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, May 27, 2010

...on Teachers Boinking Students (05/27/2010) <--- Original Prudie Letter Can Be Found There

Hey-hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine-fine Prudie Day? Here, the birds are chirping, the sky is blue, and there’s not an unemployment letter writer in sight (thank King Neptune, Oh Merciful Ruler of the Raging Main)! It’s going to be a wonderful day! My only complaint (and it’s not really a complaint, truthfully), is, you know how when you plan to wear a garment more than once, like, say, a pair of pants, right? But then you get them all wet and have to forego the second wearing? Yeah, that sucks. But, hell, if that’s the worst thing going on, life is pretty darned good, yes? And so it is with me! As such, let’s get crackin’ on the letters, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, my mother is a selfish, manipulative, irrational meanie pants! She’s nearly 60, yet just adopted a high-needs child, “Cindy”, on whom my mother has had to call the police due to Cindy’s destructive behavior. That she would adopt Cindy from foster care may seem altruistic, but my mother also keeps other foster children, as many as four high-needs children at a time, and, Prudie, my mom has physical disabilities due to chronic pain. She takes in these kids for the income, not for the children. The situation is just sickening. But that’s not even why I’m writing! My mom is taking a three-week European vacation and has insisted that my sister and I take care of Cindy while she’s gone (the other children will be farmed out to other foster care while my mother is gone). My sister refuses to care for Cindy, not wanting to enable my mother’s bad decision making. My husband, understandably, doesn’t want Cindy in our house with our kids. Yet, my heart breaks for Cindy, who truly is a victim in all of this. What can I do? Signed, Torn Between Duty, Loyalty and Compassion

Dear Torn. There are two ways to look at this. The first way is to ask yourself what you would do if this woman was not your mother, but rather, say, your shitty next door neighbor. Would you call the authorities? Would you tell her to pack sand, even though “Cindy” would be in the same situation? My point is that doing what’s best for Cindy should have nothing to do with your relationship with your mother. If you think Cindy’s in a bad situation that’s only getting worse, you owe it to her to help her, not your mom. And by helping Cindy, I mean contact the authorities if you don’t believe your mom is providing proper care. The second way to look at it, if things aren’t authority-bad, is that you can, if you so choose, reconcile the whole thing by taking care of Cindy over at your mom’s house for the short time that your mom can’t make other arrangements for her care. Surely your husband can take care of your and his kids for, what, a week or so? If not, well, that’s a whole other letter to Prudie. Point is, you’ve got some tough choices to make, but, they’re certainly not unmanageable. If you do decide to help, though, I’d tell your mom “never again!” And I’d mean it. Good luck!

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’m a female grad student who teaches undergrads. I have strong feelings for one of my former students. There’s no possibility that he’ll ever be a student of mine again, and, as such, there are no rules preventing us from “being together”. And while nothing has happened so far, and we haven’t even talked about our feelings, I don’t want to let go of a chance to be with someone for whom I really think I could care deeply. My only concern is how this might look, my dating a former student. What should I do? Signed, Pulled by the Inevitableness of It All

Dear Inevitably (Already) Banging This Dude. Yeah, nothing’s happened and you two haven’t talked about it like I’m built like Michael Phelps, have earned three Ph.D.s, and own a private jet. But, whatever. Point is this: you aren’t going to listen to anyone who tells you to stay away from this guy, so why even ask? But, that aside, my advice is simple: You don’t have to pursue this guy. I know, right? It’s actually that simple. There’s nothing that says you have to go after him except your throbbing nether regions. Amazing, isn’t it, how simple that is? If you say to yourself, “I don’t want to eat that cookie”, then you don’t eat it, right? Or you do. Your choice. Your responsibility. Your consequences. What, you think there’s some greater and more irresistible cosmic force pulling you two together? There’s not. It’s called lust, and it’s well documented. You two were no more fated to a destiny together than Bret Michaels is to one of his many ‘Rock of Love’ shelale milkers. Sure, plenty of fun could be had, but you can find that same fun in all sorts of places. Ultimately, it’s your choice, not Prudie’s, or anyone else’s. But, like I said, you’re already boinking this guy, anyway, so, what’s the point of asking?

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer. I’ve had surgery, followed by chemo and radiation, and I’ll be taking medication for the next two years. The problem is my prognosis. I read that life expectancy for someone with my condition is only about five years. Prudie, I’m 42 with a husband and young kids and I can’t help but feel horrified. All the time. Like my death is just looming. I often can’t help but break down crying. I want to fight this, Prudie, but I need to improve my emotional state. What can I do? Signed, Perhaps Dying, But Not Dead Yet

Greetings Not Dead. Listen, I’m not going to sugar coat this. Your situation sucks big donkey balls, no doubt. And other than if you were the donkey who owned said balls, that’s about as cruddy as it gets. But, I have to say that I’m pretty concerned about something you’ve said. You said that you “read that the life expectancy for someone with my diagnosis”... That’s a huge red flag to me. Listen, I know the Internet is a wonderful thing, full of magic and fairy dust, but it is not a doctor. At all. And neither are you (far as I know). In order to empower yourself, you need to talk to a real live doctor about your specific prognosis. Yours. You need that doctor to examine you, look at your charts, look at your condition, with your specific set of circumstances, and then give you an honest opinion on your life expectancy. Then ask what you can do to improve that time (if it’s not good). Then, talk to another doctor! Information is power, yes, but it has to be correct information, and, please forgive me, but your reading up on life expectancy on your own is like throwing a dart. Sure, you might be aiming at the correct target. But, too, you might be shooting at the wrong board all together. Empower yourself with hard facts from experts. Make a list of very specific questions, get your charts and files and sit down with a doctor and get your questions answered. All of them. And if you’re the least bit intimidated by doctors, take someone with you who is not and who will advocate for you. You can do this! Good luck!

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I’m the only healthy male working in a department of eight people. We have one of those 5-gallon water jug thingies. I’m the only one in the office who can change out the jugs because everyone else is just too damned weak and puny. That would be okay, I guess, except this one bitch who keeps writing me e-mails, asking me to change out the jug when it gets empty! Damn, Prudie, what happened to Women’s Lib? Why does it have to be me? I bring my water from home! Signed, Bitter Water Boy

Dear Bitter. Damn man, you got it rough, don’t’cha? I mean, whew, just reading your letter made me feel for you, Brother. Listen, it’s simple: if you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. I mean, wow, that was difficult, huh? Think you’re gonna be fired for not changing out the water jug? How did they do it before you and your manly biceps showed up? But listen, on the other hand, why not just change out the damned jug? I don’t suggest that from ignorance. I’m the mover of water in my department. We have twenty people and some of them really are healthy enough to do it. So why don’t they? Hell, I don’t know. Lazy, I guess? You can actually watch people show up with their cup, notice the empty container and walk away?! Yet, I have a choice. I can spend the less than sixty seconds it takes to do it and forget about it ‘til next time, when, you guessed it, it’ll take me most of a whole other minute or less to do it again, or, I can get all worked up, pissed off, bitter and angry about it. I chose to just change out the water jug. However, I will admit that if anyone wrote me an e-mail, expecting me to do it, I might get a little bent up about it. I mean, how hard is it to get up, come over to my office, flirt with me a little, show me your tits, and then ask me to change out the big, heavy-wevy water bottle?! The nerve of some people!

