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 10, 2009

...on Santa Claus and Accepting Gifts (12/10/09) <--- Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hot damn! Good morning shippers! What a fine, fine Prudie Day it is today, ain’t it?! If you’re in college, you’re likely studying like crazy for finals, or putting the finishing touches on your term papers. If you’re younger, you’re probably already on the glide path into Christmas break--as I know your teachers are! For submariners, this time of year isn’t much different than any, work-wise. But, it sure is festive! And happy! And there’s nothing like a festive, happy submariner to dispense a heapin’ helpin’ o’ snark. So, with that in mind, let’s get crackin’, shall we? Woohoo!

LW#1: My child’s father and I split up when I was pregnant with my child. For my child’s sake, I’ve been letting my child see my child’s father. My child believes in Santa. Or, at least my child did believe in Santa until my child’s father told my child, last year, that Santa doesn’t exist. My child’s father said that Santa is a lie that parents tell their kids and that the parents are the ones who actually buy the presents for the children. Now my child doubts the existence of Santa. With this doubt, what is there left for my child to live for now, Prudie? Holy fucking Merry Christmas to you, too, you crazy nut job! I mean, holy shit, woman! Listen, I was with you, I even overlooked all of the terribly impersonal, distancing words that you used to describe your ex-fuck buddy. And I even understood your need to use them (although I do think it’s mighty petty--you did sleep with him, after all (unless the guy’s got really, really good aim), so why make him into a non-entity? Just accept that you made a mistake, but that this wonderful life came about out of it. Animosity does no one any good, but, anyway, I digress...). Like I said, even after that, I was with you. But when you said “And what’s there to live for when you don’t believe in all the things that make a moment special?”, well, I about blew chunks, Sister. I mean, come the fuck on! You’re kidding, right? Yes, your ex-sperm donor sucks. Yes, he’s truly an asshole with a capital hole for telling an eight-year-old (or, worse, a seven-year-old at the time) that there’s no such thing as Santa. That was an asshole move of the highest order. And he should be beaten with a rubber hose for it. But you don’t have to go there! You don’t have to stoop to his level. Especially not with your child. Please don’t pass on your animosity and disappointment to your child--your ex-sword partner is doing that enough for the both of you, and it takes years for kids to get over that and figure out the truth--that we all have issues, none of us are perfect and that that’s just a fact of life. Save your kiddo the hassle and just keep believing in Santa. If you do, he will, too!

LW#2: I work in a small office with a great group of people. Well, except that they’re inconsiderate asses (whoops, I can’t believe that slipped out). See, I’m the youngest in my office. By far. And I’m living paycheck to paycheck right now. Well, Christmas has come ‘round and the office has a tradition of buying the boss a present--with a set contribution from each of us of $75! Plus, we’ve planned a Christmas dinner at a really swanky restaurant--one that I absolutely cannot afford! I don’t want to be looked down upon for not participating, Prudie, but I can’t afford to do so. What can I do? Boy howdy, the holidays do bring out the craziness, don’t they? Listen, you are under NO obligation to participate at this level of craziness. You’re not required to participate at all! But, thing is, if everyone in your office gets along as well as you say, I don’t see why you can’t simply pull someone aside, someone that you trust, and say, “Mrs. Smith, I hate that I have to ask this, but, is there any way that I can contribute, say, $10 to the gift fund? I’m really not anywhere near in the same financial situation as most of the rest of you here and though I really would love to pay more, my circumstances just don’t allow for it right now. Further, the dinner is one that I can’t possibly afford, either. How can I gracefully back out?” I have a feeling that, if you’re at all correct about the relationships in this office, it’ll be no problem, and, further, that things will actually get solved with the magic of Christmas. If not, you’re still under no obligation to participate, and you shouldn’t if you can’t. Period. Even if they don’t understand, you can’t go into debt for the sake of your coworkers’ shallow approval. Hang in there!

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I have a problem. My husband doesn’t accept gifts very well. At all. He’s one of those people who researches for four weeks before buying a freakin’ toaster! And he’s also the type of guy who’s never happy with his purchases, or the purchases of others. Well, I enjoy giving gifts. It means a lot to me. But he always returns my gifts, or gives them to Good Will. I’ve tried several approaches, including Wish Lists, but he still hates the gifts that I get. What should I do? Hon, there’s nothing you can do short of giving him a kiss on the lips, a gift card, and well wishes as he saunters out into the post-Christmas crowd looking for something he can stomach. Enjoy spending time picking out just the right gifts for, and giving them to, others. Your husband is a Scrooge regarding gifts. As long are your relationship is shipshape otherwise, consider this an anomaly and let it go. Some people are just that way. Maybe someone gave him coal as a kid and he’s never gotten over it? Whatever the reason, after you’ve exhausted talking with him (you have), all gift-giving options you that can think of (you have), and even fretted over it (you have), it’s time to give up and not let him rent any more space in your head regarding this issue. Enjoy the holidays and enjoy the fact that you have one less present to worry about. A gift card is the only way to go with your hubby’s as he's made perfectly clear.

