will no longer be welcome here”, then he needs to be told that that’s his responsibility.  And, if he won’t do it, you should.  You should never be condescended to in your own house, nor should you ever feel the need to defer your feelings about your daughter’s safety.  Ever.  To anyone.  You are her protector, not a model for her on how best to be shit upon.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie, my girlfriend’s step father paints nudes of her.  He’s 80-something and we’re in our 30s.  He didn’t start painting her until she was in her 20s.  I’m all liberal and fine with nude paintings as a general concept, and his are very tasteful, but this arrangement skeeves me out.  Especially the frontals!  Am I a jealous prick or is something amiss here?  Signed, Heebie-jeebies in Hoboken

Dear Heebies.  You are a jealous prick who doesn’t respect his girlfriend’s judgment or her step-father's discretion.  And Prudie was way off base in her answer to you.  There.  How’s that?

LW#4:  Dear Prudie, I still have my security blanket from childhood.  I’ve tried to quit it, and have been able to put it away for months at a time, but, I always go back.  My boyfriend groans when he comes home and catches me with it and when I then try to lie and say that it was just sitting there and that “I wasn’t touching it, honest I wasn’t!”  I need help in breaking this habit.  Don’t I?  Signed, Insecure in Indianapolis

Dear Insecure.  Which habit are you asking about breaking?  Your relationship with your blankie, or your relationship with your prick boyfriend?  Listen, first off, and this is important, anyone, and I mean anyone who makes you feel like you need to lie about your blankie is not right for you.  Who the fuck is he, the blankie police?  If he thinks he needs to be with someone without a blankie, then let him.  And if that’s not you, that’s okay, too.  Might even be better!  Listen, people smoke, chew pens, have a favorite chair or hobby or other things from which they derive comfort.  You have your blankie.  If you want to break the habit for you, then that's one thing.  But if your asshole boyfriend can’t accept you for who you are, he’s the one with the insecurity issues.  Never lie about your blanket again.  It’s not necessary and it’s beneath you (although I would wash it--it sounds a little nasty by your description!).

Well Shippers, that’s it.  How was that for being gone so long?  Okay?  Need more snark?  Less?   I hope that alls’ well with you all and that you’re having a wonderful December!  Fair winds and following seas to you all!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

...on Heathens, Idiots, Pearls, and Bikinis (5/12/2011) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey Hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I hope that you’re happy, healthy, well-fed, well-coffeed, and, that those around you (be they family, friends and/or co-workers) are decent, supportive, non-insane, genuinely nice individuals. Apparently, none of those wishes are guaranteed in this life, so, I hope them doubly for you all! Every day. :-) Especially the well-coffeed part! Speaking of, I was recently given some Vietnamese instant coffee. I thought to myself, “Instant coffee? Ewww!” But it is actually really nice! And robust! And quite fully zoomied, too! :-) It won’t keep me totally away from my various K-Cups, but, it’s a really nice treat and worth the effort to get, in my humble opinion. Anyway, my coffee habits aside, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I come from a family and tradition of staunch Christianity. Recently, I find that I’ve lost my faith. I’m quite at peace with the personal spiritual ramifications of where I now find myself, but, I’m worried about how my family, friends, and, worst of all, my wife will feel and react. I still attend church and have not shared my quandary with anyone else, but, it seems quite dishonest to not do so. I’m scared of losing everything if I do share this information (and I’m pretty sure I will if I do), but, even worse, I’m afraid that not telling my wife is even more dishonest (and thus wrong) than the pain it’ll cause us both if I do tell her. What should I do? Signed, Morally Confused

Dear Fellow Atheist. Don’t worry! Surely you know from your years of indoctrination that morality is a Christian-only characteristic and that those who have no faith can’t possibly have any morals. Ergo, you can now treat people as horribly as you’d like with no worry about the ramifications because, you know, only good Christian people treat other people with honor, dignity and/or respect. As such, lying to people about your deepest inner feelings about God is something that you can now do without concern. Matter of fact, if you ever become president, you can use this same tactic while justifying all manner of Hell on Earth. And what’s good enough for a former president, surely, is good enough for you, a newly faithless Heathen, right? Right!