Well shippers, that’s about it, I guess! What a wondrous week it’s been! I hope that the coming weekend treats you all wonderfully, with beautiful weather, happy times spent doing whatever it is you treasure most, and tranquility. Until next time, fair winds and following seas to you, shippers!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...on Paroled Sex Offender Fathers (05/20/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Greetings Shippers! And ahoy to you all! How are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? It’s Anniversary Day here at the Lagoon, Shippers! Woo-hoo! Exactly one year ago this week, I started publishing this column (it was in The Fray at the time). And it’s been a great ride! I sincerely appreciate you all for reading each week, and for commenting (in the comment section, below). I think we’ve made a wonderful and fun community together and I sincerely appreciate and enjoy it. As promised, I have written a separate, anniversary-only column made up entirely of reader questions. It’s here: But that’s not the purpose of this post. This post is for today’s Prudie letters! And so, to that end, let’s get crackin’!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I’m a wildly confused little girl who hasn’t yet figured out that I’m in charge of my own life and responsible for the lives of my children. But I’m trying to get there. Honest I am! Well, pretty much, anyway. See, my current husband, who I sort of like, I guess, maybe, isn’t my son’s biological father. My son’s bio father is a convicted sex offender, just getting out of jail. The bio father wants to see our son, but I’m a little nervous about that. Too, my husband wants to adopt our son, but I’m nervous about that, too, as our son may grow to resent me for “making that choice” for him, because, you know, adoption would somehow magically mean that the bio father is no longer in our son’s life. Can you help me figure out what to do, because, frankly, I just don’t know? Signed, Confused in Seattle

Dear Confused, you are a twit. First of all, your husband’s adoption of your son has nothing to do with the bio father seeing the boy. Those are two separate issues. If you don’t want the bio father to see the boy, you can obviously affect that (or attempt to affect it) without adoption, just as adoption won’t preclude bio dad from being allowed to see the boy if the courts allow for it. So that whole discussion is irrelevant. The part about allowing the bio dad to see the son is what’s at issue here and your mommy gene is broken if you can’t figure it out. Either the man is/might be a legitimate danger to your son (e.g. he was convicted of actual child molestation/rape), or, he’s not (which could be the case, regardless of his “sex offender” conviction, because plenty of convicted sex offenders on the registry are guilty of nothing more than being 19 and having sex with 17 year old, or downloading adult material that may or may not have included models below the age of 18--no, I’m not talking pre-pubescent child porn here, obviously. Yet they’re all bundled into the same category of “convicted sex offender”.). So, it’s simple. If this man is/might be a danger, you have to do fucking everything in your power to prevent the boy from seeing him. If he’s not a danger and you just don’t like him, well, sorry, Sister, you have to allow the courts decide the “how” and the “if”. How the fuck hard is that? It has nothing to do with your current husband, who, I know, is just oh-so-fucking-great. It has to do with your job as a mother and this man’s rights as a father. The sooner you recognize those facts, the better.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’ve been unemployed for the last two years. In that time, I’ve sent out several thousand résumés, attended several hundred interviews and even bought ad space on the city’s taxi cabs proclaiming my availability. Yet, no job offer. I’ve never been unemployed before and it’s starting to piss me off. Especially when people ask me why I’ve been unemployed for so long! A recruiter recently asked me that exact question and I know good-and-well that I didn’t answer very professionally. What should I do? Signed, Jobless in Seattle

Dear Jobless, So, um, why have you been unemployed these past two years? And before you get all huffity with me, just answer the fucking question! Because, fact is, I know for an absolute fact that you could have found a job, just not one that you wanted or one that would work for you. So, actually try to answer this: why have you been unemployed? Is it because you were looking for a job in your field? That’s a reasonable explanation (and a hell of a lot better than getting all twisted up). Is it that you were looking for a job in a certain pay range? That’s a reasonable explanation, as well. But, “I couldn’t find any jobs at all”? That’s bull shit. The Army is hiring. Right now. And they’re giving tons of waivers for age. Today. Right this minute even! Same with several fast food chains. Hell, my seventeen-year-old daughter has been working for the last nine months at a fast food restaurant and has made shift manager in that time. So, don’t act like you couldn’t get a fucking job. There are shitty jobs galore out there. Quit getting your back up and recognize that you’ve placed certain very reasonable limitations on the jobs you’re looking for, and report that fact to those who asked. There’s no shame in saying that the (insert your area of expertise here) industry has lost 20% of its jobs in the last two years and it’s been tough to even get someone to return a call. Listen, I’m sorry to be so tough on you, but you need it. I know the job market sucks right now, but your anger is misplaced, and it’s going to cost you. Figure out the honest answer to the question and use it!

LW#3: Dear Prudie, my sister-in-law is graduating from a very lah-dee-dah private K-12 school. It’s the same one that my husband and I attended, and the same one that our parents attended. We also have several family members on faculty there. My problem is that my mother-in-law is angry with the school because my sister-in-law is sharing salutatorian honors with another student. Plus, there are co-valedictorians. The MIL sees this as a slight to the SIL, believing that the co-valedictorian and co-salutatorian are unworthy of their respective honors. One for not taking advanced classes like SIL did, and the other for attending an out-of-school internship for a semester. The MIL is filing an official complaint with the school and my husband and I are mortified. We want to send our daughter to the school soon and are afraid our MIL’s rudeness might reflect badly on us and our daughter’s application. What should we do? Can we confront my MIL (my husband’s mom)? Signed, Worried in Seattle

Dear Worried, Oh my fucking god, you didn’t just write in with this fucking question, did you? Seriously? Listen up, and hear me good, you vacuous, entitled bitch. Break the cycle of lunacy! Get the fuck out! Take your husband and child and run far, far away! Get a job across the country (the Army is hiring, did I mention that?). Jesus Christ, you seriously just asked that question? Look, dipshit, you have no control over your MIL and her “official” complaints (what’s that, like, on paper with a watermark or something? Wax seal with family crest?). At all. Got that? If that school punished you for your MIL’s actions, is it really the type of fucked up, petty, entitled, talking-down-its-nose, uppity, backwards, fuctarded school you want for your precious little bundle of priceless princess joy? Seriously? If so, I fear for the future of the world. I really do (well, the future of your daughter’s world, anyway). I even puked in my mouth a little as I read your letter. Listen, I know that you won’t take my advice because, a) you don’t want to lose that inheritance, and, b) you’re too addicted to the status of that school to dare fucking rock the boat now, but I pray that your daughter will heed my advice. Maybe there’s some saving her.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, my boyfriend is going out of town for a conference. While there, he’s going to meet up with a female college buddy. He reports that she’ll sleep on a cot or the couch, but that due to her financial situation, there’s no way she can get her own room. He’s really looking forward to the visit, having not seen his old friend in years, but I won’t have it, Prudie! I’m not running a fucking charity up in here and there’s no way in hell that my man is going to be sleeping in the same room as that whore. What can I do? Signed, Not Yet Boyfriend-less in Seattle

Dear Boyfriend-less, you are a stupid idiot. Do you trust him? Yes? Then what’s the problem. No? Then break the fuck up with him already. It’s really that simple, you horrific bitch. Oh my god! Further, do you really want a boyfriend who’d let his friend sleep on a fucking couch while he was all in the comfy bed? Is chivalry that fucking dead? Just so you know, you’ve already lost your boyfriend. I’m only giving you this advice for next time in case you want to actually keep one instead of causing them to go running like you’ve already done here. Or, you can keep acting like a lunatic and maybe you’ll attract someone who’ll put up with that shit. That’ll be very fulfilling for you, I’m sure. Your choice, though.