LW#4: My mom and dad were a nun and a priest who each left the church (prior to meeting each other). They married and became psychologists and did a great job of raising our little family. My dad died when I was young, but my mom and my brother are still around. However, when I came out to them as gay, they basically cut me off. Over the years, we’ve begun to repair the relationship, but they still won’t even mention my sexuality around me, or talk about anything regarding my relationships, etc. My mom laments our lack of closeness, but, fact is, I feel like my friends, who accept me for who I am, are much more enjoyable to be around--especially over the holidays, which are supposed to be times of joy! I don’t want to hurt my mom, who’s elderly, but, she and my brother can’t get past their prejudices and I just can’t stand to be around them. What should I do? Fuck ‘em. And I don’t mean “fuck” ‘em, as in, you now, literally. I just mean, FUCK THEM. Seriously. Look, I know that seems like a glib answer, but, you’re not the one with a problem. You’re not the one that needs fixing. And you certainly don’t need to be preached to (via exclusion or avoidance) about your life “choice” (as if). I’m a firm believer that idiots should not be tolerated. That doesn’t mean that you should be mean or engage them in debate just for the sake of doing it. It just means that you should not waste your time with them. And frankly, that’s what you’re doing. I’m all for doing as Prudie says and telling them, in no uncertain terms, that if they can’t accept you, that’s fine, but that you WILL NOT be coming around over the holidays. Stress that you’d actually like to enjoy your holidays. And, one last point, if you don’t mind? How your mom (you didn’t mention your dad’s views, and you may not ever have learned them prior to his death) could have been a practicing psychologist (let’s hope she wasn’t), and be so prejudiced is beyond me. I shudder to think of how many young people's lives she could have fucked up as they came to her for help in sorting out real concerns in their lives that involved subjects of which she didn't approve. Good luck!

Well shippers, that’s it! I love this time of year. Did you know that sometimes, if you’re terribly lucky, it’ll actually snow sideways during the holidays?! You can get some hot cocoa or tea and snuggle in by the fire and just enjoy the wonder that is the winter. And I hope you do! ‘Til next time, fair winds, following seas and always remember to keep your dive to surface ration at one!


  1. Whoa there, Captain! Hold on just a dadgum minute. Who evacuated their San Tank waste in your corner of the Lagoon this week? Oh, right, never mind...

    What are all the "terribly distancing words" she uses to describe her ex? Fuck buddy? Sperm-donor? Asshole? Ex sword-partner? My goodness, did she really call him all those things?

    No. She didn't. There's only one tart-tongued tyrant called him these things. And it wasn't her. What she called him is her "child's father" and "his father". Which is pretty appropriate, considering he is... her child's father. Not fuck buddy. Not sperm-donor. Not... you get the picture.

    Now shape up or ship out before I turn you over my knee (or the part of my tail that bends so it looks like I have knees ~ what-EVER!!) and give you the thrashing you seem to be just begging for.


    your Mermaid

  2. Oh, MM, to be certain, I'd love for you to punish me! But, in this case, it would be unwarranted. In divining this woman's attitude toward her ex, I coupled the statement "my child's father" with "And what’s there to live for when you don’t believe in all the things that make a moment special?" to conclude that this woman has some anger issues toward the fuck-buddy-cum-sperm-donor, asshole, ex-sword partner. Yes, I called him *those* things. She, on the other hand has anger issues that are obvious to the most casual observer. How do you think her son thinks she feels about his dad after listening to her? *That's* what I was getting at.

    Being a mermaid, you are too gentle and kind to see the anger in this woman's heart (and a lot of it may be justified!), but projecting around her son is something I reckon she needs to get a hold of if she hasn't. Let's hope she does. For her son's sake. :-)

  3. My reply will begin with the following, aimed not at you, but at Internet Explorer, for deciding to crash halfway through my crafting the first reply:


    Thank you for attention to that matter.
    Now attempting to remember what I'd originally written:

    I suppose it makes sense that this week's letters are about the holidays. Fucked-up holidays, of course, but what's there to live for when you don't experience all the things that make a fucked-up holiday special?

    I've decided to revive the rolled-up newspaper. Here's who gets them:

    LW1 - both parents. The boy gets to use it on both. And then hand it to Santa for some more swatting.

    LW2 - the entire office, plus the boss who's done nothing to dissuade the annual Money Booth game.

    coworkers: "Give us your rent money!"
    LW2: "Please! I can afford no nonessentials! All I have for comfort is this 2003 People Magazine, ironically enough, the first 'Johnny Depp, Sexiest Man' one! See?"

    >SWAT< "NO!! nnnnnnNO!!"

    Husband: A subscription to Consumer Reports? {{sigh...}} Does Goodwill take-
    Wife: NO!! nnnnnnnNO!!