Perhaps you’ve noticed I’m being a bit shitty about this? Yes, I am. I won’t go into why, but, perhaps the paragraph above, even though it’s sanctimonious, will be a clue. The Bible said something (in Psalms, Isaiah, and Proverbs at least) about having to lay in the bed one makes for one's self (although, holy shit, Mother Mary and Joseph, just make sure the fuck that there are no men in that bed with you, ‘cause, you know, apparently, that’s even more wrong than killing several tens of thousands of people based on "bad intelligence" and shit). Here’s the bottom line: if you will lose your family and friends by simply explaining that you’ve lost your faith (while stressing, of course, that in every other way, and in every other action, you’re the same man they've always known and loved), then they’re not worth the spittle that spews from their maws as they busy themselves with condemning you.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, My husband and I have a 5- and 3-year-old. We let them play in the street because they’re very well-behaved and follow our rules. We specifically bought a house in a cul-de-sac so that we could do this very thing. One of our coffee-addled, crazy-driving neighbors almost hit our 3-year-old the other day and her husband had the nerve to blame it on us! He even threatened to call child services to report our "poor parenting"! How can I prove to him that he’s wrong? Signed, Good Mother Who Purposefully Lives on a Freakin’ Cul-de-Sac For Heaven’s Sake

Dear Dumbass Idiot. I know, I know, you’ve probably read on The Fray that you can leave infants and young children alone for quite awhile and that it’s okay. Fact is, though, it’s not. You’re an unbelievably rude dumbass who’s basically stealing free childcare by foisting the care and safety of your children onto other, more responsible adults. All of the justification about maturity of kids, rules, who was right and who was wrong, and even who was talking on the phone instead of piloting their military vehicle-sized truck won’t mean a damn thing when your 3-year-old is run the fuck over and dead. You need to get your tubes tied, your husband needs a vasectomy, and he then still needs to wear condoms during sex, just in case, and you both need to learn what a back yard is for and when to use it. And, no, I’m not even kidding.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I’m 17, heavy (5’-3” and a size 10), and really self-conscious about it. Summer’s coming and there are lots of parties centered around swimming and the requisite wearing of bathing suits. In the past, I’ve tried to attend the parties in street clothes and skip the swimming. Unfortunately, that tactic gets me teased and goaded. One time I acquiesced and borrowed a horribly-fitting bathing suit. I was teased even more. I don’t want to miss out on these parties, but, I don’t want to wear a bathing suit in front of everyone because I'm so fat. What can I do? Signed, Reluctant Swimmer

Dear Reluctant. First of all, your friends know why you aren’t swimming. You aren’t fooling them. You need to know and accept that fact up front. As such, as I see it, you have three choices: don’t attend the parties (and likely regret it now and later), attend the parties but be teased about not swimming (wherein you may still have a good time, but, but, I know, that kinda sucks--but, if the teasers get too out of hand, you can just leave), or, go out, find a bathing suit that fits you and is complimentary (at size 10, there are plenty to choose from!) and that you feel good in (or at least that you feel okay in--I realize that you may not feel “good” in any of them, but trust me, you’ll look wonderful in several of them, as size 10 is not nearly as big as you think it is--at all!), keeping in mind that you don’t have to buy a bikini-style suit if you’re not comfortable with that (there are all types of suits, as Prudie says). One of the things that’s almost impossible for you to understand at your age (and plenty of us never learn it!) is that confidence is extremely attractive, and that ignoring the bullies will shut them up (most of them, anyway--the ones it doesn’t are assholes, and that’s just part of life). Whatever you choose, though, you’ll be okay. You look far better than you think you do, and, in years to come, when you look back at pictures of you now, you'll say to yourself, "What in the world world was I thinking when I found myself to be fat?!" Things do get better in time. But, hey, why not go bathing suit shopping with a trusted friend or family member! At least give it a shot. You never know! :-)

LW#4: Dear Prudie, my mother-in-law recently gave me a beautiful pearl necklace and earrings. I love the necklace and wear it almost daily. The earrings, on the other hand, while made with gorgeous, expensive, valuable pearls, are horribly dated and simply un-wearable in today’s fashion world. Can I get them re-set without incurring my easily-slighted MIL’s ire? Signed, Between Pearls and a Swine

Dear Lucky. Aside from Prudie’s wise counsel (she suggested you buy another set of earrings to wear with this necklace), I suggest that you employ your husband, with or without his knowledge, into fixing this touchy situation. You need to make sure he knows how much, a) you love the necklace (and make sure he notes how often you wear it), and b) that you’d love to wear the earrings, too, but that they’re a bit too dressy for everyday use (not that they’re “out of date” or “unstylish”). You could even drop a casual, “Well, short of having them re-set, which wouldn’t be fair to your mom, maybe I can find a set that’d match--it’s just a shame because I love them so much and love that the pearls came from your mom!” Note that none of that is untrue!  You drop these hints when he’s going on about Christmas or birthday present ideas, and, unless he’s an idiot, don’t worry, he’ll do the rest. And, if you’re savvy about it, all will work out swimmingly and everyone will be happy! Either way, much good luck!

