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 3, 2009

...on Poor Friends and Germs (12/03/09) <---Original Questions Can Be Found There

Hey there shippers!  How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine, chilly, winter, gettin'-ready-for-Christmas, Prudie Day?!  I hope that all's well, that you're all warm, happy, and, too, around loved ones.  As for me, I had a great Thanksgiving and am looking mightily forward to Christmas and then the New Year!  But, prior to that, we've got business to attend to, yes?  So, without further ado, let's get crackin'!

LW#1:  Dear Prudie, I live with my boyfriend in a pretty nice house.  Ah, who am I kidding?  This place is great!  I mean, we are living large, Prudie!  We worked hard in college and are now enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Our friends, well, they weren't so career ambitious.  And, too, they ignorantly chose fields that were affected by the economy.  As a result, we're rich and they're not.  But that's okay, because we really like them still!  Honest!  We're always really careful not to insult their paltry budgets, and we always suggest doing stuff with them that they can afford.  When we want to be extravagant, we always do so away from them so they don't have to feel bad.  And we only rarely share pictures and stories afterwards.

Anyway, that's not so much the problem as our housekeeper.  She sucks (matter of fact, she hasn't even gone to college--I know, right?!).  And, we want to replace her.  Well, without asking me, my boyfriend asked a couple of our hard luck friends if they wanted to be our housekeepers.  They, of course, said they wanted to!  Well, I don't like it, Prudie.  Friends and money don't mix, and the combination could be disastrous.  I want to do the right thing, and my boyfriend says it's my call, but I feel really awkward about telling our friends they can't clean our house.  What can I do?  Signed, I've Got Friends In Low Places

Well, I'll be buggered.  This is a first.  I really, really, really, want to just rip you a new asshole, you entitl... littl... fuck... bitc...  But.I.can't.  As much as I hate your superior, judgmental attitude, you obviously come by it naturally.  And, fact is, your question and concern is actually reasonable.  It's the peripheral, bullshit info that you keep dropping in that's pissing me off.  Not the question itself.  So, as for the question, you're correct.  This has the potential to end badly and you probably shouldn't do it.  I'd say that you should do as Prudie suggests.  Have your boyfriend tell your friends that he's sorry, but, he didn't realize that you'd already hired someone.  And, too, that he hadn't even asked you first and that, even though it sort of looks like a win-win, it probably wouldn't end well, and that you guys value their friendship too much for that.  Then, you entitled little bitch, buy some fucking lobster and steaks and invite them over to your place for dinner.  And don't worry, I have a feeling that they won't be your friends for much longer anyway, and then they can work for you all you want.  Friends in low places, my...fuckin...

LW#2:  Dear Prudie, Over the last several months, several folks in my office (including me) have had food stolen out of the common refrigerator.  Out of our lunch boxes even!  Sometimes entire meals?!  Well, recently, one of my co-workers caught the thief red-handed.  Not only was it a high-level executive (isn't it always, those entitled bastards/bitches), but, it was a good friend of mine.  A lady with whom I spend a great deal of time away from the office.  I don't know how to handle this, Prudie.  What should I do?  Well, you've come to the right place, chicky doodle.  It's like this:  friends don't let friends drive drunk, right?  Friends tell one another when there's spinach stuck in their front teeth, or when there's toilet paper trailing from their skirt, right?  Well, friends also say, "Marsha, what the fuck were you thinking?!  I know good and well that you only pinched that one yogurt that one time (try to seem like you really mean that part), but you know good and well that there's been someone stealing from us for months!  If someone actually thought it was you that was doing it all this time, it could lead to you getting fired!  I just hope people don't think that already.  You need have about twenty pizzas delivered and then never go near that break room again!"  And then, after that, if it was me?  I'd keep my lunch in my desk.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie, I'm not a germaphobe.  Honest.  But, I do sit in the bathroom stall at work and listen to people pee and poo and then I listen to make sure they wipe at least three times (that liberal Sheryl Crow and her one square of toilet paper plan is just crazy!).  After, and this gets tricky, because sometimes people are coming in as others are leaving, I listen to make sure they wash their nasty hands.  If they don't, I get quite worked up and often even constipated!  And Prudie, it's H1NI season!  And the holidays are approaching!  Which means open food, buffet style, in the office!  Snort!  Prudie, how do I get these Neanderthals to wash they're freaking hands after touching their privates and/or their snotty noses before they kill us all?!  (Submariner's note:  you guys know how I love letters that start with, "My boyfriend's the bestest, most wonderful guy in the whole world, but..."  Well, this is now my new favorite, "I'm not a germaphobe, but...")  Okay, Ms. I'm-not-a-Germaphobe, I have a solution for you.  Mind your own business.  There's nothing you can do.  And, what you're currently doing is giving yourself an ulcer.  Fact is, you've ingested more poo in your life than you can possibly imagine.  And amazingly, you've yet to expire.  Your brain isn't working on all eight four cylinders, but at least you're still with us.  Look, you practice good hygiene, forgo the buffet if it's going to cause you emotional stress, and life will be good.  I promise.  If you need some perspective on how silly you're being, think about how many people have been seriously ill in your office in the last year.  How many times have you been seriously ill (other than stress-related illnesses, headaches, etc., which, I assure you is common among germaphobe busybodies, so don't worry about those)?  See, you're going to be fine.  Now, go have a macaroon, you nut.