    LW4: Not only do Mom and Brother get them, but Mom's patients get a crack at her, since we know they're more fucked up than before they went to her.

    And another thing - do they refuse to sing or listen to Deck the Halls? For that song is proof of the legitimacy of LW! You can't have the apparel without the gay!

  4. Oh my, herdthinner, excellent stuff! :-) I like the newspaper swatting. Please keep doing that. :-) Sorry to hear about your IE issues. It happens to the best of us. Good for the vocabulary, though, eh? ;-)

  5. Excellent, as per usual Smag.

    The only thing I'm curious about is LW#3. Let me preface the entire thing by saying this: I think you're right on with the advice, no one needs to go into debt for co-workers approval. And, let's face it, a gift that costs $300 for the boss? Can we get a side of ridiculous, please.

    But the way she writes, it sounds like she's been at the office for long enough to realize that these are the traditions (ie, people have been talking about it for a while/she's been there through a previous holiday season).

    The thing I want to know is: if she knew about these 'occasions', why didn't she plan ahead and start saving earlier? I am also the youngest one (by FAR) in a small office (think less than 10 people) and don't have a big income. AT ALL.

    That being said, I still manage to squirrel away a few dollars every paycheck for a rainy day. Not that a swanky dinner with people I consider casual acquaintances (at best) would qualify as a rainy day for me, but you get my drift. If she knew about it beforehand, why wait until the moment of execution to ask for an appeal?

  6. Well, vicatella, while I agree with you entirely, she says she's living paycheck-to-paycheck. Perhaps she has school loans? Or other costs that allow for no discretionary spending. If that's the case, even if she could have saved $75, I would never advise her to spend it on her boss. That whole concept, actually, is just nuts if you ask me. So, while, sure, she should have seen it coming, I'm not entirely convinced that she didn't. :-) Her question is still valid, yes? Now, as for asking about it earlier, though? You're 100% correct, if she knew it was coming, she certainly should have.

  7. Thanks, Aquaman! I'll keep different thicknesses available. Newsweek / Time/ et al for light swat, and maybe a monster mag like Cosmopolitan for potential concussions. I never buy it usually, but I may make an exception for this, and could learn that secret way to drive my man WILD in bed every time!

    When it comes to taking part in office social stuff, I prefer going to my dentist, who will at least administer novocaine before pulling my teeth.

    My Bosses (plural - I'm at a place where there's probably way too much middle management) think that I'm lying when I insist that I don't like office parties - AT ALL - because I'm otherwise Ms. Teamplayer and all that. And I especially hate Yankee Swaps!

    On the plus side, there's no coercion, other than casual "ah, come on, it'll be fun" type of urging. We're actually free to not participate! Yay!

  8. Hmmmm, I gotta go with the Mermaid - looks to be a little projection of the Submariner's part. Not seeing the "anger" on the mother's part, more of a "I'm so totally into going for the Hallmark/Charlie Brown/unicorn fantasy type Christmas that will never actually live up to expectations!"

    Totally agree on the other three.

    I also apparently like occasional animosity more than most - but it works for me. BTW, I seriously loved the story of your submarine on your blog; it gave me a little insight as to some of what my son may be experiencing on his ship (I am enough of a civilian to know it's not a "boat" or a sub) although you seem to be much less potty-mouthed than his friends (whose conversations seem to consist of "Shit! (sorry, ma'am), That some-term-I'm-not-familiar-with (sorry, ma'am) is fucking (sorry, ma'am)....and so on and so forth.

  9. Santa's sled is brought down by the brave Afghan farmer AK47 in November is no report by the scared brown trouser western press.

  10. My goodness, Smag. I never thought my being kind and gentle would be used as a slight against my ability to see things that are "obvious to the most casual observer", and yet, you've managed to. :(

    ...oh wait... I get it...

    Darn you, Captain! You're just trying to rile your Mermaid up for spanking mode, aren't you? Well played, diving buddy, well played. :)

  11. Hi Smag! It's good to visit your lagoon this fine morning.

    LW #1. I saw LW's hostility to her ex, although not as strongly as you saw. I think she's trying too hard to hold onto her son's innocence and she desperately wants to blame her ex for starting the kid down the road to its loss. She doesn't seem to realize that he will grow up and eventually learn many things she wishes he didn't have to know. I just don't see it as wrecking his life.

    FWIW, I never believed in Santa ~ I always knew who really loved me enough to pick out the best presents they could afford. M&D never put down people who did believe and we always had Santa gift wrap and cards in the house. All of my nieces and nephews were raised the same way and none of us suffered any trauma from it. Christmas has always been magical and beautiful and I still love it even though the celebration now is for 2 instead of 30+. I also don't remember any school conversations about Santa.

