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, January 28, 2010

...on Manipulative Bastards, One and All (01/28/10) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found Here

Greetings Shippers, and how the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? My apologies for the tardiness of my response, but, as previously advertised, I was otherwise engaged in secret squirrel government stuff. Shhh! Sometimes the life of a submariner is interrupted by submarine duties. Sigh. Such is the way of the world, I guess. But, regardless, I’m here now, ready to dispense a few pearls of wisdom if I can. Here’s hoping they’ll be worth your return trip to the lagoon and I’ll try my best to never be tardy again!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, either I’m a lost, vulnerable young man, sincerely trying to learn how to do better in relationships with women, or, I’m a terribly manipulative cretin, already fully quench-hardened in the furnaces and quenching pots of Hell. Regardless of which it is, my girlfriend recently left me, a huge shock to me because she seemed so in love with me, yet I imagined her to be so blissfully happy and content that she'd never dream of leaving me! It turns out, though, that, in actuality, she found me to be a terribly jealous, controlling asshole (I forbade her from having anything to do with her exes, insisted she not go anywhere that said exes might be, and I limited her social life to the point of it being non-existent, so, I guess she was right?  The jury's still out on that one, though.). Unfortunately, I have immediately gone out and gotten hot and heavy with another girl, whom I believe that I make blissfully happy.  And I think she’s already madly in love with me (I do strive to be the paragon of morality, Prudie, which is how I feel justified in expecting the same from my various girlfriends). I’m scared, though, because I don’t want the same thing to happen with this new girl that’s happened in the past, because I can now clearly see what a monster I’ve been to the previous girls. But, I already feel the same urges starting up. I’ve been reading self help books in order to try to be a better man and not fall into the same traps, but the books are not helping. And I’m too poor for counseling. What can I do, Prudie? Well dude, I’m not convinced, even for a second, that you’re sincere. You don’t once talk about how you feel about these women. You demonstrate no remorse or even understanding of the way you’ve treated women in the past (FYI, you seem to think that you own them, including their pasts, which, hate to break it to you, you don't). You only demonstrate concern for the bad results you're getting. But, that said, I’ve been counseled to treat you as if you’re sincere in your desire to get better, since, fact is, I’ll admit it, you might might actually be sincere. Fortunately for me, my advice to you is exactly the same regardless of your sincerity. For her sake, you need to immediately break off your relationship with this new woman. You are not ready to be in an intimate relationship with a woman. Any woman. You then need to seek counseling. It’s available for free at your school and from the county. Further, you need to read about manipulative behavior. You are demonstrating it in spades. You need to learn to recognize and curb it until it’s all but nonexistent. It’s not easy, but, if you’re sincere in your desire to become better, you can do it. And it’s something you need to do not only for your future relationships with women, but for the children that might come into your life later. It’s important not to perpetuate this type of behavior.  It's your moral responsibility not to.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my mom died recently, leaving me as the sole beneficiary of a $20,000 life insurance policy. She left a letter explaining that she’d "helped" my brother all through his adult life, constantly giving him money, and that she had always felt terrible about it because she believed it terribly unfair, having given so much to him and so little to me. She said in the letter that she hoped the insurance money would help make up to me and my family some of what she perceived as her unfair treatment in “helping” my brother so much. Prudie, my brother is reckless with money, lives irresponsibly, and doesn’t have a clue about living within his means. Yet his entitled attitude leads him to believe that he’s somehow owed a good life without having to work for it. As such, he’s furious about this money that my mom left for me! He yelled at me, Prudie, hollering that it’s unfair and that I owe him half of the money, regardless of our mom's wishes. What should I do? I’m going to be very straightforward with you here because I can imagine how much of an emotional shitstorm you’re having to navigate right now, having just lost your mom and then having to also deal with your brother’s greed at the same time. Your brother is all of the things you said. He has been bilking your mom his entire adult life while you’ve been responsible and worked hard to get where you are (and to where you could legitimately put that money to good use). Don’t give your brother a dime. He will only blow it (and you know that to be true) and then your mother’s investment in that portion of the money, whatever you chose to give him, would be lost forever. Further, and even more importatnly, giving him money will only set a precedence that your mother lived, and died, to regret. Don’t make the same mistake she did by enabling your brother to live another day without having to realize the value of working for what he receives.  You still have a chance to not regret coddling and enabling this asshole.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I live in a great, close-knit neighborhood. A couple of years back, a woman who I had considered a good friend spread some really vicious rumors about me. I got it worked out with the folks that she told the rumor to, but I never really got it worked out with the ex-friend because she would never face me when I asked to talk about it with her. So, sadly, I let it go and have moved on. Knowing now the kind of person she is, I’m only cordial to her when I must be (like when we’re both at a mutual friend’s house, etc.). But, if I see her on the street, etc., I don’t acknowledge her. I don’t flick her off or throw dog poo on her car, but, I don’t acknowledge her, either. Well, recently, she’s taken to waving at me when she passes by in her car, honking her horn, and even waving both hands out the window in order to get me to acknowledge her presence. Prudie, she’s crazy and I actually peed a little last time her car came careening toward me, her hands both out the window, waving frantically at me! What should I do? Listen, you are dealing with a woman who is similar to the first LW (that's assuming he’s the manipulative prick version that I mentioned and not the well-meaning-but-socially-inept-kid-who’s-trying-to-get-better-and-genuinely-regrets-his-past-actions-and-wants-to-make-amends version). There’s no question about this woman. She’s the crazy nut job version. What do you do with crazy nut jobs? You continue to ignore them. If I were you, I’d try to go walking with a friend from the neighborhood. Crazy nut jobs don’t act that way with witnesses around. Or, you might get a cell phone with video capability (or not, she just has to think it has video), and, as she drives by, don’t look at her, but hold up your phone as if you’re taping her. Or, even if you don’t have a specific friend out with you, walk at times that others are walking their dogs. There’s nothing that you can do to change this woman, short of moving, but you can change the field of engagement. And that’s most of the battle right there. Good luck with it because, sadly, I fear that you’re going to need it, and I hate that for you.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, my ex’s mom keeps writing on my FaceBook wall. She says flowery things, expresses her affection, and even engages me on my politics! I’m no longer in touch with my ex. What should I do? Are you asking because you want to bang her? You sign out with “So Over This”, but I don’t know if that means that you’re so over the mom’s FaceBook activity regarding you, or that you’re so over the girlfriend and now ready to ride the Mrs. Jones Pony Express to Happytown? I’ll assume it’s the latter because the former is so easy to fix that only a five-year-old with peanut butter in his ears couldn’t figure it out (but, in case you are five, and peanut buttery, you should unfriend the woman. I know, right?!). As for Mrs. Jones and banging her, the penis goes in the vagina...

