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, October 29, 2009

...on Tickling, Jackass Boyfriends (orig. 10/29/09) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Ahoy there Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this absolutely fantastic and fine, fine Prudie Day? I hope that you had a great week and that the weather wasn’t too bad for you? I’m enjoying the new lagoon here, all its visitors, old and new, and the relaxed mojo of the whole place. I do apologize for having to post a bit later in the day than what you grew accustomed to in The Fray. Working in a new lagoon sometimes forces new schedules and rules, so, we just have to do our best with what we’ve got, eh? Anyway, enough of my blubbering. On to the letters!

LW#1: Prudie, I’m ticklish. Not the kind of ticklish where I laugh, maybe pee myself, and then attack back, but rather the kind that actually feels painful, both physically and emotionally. The kind that gives me headaches after someone tickles me. The kind that is genuinely miserable. Regardless, my jackass boyfriend likes to tickle me. A lot. Even though I’ve explained to him that not only do I not like it, but that it makes me feel vulnerable and not in control of my body. He says that I must like it because I’m laughing when he does it. Further, he says I need to learn to control my mind better. Other than these tiny flaws, though, oh, wow, he’s a sweet, caring love muffin! What can I do to convince him to stop with the tickling and the jackass Zen master advice? If I were you? I’d kick him in the nuts! As hard as I possibly could. At some time that he’s completely not expecting it. Tell him that it can’t possibly hurt since all he has to do is learn to convince himself that the pain is actually pleasurable. Tell him that he might actually be able to learn to reach orgasm in this manner. Further, if I were you, I’d look up the meaning of the words “sweet” and “caring” and learn the definitions, because currently you have absolutely no clue what they mean. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear Prudie, I’d also leave this jackass.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my mom is celebrating 6 years of sobriety this month and would like to have lunch out to talk about my childhood--something she missed entirely due to living in an alcohol-induced stupor. I was put off by what seems like a cursory request (I mean, who can go over their entire childhood over lunch?!) and suggested instead that I write it down for her. Well, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to write it down. The effort is not going to do me any good and it might even piss me off! Hell, it’s pissing me off just thinking about doing it! I’m happy for my mom’s sobriety, but, I’m not ready to tell her about my childhood. What should I do? If I were you? I’d kick her in the nuts! No, just kidding. Listen, there are two people here who need some healing (at least two) and you can’t possibly unconditionally help your mom find hers until you’ve found yours. I’m not saying you can‘t be supportive. I’m not saying that you can’t be a friend and a daughter. But anyone who could ask you to go over your childhood “over lunch” still has some issues to address with their disease. She’s minimizing your childhood because, considering she missed it all, it’s emotionally easier on her to do so. It’s easier to feel less guilty about something that can be discussed over lunch versus something real that would take, literally, months or even years to really get into. There is a lot of emotions and experiences to be hashed over there. So, until you’re healed, or a lot closer to it, this is simply a road that you can’t help your mother navigate. Tell her that. And why. She needs to hear it. And I think you need to say it, too.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I’m new to “grown-up” socializing and I want to throw a dinner party for all of the gang from grad school. My apartment is small, though, and I can’t have them and their spouses/significant others over all at once. Plus, I don’t like their spouses/significant others! How can I do an invite that will let it be known that I only want my friends to come, but not their freeloading parasite partners? If I were you? I’d kick myself in the nuts! Seriously. Dude, what the fuck is your major malfunction? You went through grad school, eh? How on god’s green Earth did you manage that feat around a handful of people who seem to like you and who didn’t kill you due to your assholism? The solution to your problem is so simple as to be (almost) a waste of electrons in typing it, but, in case you really are a complete and total dumbass and not just trying to get a rise out of me, I’ll share. Either have the party at a restaurant or some other large place that can accommodate everyone, or, invite them in more than one group, on more than one night, but with their spouses . However, you’ve already figure that out on your own, haven’t you? You’re just a selfish shit who wants your friends to come over by themselves. Fine. Invite them exactly how you want to. Put on the invitations “Grad School Buds Only! No Significant Others!” See how many people show. But hey, next time you won’t have to worry. Your “friends”, most of them anyway, won’t be taking your invitations, so this may work out just fine for your “problem”.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, we adopted our daughter when she was five. We’ve been able to allow her to meet and communicate with her birth family through a really great, wonderful therapist. Now that our daughter is 12, though, she doesn’t really want to communicate with them. We want to have a nice, peaceful, open adoption plan so that we can brag to everyone who’ll listen that my partner and I are such wonderful adoptive parents--oh, and, too, because keeping in touch with her family will be good for her. To that end, should I force the issue of calls and visits? Do I hear a two-person nut kicking coming on? Holy hot fucking hell, asshole. Are you honestly that clueless? You’ve raised your daughter for the last seven years, but have no more respect for her feelings and emotions than that? Where did that really great therapist go? Or did you drop him/her when bragging about your daughter’s emotional progress had no more effect on your friends? Your daughter is one big screaming hormone right now. She’s entering the most difficult stage of childhood and she’s going to need the ability to set boundaries for herself. And she’s going to need parents who support her in all things. She’s always had that need, but at this age, it’s absolutely essential. You can gently express your concern, but, at the same time, a few years of missing calls and visits won’t prevent a relationship later. Further, why are you more worried about what her family might think and what other people might say than what your daughter’s emotional needs are (just go on ahead and admit that’s what’s at work here and deal with it)? You can’t possibly be that ignorant? Quit treating your daughter as a pawn in your game of Yuppie Status Idol and start acting like she’s your daughter. Damn.