LW#4:  My brother is a schizophrenic with a violent past.  He has abused me and others, even trying to kill my brother once.  One night when I was wearing just a football jersey and my panties, we picked up a hitchhiker wearing a red and green sweater and a hockey mask.  We didn't notice 'til he got in, but he'd been burned badly on his face.  It gave me the creeps.  Well, we brought this hitchhiker home and he and my brother started drinking beer while I took an unusually lengthy and soapy and slow shower.  I then went to sleep, full moon's light streaming in my window so you could see my erect nipples through the bed sheet.  In the morning, as I stumbled into the living room, hair and makeup perfect and perky, I noticed the hitchhiker gone, and my brother, on the couch, muttering about "Zuul".  Now it's almost ten years later, to the night, and, though I've never given it much thought until now, I'm getting worried that my brother may have killed that hitchhiker, Prudie.  What should I do?  (mad props to tribble22 for the inspiration behind that letter summary)  Well, first off, you've got to work on your fiction.  What you have here has been done many times before, and far better.  If we're to assume that you're letter is real, what other indication do you have that your brother killed this guy other than a gut feeling?  Besides bad 70s cop shows and CSI: Miami, no one solves crimes on hunches and pert tits.  Since it sounds like you really don't have anything other than that, I'd let this rest.  But, (and I'm serious about this), I'd also suggest that you go to a counselor/psychiatrist and get checked out.  I'm not saying that you're making this up or that you're mentally ill, but, mental illness does run in families, and, just to make sure that you aren't stressing yourself right into delusions, it might be a good idea to work this through with a professional rather than the Internet Lady and smarmy posters like me.  Know what I mean?  By the way, don't look behind you now, but...

Anyway, shippers, that's about it.  The lagoon's been really peaceful and calm and the Holidays and New Year draw nearer and nearer.  I do love this time of year!  I have lots of boat maintenance to do, so I'm out.  Fair winds and following seas to you all.  And to all a good night!


  1. You and Tribble ought to share the Pullet Surprise for best response with your collaboration (intentional or not) on #4. The trophy's a chicken with a shocked look on its face.

  2. Well done, underwater guy!

    My oldest friend had a strict rule about never being roommates with friends, 'ere the friendship become no more. She said that she'd seen too many friends become bitter enemies after sharing quarters. Just a different flavor of hiring friends, I suppose. As for the stuff that wanted to make you tear miscellaneous new body orifices for her, I'm compelled to tread more softly.

    LW3 - my best friend is a germophobe about food, but judging by how her apartment is typically kept, probably nothing else. If she witnesses a piece of food being touched but not eaten, you can bet it'll be tossed at first chance. Me, I act like the 5-Second Rule is real, even though it's easily disproven by microbiologists and those guys on Mythbusters. Somehow I'm not dead yet.

    At my work they have those skin-dessicating Purell things all over the place. I'm one of those "3 seconds of water" types, whereas most of the other chicks at my work scrub themselves vigorously with soap and purell and maybe steel wool. As for home, well, I live alone. Ain't no germs but mine!

    LW4 - good golly, miss molly! I was thinking the same thing when I read DP. And wondered which voice told her to start questioning... The Tale of the Haunted Hitchhiker!

  3. Hey Fox. My response was inspired by tribble. I hope I went far enough away (other than theme) so that it wasn't downright thievery. But yes, props to the tribble-meister!