Okay shippers, that about does it for me. I hope that you’re all having a great week! Too, I hope that you're all happy and healthy and that everything you could want or need is either already firmly ensconced in your life, or that it's on its way at warp speed. All here is okay. Not nearly as nice as last week, though! The sun has left and it's chilly and raining. :-( But, I'll live right through it. I hear that summers here in TX are quite warm! So, until next week, fair winds and following seas to ya, shippers!


  1. Good luck with infiltrating Cambodia! I mean your super-secret mission! =-)

  2. Take care Smagster! May the yellow submarine bring you back safely - say hello to Spongebob from us! :o)

  3. Awww... I was looking forward to reading your new blog! Take care, man!

  4. Hey guys! Don't lose faith in me! I'll post really soon, I promise! :-)

  5. Happy trails to you....

    Until we meet again....

  6. Wait, the penis goes in the vagina?
    Damn, I've been doing it wrong?


    Excellent advice, mon capitan!

    I especially like the practical solutions offered to LW3.

  7. Debbie, don't sing too soon! I'm back, see! :-)

    Hey Libby! Listen, I'm not 100% certain of that penis/vagina thing, but, I'm, like 70-something% sure. Sometimes you just have to go with a best guess. ;-)

  8. Ahoy, my Captain!

    HA! If best guesses were horses than you'd be Jeopardy Champ. Or something like that.