Well, shippers, that’s about it! So, as we embark on this next year, I’d like to wish each of you fair winds and following seas. Please continue to call me out, keep me sharp and kick my ass when needed (right there in the comments section, below). And, don’t forget to check out the special Anniversary Actual Mail from Actual Readers Edition right here: Good cheer, all!


Greetings All! And happy anniversary! Woo-hoo! This special anniversary edition is written for you guys, by you guys, and in appreciation of you guys! I’ve put the letters in here, in no particular order (please don’t take anything by the ordering!) and have only done minor editing, removing any details that I thought might allow for too-easy identification of the writer, etc. In some cases, if that information couldn’t be edited out without completely changing the point of the letter, I left it in, because, well, we’re all adults here! :-)

Anyway, I’m going to issue one more disclaimer, then it’s on to the letters! I want everyone here to feel free to comment on these and enjoy them, but, remember that these letters are from us! Regular readers and commenters. So, though I don’t want you to edit or hold your comments, I would like to encourage you to play nice! ;-) And, while I’ll try to keep down the snark a bit in my responses for the same reasons, I hope that I’ll maintain enough to keep you entertained. If I’ve gone too light, or too hard, call me out! I can take it. ;-)

That said, thank you all for a really enjoyable year! Now, let’s get a’crackin’!

Dear Smag:

I have a neighbor who is really just a hillbilly. I mean REALLY. The family reminds me of a cross between the Waltons and Rosanne's family. They have some weird quirks, like not looking you in the eye and piling crap in their front lawn and having bonfires in their front lawn. Thank God we live in the front part of the neighborhood so I don't have to drive by this guy's house! (And I know and kind of wince at myself because of how snobby that sounds.) And they are all mostly nice, if a little quirky. They are also not so rich. The "man of the house" is the sort of not so successful son of a woman who still lives in the house with this family.

So anyway. The guy who lives there (said man of the house) does things like cut lawns, etc. for a living. And this summer, my husband and I decided to hire him to take care of our lawn because he gives a good price and does a good job for other neighbors.

So the problem is...he does my lawn without his shirt on. Ewww. I just can't stand it, and neither can my 12 year old daughter. There is nothing really wrong with this guy (although he is definitely too hairy for my taste....much too hairy), but I REALLY wish he would wear even an undershirt.

So what do I do? I told my daughter we had to suck it up, let him do the lawn this year, and then just....somehow get someone else to do it next year? It's a long story why we are having it done rather than my husband or son doing it....just trust me we have a good reason.

What to do, Smagster? Is there a "nice" way to ask a guy to keep his shirt on?

Signed, Grossed Out

Dear Grossed Out,

Okay, I’m really sorry about the shirt thing. I’ll start wearing one from now on, okay? And I’m not that hairy, geez! I mean, you think I’m hairy, you should see my grandma! Badum-ching! I keed, I keed! Listen, I sense something else at work here, and I want you to ponder what it might be (he seems too comfortable out there on your lawn? he’s affecting the property values? you’re afraid he’s one step away from sauntering over and peeing in the bushes?). We hire people for the work they can do, not their fashion sense, right (unless we’re hiring a fashion designer, of course)? And, being as he’s outside, all hairy and sweaty, and you and your daughter are inside, all appropriately-haired and air-conditioned, I’d say that, if he does a good job for a reasonable price, simply don’t look at him when he’s out there. Problem solved. Now, if he does a subpar job, takes too long, doesn’t complete the work, or his prices aren’t competitive, that’s another story. But, in the end, I understand the desire for professionalism, too. It’s a weighted value. If you want more professionalism (e.g. a uniform, or, at the very least, a shirt), you may have to pay for it. And if you come to that decision, that’s okay! There are lawn services that pride themselves on their professionalism, but they’re proud on their bill, too. As for a nice way to ask Mr. Hairy to keep on his shirt...other than just asking him to do so, which seems reasonable on the surface, I’d say there’s not much else to say. The problem comes when he asks you why. What’s your answer? What’s your true answer? That’s the $6 million question. And unfortunately, it’s one that I can’t answer for you. Good luck!

Dear Captain Smag:

I like to entertain but I live in fairly cramped quarters. I do have a dining room table but it is loaded with papers and other junk and has to be positioned against the wall in the dining room niche, and share the space with a desk and a treadmill which both are piled up with boxes and papers that had to be sorted 3 years ago, plus a few other odds and ends.

When my friends, who are all on low cholesterol diets, come to enjoy my world-famous meals and desserts, they have to be served buffet style from the kitchen counter and then bring their plates to the living room. I’m careful to spray the couch and armchairs with plenty of air freshener to hide the doggy odor (they do live on the couch most of the time) and, to be safe, the air itself (I think that this sort of air freshener has been banned in the EU because of potential toxicity, but nothing’s too good for my guests!).

I would like to make up for the informality of these gatherings by at least doing something proper in the bathroom. So here’s my question: when I put in a new roll of toilet paper, should the lose end face inward or outward? Even though outward is more convenient, I wonder if inward might be more sophisticated in spite of the contortions it requires for the user to get hold of it?

Signed: Concerned Hostess

Greetings Concerned Hostess,

I am so glad that you’ve come to me with this question as I can answer it more definitively than it’s ever before been answered in print. Like you, for years I was unsure of the proper etiquette regarding toilet paper placement. Because of this, I frequently placed the roll on the holder in random fashion. Sometimes over, sometimes under. Had I known then what I know now, it would never have faced in any other direction other than...over the top! Here’s why: exactly as you point out, allowing the roll to face away from the user, under, against the wall or cabinet, causes having to reach under to get the end. This could lead to, gasp, contamination of the wall or cabinet. Even at microscopic levels, this is problematic. And what if it’s not at microscopic levels! Who needs that?! So, always, always, always, face it out, over the top. There is really no other reasonable choice. Sophisticated or not.

P.S. I have a feeling that your dinner parties, the whole of the experience, is absolutely exceptional and that the food, conversation and camaraderie (or, “gemütlich”, as the Germans would say) are all wonderful beyond compare, even if the TP faces in.

Dear Submariner,

I don't know how I fall into these messes where, after the fact, I have many questions, but, it happens more often than not, as I am a playful person. I was so glad to be able to join in on a blog a few months ago that I gave no thought to blog protocol. I've been chatting away, adding in whatever ramblings that come to mind, and bada-bing, it now occurs to me maybe I have not been following whatever rules there may be. So tell me, are there rules to chatting / commenting / blogging on someone else's blog page, and, if so, how do I make amends for my ramblings?

All Wrapped Up in My Own Wonderful Self

Greetings All Wrapped Up,

I’m aware of no blog etiquette other than whatever is dictated by the specific blog community where you are commenting! Some are very proper and any comments outside the accepted norm are instantly deleted. Some are filled with spambots and advertisements to the point I don’t know if any actual commenters read them! So it just depends. My only real experience is here on “The Fly”, and all of the writers here seem to not only welcome, but encourage participation and involvement. So, if I were to only use us as a model, I’d say that you’re doing it correctly! :-) But, in the end, I think the best answer is how your posts are treated. If you feel snubbed, you’re probably doing it wrong. Otherwise, I’d say that you’re right on track. So, keep on keepin’ on!