    LW #2. I was in LW's shoes many (many, many) years ago. I was a contract employee at a huge corporation and my wages bordered on pitiful. I loved the job and did well, though, and was soon moved to a new position with no increase in $$. Since HR handled my contract my new supervisor didn't know the details but I made quite a bit less than everyone else in the department.

    Several weeks after I started the new job everyone in the department went out for lunch at a very nice restaurant. There was no way I could afford much but I really wanted to be part of the gang and I'm reasonbly intelligent so I knew there was a way to cope. My solution? I had a bowl of soup and a couple of the rolls from the communal basket. When asked why I didn't get an entree I just said "this is all I need for lunch." No one questioned me any further at the time.

    The result? Later that day my supervisor called me in to talk about a project I was working on but instead talked about what happened at lunch. When she found out my wages she immediately called HR and I was given a $4 per hour raise retroactive to when I started the new job. Believe me ~ I made no complaints!

    So there are good possibilities for the LW if she just handles the situation diplomatically.

    Most places I've worked we didn't give a gift to the boss but I never quibbled about kicking in $5-$10 toward a bottle of something good for a good boss if several others were contributing too. I was never hit up for $75 though ~ that's just ridiculous!

    LW #3. I'm really fortunate to have a husband who at least acts as if he loves everything I give him. If he were like LW's husband I'd probably stop giving him anything. It would be silly to give him something I knew he'd hate ~ why make both of us unhappy while wasting money?

    LW #4. This letter sounds fake to me. It seems almost like the fake LW # from last week ~ too many stereotypical details. I'm sure there really are people out there with this attitude but I just can't wrap my head around it.

    Anyway, there's my $.02. Hope the weather is better in your lagoon than it is here!

  12. I continue to be amazed at the letter's Prudie responds to...

    Santa? When your child's shit detector is screaming for the truth, may I suggest promoting TRUST between you should trump any thoughts of lying about any situation. Period. So there's no Santa, no big deal, trusting the people you love to care for you with the truth has long term lasting effects. Can't you see it in their eyes when nothing else but the truth is of the utmost importance?

    Don't get me started on the holiday kiss my bosses butt routine...give him some homemade cookies via Pillsbury and be done with it.

    Oh, and my favorite letter....The faux-Nun with a gay son who is clueless regarding human functioning for a "shrink". Geez, poor guy. What relationship does he have worth anything if he can't speak about his life? There is no way I would spend another minute playing nice with family who can't open their hearts to my reality, my life, my family, my friend's. Mourn their loss over cocktails with the ones who love you gay or straight.

    It's 2010 people! Get a clue! Let Freedom Ring! We get to be who we are now!

    And the husband with the Gift Neuroses. Instead of wracking your brain buying for him other than those vitamins you know he loves (good idea) I'd buy myself a few presents and put his name on them, then when he opened them they could go into my private goodwill I'd feel such good will towards him then that we both could be happy. And if for some reason that didn't add to the cheery or festive occasion, I'd simply stop buying him gifts and avoid the internal conflict.

    My cute, wonderful hubby is not a shopper at all....for gifts. We can't be what we are not. He knows how to buy dirt bike's, tent's and lots of wonderful things online and he knows how to buy beautiful roses & cards at the grocery store due to needing to walk past to get to the Beer Cooler. Does it break my heart, no, he's so good at what really matters. Year's ago when I thought it mattered, I knew he was at a standstill when for my birthday I received, a bag of rubber bands (I had been looking for some) and a bag of tulip bulbs (very sweet)all wrapped up in a brown paper bag. My brother-in-law gave me...wait for it...a Farmer's Almanac. Seems the non-gifting skill is genetic as I really don't plant by the moon's phases, nor do I have many farming skills. Learn to live with what truly, fidelity, honesty, and respect are worth so much more than...let's say...a new bag of rubber bands even if they are wrapped up with a shiny bow!

    Happy Holiday's wherever the tide takes you!

  13. Greetings KAndre, and welcome! :-) It's wise to go with Mermaid on these things as she's usually correct, but, I like to give her a hard time now and again to see her eyes turn colors. It's an incredible wonder and well worth the effort!

    As for your son and his experiences, I'm glad to give some insight. We live a very different life under the water than do surface sailors (or "targets", as we like to affectionately call them), but, a lot of the life is very similar. As for your son's friends, believe it or not, I actually try to clean up my language for my blog. ;-)

    Please come back often! Invite your friends! :-)

  14. moohamed, I'd heard that report and acknowledge the prowess of the brave Afghans. However, just between you and me and the folks who frequent these waters, that was a decoy Santa, constructed over a T2000 cybernetic fighting droid. You base are belong to us now!

  15. Dagnabit, MM, you caught me! How am I supposed to manipulate you when even my subtlest mind games hold you for all of ten seconds?