    Hmmm... secret squirrel government stuff, eh? I think I know what secret squirrel you're talkin' about... wink wink

    Btw, did you know that squirrels will climb in your mouth while you sleep to forage for nuts? It's true, look it up.

    Oh, about the letters. Oh, THEM. *eyeroll* Well, as you know, Smaggie me dear, that I had a different feeling about LW1 than you did, but we both ultimately agree that it should be ixnay on the aydieslay for a while. I just would like to say however, that if I ever needed anyone to open a can of whupass and bite the ear of any muleheaded kid that needed to hear a message loud and clear, you'd be the guy I'd nominate to deliver that message. In fact, I don't know if you heard but I told prince charming while he was over on my side of the lagoon that if he didn't shape up I was going to ship him out to you for some behavior modification of the Submariner variety. Even Mermaids have their limit on patience, dear one. ;)

    OMG! Are you making fun of me saying "I know, right?!" all the time? I find I say that all the time and "Seriously!" I know, right?!

    Mmmmm... peanut buttery...

    You sound like you could use a little R&R, diving buddy. Why don'tcha paddle on over to Mermaid's side of the lagoon for a little ol' game of Marco Polo or something?

  9. Hey there MM! Long time no hear from! Well, not looooong time, but, still, it's good to see you! As you know, even though you search for ulterior motive every time I tell you this, the crew loves to see you over here and are always quite excited. And I enjoy it, too. And yes, fine, the fact that you go topless does, in fact, have something to do with that, at least where the crew is concerned. They are boys, after all. ;-)

    As for squirrels climbing in my mouth foraging for nuts, I think they must be a bit confused, as I keep mine closer to my crotch. I wouldn't expect a mermaid to know that, but I didn't realize that squirrel anatomy was so different from human?

    As for LW#1, yes, we do disagree, but I believe that has to do more with your kind and gentle nature versus my impatience for bullshit than anything else. Either way, though, as you say, we agree on the prescription for his ills.

    And, as for R&R, yes, I could absolutely use some. I'm glad that the weekend is here. Here's hoping I can use it catch up on word! Marco!

  10. Ahoy there Captain Smag!

    Good advice. Those LWs really needed a good talking to (except the one with the brother who is the one who needs a talking to!).

    I don't know, though... maybe the LW stalked by her crazy neighbor should throw some dogshit at her? It seems like such a good idea. I wish I'd thought of it when I was in a similar situation (oh, wait! It was my officemate in grad school --so I didn't have dog poo on hand... )

    good luck with the squirrel thing --I can hear some scary mysterious music in the background as I think of it!

  11. Sound advice, as always. Hey, I love it when you show up in The Fray. It's like having a special unannounced guest star in your favorite weekly serial. Meanwhile, best wishes for smooth sailing.

  12. Hey there Smagboy!

    I love your advice, and undoubtedly, you are wiser than I, BUT.

    I kind of don't agree with you on LW3.

    Well, I agree with the part where she is dealing with a crazy person. But my take on it is that a quick wave (even with a "whatEVER" look on the face) would be better than ignoring the crazy psycho bitch. More likely, I think, to defuse the situation rather than escalate it.

    Either way, you are right, she needs luck as she deals with this weird situation.

    This is another reason I am so glad I don't live in a subdivision type neighborhood(although I KNOW they have their good points, all ya'll subdivision dwellers!).

    In any event, I hope you are not doing anything dangerous, and as usual, I think you need to quit your day job and make writing your day job---you are that good at it!

    With much esteem, Bella

  13. Greetings Kati, and happy weekend to you! :-) I'm sorry to hear about your foul officemate. Here's hoping that, in the end, the office mate stepped in some dog poo anyway. ;-)

    Thank you for the good luck. Fact is, I'm in grad school right now, too (semester just recently got underway), and it's taking a lot of my time (and mental stamina) and that contributed to my tardiness, as well. So I can definitely understand the urge to fling poo!