  4. Hey herdthinner! I love to see you here. :-)

    Just so you know, I'm compelled to treat favored orifices softly, too. It's just what seems to come across as a bit of superior-ness in her letter that rubbed me the wrong way. But, such is life. And I really did try to be nice. Honest! :-)

    Also, I'm with you on the five second rule! And I treat it as real, too. Except mine's more like the twenty second rule. If it doesn't look completely ruined (and that's after trying to wash it, whatever I can to bring it back to "okay for consumption), I'll eat it every time. And I don't even remember the last time I was sick. It's literally been years. And before that time? I honestly don't know if I've been super-sick more than once in my life? Coming back from Egypt once I had the pukes for about six hours, but I slept through most of it. Otherwise? Fit as a fiddle. ;-)

  5. Sir Smag,
    You are eloquent as usual. I've followed from lurking over at the fray, wanted to tell you my dad was a pipefitter at Puget Sound Navel Shipyard for years--I visited many subs as a kid. I always look forward to your posts.

  6. Hey Deb! Welcome! I was stationed at Bangor Submarine Base (just north of Silverdale) from 92-97 on the Michigan and Ohio. And we did a year stint at PSNS during that time, too. Perhaps out paths crossed (or maybe mine and your father's)?

    Beautiful country up there. And great coffee, too! I really do miss it. Glad to see you here. Please keep coming by!

  7. Whenever I think of myself as having a totally AWEsome immune system, my brain pulls out Exhibits A, B, C, D... Typically I'll get one cold a year and nothing else, but if I get the flu... Hokey smokes, Bullwinkle! Being hit by a truck would be less miserable. But considering the condition I was born with, I do pretty damn well.

    I say that I'm compelled to tread softly re: LW1, because I grew up in what I'm told was an upper middle class family, and on those rare occasions when I made friends, in retrospect I realize that most (all?) were rather poor. Mom wasn't and isn't a $$$ snob, thank God; all she cared about was that I had ANY friends. As an adult the trend has mostly continued. I think that I just don't relate well to people who are, as my sister likes to say, "high end."

    But I'm walking on eggshells here because I'm not sure if even writing that makes me come across as condescending or "superior." (Are people reading instead: "Oh, goodness, some of my best friends are of meager means! I'm just so nonjudgmental and yet still cognizant of financial differences!" ??)

    But I wouldn't hire friends for anything. That'd be too weird. I won't even clean my own house for free, so I sure as hell won't pay anyone - friend or not - to do it!

  8. Good morning herdthinner. I reacted the way I did to our LW because she said her friends weren't very career ambitious (and one doesn't make that judgment of true friends unless it's something they readily admit themselves--usually it's more like "Joe is an artist" or "Jill is a musician" or "teacher" which has much less to do with ambition and much more to do with love). The fact that she'd say that they had a lack of career ambition is super judgy to me, regardless of how financially true it is. It's just not something to say about friends. Too, she signs "Friends in Low Places." Clever? Sure. Judgy and smarmy? Yes. So, I took the piss out of her a bit. And finally, she gave us way too much status and financial information and not nearly enough "human" information. She talked about the friends being poor, but then acted like the cleaning money would be "extra" money. She doesn't get it. Which indicates to me that she's never had to struggle. And I don't have much respect for that kind of an attitude coupled with those circumstances. You? I've never sensed anything from you like that *at all*! For what that's worth. ;-)

  9. Many thanks! I'll consider myself as walking on asphalt and not eggshells, then. True, I shoulda reread the letter.

    Funny thing - I don't think of myself as ambitious, either. As far as I'm concerned, I lucked out and dropped into a niche in the IT world, a world that's mostly been rewarding. See, my degree is in Film and TV - NOT Computer Science! Whenever I had job interviews (interviewers *always* asked about the degree), I'd tell them that I got a film degree in California so I could move to Massachusetts and work in software.

    The only thing I'll add about the rich/poor dichotomy is that, yeah, it is a challenge to keep in mind what people's $$$ limits are. To me it ain't no thang to afford concerts, plays, museums and things like that, that usually aren't terribly cheap, but a lot of my friends can't afford them. The friends who can, either aren't interested or are too busy. I prefer doing most things by myself, but not dining out or attending live performances.

    Of course this probably just means that I need more friends in general, never mind what their finances are!

  10. You were right on in your response to Ms. I'm Not a Germophobe. It is so pointless to be a germophobe, because there is so much in your environment that you can't control, and for every infraction you see, there are hundreds more that you don't. Case in point: I used to work at a produce distribution company. Around Christmas time, our big thing was fruit baskets, and we'd have to hire dozens of temps to help make them because our production quota was through the roof. Well, as office manager, it was my job to buy general office supplies, and during fruit basket season, because there were so many more people in the warehouse, I'd have to run to the store numerous times to get more toilet paper because we kept running out. Never once did I have to get more soap, though. Think about that the next time someone gives you a fruit basket. But then again, I've never heard of anyone dying after receiving one.