Dear Smagster,

I am a professor. I teach English Composition and English Literature courses of various genres.

I have a confession to make. I HATE teaching. I really do. I don't like it at all. See, I went to grad school and all, and decided while I was there that I did not really dig the teaching gig. After I got my degree, I even got a job doing something else. But what happened was, I got married, and then after a few years...I got pregnant. And I knew that being a professor was a great Mommy job soooo....I made it my mission to get back into the teaching aspect of my field. I published, yadda yadda yadda. I went for it, and I got it.

So now, here I am, I have this FUCKING CAREER. I am 42 years old. I work 8 months out of the year and I can tailor my schedule and I am the envy of my friends. And I make good money and the money is only getting better.

The problem is I HATE dealing with the students. I don't have the patience for it and it is only getting worse each year (they are getting worse...and I am getting worse too---I mean patience-wise!). I feel bad about it. I try to fake it. I try to be nice. The good students all love me actually, and I love them. I get decent student reviews overall. If only they were all good students. I just don't have the patience for the ASSHOLES that make up 60% of the student body at my (so very NOT IVY league) college.

I have tenure, and my college really values me and the work that I do. I have an enviable lifre. What to do? I sometimes even dream of dying (not killing myself, just getting into a car accident or something) because it seems the only way I can get out of this.

Signed, Not Happy Professionally Even Though I Should Be

Greetings Professor Unhappy Pants,

This is a tough one. I think there are some important points in your letter that show you’ve already made some progress. You know already that you don’t like teaching (or at least all of the crud that comes with it), and that’s important to know, but, you also know that you’re good at your job, and that the job is pretty good, too. Also, you find that you actually do like teaching, just that you enjoy teaching the non-asshole students. I can understand all of that! And I can provide some advice based on that. But, I have to say, your last paragraph has me a little concerned. Not a lot concerned, but a little. You were careful to quantify your statement as non-suicidal, but, it definitely puts this issue into a higher notch than what I might have thought it was in. So, first things first: can you live without this job. I mean, can you and your family get by if you are jobless for awhile? If so, it might be time to ask for a semester-long sabbatical and explore other employment opportunities, or even outright quit if just can’t take another semester. But, maybe better, if you can’t do without the income, what about this summer? Will you have off enough time to look around for other work? There may be something that pays a comparable wage, but minus the assholes? Editing, perhaps? Various types of program analysis that require superior language skills, etc.? The other thing is that perhaps there are some choices within your current job! What if you taught only night courses (if that’s even a possibility)? Non-traditional students typically attend those, and I’ve found the asshole quotient to be considerably lower with non-traditional students.

But, if you have to stay, I have some two-fold advice that might help? It surely can’t hurt!

Fold one of the two-fold advice is to give the appearance of lowered expectations. Not exactly lower them as in lowering your actual standards, but, do the whole tricky thing where you publish and publicize one set of expectations and standards, but really, secretly, in the back of your mind, really and sincerely and honestly be okay with something else less stringent (time-wise and quality-wise). I find this is a great stress reducer when stuff comes in "late", but actually on time by my real, private due date. And, it makes me look good when I can say, "Okay, fine, you can have two more days for this. But, only this once! I'm not supposed to do this, you know?"

The other fold of the two-fold advice is to fake it. And you don't even have to fake it well! I'm talking like, for example, when someone turns in their journal after grades have been issued, if it is that your administration says you should accept that sort of thing, well, just fake happiness at actually receiving the assignment! You can even go so far as to have fun. You could come to see being totally disingenuously happy as a challenge. Like, "Oh my, George, I'm so glad that you turned this in! I was so worried about your grade, but now I can read this when I would be on vaction, grade it while preparing for next semester, AND file a grade change request! It really makes me feel good as an instructor to be able to do this for you. Thank you for taking the time to turn it in!" Without the slightest hint of irony or snark in your voice. If you truly challenge yourself to this, you may find the exercise so much fun that you find yourself hoping for chances to use it (maybe you could duel with other instructors on most absurd speech given for late assignments)! ;-) And, too, one of the things that I think is important and that you seem to be finding is that it’s okay to dislike your students. It’s even okay to hate teaching! You’re allowed. The only thing you’re not allowed is to do a crappy job. And clearly, you’re not! Good luck!

Dear Submariner,

How is it that men in general can be left to their own devices in the kitchen for almost two weeks and not have touched The Kitchen Sponge? Do men have some hidden ability to clean the counter without using the provided sponge? Is there a wind that blows when the woman is not around? What is the deal?

Curious about the Tidy Man in my Kitchen

Dear Curious,

I can’t answer your question, of course, unless I then killed you. It’s a secret man-thing! Do you think I’m going to drop the rest of us under the bus for this one answer?! Okay, fine, you’ve talked me into at least discussing it a little further. I ask you this: was the countertop clean after two weeks? If no, there’s your answer. Your man is a slob. But, if the countertop was clean, I offer for your consideration the heretofore unknown 409-and-paper-towel method of cleaning the countertops! It’s more expensive, but, pretty effective. There’s also the more gross, but certainly workable using-the-dish-towel method of cleaning the countertops. A man (or any human, really) can do this for a few days until the towel becomes crusty, then place the towel in the wash. Boom! Done. Just that easy. (Some men have even been known to substitute in the using-the-t-shirt-front method. Hey, it works!). It sounds to me like you want your man to clean like you like to clean, and that’s not really fair, is it? Isn’t it the result of cleanliness that you’re after? Remember what some famous somebody once said: don’t tell your people how to do the job, just tell them what needs to be done--their ingenuity will surprise you!

Dear Captain Smag,

I had a kinda shocking realization today...I'm a bit of a heinous cock tease. I took great pleasure in wearing my "I'm the best sex you'll never have" t-shirt as I wandered around a coastal town without a jacket on. It was breezy and 52, so the lack of jacket pretty much ensured that people were gonna look more closely at my shirt. Is it wrong that I enjoyed that so much?

Signed, Color Me Teasy

Greetings Teasy-Colored Questioner,

First off, no, it’s not wrong to enjoy attention...well, okay, I guess that all depends on intent, you know? I mean, did you wake up, notice it was cool out, rub ice cubes on your nipples, throw on that specific tee-shirt (with no bra) and immediately head to the most populated section of town (preferably where there were prisoners working on chain gangs), with a concealed bag of ice in tow (just in case), purposefully arching your back at all passing strangers? Or, alternately, did you just, in the course of normal everyday life, find yourself slightly underdressed for the weather and enjoying the extra, but completely unplanned for, attention? One of those two would be a little wrong, yes.

Dear Smagboy,

I got together with 'Bob' when I was twenty-one and he was twenty-nine (after we'd been friends for a couple of years.) It's all fine that we have different taste in books, movies, and music; we're both enjoying learning new things. But (and here's the 'but') he has a couple of friends I really can't stand. Bob goes back a decade with 'Lucrezia' and 'Attila', (they spent the Blizzard of '98 together!) and they still treat him like their wing-man. As in, they roll by the house to grab a beer and see what he's up to at ten-thirty at night.