    I know, how about some fresh catfish? ;-)

  16. Hey Beckaroo! It's great to see you here! :-) It's strange to me that you don't remember any school conversations about Santa? I don't mean that in a mean or judgmental way, it's just very different than how I grew up. Of course, I believed in Santa until the 4th or 5th grade, though, so, I'm a late bloomer and it's probably me who has the different memories!

    I like your job story! Definitely shows what diplomacy and good work (and the right supervisor) can get you. :-) But good on ya for that!

    And yeah, I'm starting to buy into the fake LW#4 camp a little bit, too.

    Good cheer and better weather for you!

  17. Hey Debbie! How are you?! I love your story about the hubby and BIL!

    I don't think that LW#1's shit detector was going off, so I don't think I can agree with you on that one, but, that's okay, right? We can still be friends? Seems I'm in the minority on it anyway, and may already be in for a beating from Mermaid.

    I used to be a terrible gift giver. I remember one year when things were particularly tight (just after the Navy, full time school, etc.), I bought my wife a Nintendo Game Cube for Christmas. It was a sincere gift, and one that I legitimately meant for her as she'd been lamenting the fact that we didn't do stuff as a family. She'll deny to this day that it was for her, saying, instead that may as well have had my name engraved on it, but, in fact, we all did end up playing it together for hours. Diddy Kong Racing was a family favorite. :-)

    But, over the years, practice, I guess, I learned a trick that has really upped my game and won me great accolades in the gift-giving department. I pay attention all year! I don't wait until December to start hinting or asking, I just pay attention all year and keep a mental list. I try to notice when favorite things break or get worn out, etc. It's helped a lot. :-)

    Happy holidays to you, too! :-P

  18. Ahoi there, Captain Smag!
    I was really late last week but I'm doing better this week, I hope!

    The letter about a nun and a priest (former) who wont accept their son being gay is just too much of a coincidence after the letter about the brother possibly killing the hitchiker last week. I'm still digesting that one!

    As for that nasty ex-nun turned shrink, that is if she really exists, how gross is her behavior! You're right, the LW should just break all ties unless she recants (religious pun intended.)

    How many patients this shrinker might have messed up?! Not to mention while she was a nun, how many little school kids did she pull by the ear for miles (well probably yards but I'm told it felt like miles) when she got pissed off at them.... and what sort of ears did her hapless victims end up with?

    You know there was a time in European history when if a nun or a priest or particularly both broke their vows and ran away with each other, they would be hunted down and executed. Not that I approve of such thing but that ex-nun mother should have kept this in mind when she decided to take up the mantle of bigotry....and against her own son even!

  19. PS: I'm pretty jealous of Mermaid's eyes changing color to reflect her moods --how cool is that!

  20. Hey Kati! It's great to see you here! I do hope that the ex-nun, gay son letter is a fake. If so, I'll give credit to Prudie's staff for getting a little better than last week's fictional hitchhiking story, but the hope is only because, if it's not fake, what a shame.

    As for MM's eyes, I guess it's part of the magic of being a mermaid? Or is it that our mermaid is special? I'll guess only she can answer that question.

    I owe you an e-mail, Kati, and I sincerely apologize for my tardiness.

  21. I've just added something between LW#2 and LW#3. Please have a look, review, critique with no holds barred, and maybe it'll become a weekly portion of the blog? Looking forward to hearing from you guys...

    P.S. I'm thinking of adding a cigar. And maybe a parrot... ;-)

  22. Smaggy! Wonderful post, as ever (though I must confess myself to be in Mermaid's camp on LW1). One question, though: in the video installment where was the Smaggy we've all come to know and love?? You were so...rational and helpful but without the breathtaking insults and snark. Please consider bringing your writing voice to your video work??? Plleeeaaassseee??? (Yes, I'm whining, and it's a sorry sight....)

    Don't make me beg for the parrot! ;)

  23. Hey Shazta! Good morning, and thank you! I will admit that it took me a little while to dial in the Submariner character writing-wise (even though he really is with me most of the time), and so I imagine it'll take me awhile with the videos, but, even as I posted that one last night, I realized it wasn't quite "there". I'll keep working on it! :-) I'll get to work on the parrot pronto! ;-)

  24. Oh, Santa...I really don't remember ever believing, although I know I left cookies and grass pulled up and put in a box for the reindeer. It just didn't seem like anyone was going to fit down that chimney, let alone make all those stops...but, it seemed to amuse my parents, and, hey, a gift from "Santa" was another gift, after all! My husband told me he believed until he was TEN, as he was the oldest of seven, and his mom had to juggle a lot of improbable "facts" to keep the younger ones on board. So, I wouldn't be quite so hard on the dad for this one. Her little snugglebug will have to face it pretty soon, anyway.
    Keep well, Sir Smag!

  25. I'm the oldest of three kids at 46. Every Christmas without fail, each of us gets a box with a gift in it marked "From Santa". Even though we AREN'T speaking to each other currently. THAT is a box that we've all gotten from birth. So there.