Sorry about that shippers. I had to take care of some issues there, and sometimes it’s not pretty. Anyway, with winter fast approaching, I hope that you’re all readying the hatches, checking all your seals, and ensuring that you’re ready to weather the cold. Just remember: any hull penetration is a potential leak! I know we’ll all get through it together. So, until next week, fair winds and following seas to all of ya!


  1. Ahoy, Captain!

    I'll just hand you my dogeared copy of "Excellent advice as always, Diving Buddy!" They deserve every bitch-slap they had coming to them. And you know Mermaid likes it when you get a little rough, sweetie ~ it primes them up nicely for Mermaid's there-there's over in her section of the lagoon. ;)

  2. "so that we can brag to everyone who’ll listen that my partner and I are such wonderful adoptive parents"


  3. "Your 'friends', most of them anyway, won’t be taking your invitations, so this may work out just fine for your 'problem'."

    Yeah, he says they haven't gotten together for a while, but I'd bet there've been some great parties with all the grad group and SOs, minus one letter-writing twit.

  4. So much nut kicking going on, I feel like a chipmunk!

  5. OK, first let me say - I'm so glad I found you guys again. Reading The Fray just wasn't the same...

    Second - Here here! to your answers. LW#1 just totally worked up my screaming feministic inner voice - how many times do we have to tell these people that "No means no" and any violation of that is close to, if not, criminal!

    And thirdly - I read your "a bit about me" blog and I want to say Thank You - for sharing that, and mostly for the time you took away from your family to help protect me and mine! I can only dream of living in a place where truth and responsibility run rampant...ahhhh :)

  6. Sometimes a good kick in the nuts is exactly what is called for...

    Hey Smag,
    I come from a long line of people who keep subs shipshape.Carpenters and engineers, etc. based in Groton/New London. A close friend nearly died from fixing an exploding privvy. Infection so severe it was worse than MRSA. Be careful in there!
    Fair skies and smooth seas to you and have a great weekend, all!

  7. Great advice Smag, as usual, especially for LW1. I went through my "date a creep" phase a long time ago ~ fortunately it didn't last long but I didn't get out until it got waaaaay bad. Now I have good radar for creepiness and some of my friends have actually benefited from my experience.

    The best result is that I met my husband because he taught the self-defense course I took after the creep said he'd kill me if he ever saw me again. Now if it came down to a confrontation my front kick in the creep's nuts would really mean something!