    Good cheer! :-)

  14. fanshawe, you are far too kind. Thank you! But, please, don't say stuff like that too often, or out loud! MessyOne already greatly enjoys making fun of my big head at every chance she gets. As a matter of fact, I think I can hear her already... Thank you again! :-)

  15. Greetings Bella! I absolutely agree with you regarding LW#3. But, too, I agree with me. :-) Actually, I sort of waffled back and forth in trying to figure out what to say regarding this letter. You're right, it would be good to diffuse the situation by half-waving back, but, in the end, I reasoned that acknowledging the nut ball in any way, even just barely, *could* indicate to her a sort of message from the LW like "hey, I'm finally over your evil lying/rumor-spreading about me." And that could invite even more personal contact, like calls, or stopping by the house, or even her just telling others in the cul de sac, "Oh, yeah, we're best buds again! She waved at me and everything." I don't know. It's a tough one, this little problem. But, please know that I understand where you're coming from! I definitely don't disagree with your suggestion!

    Kind regards and best wishes for a wonderful weekend, Bella! ;-)

  16. Hey Smag, good luck with grad school. It can be tough but some of it will be fun....

  17. Kati, that's the perfect description: tough and fun. I love learning. I love the interaction and exchange of ideas. I love that, at this level, the professors are actively engaged in each student's learning process, and that the classes are *very* interactive. But the level of work is daunting. Especially on top of a full time job. I didn't think that two classes would be that much, and, fact is, I'm sure that I'll get used to it and achieve a normal rhythm soon enough. I've just been feeling a bit overwhelmed at the start of this semester is all. But, it's a good "overwhelmed", you know? And I would definitely not trade it in. :-)

  18. wow! on top of a full time job --that's almost impossible! I'm proud of you for undertaking something so difficult.

  19. I had thought I had no thoughts but find myself today having thoughts....

    How's that for an opener! And I'm on my first sip of coffee this morning, maybe this is a sign I need more coffee and fast!

    Ah Smaggie, you gave such good advice which got me to thinking I wanted to add my two cents at this late date.

    LW1...What do guys think they will do with a complete list of past sexual behaviors from existing girlfriends? What? Has to be some comparison doesn't there? Guys are fishing for somehow information to prove they are the best ever? Some day this fellow if he does not take your advice will date a woman who gives him so much data it will blow his mind. That's the woman with a tape measure and measurements from all her fellows, and all the where and when and what position, and finishing with the too bad you weren't there we had a blast!

    LW2 Just in case this writer has joined in this blog to decide if he should share his mother's last gift to him or give some to his whining brother. DO NOT GIVE HIM ONE DIME. He's working you over just like he's worked over everyone he could for years for free money. Buy something your entire family can enjoy and tell your brother that's what your going to do, and say it with a smile. In this life we all get money, we all decide how to spend it. This guys brother sounds like the type to put a Big Gulp on a credit card charging 20% interest so over time that drink can cost him $100. When someone does not respect their own money they sure as hell will not respect yours if you are stupid enough to give it to them....they will spend it with abandon and filled with joy (joy because you were stupid enough to fall for their act).

    And my favorite...the waving neighbor! Loved your idea of how to walk with a friend, take a few photo's to post online, so everyone can see how nutty she is. There is no way I would wave to appease her. I'd turn my back and wave at a tree before I'd give her the satisfaction so it would look like she was waving at something beyond & behind me and be done with it. I can see her swerving into the sunset now, both hands in the air, hair a'flying, mad cackle and some bobbing head on the dash.

    And the Facebook guy. Dumber than a rock if he can't figure out how to block her. He could ask her if she'd like to meet him to watch the sunset on Lover's Lookout or whatever, then see if she's gone in a flash or getting her hair and nails done. Cougar? Hmmmm?

  20. Kati ~ I know, right?! I have learned in the most marvelous ways possible that there's not much our Smaggie can't do. Why ~ he's a regular Renaissance Man, this one! ;)

  21. Polo!

    By the way, thanks to gmail messing up my original account, if my post shows as written by "T," it really means "herdthinner." Thus I swear!