You know the scene in ‘Terms of Endearment’ where somebody says, "I don't think I said anything so wrong," to which the reply is, "Then you must be from New York"? That's where they're from, and I'm from the South, where openly mocking and insulting people is just not done. We may be just as mean or hostile at heart, but it's extremely bad form to express it openly, as Lu and Attila do to me. She (Lucrezia) has openly mocked my religion, my schooling, my job, my family, and the way I talk, all with a 'just-kidding' smirk that makes me want to punch her lights out. And he (Attila) considers my manners to be a straight line set up. Like, if I answer the phone, or say, 'who's there?' at the door, he’s gotta have a snappy comeback, as if saying 'Hi, Mag, it's Attila' would be a ridiculous thing to expect, and unutterably uncool.

Of course, Bob is very loyal. He can't ditch his old friends just because they give me hives, but am I right in thinking that some of this is his to deal with? If it were up to me I'd never see them again, problem solved; that's not going to happen. Have I simply overlearned the rules of hospitality that say you can't call someone a flaming asshole when they're a guest in your house, even if somebody else invited them? I really feel like, if they drive me to that, I will lose something I value.

Not only that, when the insults fly in real time, I feel so punched in the stomach that I am actually struck dumb, and wind up crying, to Bob's bewilderment, three hours later. "Toughen up," he says, "Give it right back to them." Um, dude? SO much easier said than done.

How do I keep my sense of dignity without being Margaret Dumont?

Help, help,

Greetings Magnolia,

In the end, there are two solutions. First of all, it is Bob’s place set them straight by either insisting they not treat you like they do, or by not allowing them to come by any more. Regardless of what he chooses, once you’ve expressed your concerns, it’s up to him to deal with Tweedle Dee Rude and Tweedle Dum Ruder. The second choice is you have to figure out if this is a deal breaker with Bob or not. If not, if he’s that special in other ways (and I have to say, I see his not understanding your hurt in this as a pretty significant strike against him), you’ve got to remove yourself from the situation. For your own sake. I realize you shouldn’t have to! I realize that, in your own house, you ought to not have to leave, but, if Bob isn’t going to do it, and if you can’t (which is not an accusation, it’s understandable), then leaving is the best option. You can go to another room. You can go to the bedroom and watch the tube or surf the ‘net or read a book, but don’t give them the satisfaction of fucking with you anymore. And when Bob asks what’s up (and he will), tell him! By all means, tell him! And, too, one day, if you’re feeling particularly fortified (and one day you will), go right back at the Tweedle Twins with both barrels, loaded fully with snark. They deserve it! And they might even back down.

Dear Submariner,

I am a woman who has survived my families need to be toxic, they have over time proved that they have a constant need for drama to feel alive. I on the other hand had my fill of drama while sharing the same roof and work very hard to avoid drama to the point that I am now learning about good anger and how that serves a purpose. Avoiding anger was a learned behavior over dealing with what sadly became my understanding that they had no concept of changing any behavior, or outlook, nothing. Anger became a worthless emotion as their goal was never any good outcome, they like anger simply for the drama and release, the fighting, yelling, breaking things, the police, took me many years to fully understand their need to abuse and be abused.

I understood that living well meant I needed to set goals and achieve them, then set more and achieve them, I am now perceived as judgmental, having high standards (that no one would live up to), and an assortment of other attributes, only my family says them as if they are dirty words. My favorite of all time is my Rich Bitch moniker, coming from my Mother who I do not have a relationship with. She has from the time of being a teenager had this Rich issue as she cleaned out the fishing boats and stocked old refrigerators with ice blocks at The Resort for The Rich People from The City to enjoy. This Rich thing is her issue and anyone with a home and running car falls under this label. I now ponder what delight it gave my sister to deliver this moniker to me, for without her I would have never known about it.

Since my family has never respected their own money I was unwilling to give them mine to disrespect as well. So after many years of saving, and being a goal setter, I own my home, I own my cars, I am debt free. I gave thought to my old age needs at a very young age, I was never going to worry about if I could pay the rent, I was after security, peace and harmony. I am not rich, but I can afford the things I want or need. My overall goal was fully understanding that even though I may not have as much money as everyone else, that given a long enough run at anything, in time I could have whatever I wanted, this has served me well over time above all other goals.

I haven't been to the Bahamas' or on a Cruise, no Las Vegas, paper towels were a luxury in the very beginning, although I did have a huge garage sale and went to Europe years ago, saved up cash and worth every penny. I buy the most reliable car I can and drive them until they die, I turn off the lights when not in use, I'll save an extra year to buy my dream version of anything and do without until then. When it's time to spend money I buy the best quality that suits my needs, not the guy next door's.

So my question it normal for families addicted to drama, addicted to abuse, to be fully threatened when their sibling's or offspring do not follow suit? Do those of us that survive also have this to deal with more often than not? How many of us choose to be alone and healthy over the drama and abuse by so called loved ones?

Savvy Survivor aka Rich Bitch, The Goal Setter

Dear Savvy,

First of all, congratulations! You’ve done extremely well and even though you’re showing a tough outer shell, it’s clear that you still doubt your status sometimes. Like when you look in the mirror, do you sometimes wonder if it’s just a dream and you’re going to wake up and be right back in that mess? I can understand that. But, just so you know, you’re doing great, and it’s not a dream!!! Now, to answer your questions, yes, it is normal for families addicted to asshattery to be fully threatened by someone breaking free from it. It plays on every one of their insecurities and inflates their self-hatred and the only solution is either to be introspective and self-aware, or to lash out. You’ve grown up seeing which choice they make every time. But it is a choice. And yes, sadly, it is the most common reaction. The answer to second question is a lot more difficult. How many of us choose to be alone and healthy over the drama and abuse? In other words, how many of us “get out”? The real answer is that I have no clue because some truly, truly get out! They move across the country or half way around the world and never look back! And I think it happens a lot. The most important thing is to remember to keep tend your own boat and keep it well repaired. Others can tend their own boats. If I were to guess, I’d say that one in three make it out, but that may be way too generous. I doubt the number’s any higher and likely quite a bit lower. You’ve done well, though! Keep your eyes on the prize: yours and your new family’s happiness and you’ll be fine.

Hey there Smagboy:

I will be getting married soon. I've been able to organize the guest list, ceremony, reception, and after-party with a surprising minimum of drama given that I'm not wearing a white dress, the groom is not wearing a tux (he's wearing a kilt), we are writing our own vows, and we're not doin' it in a church. Add to that explicit advice that we'll be having a water-gun fight after the ceremony, and I'm pretty amazed my family hasn't given me up for a heathen yet.

Which is kind of the problem. I AM a Heathen -- a specific kind, the neo-pagan, celebrating the wheel of the year, polytheistic, taking-vows-seriously kind. My wedding ceremony will have three gods in it, ancestors, land spirits, and custom vows. I'm trying to down-play the ceremony part, but my Heathen priest friend, who's officiating -- we call him a gothi -- says we have to do some stereotypical things or the ritual won't 'take.' Like the 'by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife' thing. I was hoping to skip that part. So part of my problem is that I want to have a Heathen ceremony, but I don't want to offend my Christian family.