  8. Well, MM, thank you very much! You know I love it when you show up in the lagoon, even if it is to have your pump primed... Wait, that's not exactly what you said, is it? ;-)

    Hey Marc and hbc! Welcome! Obviously, I agree with your agreeances (I know it's not a word. What can I say?). ;-)

    Spacey, I think that you're talking about licking nuts, not kicking them? Isn't that what chipmunks do?

    clhriker, I'm glad that you found our new lagoon and I'm happy that you're enjoying it. :-)

  9. imbroglio! I'm glad you found it here and, too, glad your friend didn't actually die, but only nearly did (well, not glad that he/she nearly did, but, well, you know). Anyway, tell him/her not to fix them when they're exploding! Wait 'til after. It's much safer. :-)

  10. Beckaroo, it does my heart good to hear about you potentially kicking some deserving bastard in the nuts! And when he goes down, you won't even have to look back. Good on ya!

  11. This week's batch of letters actually mean something to me, unlike last week's (but not your answers, of course, Smag!!). Hence my not posting last week. My brief takes, then:

    LW1 - I'm ridiculously ticklish, too. In some places I can even tickle *myself* Anyone - never mind a "boyfriend" - who pulled crap like that guy would get a can of whoopass with as much assy whoop as I could muster!

    LW2 - {{sigh}} Nothing to add here, move along!

    LW3 - I humbly admit that I can't get as worked up over ... him?her?... as others. See, I'm single, have always been single, and always WILL be single, and my role for my married/coupled friends has always been to provide an "escape" from their familial stress. I'm the mini-vacation from their chaotic homelife. As a result I'm so used to socializing with said friends without their SO's around that I admit that I was more, "Hm, yeah, that's a dilemma!" about the LW's situation. And then I read people's (and yes, Prudie's) responses. Phew! Good thing I don't host dinner parties!

    LW4 - an aquaintance of mine adopted a girl from China some 10 or so years ago. I know this because he fucking tells this to almost every fucking person he fucking knows probably every fucking day!!! Another friend of mine, who's head is NOT up his ass, and I just *know,* and lament, that he's reminded her of this beyond ad nauseum. I can only hope and pray that he's never added the line he's used around others: that if he hadn't adopted her, she surely would've been a prostitute somewhere in China by now! I'm not making this up.

  12. Ah herdthinner, it's good to see you! And please know that there's a big difference in being a willing "escape" for your friends, and asking them all to leave their families behind when they come to see you. I'd assume that you'd be willing (if not excited about) to spend time with one of their spouses along with them at times? And if not, that's fine, too. You didn't write in to Prudie! ;-)

    Your response to LW#4. May I break out a well-deserved kick in the nuts? (sigh)

  13. Just a side note ... my brother is seven years sober this holiday season. He started out as a weekend drinker then moved up to a daily after-work only until finally he was drinking every day. He spent time in jail for drunk driving and in the hospital for alchohol poisoning (and liver damage) and nothing made him want to stop. That is until we (the rest of his family) cut him off. Nobody wanted anything to do with him. It took a few years but he finally came around, found a service that he could stick to and cleaned up his act.

    He is once again gainfully employed, re-married and has sworn off drinks and drugs forever.

  14. Herdthinner, my brother has 2 kids, the older one is adopted. They reminded him of it ad nauseum, with posters in his room about "I was chosen" and blah blah blah. We finally began to wonder that the younger one didn't feel like sloppy seconds, because he was just what they "got stuck with."

  15. SmagBoy1,
    As always I thoroughly enjoy reading your take on things, especially when you get so worked up!
    I, as a peacemaker in my own family, feel that you may be a little harsh on this week's LW's.
    LW1 I agree with you all the way. She needs to get out of that relationship!
    LW2 I think Mom wants to reconnect with her daughter, but really messed up the way she approached the subject. She probably doesn't understand the extent of hurt she subjected her daughter to. But maybe this befuddled attempt can open some doors. I do agree that it will have to be on daughter's terms.
    LW3 I think that he/she just suffers from social ineptitude and is truly looking for advice. Advice given in a form that he/she can understand will most likely be heeded.
    LW4 I think he/she is truly trying to do the best for adopted child and the world. He/she is taking every step advised by "experts" as far as doing an open adoption and seeing a counselor, but is in turmoil as he/she never expected the child's response to all of it. Once again, some gentle and sound advice will most likely be heeded.
    I do enjoy your take on things and love it when you give it where it is due, but I just think that some of these advice-seekers are truly lost.