    We all knew the score from an early age. None of use were Santa-clingers or big whining sissies. We weren't "scarred" by it. It just was. We figured it out on our own, no big disclosure necessary and it didn't take ONE SCRAP of fun out of the day.

    There was no drama, no hysterics, no yapping and bellowing about "betrayal". It was just a way for each kid to get a gift that was not on anyone's list, that was utterly sacred and not to be shared.

  26. Hey Deb! I love that you pulled up grass for the reindeer. I left carrots, but grass is a great idea, and probably closer to what they get in the wild, other than snow. ;-) I probably believed as long, if not longer, than your husband. I had no desire not to, and even argued with kids at school who tried to convince me otherwise. And I was really big for my age so, they usually backed down. Little fuckers. ;-) It wasn't painful when I finally acquiesced. As for the dad, though, Deb, I'm only hard on him because he spoiled it before it was time. The kid obviously still wants to believe, yet dad told him the deal (almost a year ago?!). So, my apologies, but I stand by my characterization. You just don't do that to a kid. What's the point? Let him figure it out when he's good and ready.

    Messy, I think that your situation is the ideal way. You figured it out on your own. No big disclosure, no lost fun, you just knew. That's the way it should be, in my opinion. No asshat adults pushing it on you before you're ready, and, when you are, you are. I also love the one sacred present tradition. Very cool. :-)

  27. I'd forgotten about the video idea! Good for a start, but I'm with Shazta: make it something that'd be one long bleeeeeep on broadcast TV, and we've got a deal! But I suppose the original letter/video didn't call for it. Prudie should've made the hitchhiker one into a vid. They could've had crappy graphics of the brother stabbing the guy and stashing the body as the monotone voiceover rambles on. YES, I'M MORBID, DAMMIT! I saw "Sweeney Todd" at age 9 and joined the dark side on the spot!

    Now I've forgotten what I was writing about. Ah, yeah! Please keep working on the videos. I'm indifferent to a parrot, but would love to hear "dive! dive!" type of sound effects at the end. Or hell, even sounds a sub would actually make (yes, I read your backstory blog and recall that reality ain't the movies).

  28. Wow! I just saw your video response. It's now time for the Oscars, or at least you could replace that horrid Dr (?) Phil!

    A just loves the hat (I'm trying to sound folksy here but all my accents are French!)

    It's interesting that your voice sounds just like you. Ooops, let me rephrase: it sounds just like your writing, or perhaps your voice came through your writing so your actual voice sounds familiar...Hmm, I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, but I hope you do....

  29. Hey there herdthinner and Kati! Thank you both for the feedback. herdthinner, I'll definitely go for a bit more "bleeeeeep" next time. ;-) But, you know, it has to fit with the letter, and, like you said, this one didn't earn it too bad anyway. ;-)

    Thank you, Kati. The hat will definitely be a constant. As for my voice sounding like my writing, I'm glad. :-) It took me awhile to develop that writing voice (it runs, in certain ways, away from my natural tendencies). So, I'll keep working on the video voice.

    Thank you both! :-)

  30. Smag, I became very aware of "voice" as a translator because that's what I have to translate (among other things!). That is, I have to capture that author's voice but in a different language so in a different yet same voice...

    It's very strange but when I finally get to talk to one of my authors on the phone or meet him/her in person it's as if I recognize their spoken voice... The first time it happened I was astonished.

    The oddest thing that happened (spooky background music, please!)was my meeting with the French Medieval historian Georges Duby after I translated one of his books. I have to say Duby's style is amazing, it has a varied rythm and sounds you could put into music.... It was a challenging translation but I learned a lot about style...

    So I was in Marseille, staying with my mother who had to be there to undergo chemotherapy. I got in touch with Duby and found out he was in Aix-en-Provence (he used to teach there but he moved to Paris to the Sorbonne --of course, but Aix was still his home). So we arranged to meet at a cafe in Aix...

    My mother lectured me on wearing proper clothes, and when I got off the bus and started to walk towards the avenue with all the cafes, I actually saw myself falling and messing my clothes. So I started to walk very carefully.

    When I got to the designated cafe, there was Duby standing up with his jacket on his arm. The first thing he said after introductions was "you know I fell down on my way here and messed up my clothes".... woooooo wooooo weird...

  31. Moohamed, what the hell are you doing in Afghanistan? That's not a Pashtun name, so why don't you get the hell out along with all those foreigners who have fanned and are fanning the flames of civil war for the last 36 years (36 years! --oh me god, those poor people!).

    And how did the Taliban manage to win the the war against Russia, and then against various other factions and take power? There are 2 reasons this happened:

    1. When the British left the Middle East, they split as much of it as they could to create tiny countries so as to keep semi-contol of the oil. This is how Saudi Arabia came into being. In Saudi Arabia, there is a Muslim sect/denomination, the Wahabites, which had been looked upon as a loony fringe by the rest of Islamic denominations. But the Saudis became very wealthy thanks to not having to share the oil, and then because they control Mecca which is important to all Muslims, they started to acquire a ridiculous level of influence. So the Talibans espouse Whahabatism (sp?) and all those ridiculous/horrible strictures that exists in Saudi Arabia (our ally who claimes not to know what its generous left hand is doing...)