Well, Shippers, that’s it! I know I was in a foul and quick mood today (at least with the first two letters), but, that’s how these things work sometimes. At least I didn’t suggest that anyone jump on their boss’s desk and pee on it while singing ‘Take This Job and Shove It!” I’m saving that one for an epic bridge-burning resignation for someone super-close to retirement. Until next week, then, fair winds and following seas, Shippers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

...on *Professional* Strength Viagra!!! (5/05/11) <--- Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey Hidey-ho, Shippers! How the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, Spanish moss is hanging from the trees, swaying in the cool breeze (have you ever reached up, grabbed a piece and actually felt it?), and Prudie is writing her annual Mother’s Day Bonanza! What could be better? As a bonus, and hopefully this isn’t too much information, I got some spam today for “Viagra Professional” (I think it even had one of those copyright symbols, which, of course, means it’s official and that you should definitely go out and buy it and put it into your body!). I don’t need Viagra (thankfully, and, you know, knock on wood), and the warning it gives on its TV commercials already scares the hell out of me, “If you experience an erection for over four hours, consult a physician, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200” (yeah, no shit, Sherlock!), so, you must know that a spam ad for “Viagra Professional” not only scared me stiff, it made me wonder what warnings for that product there might be?! “If your penis exceeds three times its normal erect length, call 9-1-1”? I request your ideas for warnings in the comment section, below. But, that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the letters, shall we?! They’re why we’re here, after all!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, my mom is a rude, racist bitch from whom I’d love to have an excuse to keep my sons. She’s mean to me, she presses all of my buttons, and I am neither clever enough, nor snarky enough to deal with it, Prudie. And, fact is, I shouldn’t have to! I am this close to telling her that she can’t see her grandsons anymore if she keeps being so mean to me! Of course, I’ll couch it all in language about how I’m worried about how the boys will turn out (you know, because she’s such a powerful influence over them, while my husband and I are such weak, ineffectual ones). In truth, it’s very easy to remind the boys of correct manners after they visit her, but I need every tool I can get to deal with her bitchery. How can I accomplish this so that it looks like it’s her fault, which it so is? Signed, ‘Fraidy Cat Needing Leverage

Dear Wimpy. You are a wimp. How do you deal with your racist, foul-mouthed, mean mother? Well, first, by keeping your sons out of this. This is between you two. You and your mom. If you’re worried that you mom has more influence over your boys than you do, then, trust me, she does. But that’s not her fault. Fact is, you need to grow a sack of balls (don’t worry, they don’t have to be attached to you, and you don’t even have to touch them) and then beat her over the head with them! I’ve never, not even once in my life, met a racist idiot whose arguments and loud obnoxious behavior can’t be made to look foolish by simply walking away. You report that “she likes to have loud, racist arguments” with you. Okay, I know this is crazy, but, it sounds to me like you’re engaged in the arguments, too, as, otherwise, your mom would be having "loud, racist monologues." Quietly saying, “Mother, I’m not going to empower your discrimination,” and then leaving, is the proper solution. Her racist views are hers, and, hey, more power to her, but you are in no way required to be party to them. One day, when the boys aren’t around, call or speak with her and tell her that you will no longer engage in those conversations. That if she utters one word, you will simply leave. And then, do so. Not in a huff. Not angrily. Not making a scene. Simply collect your boys and leave. The angrier and louder she gets, the quieter and calmer you become (as you’re leaving). I assure you that if you stick to this, live by it, she’ll knock off the nastiness in short order. You can’t change her views, but you can keep yourself from being exposed to and victimized by them. As for your boys, what better model of how to handle nasty, racist, foul-mouthed people than that? Good luck!

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my daughter seems to have all but completely eliminated me from her life. As background, she’s in her early 30s, has a very strenuous job, and, is working toward a doctoral degree. Also, we are both broke, so we decided to suspend gift-giving in lieu of simply exchanging letters or calls during the holidays. I immediately broke this pact and have spent hours and days making her hand-crafted, extremely personal and touching gifts that only someone with a great deal of free time and love could make. In return, she’s not only not acknowledged receipt of the un-agreed-upon gifts of love and labor, she claims to have not even opened them (when I can get her on the phone to complain to her, that is). I have no clue what I could have possibly done to deserve such rude treatment, Prudie, and, too, I don’t know why she can’t be bothered to send me anything on Christmas or my birthday. She doesn’t even call! What should I do about my daughter being so rude? Signed, Shunned Parent