Which is the second half of the problem -- my family are Christians -- extremely conservative, fundamentalist, don't even think about being a liberal Christians. I have considered having two ceremonies, but then I thought, what is the point? I won't consider the "extra" ceremony effective or even remotely interesting, AT ALL, and I'm having a wedding so I can throw a huge party for my friends and family. I'm not having a wedding to please them, because I decided a long time ago that I would not be able to do that. Also, I'm paying for everything, so it's not like I'm offending them on their own dime.

So what do I do? Have a flyer explaining the Heathen aspects of the ritual? Or just jump in and hope people don't storm out halfway through? I suppose it would help to point out that at no time will anyone be required to worship, honor, or otherwise acknowledge any deities with which the do not agree. They're present to be witnesses and share the joy.

Also, I'm throwing a huge after-party, complete with bonfire and latin dance band on a private farm. Knowing my friends, there are some things that will be optional. Like clothes. I want to make sure my conservative family knows they are welcome, but I don't want them to feel required to attend an event that I KNOW will get their panties in a twist. So, to invite, or not to invite? I've told them that I'm having friends over to the farm after the wedding, but I have not explained the extent to which wild partying will be had by all at this event.

Any advice is appreciated,

Greetings Soon-to-be-Bride! Ahoy! Listen, I’m going to start with something that you didn’t even ask me! I know that’s wrong and perhaps presumptuous, and definitely not very “advice columnist” of me, but, HA!, I’m a submariner, not an advice columnist, so, I’m allowed! I want to start with your Heathen priest friend, gothi. Please forgive me for saying this, but, gothi is wrong. In holding this ceremony you’re celebrating your union with your mate. No religion, and especially Paganism, should get between that union. The ritual that you’re undertaking is the union itself, not the other way around! If the religion gets in the way of the union, where’s the worth of the religion (and I can ask that, comfortable that you know full well that the religion is larger than all of us and capable of flexion, it’s gothi that’s failing to see that!). If you’re uncomfortable with words or a passage, or if you want to include something that’s not currently there, you should be allowed to make those changes! If gothi won’t perform the ceremony under the circumstances you’ve requested, I’d suggest that there are other Pagan priests who can and will, under your terms, and happily, and celebrating Paganism the entire time! Religion is a tool that serves us and our needs to understand the Greater Good (in whatever form we see that Good), we don’t serve the religion. To do so would be pointless. Again, my apologies, but, had I not said that, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep.

As for a flyer or explanation, I think that you’re worrying too much, unless you’ve hidden your entire life from your family? If they know who you are and what you believe, and they want to celebrate your union with you, then they’ll come and you need not apologize in the least for who you and your mate are. If they don’t want to celebrate your union, or if they leave midway, that’s their choice, but, as I mentioned to the LW above, you can’t live your life for them. I would suggest being very frank if anyone has any questions, though. When someone asks about the reception, you can say just as you’ve said above, “Well, we’re throwing a huge after-party, complete with bonfire and latin dance band on a private farm. Knowing my friends, there are some things that will be optional. Likely clothes will be the first thing to go!” But there’s no need to offer this. Your family has eyes. If they get uncomfortable, they’ll leave. But, if they get naked, you’re not allowed to freak out! :-) If someone asks about the ceremony, you can say, very plainly, “I am a Heathen--a specific kind, the neo-pagan, celebrating the wheel of the year, polytheistic, taking-vows-seriously kind. My wedding ceremony will have three gods in it, ancestors, land spirits, and custom vows. It will also end in a water gun fight!” That last part is something that concerns me a little. I hope that the water is mention on the invitations, or that whoever is officiating the water fight allows for those who didn’t know about it to leave (or move out of range) prior to the water works. Someone who attends who didn’t know they were going to be getting wet might not be prepared, and could be legitimately miffed. Otherwise, I say that you should enjoy your wedding! Treat it as something for you and your partner, a celebration of your union, on your terms. Not gothi’s terms, not your parent’s or family’s terms, and not anyone else’s! If we could all start our lives together that way, what a wonderful thing it would be! Good luck and best wishes on your journey!

Well Shippers, that’s it! Thank you all again for a great year! This has a thrilling and wonderful exploration and I've genuinely enjoyed getting to you know guys!  We've had a lot of good back and forth and a lot of excellent discussions!  I'm sad that we've lost a commenter or two along the way, but, so thrilled that we've gained so many!  Again, thanks again for a great year!  Here’s hoping for an even better Year 2!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

...on Nosey McGladys-Kravitzes! (5/13/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I hope that the week has treated you well? That perhaps you found the perfect pair of shoes (or two), or tried a new recipe that turned out just right, or maybe you’ve made excellent vacation plans? Or, maybe it was just a good week in general? I had a good week, but, let me tell you what, these letters have me going! Holy shit! Why? I’m not sure, specifically, but, let’s get to ‘em and see if we can figure it out...

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I work in an office where I have just a ton of free time, and, to make matters worse, my job is not very clearly defined. So, when you take those conditions, add in a new guy at the office who likes to sex up the affable but dim office slut, I find that I’m beside myself with the need to stir things up! How do I know they’re playing hide the kielbasa, you ask? Well, I’ve timed them when they retire to vacant spaces in our building. I’ve watched and timed them in parked cars, too. I’ve even formed a communication network to listen to the walls when the two of them sneak off, and “moans and sex noises” have been reported! Sex noises, Prudie! Everyone’s talking about it (I’ve made sure of that)! Plus, all of this sexy time makes all of us who aren’t getting any have to do more work to make up for the non-performance of the work assigned to the philanderers! I want to tell the new guy’s wife and toddler about the affair, and can do so discreetly, but other people tell me it’s none of my business. What should I do, Prudie, because I really want to tell her? As full disclosure, my dad left my mom when I was three and it caused all manner of drama, so I feel entitled to do this. Signed, I Have a Secret That I Don’t Want to Keep

Dear Fuck Stain: Listen up you loathsome, busy-body, nosey piece of shit. The people who say this is none of your fucking business? Well, they’re right. It’s none of your FUCKING business. At all. What in the hell is your major malfunction?! Do you know ANYTHING about the situation, other than that it drives you to distraction? Could you possibly be any more judgmental and ignorant? Prudie is off her fucking rocker and dead nuts wrong on this. Mind your own business, Nosey McGladys-Kravitz. Maybe if you bothered to do YOUR work, and “everyone” in the office bothered to do THEIR work, it would be painfully obvious to the supervisors WHOSE work wasn’t being done (if that’s even the case) and the problem would solve itself. But fuckin’ nooooooo! Instead you have decided to engage in your own personal version of reality TV, “Office Affairs and the Nosey Fuck Stain Gawker”. And now you want to enter into the action and tell this man’s wife, eh? You are like the product of a piece of shit unzipping its pants, squatting, and taking a shit, you know what I’m saying? You are a nosey busy-body who is trying desperately to justify his/her busy-bodyness. Why don’t you go off to the corner with some razor blades and some Drain-o and ruin your own life and leave alone other people? No wonder they keep bringing back shit-TV shows like “Jersey Shore Housewife Bachelors of the OC”. It’s fuckers like you with no life other than what you can pilfer by invading the lives of others. Oh, and that shit about your dad? It probably happened because some asshole went to your mom with some halfcocked story that he/she didn’t know a goddamned thing about, but was too nosey and too lazy to care. Asshole.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I was promoted to a great new position about six months ago. Fortunately (or not), the person who previously held this position is still with the company and has been a wonderful help to me. She’s been very gracious in answering my questions and very forthcoming with help and information. Unfortunately, she recently worked a project behind my back and submitted it to my boss. It’s a project that I was tasked to do, not her, and yet her version of the project is the one my boss went with. How could she do this to me, the bitch? Why does she still think this is her job? Because it’s so not! What can I do? Signed, Stabbed in the Back Ten Ways ‘Til Sunday