    2. During the Afghani war against the Soviet, the US used a tried and failed policy which can be summarized as: "the enemies of our enemies are our friends" Ouch ouch ouch! Reagan even called the Taliban "good, god fearing people" and the CIA trained them and funded their Madrassas...

    So Moohamed, on your way out could you please advise the Americans that if they want to succeed where Alexander the Great, Ganghis Khan, India on several occasion, the Brits and then the Russians failed, they should at least pay the Afghani soldiers more than the Talibans are paying them (I don't know if this is true, but I read the Talibans are paying anyone who joins them $300 per month, an enormous sum in the second poorest country in the world!). It might have helped to spread the wealth among the people instead of letting the city elites (always in conflict with the rural people) put a dizzying nb of American tax payers' millions (or perhaps billions?) in their pockets....

    Oh well...

  32. Yes, Kati, i is also read that British pay Afghan men $4 per day for wear their silly uniform, while Taliban is pay $10 per day. (In Kazahkstan they is call this "false economies"). So this is how the clever Afghan mans is making $14 per day you see !
    Osama is can pay $100 per day is no too expensive for him but he is mean as the Jew and we is no even have the X-Box Guitar Hero Grand Theft Auto, is so bored here in the cave listen to the Yemeni bullshitters "I is sleep with Britney Speers, Neeru Bajwa bla bla bla"

  33. I understand this is a free forum and all, but since when did we allow morons on?

    Listen, "Moo," I don't know how you wandered onto this site, but I'm letting you know now that your stupid, offensive "can I haz cheeseburger" dialogue is not funny and not amusing.

    On another note, Kati, thank you for the concise and factual review of history - it's so rare to find others who actually get it and can see the long view of it instead of the usual reactionary nonsense to the immediate.

  34. Why do people say that Santa wasn't real. Of course he was real! His name was St. Nicholas, a bishop who secretly gave gifts and money to the poor. Now, I don't know who made up the reindeer, the elves, and the fact that he lives up in the North Pole, but I'm certainly going to tell my kid the truth behind Santa Claus, and I am gonna tell him that he's REAL!

  35. I love this time of the year, too! But come February I'm pretty well over the season altogether. By March, which almost always goes out like a lion (as do April and often May) here in space, I am purt near murderous. What shall I do?

  36. Nagatuki, please don't worry of Moohamed. Think of him as a friend of Borat's, but likely with less hair and significantly more wit (he's just hiding it right now, trying to lull all of us "infidels" into a false sense of security). Plus, his presence allows Kati to teach us, which, along with you, I find to be a wonderful treat! :-)

  37. Hey Nachtmusik! It's wonderful to see you! I found your comment over on by other submarine blog (I apologize for missing it for this long), and I responded. I've also added a new post over there, in case you're interested. If nothing else, it's probably so boring it'll help with insomnia. :-)

  38. Spacey, you can talk big all you want, but you're as sweet as a ripe honey dew melon and I don't believe you have it in you to be purt near murderous. Unless you're claiming that your ravishing green-skinned, orange clad beauty slays potential suitors? ;-)

  39. I thought it was always the same "weather" in space? Except for those cosmic ray storms. But then, those have been known to give people Fantastic superpowers, so I say, soak 'em up!

    And another Thank You to Kati for the concise history lesson.

  40. Nagatokey - you is foreign peoples so take no offense when i correct your english but you is say "can i has the cheeseburger, please" - Moohammed is respect the pronoun, you see ! Is no charge to you, sir / madam, you is most welcome.

  41. Spacey,

    To fully answer you poll question here (at the request of mon Capitan) I've been a much better girl than in recent years this year, because (braces for the onslaught) of a deeper walk in my Christian life. I was awarded the opportunity to go to my church denomination's women's missionary outreach society's national convention, all expenses paid, in return for giving feedback, and helping to organize my district's (there are 40 of them nation-wide) next convention (next June). Doing this put me in a lot of different places than my normal life would have done in recent years, and I re-discovered the joy of giving of my time and efforts to help others and to motivate others to help others around the world. Of course, finding out that this organization has given (over it's 67 year history) over $80 million for mission work (which includes large percentages of that for humanitarian aid around the globe) and those funds are primarily driven by people donating their loose change, helped with that personal inspiration. But I have to say, when you donate somewhere between 4-50 hours a week (depending on convention week, or other activities vs just a regular week) to working with others to improve quality of life around the globe, it makes it alot harder to be the stone cold bitch I've been in the past, hence the "nicer than I've been in recent years" self-assessment.

