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 15, 2009

...on Racist BBQ Talk (orig. 7/30/09) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Good Morning Shippers! What a fine, fine Prudie Day it is. Were it not for the FBI agents who came to speak to me yesterday, this would be the most wonderful week in recent memory (more on that after the letters), but, it seems that some of you have been being cheeky monkeys and gambling on the results of these letters! Listen shippers, if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; Prudie Day is for entertainment purposes only. Gambling on the results of these letters is strictly forbidden! It’s punishable by up to 3 lashes, or, in extreme cases (like Pete Rose), a keelhauling. And none of us wants that. So, that little bit of business out of the way, on to the letters!

LW#1: I’m black. My kids are tweens. Either these two factors have everything to do with my letter, or they have nothing to do with it. I can’t decide which. Anyway, I went to a BBQ at a friend’s house. She’s white. Her kids are tweens. Her husband, though, is a big ol’ Bubba Cop with a bunch of Bubba Cop friends and he greeted my request of where to place the beer I’d brought with a response of “up your big black ass, monkey boy!” Okay, it wasn’t that bad. He did say “Up your ass!”, though. My question is, I feel his remark was racist and bad for my kids, who didn’t actually hear it, but whom I wanted to mention because it makes his words seem worse. What should I do? Okay, I was a little glib with the summary of this letter because, 1) I’m a bastard, but, 2) because you seem to be combining a lot of issues that aren’t pertinent. If you feel his motivation in saying “up your ass” was racist, I can understand that. Only you can decide how you took the comment and I will never challenge your take on it because your reaction is yours and, as such, legitimate within the situation. Hell, there you were, the lone black guy in a sea of white cops. I’d have felt intimidated, even if they were nice to me! And I’m white! That said, the real shame here is that this guy might very well have been trying to bend over backwards to include you in the same banter he engages in with all of his friends? Who knows? And with racial tensions lurking under the surface a lot of times, it’s hard to know who’s a friend and who’s a foe--on both sides of this divide. I agree with Prudie, though. If you must bring it up to your coworker (and you do have that right), bring it up to her in a way that doesn’t include race, or even your kids, because, by your account, they didn’t hear it. Rather, just report the facts. And, too, I suggest that you consider that your considerable (and understandable) discomfort at being surrounded by a bunch of white cops may have skewed your take. He was nice the rest of the day, yes?

LW#2: My fiancé’s mom has lied to my fiancé for years about who his biological dad is. She’s given him so many excuses over the years, it sounds like she used to treat her private parts like a clown car. This is a tough subject for my fiancé because he wants to know who his biological dad really is. Recently, the mom, who I work with, has told me (in girly-girl double-super-secret confidence) how much her son, my betrothed, looks like his bio dad and all of the details about his dad. Should I break this trusted girl code and tell my love, or keep quiet and risk his distrust for having not told him? I’m so confused! Wowsers! This is exactly like what I figure plots for daytime soap operas are like (are they?). Look, I don’t know this crazy future mother-in-law of yours, but I’m telling you right now that you need to drop her like a hot potato. And then use a fire extinguisher on her. First of all, she may have been lying to your fiancé, sure. That’s entirely possible. But it sounds equally possible that she’s lying to you, just to test you. To see if you’ll tell him! Then, she’ll stand on her previous story to him and call you a liar! Either way, she’s a crazy head case and you need to protect yourself from her. Tell your fiancé, and then, back away from the crazy woman. As Prudie suggests, don’t engage in her gossipy talk anymore. Trust me, in the long run, this is only going to get uglier if you don’t disengage from this nut job and fast.

LW#3: My sister confided in me that her boyfriend got jealous and looked in her phone records and then got into a screaming match with her in a public place. I was justifiably upset and offered support and love and all sorts of other sisterly concern. But then my sister got back with this guy because “if he’s jealous, he surely must love me”. WTF?! And my family is okay with her decision! I can’t believe they’ve done this to me! What have I done to deserve this? Why have I been so forsaken? Oh. Kay. Sweetie, you need a perspective adjustment. And in a hurry. Sure, this guy did your sister wrong. And sure, she’ll end up dropping him and calling him names and going around telling anyone who’ll listen what a bastard he is. And sure, you’ll have been right all along. There. Happy now? But, your sister and your parents have done nothing to you. This is called young adult romance and it plays out this way until the saner person in the relationship (in this case, your sister), ends up having had enough and dumping the guy. It’s part of growing up. Your job, as big sister, is to offer support and love and be there for her and even point out to her that she’s making a mistake--when asked. But it’s not your place to be personally insulted and feel as if your family has chosen the boyfriend over you should your sister choose to not heed your well-intentioned warnings. Let me guess, this isn’t the first time your family has done you wrong is it? Those bastards! They probably love her better. And, let me guess, other people are often doing you wrong, too, aren’t they? The librarian? The clerk at the 7-11? That cop who stopped you for barely speeding? Notice the commonality in there? It’s you. That’s what you really need to work on.

LW#4: I’m married to the world’s most amazing man. He’s practically perfect in every way. As a matter of fact, I can’t get over how perfect he is. My problem? He’s not perfect enough. While he is a great dad and husband and person, he doesn’t write me love letters or send me flowers anymore (wasn’t that a sappy 70s song?). I want that romance back. What should I do? Okay, first I’m going to rip into you because, holy shit, welcome to the adult world, chicky doodle. But then, I’ll admit that I understand that it sucks when things dull over time and it is a bummer. And finally, I’ll point out that it’s a two way street while ripping into you again. Ready? Okay.

First up, grow up! If you want something and aren’t getting it, ask for it! Jesus! How hard is that? Why is it that society makes us think that if we have to ask a spouse for something that it is somehow less valuable because we asked? Our spouses can’t read our minds, regardless of what the romance novels tell us. Grow up! Jeez. Second, yes, it sucks that this has happened. Now, refer back to my first point and ask you husband for the things you’re missing. Recognize that he’s way busier now than he was and allow him slack. Third, do you do the things you used to do for your hubby when you two were newlyweds? Do you spontaneously go down in the car on the way home like you used to? Do you initiate sex as much as he does, wanting it in every room of the house, even upside down and sideways? Or, are you one of those, if-he’s-my-soul-mate-then-he’ll-magically-know-and-anticipate-my-every-romantic-need-regardless-of-how-I-treat-him kind of chicks? Remember when I said ‘grow up’ earlier? Grow up!

Okay shippers, that’s another week down. I mentioned last week that I’d seen a sunrise more beautiful than any I’d ever seen? As I’ve continued work in the lagoon this week, I’ve watched the sun rise completely over the blue water. It was more beautiful than any I’ve ever seen. It has affected my very soul. This place, this lagoon, is so beautiful and so perfect that I don’t ever want to leave it. Sometimes, even wandering submariners want to dock the boat. Until next week shippers, fair winds and following seas...

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