Dear Stabbed, You’re barking up the wrong tree here, Chicky Doodle! First off, do you think your colleague just decided to work up a counter proposal, all on her own, just for the hell of it, you know, ‘cause she has nothing better to do with her time? Without even being asked?! It’s possible, I guess (maybe “Rock of Love XIV” was on rerun and she was bored?), but, if so, whose fault is it that her work was accepted, or even considered?! (Hint: not hers). Further, if she was asked to provide the proposal, whose fault is that? (Hint: still not hers, and, by the way, this is the scenario I suspect actually happened). Now, could she have told you she was working the project? Perhaps. Should she have told you? Probably. But, you don’t know anything about why she did it? She may have been specifically asked not say anything. Perhaps the boss wanted two very independent takes. Why is that a threat to you? And especially, why do you perceive it as a threat from your colleague versus from the person who truly deserves the hot poker up the ass for accepting her work in the first place?! (Final hint: that deserving ass belongs to your boss). Prudie is batting zero-for-two so far this week. Do not address your colleague, address your boss. If he didn’t want this woman’s work, he would have told her to pack sand if she submitted it unsolicited. You need to calmly ask him why he accepted two versions of the same project. He may say that he always does that! He may say that he was testing you. He may say all sorts of things. But it’s him who needs to do the saying, not your colleague.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, My fiancé is the greatest great that ever was great, but...we don’t have sex anymore. I mean, it’s like pretty much non-existent. He’s 34 years old, I’m 28, and I’m guessing it’s a libido thing? We’re getting married soon as there’s no way I’d leave him over this, but, I don’t know what to do! I’ve tried everything. He laughs when I wear sexy lingerie, he says he’ll try new things in bed, but we never seem to make it there. It’s affecting me, Prudie, as I don’t want to live this way, all sexless and frustrated. I think that, more than anything, it’s just a bad habit that we’ve fallen into--one that we can break. Can you help? Signed, Sexless in Seattle, or, Neglected Queen of Denial

Dear Platonic, you are pretty good at that whole denial thing, aren’t’cha? Look, there are all sorts of things that could be going on here, and you haven’t given us enough information to know which, but, this ain’t some “bad habit” you two have gotten into. And it’s not some Johnny-come-lately change in libido. Maybe he’s cheating? Maybe he’s way too into porn? Maybe he’s got something physically going on (there could be all sorts of things!)? Perhaps he’s drinking way too much? Maybe you’ve changed? Weight gain? Loss? Emotional of physical swings? Or maybe he’s changed and doesn’t feel comfortable being that vulnerable? Perhaps he struggling with his sexuality? Or, maybe you guys had a lot of sex in the beginning (everyone does) and then it leveled out to his normal pace, but you just didn’t notice right away and what he sees as normal you see as way too little? Not everyone has sex once-a-day or even once-per-week. Even some perfectly normal and happy couples are this way! Whatever it is, though, it’s clearly a problem. And though it might be uncomfortable to talk about, you’re going to have to do just that. But whatever you do, DO NOT get married with this issue looming. Just don’t. You have to stop this wedding until this issue is solved because this is not something that’s going way. And the longer you ignore it, the more frustrated and uncomfortable you’re going to become. Sex is often thought of as the most important need in humans past food and shelter. And if your need for it and his need for it are hopelessly out of whack, it’s going to be a struggle from the get go. You two need to get to the bottom of this issue. And solve it and figure out if you can be together. Before (or in lieu of) getting married. I mean, you sign off as “neglected”. What could be more telling?

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I’m graduating college in a few weeks and I have a number of obnoxious, asshole relatives who are coming cross-country to attend. They were not invited and yet are attending anyway, presuming my mother will pay for their expenses (which she cannot afford). They’re rude and mean-spirited. They say things about me, my weight, our house, the dog. They’re just assholes, Prudie. They stress out my mom to no end and I’m just not looking forward to this. At all. What can I do? Signed, Matriculation Trepidation

Dear Matriculate, Here is one of those rare opportunities that I love so much in life! You have a situation that’s about to occur that you know will unfold in an unsavory way if you continue to act as you have in the past. You’ve got a rare glimpse into the future! And you can change it! Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. And he’s right (what, would you question Einstein?!). Look, you’re an adult. You are heading out on your own. You’re now a college graduate. It’s time to take the next big step and stand up for yourself. You can’t prevent your mom from being a doormat if that’s what she’s going to be, but you can prevent yourself from being one. I would suggest several tactics, the first being that if you have not invited someone to an event (graduation, wedding, etc.), ensure they don’t have tickets, directions, or even a location to go to! If it’s general admission and if they find out on their own, there’s not much you can do, but, otherwise, it’s easy. You say, “I’m sorry that you made plans without asking first, Grandma, but I only have tickets for Mom and Sis.” If she asks why, you say, “Again, Grandma, I’m sorry that YOU made plans without first consulting with me, but, there aren’t enough tickets and the ones I have, I’m giving to Mom and Sis.” No matter what, do not apologize. Notice how in my quotes, there was no apology, only regret over asshole behavior? Further, if they do come and say anything rude to you, don’t pussy-foot around! Never again! Say, “Grandma, I know that you treat my mom poorly, and step all over her, but I am not my mom and I will no longer be treated that way by you. If you have nothing nice to say to me, don’t say it. Ever again. Rest assured that from this day forward I will treat you with the same respect that you show me.” And mean it. Then turn your back on her and leave. Yes, she’ll go bitch to your mom. Your mom has a choice, too, you know? But you can’t make it for her. You can only control yourself. And you, starting today, can decide that you aren’t going to take it anymore. You don’t ever have to be rude, just resolute. You with me? Good! Now, go enjoy your graduation, head held high! You’ve earned it.

Well, Shippers, that’s it! I want to thank you for the great Anniversary Edition letters that I’ve received. There’s still a day left if you’re wanting to send one in for answers! But, after Friday night, I’m going to have to stop accepting new ones. Then, next Thursday, along with the first Prudie Edition of Year 2, I’ll publish the Anniversary Edition of Reader Letters, with answers. I’m excited! There are some good ones in there! Anyway, ‘til next week, Shippers, fair winds and following seas to you all! Cheers!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

...on Mother's Day Letters  (05-06-2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How the hell are ya on this fine, fine pre-Mother’s-Day Prudie Day? I hope that you’re all well and happy and full of the vim and the vigor! I am! I finished one of my finals over the weekend and am writing the last one today (it’s almost finished). Then I’m off ‘til early June when summer classes start! Woo-hoo! But, that aside, what a batch of letters today, eh? What say we get crackin’ at ‘em?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I grew up quite privileged. I don’t mean like filthy rich privileged, but rather the well-loved, respected and happy type of privileged that I haven’t yet realized is much, much, much more special. My parents were wonderful and supportive and my house was the one on the street at which everyone congregated. My friends and I all felt comfortable there and it was, as they say, not just a house, but a Home. Hallmark couldn’t have done any better. But then, last fall, as I was about to go off to college, my parents dropped a bombshell on me. They were worried that I might find out on my own so they told that me that my mom used to be a porn star. There are still pictures and other media out there, Prudie!!! I don’t know what to do! I’m still having problems with this information and it’s nearing summer and I’m afraid that I’m going to do or say something when I’m back there that will ruin my relationship with my parents. What should I do? Signed, Perplexed Product of Porn