  42. Smag, it's true, I have mellowed since my years as an alien assassin. So much so that I can't wear that orange bikini anymore. Imagine me in an orange pair of yogapants with an orange t-shirt and cardigan. And instead of a laser gun, a laptop and maybe a Snickers. These past two months have been particularly rough on my ninjaing, what with the parties and the weather and the sneezy colds.

    Libster, nothing wrong with a closer walk with thee, et al. No jumping on from this corner. Until you start saying you have the only way and the rest of us iz condemned to inferno.

  43. Yeah, but you can see why I didn't want to post it elsewhere... ;-)
    I dunno, somehow the yogapants, et al, seems a bit hotter to me than the pic. =-)

  44. Smag et al, you think your imaginary Moohamed friend is funny, just take a look at those folks! Be sure to watch till you see them wenches dancing in the aisles...

    Oh shoot! I'm not sure the link is going to work. Oh well, it's by mblumenthal and it's called "The Christian United for Israel Tour".

  45. Nagatuki and Herdthinner and Smags, you're most welcome, but I couldn't help myself anyway.... I sometimes harangue the old pine trees in my back yard but I'm told I shouldn't worry as long as they don't harangue me back! (oops?)

  46. Libby, you'll get no harassment from me, either! I think it's wonderful and hope that it continues to fulfill you. I will say that I misread your Fray entry and thought you said that you'd been naughtier this year than in the past. And I was really looking forward to *that* story. But, I'm glad for this one, too. :-)

  47. Spacey, I'm with Libby, I think you're hawt no matter what!

  48. Kati, that video is absolutely terrifying. Fortunately, they don't have direct control of any serious weaponry.

    As for the trees talking back, I have a few friends who practice Reiki who believe the three and plants and all living things do talk back. All the time! :-)

  49. Smag, this is too little and too late, and I'm not doing a SHADDAP this week (they've taken this week's letters down as far as I can see), I do have something to add.

    I actually know a family composed of an ex-nun, a former seminarian and their three sons, all well into adulthood. One of the kids lives far away in a mountain state with his wife and visits them seldom. He's the smart/sane one, but he still has issues. The second is just a drunk and a nasty character all around - he takes after his mother (long story saved for a non-forum exchange with booze. I'm no drunk, but I'll need persuading to get into that one.).

    The third and youngest kid lives in the City by the Bay and recently married a girl described only as "gorgeous" by the family. This kid is gay as the proverbial bush full of chickadees. It's howlingly obvious to everyone that's ever met him. I talked to him for about 15 minutes total and I knew. Everyone in the room knew, and no one had ever met him before.

    Why did he marry? Well, his parents are prone to saying things like "No kid of MINE is gay!" and "We don't GET divorces in this family!" The last statement can be catalogued under "famous last words".

    If the youngest kid ever came out, that would be the end of any hope he'd have to see his family again. Ever. That includes the brothers. These are seriously messed up people and it's BECAUSE of where the parents are coming from.

  50. Smag my naughty years (past though they are) are bad enough that I wouldn't even post them here. That'd have to be the subject of personal emails, if ever shared. LOL

  51. Messy, thank you for the perspective. Or, rather, the validation for what I suspected to be true. Hypocrisy? Irony? Selfishness? Not sure which is it. I mean, if one quits the nunnery because one can't abide by those rules, what makes one think that... Ah, hell, who am I kidding? My feelings on the subject are well known. It's amazing to me the hypocrisy, though. :-(

  52. MLibby, I can't encourage that as then I'd feel obligated to share mine! And holy smokes, that might open up a gate to the 4th level of Hell, so, let's not do that! :-)

  53. But see, by the naughty years being in the past, we can (judiciously) pull out the useful stories (like the CO2 running out) and share them in a non-self-incriminating sort of way for everyone's enjoyment. =-D

  54. Also, I enjoyed the video response to the video response! =-D

  55. Late late late in responding as usual. First off, I wanted to express my admiration to Kati on her history-- thank you for sharing that! I actually read DH Lawrence's "7 Pillars of Wisdom," so I have some idea of the mess the Brits enacted there. Very enlightening!

    Aunt Messy: Sorry there won't really be a SHADDUP! But I also knew a guy who was COMPLETELY gay & got married. In fact, I was the maid of honor. I told the bride repeatedly, but she really wanted to believe that she had found the 1 straight man in the world who, besides talking like a gay man, was built & dressed like a gay man, excelled at figure skating, did the decorations for their wedding and designed the bouquets. They got divorced after re 5 years of marriage, though not out-right b/c he was gay. In fact, it took him another 2-3 years to come out! When he came out to me, I told him if he had stayed married to my friend, married someone else or womanized in the worst way possible his whole life, I would still have known he was gay. Thankfully, he has been happily living with his partner & the son from his marriage for the past 2 years and is now extrememly active in Columbus' (rather major) gay community.

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