Dear Parent. So, what have you not told us? Don’t act like you’ve been forthcoming with all of the dirt. You should know that we know better than that. People who’ve happily gotten along all their lives don’t just cut off other people for no reason, so, you’re not telling us something. I’m not saying she’s in the right, but, there’s more to the story that you’re not sharing, and, if she was totally and obviously in the wrong, you’d have told us. So, what is it? Are you the racist prick from the letter above? Do you try to convince her that a Nigerian lawyer has a ton of money waiting for you in escrow if you can just pay him another $4,000 for administrative fees and that you need her help to do so? Are you smothering her at the busiest time of her entire life with volumes of handmade gifts that she can’t possibly reciprocate, and therefore crushing her under a mountain of guilt and self-loathing? If so, shame on you! Or, in an entirely other direction, perhaps she’s about to earn her Ph.D. and now just thinks she’s better than you, or embarrassed by you and your “cheap-present-making, homey” ways? That happens sometimes. People realize their dreams and feel as if they’ve ascended to a higher plane than others. If so, shame on her! Whatever is at fault here, though, there is something going on besides her being too busy. Prudie is right on. You need to let her know in a very short communiqué that, a) you miss her and want to talk to her, b) you know that something’s going on, but that you don’t know what (if, in fact, you don’t, which, I kinda doubt), and, c) tell her that if it’s something you can fix (that should be fixed), you will fix it (like, ahem, not crushing her with incredible hand-made gifts when she has no hope of reciprocating, you know, right after you’ve agreed to no gifts). If it’s not, you just want her to know that you’re there for her and that you’re proud of her. And then, you’ve got to do your best to let her go and take care of yourself. If you haven’t been a total and complete idiot to her, and/or, if she is a halfway decent person (she may not be), things will mend. In time. Good luck!

LW#3: Dear Prudie, Several years ago, at an office party, I boinked a smokin’ hot but emotionally unstable (and most probably drunk-at-the-time) colleague, and she got pregnant. You have to understand, though, Prudie, that I’m such a mama’s boy that getting to boink anyone was a treat for me! After she got pregnant, my colleague made me marry her, told me that I can’t talk to my mommy, is rude to my mommy, and, every time my mommy comes to visit, my wife is mean to her. Too, she’s refused counseling. I have a doctor who’s willing to see all three of us (my mother, my wife and I), but my wife refuses to go. What can I do? Signed, Torn Between Two Loves

Okay, I’m of two minds about your letter. On the one hand, it seems entirely possible that you hooked up with a succubus and that she is the embodiment of pure evil and will eventually suck your soul from your still-living body. On the other hand, you didn’t give a single solid example of your wife’s nuttery other than she’s “tempestuous” and that you two enjoy a “rocky but great” relationship. The generalized stuff about your wife not liking you talking with your mother is a non-starter as I imagine it’s happening when you two are in bed for the night, or perhaps while eating dinner. On the other, your mom really could be stirring the pot. And when you say things like, “my wife hates my mom for no good reason”, I sort of think, “Hmmm, I’m not sure I buy that.” You don’t strike me as a reliable narrator. Either you were dumb enough (or led by your loins enough) to enter into a relationship with a permanently PMSing she-squatch, or, you’re being duped by your mom. Or both. Either way, doesn’t bode well on your credibility. As for how to fix it, you’ve got to go borrow that sack I suggested for LW#1, attach it, tell your wife in no uncertain terms that, a) you are allowed to talk to your mom on the telephone (at reasonable, non-family function times, and, too, not so loud as to disrupt the rest of the house, just to prove you have someone to talk to), and that, b) you will see your mom on occasion. But, too, you’d better keep your antenna piqued for subversive language and actions from your mom that might be manipulating you. I suspect it’s a little of both, and, frankly, the weak link in this equation is you. I’m guessing you married your mom and are now trying to juggle the joy and drama of such an arrangement. Just wait until that “gorgeous” daughter of yours comes of age. Seriously, Dude.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. Is it appropriate for me to get something for Mother’s Day for my father’s girlfriend? Yaddah-yaddah-yaddah, lots of irrelevant background about my relationship with my mean mother and justification for getting a gift for my dad’s wonderful girlfriend and not my mother, yaddah-yaddah-yaddah. I don’t know what to do because my friend says it’s a sign of disrespect to my mom if I do get the gift. Signed, Conflicted

Dear Dumbass. You’re an adult. You can buy gifts for whomever you please. Tell your friend it’s a “thank-you” gift rather than a Mother’s Day gift if you want. Or, just recognize that it’s none of your friend’s business what you buy and for whom you buy it. However, and this is sort of important, I wouldn’t be getting a “mother’s day” gift for my dad’s girlfriend, no matter how great she was. That’s an awful lot of pressure to put on dad, you know? If you speak with him and he’s fine with that, okay. But, otherwise, especially because she was so gauche as to ask for a Mother’s Day gift for doing things for you, when, clearly she’s not your mom or step-mom, which could certainly be a manipulative ploy to get your dad to make her your step-mom, I’d buy the gift and give it to her the day before Mother’s Day, with a card that expresses thanks and gratitude, but that contains nothing specifically about moms. That’s what I’d do. And you did ask.

Okay, Shippers, that does it! I’m so glad to finally be through with the spring semester! Only two more semesters to go! Yay! I hope today’s letters find you happy and healthy and that the sun is shining on you, inside and out (well, not literally on your insides, as, you know, that’d be gross). Good cheer, fair winds, and following seas to you all, Shippers. Always.