    Aqualad, I didn't have time to comment on last week's letters, and barely have it now, but here goes:

    LW1 - I don't believe he's sincere, either. He could end up using the self-help books to learn to be even *more* manipulative. He needs a hardcore, face-your-ugly-hard-self therapist to knock him around... or something. OR if he just can't! resist! dating!, I hope he ends up with a sweet, demure, giggly girl... who reveals her dominatrix side once it's lights out.

    I know, I know. I got nuthin' here.

    LW2: my late sister was like the brother. I have zero doubt that I'd be in LW2's situation, if Mom hadn't outlived her. But in spite of everyone's splendid advice, I am at heart a total wimp who can't tolerate confrontation and would probably end up giving her "a dime," as folks say.

    LW3: I wish I could describe it, but I can conjure up a "Look" that, combined with a particular type of salute (showing ALL fingers, OK?), that conveys "Fuck off" very well.

    Haven't needed to use it anyone (yet), though. Interestingly enough, in the civilian world, salutes instead of waves can be perceived as unfriendly / aloof / what-have-you. I don't mean a formal military salute, but a casual one as we pass in the hallway. Years ago I was criticized by a director (or sr. manager, or something) for saluting instead of the conventional "Good morning, (name of person)!" and a wave. That script that needs new writers!

    {{sigh}} I've tarried too long! Must flee!

  22. kati, thank you, but, I think that you're giving me far too much credit. Submarine maintenance isn't all *that* trying, especially with such an outstanding crew!

  23. Hey Debbie! I'm glad that your coffeelessness inspired some thoughts! :-) I would LOVE to see a woman look at LW#1, pull out a tape measure, and say, "Okay, let's have a look..." :-) I think that we're in complete agreeance on all of them, but, please know that I don't suggest actually posting/sharing any pictures of this women. My hope was that the threat would be enough. If she shares them with anyone, it should be the police. :-)

    Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  24. Yepper, MM, you and kati both. Far too much credit! Fixing the settings on your blog does not a Renaissance man make. Even if you do think that it's magical! :-P

  25. Hey herd"T"hinner. :-) Sorry to hear about your gmail issues. This site is awfully weird about wanting the gmail, isn't it?

    I'm glad that you agree with me on LW#1. I was probably too obnoxious about the whole thing, but, meh, what are submariners good for, right? :-) As for LW#2, I'm sorry to hear that you'd give in, but, I understand. For me, the issue is that mom specifically said the money was for the LW, so, it's a real shame if she does, but, I understand. We can't all be like a rock when it comes to saying "no". As for LW#3, oh, you have to take a picture of your salute and post it for us! :-) I have some ideas, but in my imagination, it's always involving the middle finger, and you specifically said it doesn't. But, I do believe you can pull it off. Now, if we can just get you to be that way if had a mooching brother trying to take your money! :-)

    Good cheer, herdthinner. :-)

  26. Well, I loathe having my picture taken (irony alert - except when PAYING to do it with celebrities at fan conventions), so I make no promises about posting pics of me "saluting." Besides, it would have to be a video or gif or something, since it's all about the total body language and look. Plus the damned thing could end up on Facebook or something. Not that I could guarantee it would work even in Honky Wavy Wacko's case. Some people are like neutronium, y'know? Dense enough to have things orbiting them.

    I suppose I didn't give myself enough credit. I've found that I tend to match tone for tone. Ask me for something nicely and sincerely, and I'm (usually) glad to oblige. "Ask" me for something in a belligerent or demanding manner, and I usually react by digging in. Late Sister had little talent for asking for things nicely. We were estranged for years before she died, so it's all moot, anyway.

    This week Prudie's chat session devolved into a debate about the first LW's query about whether to turn in a school principal for viewing porn. Most of the chatters were for turning him on; Prude was not, but her reason wasn't TOO far out. I want the debates in the Fray, not as part of the whole chat! Ah, well.