  11. Ahoy, my Captain! Excellent take on all the letters ~ but then I WOULD agree ~ wouldn't I?

    I do, however, think people are making way too much of how these LW's "sign their letters". Just like a few weeks ago with "Undying Love". I doubt very highly that people are signing their letters with anything other than their name, which Prudie has to then edit out and replace with her lame attempts at humor. What say you?

    So ~ you're off on some maintenance of your vessel, eh? Let your Mermaid know if you need a hand with that, will ya? Always happy to oblige my bestest diving buddy... ;)

  12. herdthinner, if you have friends who are genuinely interested, but can't afford it, drop 'em a ticket every once in awhile, but, do it in exchange for something they can do for you. I sprung for concert tickets awhile back for a buddy and he did some work on one of my guitars. Win-win! :-) Plus, that's all sorts of good hangin' out time with friends. :-)

  13. Oh, Amy! Why did you go there?! :-) Nah, like I've said before, I don't have a problem with germs. I never get sick. And, if I do, I figure it's just a bug I haven't yet encountered, but, once I do encounter it, if I ever come across it again (or any of its cousins), I'm set. It won't even make a dent.

  14. MM, I only make something of the way people sign their letters when it suits me to do so. Although, I'll be honest, I'd never imagined Prudie (or her staff) came up with the names! If that's true, I feel a little bit like ass regarding LW#1. Not much. But a little. ;-)

    And, as for help maintaining things? You're always welcome aboard, Diving Buddy! ;-)

  15. Some people are soil for germs and some are brick walls. I suppose the rest wander around aimlessly between those extremes. Maybe I'm a fruitbowl!

    I wonder if all advice columnists "sign" the letters. They all have such "clever" salutations, after all, whether they be for Miss Manners, Dear Abby or Dear Prudence. Maybe even for Penthouse magazine. But I digress.

    Germalicious Ho

  16. herdthinner, I never imagined it was the advice columnists signing the letters (mainly because, I know that if I were to send one in, knowing that it's the standard format, I'd try to come up with a pithy signature myself), but, it certainly does make sense the column writer or his/her staff would have to do so in cases of letters where a nom de plume wasn't used (or, I suppose, in cases where the columnist didn't like the one provided). So, I suppose that I shouldn't hold the signature against a LW. I *suppose*. Sigh. :-)

  17. Please. Open the ballast tanks all the way, sir! Include the signoffs if they're deserving.

    I agree about the Sheryl Crow silliness with the single sheet of paper. I suppose that would be okay for men (yes? no?), but not most chicks and definitely not me! That's... all that I'll say about that.

    Just now remembering that there was a former coworker who became infamous at potlucks for always bringing raw beef and a spongy bread for wrapping it in. He's from Ethiopia, and said that this is a common dish. He buys his beef right from a local slaughterhouse (I suppose that vegetarian literature would be used to start the fire for his barbecue - oh, wait, he doesn't cook the meat!).

    So... germaphobes would spontaneously combust near that, I suppose. At least SOME meat was getting cooked!

  18. 2 comments on letter #3.

    1. My dick is cleaner than the doorknob of a public restroom. My dick is probably the cleanest thing in any given public restroom, except possibly for the dick of the guy in the stall next to me.

    2. I'm glad I now have a legit reason for saying I would never let Sheryl Crow touch my junk without coming off sounding like a homo.

  19. Hey Pogue! Welcome! It's great to see you here, man. :-)

    1. Agreed. The dick is no more inherently dirty than any part of the body. And certainly cleaner than several!

    2. I'm glad that you won't have her because that's less competition for me! Sheryl Crow can touch my junk anytime! ;-)

  20. Hi Captain Smag, I'm late, got stuck in the dolldrums....
    Letters were not very exciting this week, except the one about the possibly murdered hitchiker --I thought I heard some suitably scary background music as I was reading it!

    Good advice, as usual...

  21. Greeting"s Fellow Traveler's!
    Glad to see everyone survived Thanksgiving!

    Herdthinner...Thanks for the good laugh on your signing "Germalicious Ho" funny!

    Smaggie, how's tricks? I found both you and Pogue Mahone's discussion of how clean your dicks are to be, well, very informative...and may I simply say as a's expected to be well groomed at all times. One never knows when it's time to come out and play, so your news is good news.

    Happy Trails to you...