  16. SomebodyElse and CoolOne, welcome! Thank you for sharing your stories as I do think that they add to the perspective of the letters, and the answers.

    pooham, I agree that I can be rough at times. That's partially my schtick, but also, I try to keep to the truth. You're correct, LW#2 does seem to want to reconnect, but she also needs to remember a tennant of AA and that's to only take her steps if they do not hurt the other person. That's paramount. As for LW#3, he clearly does suffer from social ineptitude. He needs to be told that in no uncertain terms. I did. ;-) LW#4. While I agree that he/she may be trying to do what's best, he/she also needs to analyze his/her motivations and priorities. It's possible to be an asshole with the best of intentions. And that doesn't excuse being an asshole.

    Pleasant sailing to you all this weekend! :-)_

  17. OMG! Herdthinner that is about the most wretched thing I've ever heard in my life! Your "acquaintance", pardon my french, is some kind of sick twisted fuck. How dare he talk about another human being that way ~ let alone his own child?! Seriously, I'm kind of wigging out about that.

  18. Smagboy, loved answer to #1. I particularly got a giggle out of "caring love muffin."

    I'm like herdthinner. I couldn't understand why everyone was so vitriolic toward the letterwriter. I have committed myself to my singledom. I have had dinner parties w/my friends w/o their sig others. But then, I've also had dinner parties W/their sig others. My married/taken friends like to go out w/o their SOs, & we single girls enjoy their joined-at-the-hips being there or being elsewhere. I was also able to sympathize w/the LW saying that their SOs weren't significant to them. Sometimes your friends date a dud. & I wouldn't want to have to pull all the stops for people I don't know or like. I have this odd thing about having some say over who does & doesn't come to my house. Fortunately, though, this hasn't been an issue.

    But then, I'm a loner, so even when I've been in a relationship, I wouldn't like my boyfriend coming everywhere with me anyway.

  19. Oh, Jennifer, please don't misunderstand me. Of course you can choose to have in your own home whomever you want! But it sounds to me like you're an equal opportunity hostess, and that's a big difference. I also get what you're saying about friends sometimes dating duds. But, all of them dating duds at once? Our LW acted as if none of the SO's were worth his/her time. That smacks of something beyond what you're outlining. I freely admit that everything you said strikes me as entirely normal. The LW, though, came off as not giving a single rip about anyone but his friends and himself. Further, he tried to mask that in "not having enough room". I think that's the motivation for the vitriol you're sensing, not the concept itself.

    I think we all feel like doing things without our SOs sometimes. That's fine, and perfectly normal! :-)

  20. It's time for you to up your medication or me to raise the bar if I'm sounding normal, heh heh heh. Thanks, Smag. Good point, though-- there's a time for limited invitees & times for much more open lists. As long as 1 practices both, all is well.

    But am I wondering if I shouldn't TRY to misunderstand you so you can turn some of that snark this way for fun!

  21. Sit-down meals kinda bore me. I've hosted parties before, though. They were "cram lots of chairs into the living room" affairs, hopefully to watch bad or silly movies later. Funny thing - I've always been willing to hang with both members of a couple, but I guess I intimidate the menfolk or something, because they always pass!

    Mermaid - To be fair, my friend and I *speculate* that Heroic Adoptive Dad reminds his daughter often about her adoption, but don't know for sure. No speculation about the "she probably would've ended up a prostitute" bit, as far as saying it to other people like me. We can only hope not to his daughter!

    My best friend was also adopted, at about age 10, but her story might make y'all's heads so hot, you could boil tea with them.

