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 Burning Dad's Secret Box (orig. 6/18/09) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Good morning shippers! How are you on this fine, fine pre-Father’s Day, Prudie Letter Day? I hope that the tides have worked in your favor all week and that your boat is running better than the lives of the folks who’ve written Prude this time! Let’s get at ‘em, shall we?

LW#1: I married a divorced man who had two kids from a previous marriage. We’ve had one child since (who is 100% my husband’s, by the way). I really love our first stepson, our real stepson and our real son. Honest, I do love them all. Prudie, I do love all three of them equally. I swear I do. My she doth protest too much, eh? Listen, rather than beat around the bush on this one, I’m just going to bring it on home, step mom. There is nothing good that can come of you pursuing this. At all. Medical history? Bullshit. Remember in high school when you sought out drama just for the sake of drama, and then made a big show of crying your eyes out when it all unfolded? And then remember allowing your friends to fawn all over you as you cried? Why not just skip that whole show this time and go watch a Hallmark movie with a box of tissues. It’s good for the soul and living vicariously through the brilliantly-acted lives on screen will temporarily clear out your need to artificially manufacture drama in your own life.

LW#2: Papa’s got a burn box he keeps in the shed, he wants me to burn it, when he’s dead. ‘Cause it’s playin’ all night, and the music’s all right! Papa’s got a burn box, and now I can’t sleep at night! (that was for those of you old enough to remember and appreciate The Who): Okay, here’s a letter with an actual concern (as opposed to the manufactured ones above and below). And I feel for you, shipper, I really do. I think this is one of those times where you have to do some deep soul searching and really figure out what’s bothering you about the request. Is it the betrayal of your siblings and step-mom? Is it that you’re afraid of what you’ll find in the box and really don’t want the responsibility of those secrets? Is it something else?

Whatever you figure out, you need to then go to your dad with that information. Level with him. Say, “Dad, I have real reservations about honoring your wish because...” Then work on a way around it. Don’t say you won’t do it. But don’t let him guilt you into it, either. Remember, you’ll be the one alive trying to deal with the fall out. Try to find a solution that you’re both happy with. If it’s that you’re afraid of the betrayal, maybe he can tell everyone that there’s a box that you are responsible for. And only you. He sounds like a crafty ol’ coot. I’ll bet he can figure a way pretty easily. Work together on this as opposed to apart.

Oh, one last thing. No matter what, if I were you, I wouldn’t look in that box. Ever. I wouldn’t even fish out the gold watch until I’d burned that shit to the ground. Some things you don’t want to know...

LW#3: My son survived cancer in high school and is now acting like a real, honest-to-goodness, college freshman, complete with the whole not talking to the parents deal (except when he needs money or food or laundry). And I’m just pretty much pissed off by the whole thing! Wow, red flag alert, red flag alert! While I can understand how you feel hurt that your son is not spending time with you (this is a normal feeling when they go off to college), I’m super-concerned about your reasoning. Let’s see if I’ve got this right: you (and his mom--nice inclusion there, but she’s not your concern) “went through hell to help him fight and survive” cancer, but, then, “He has never to any games he has free tickets to” and, “a little bit of thankfulness on his part would be appreciated” (by me).

So, what you’re saying is that your son is getting all sorts of goodies as a result of his illness and you want in on the action? No? Okay, then, maybe you’re saying that you walked through hell to help him. And now you want to present him with a bill?! Is that how love is expressed, through invites to ball games and family event attendance?

Dude, I’m going to take a lot of flak for this from others here, but you need to get your priorities in order. What’s important to you? Your son’s health, happiness and independence, and completely normal, age-appropriate college behavior? Or gratitude in the form of free tickets to a ball game simply for acting like a parent should act. Seriously?

LW#4: My mom raised me and my sis. All on her own. Through that time we celebrated Mother’s and Father’s Days with her because, well, she’d filled both of those roles. Now she’s re-married and I don’t know what to do about the new “dad”. Oh man, I just love manufactured holidays for producing this kind of crappy guilt. Thank you Hallmark, you bastards! Listen, Prudie’s dead on. This guy is not your father. Period. That doesn’t mean that you can’t acknowledge him, but, by no means should it mean that you break your tradition with your mom. At all. No! Were you seriously asking this question, even? Yes, you were? Wow.

Okay folks, that’s it for another week. The boat’s in fine shape and I’m bringing her into port for the holiday weekend. If I’m lucky, I can guilt my own daughter (at least I think she’s mine) into promising to burn some private, naughty photo evidence from my wilder, care-free days wherein I had lots of kids by women who were married to other men, as well as get her to take me to see a professional baseball game due to hell I’ve gone through raising her, and, emotionally swindle a greeting card and breakfast-in-bed out of her! I mean, after all, if she loves me, isn’t that the minimum she should do for Father’s Day?

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