  22. Excellent responses to this week's batch of idiots. They all deserve a kick in the nuts.

    If I may postulate on LW#4 for a moment, my theory is she (he?) is one of those exceptionally selfless people. The kind who will not only give your the shirt off their back, they'll get it altered to fit you. They're amazing people. And they gave this little girl a better life than she otherwise would have had, which is commendable.

    The problem is that to an extent, everyone sees their kids as an extension of themselves. And that's what's happening in this case: they are expecting this poor girl, who's been part of the family for 5 years, to sublimate her own needs and be as awesomely, amazingly, Osmondly unselfish as they are and accommodate her biofamily, recently sighted in 'The Hills Have Eyes.' If they're decent people, they will get over themselves, and cut it the f*ck out. If not, well, they'll screw her up, but still probably not as bad as the folks she was birthed to.

    SO gl;ad to see all my Fray favorites. Thanks for letting me ramble on your comments!

  23. Well, Jennifer, you keep it up and we'll just see about how much snark I can give you (for fun only, of course). ;-)

    herdthinner, I don't want my head that hot. I feel the same way about kiddos as MM does. But, I dig what you're saying about parties. If they happen that way organically, that's fine, and perfectly cool. This letter smacked of something more, though. :-)

  24. j0y_ryde! Welcome! I'm so glad that you found your way here. I'm with you on LW#4. It's like I said earlier, "While I agree that he/she may be trying to do what's best, he/she also needs to analyze his/her motivations and priorities. It's possible to be an asshole with the best of intentions. And that doesn't excuse being an asshole." I think that's at the crux of my harshing on him/her. Hopefully, as you say, they will cut it the fuck out. Hopefully.

    So glad you found us here. Fair winds, following seas, and happy Halloween! :-)

  25. Dare I say how quickly my thoughts turned to, kick him in the an attention getter to the clueless LW1. Smag you and I agree...he needs to have that same experience he suggests to his woman...controlled thinking my ass.

    I am continually amazed at the crap that females deem, sweet and caring...all from their boyfriends! And I bet she wishes to marry him! Yep, sign me up...for years worth of being pinned down and tortured. She feels vulnerable? How about pissed off? What happened to anger?

    Oh, and she let it go on for quite awhile before nipping it in the bud? One swift kick on tickle #2 and he'd have received my message loud and clear...once his head stopped smarting or is that screaming since I don't own any boys myself...maybe that would have cleared his ears out for my restatement of...Do not tickle me ever!'s the Mother's sixth year of sobriety? And she is just now asking her daughter for a report? I say she is feeling the distance between them still, her question is more about what did I do to still deserve this cold relationship when I see other mother's having such wonderful relationships with their grown daughters? The mother is fishing with her request. Best of luck. No matter what the daugter's story's done, she should say how she feels now and move on from there, I hope they have a better relationship.

    I have a friend who drinks a bottle of wine each evening, watching her teenage kids manipulate her while she is drunk has been very enlightening. They watch the bottle, as it goes down, their requests begin and in some sad way they get whatever they are wanting due to her impared judgement. I've seen them ask to go to a friends house and told no, to then wait her out for an hour then ask again, and the more wine she consumes the more she says yes.

    Have I told my friend this...yes...along with why she should stop bringing wine home every night to no avail. A functioning train wreck that is not functioning...unless you are a teenager wanting freedom. What a can of worms!

    And LW3...the I'm new to grown-up socalizing. Don't get me started. She needs to be alone for a few more years, then try, try, again. Maybe then she'll be lonesome enough to put up with the SO's of her dear friends. Sheesh!

    And lastly...the adoptive parents...people make me crazy! I'm still open mouthed at herdthinner's friend dishing on his China doll who would be a prostitute. Don't get me started!

    Until next week...happy trails...

  26. Did anyone notice that this letter has been written before? I definitely read this before (I checked the date twice on "Dear Prudie" to make sure that it was the last one). I tried to find where I had read it and found this:
    "The Fray" of Dear Amy on Newsday. (They don't archive that far back, so the original is lost).

    Creepy, huh? Either someone gets off on this subject, there are a lot of losers out there, or this lady STILL hasn't left her boyfriend.

  27. Captain Smags, great advice as usual. Like others posters, I much like the kick in the nuts (him, her, or one's own) solution. It's so elegantly simple....

  28. Greetings Debbie! I have to admit right up front that your statement "controlled thinking, my ass" was right up The Submariner's alley. If we could all learn to adopt this type of thinking things would go a lot more smoothly. There'd be more sore nuts for awhile, but then, you know, after that, all would be well.

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend and her wine. It's a shame she can't see it, but, you've done all you can do--sadly, the only person to change an addicts's behavior is the addict.

    Fair winds, Debbie. :-)

  29. Greetings Anonymous! I wish the link to the main article still worked, but, yes, it does appear that it's the same person. Either that or the original LW broke it off and the BF found a new ticklish GF? Thanks for stopping by the lagoon! :-)

  30. Kati, it's wonderful to see you in the lagoon once again. I trust your trip was smooth and the sea creatures accommodating--MM has seen to that, I understand. Many thanks for your compliments. I find that often the elegantly simple solution is the best.

    Until next week. :-)

  31. Smag, of course you're full of awesome, that should go without saying! Great job this week, as always. And I agree 100% with you.

    A comment to j0y_ride: I was adopted by one of those truly selfless people you mentioned, and while what they did was commendable, those types of selfless people are selfless to a fault - they are considering a screwed up family's feelings OVER the daughter they adopted and supposedly love more than life itself. I'd be willing to bet they have no intention of actually allowing her to cut ties with her biological family because they can't handle the idea of someone outside their home thinking ill of them. They'll convince their daughter to stick it out and at least visit once a year or send cards or whatever simply out of a twisted sense of obligation, and further, they'll probably guilt her into it so she won't feel that she can ever say no.

    That's the kind of "selfless" thing people like that do to the kids they've saved from horrible lives. They will remind her of it every chance they get too.

    And that's experience talking.

  32. How odd it has been that over the past several days I keep coming back to the adoptive letter again and again and today I find myself back here!

    What happened to the thought of asking oneself, does my statement to my child help them thrive or do I sound like a complete ass?

    Herdthinner's friend states his adoptive daughter would be a prostitute had he not come question for him is...and your thoughts behind that statement? Are you horrified and need to talk about it, just spreading the news, adding to your status as selfless? Wh'aaaat? How will this information help this child thrive in the world in 2010 and beyond? Clueless? It is of no help! Shut the hell up about it!

    There, another deep breath and I'll feel fine.

    And in case Jennifer drops back in...a side note...regarding her self described "loner" status. For whatever reason the term "loner" seems rather sad regarding a persons need for time spent alone.

    I watched that old movie "Space Ball's with John Candy...where he was a MOG, and said...I'm a cross between a dog and a man...I'm my own best friend.

    I find I am my own best friend, way beyond other frienships. And I find my social meter fills up rather quickly when I'm with people and those encounters seeem to last ten times longer than most.

    But that's me. I was born with a built in, (here's my favorite word of all time), "shit" goes off all the time so I'm used to it, but it makes me tire of crowds quickly.

    I must have been a riot as a kid always asking...why, how come, where/who/what did you hear that, and the inquisition began, until my shit detector would be quiet.

    Today, I celebrate being alone with my thoughts, celebrate being the best MOG I can be while understanding we all have our own social needs and sometimes it means no matter who wishes us to be social or keep in contact with people we don't have nor want a relationship with...we deserve to be supported by loved ones in finding our own way, adopted or not.

    So be your own best friend...always.

    Soul Sister....don't get me started on "selfless" are right on the money. Makes one want to dream of giving them one last pat on the back with a 2x4 and be done with it. Do forgive, playing well with others is my goal.

    Happy trails....until Thursday....

  33. Seoul, thank you! Thank you for a great bit of insight in your comment, and for some GREAT stuff over on your blog regarding these letters!

    Debbie, I love your John Candy-appropriated MOG philosophy and your recognition that we all have the need to be social at times--requirements that are different for all of us. Lots of wisdom in your words. ;-) 'Til next time!