Dear Perplexed, Um, so, what is it, exactly, that you’ve been so perplexed about over the last nine fucking months?! Perplexed over that car that you’re driving that your parents paid for? Perplexed about the thousands of dollars going to fund your education and your room and board? Or perhaps you’re perplexed about that fucking spending money you get every week? So, what, porn is a sin? Porn is wrong? Porn is somehow beneath you? Well la-dee-fucking-da! Looks to me like the only thing your folks failed you in is in not fixing your judgmental twerptitude, you ungrateful whelp. You want to be all judgy, fine. But not on their dime, driving a car they bought, wearing clothes from their hard work and while becoming educated off the sweat of their brow. You’re having problems processing this info, and that’s fine. And you don’t want to hurt them. And that’s fine, too. But, why? Because you don’t want the gravy train to end, or because you love them and realize how incredible they are (and have always been) toward you and you sincerely don’t want to hurt them? If it’s the latter, hallelujah, there’s hope. But you won’t find the solution on the Internet. You’ll need a counselor for that (and a good one), because nine months of not being able to process something as cool as your mom’s news is just fucking stupid and belies a much greater character flaw than what Prudie can cure via a simple letter. But, if it’s the gravy train option, which the timeline sure suggests (subconscious though it may be), well, I can only hope life isn’t as hard on you as you’re being on your mom.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’m about to graduate college. I’m a history and poly-sci major and that’s the type of career I want. As such, Washington, D.C. would be the perfect choice for graduate school. Unfortunately, my mother has some pretty aggressive cancer and will need to have weekly treatment for the rest of her life. We live in Connecticut, not D.C., so I’m torn. I want to go to school in D.C. to further my career and I want to stay in CT and be with my mom. My mom says, “go!” What should I do? Signed, Too Green Yet To Know Any Better

Dear Greenie, Hopefully your situation is different than LW#1’s in that you’re going to be paying for your move to D.C., your graduate work there, your rent, your board, etc.? If not, I have nothing further to say to you than what I’ve said above. Same sentiment applies. But, if you are actually a functional adult, I want to point out to you something that you may not know. Other than a very few very specific jobs, your school, and its location, aren’t going to mean shit to your career. At all. In other words, attending graduate school in CT will work just fine. Especially if you excel. You may not be able to see that now, but, I assure you that it’s true. Now, don’t think for a minute that I’m saying that it wouldn’t be better to study at a place where you could walk to the Library of Congress and view the actual documents under question versus their electronic doppelganger via the Internet. But, in the end, it’s the same information. And you can always go view the originals later in your life. They’ll always be there. Your mom, though? Not so much. And you will regret going to D.C. until the day that you die if you do it and something happens to your mom. I promise you that. Think hard about this choice, Young One, because it’s one where your dreams aren’t leading you in the right direction. At all.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, My mom is a leech. She retired at age 50 (and, truth be known, never really worked much before then, either). She is now 61 and has no money. She’s been kicked out of her apartment and is moving into the house of the daughter of a friend. My sister and I are to be responsible for her rent. When my sister and I were cleaning out my mom’s old apartment, I got so sick of it that I left, telling my sister that I was fed up with my mom’s bullshit and that I wasn’t going to deal with it anymore. My sister says that we owe it to our mother to support her. My leaving in the middle of cleanup has caused a huge rift between me and my sister and we’re not speaking. That’s not what I wanted, Prudie! Damnit, I love my sister! How do I fix this with my sister without giving in to my mom’s selfish, leachy desires, too? Signed, Over My Mom, But Not My Sister

Dear So Over Mom, I’m with you. Not that you should have left your sister hanging halfway through the cleaning job. That wasn’t right. And, as Prudie says, you pretty much blew that one. But, your sentiment about mom is correct. And you need to figure out how to repair the relationship with your sister while standing firm about and being direct with your mom. With your mom, if you want, you can visit, you can be an emotionally supportive daughter and even helpful, but without throwing money at her irresponsibility. If she can’t take that, though, if she says it’s help her financially or she doesn’t want to see you, then that’s her choice. With your sister, you need to let her be an adult and do what she wants to do (and respect her right to do that), but she needs to give you that same freedom and respect. If your sister can’t see her way clear to that, if she can’t understand that you aren’t willing to enable your mother’s irresponsibility, then that’s on her, not you. When your mom gets kicked out of the house where she is (and she will), don’t volunteer to help her move. Or do. Your choice. I’d start planning for it now, actually, and let your sister know your decision ahead of time, because you know it’s coming. But whatever you decide, stick to it. You only undermine yourself when you waffle and it just ends up pissing everyone off.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I have a couple of wonderful daughters who I’ve taught compassion and empathy and caring and sweetness. They’re 11 and 14 and treat other kids with the utmost of respect and kindness. In spite of all of this, and to my great surprise and horror, they’re actually popular and well-liked?! This pisses me off and scares me to no end. And, worst of all, I recently overheard them laughing at students that they thought were “dorky”. It’s bad enough that they’re popular, Prudie, but now they’re laughing at me, er, these other students. What can I do before I lose them to Cheerleader/Homecoming Queen/Popular Girl Hell? Signed, Really, Really, Really Afraid My Daughters Are Popular

Dear Afraid, Well, you know what? Sometimes we talk and joke at home and with our family members because they’re safe. Sometimes we say things that we shouldn’t, but know that our family understands us and won’t rat us out. That may be what was up here. Or, maybe your girls were having a mean moment. But you know what? The solution to either is the same. Talk to them! Amazing, isn’t it? Just talk to them. Say, “Whoa! That sounds awfully nasty. Why are you saying that?” And when they give you the line about how one of the “dorky” girls had rebuffed an offer of friendship from one of your daughters, etc., explain casually and without craziness how that’s still no reason to speak that way of them. Then make them read “The Hundred Dresses”. This is one of those moments, too, where I hope that you’re leading by example? I hope the girls never hear you talking about your sister, or that mean lady from work, or the other woman’s husband who keeps interrupting your book club meetings because he can’t find the butter and is messing up your friend’s kitchen? And finally, Woman, let me lay one on you that you need to sit up straight and look me right in the eyes and listen to me about. Popularity and meanness are not mutually inclusive. At all. That’s your thing to get over and you need to do it. In the worse kind of way. Because the more uncomfortable you get with this subject (especially as your girls move through high school), the more it’s going to stress everyone out. And you’ll just be repeating the pain that you suffered in high school, and inflicting it on your girls in a reverse discrimination kind of way, and for no good reason. So stop the cycle now. Okay? Okay.

Well, Shippers, that’s about it! Listen, I’ve decided to go with having you guys write in true letters to The Submariner (they can be as ridiculous or as serious as you’d like) and I’ll answer them all in a separate anniversary column. I’ve chosen to do it this way because we’re going to launch a separate Fly-wide contest sometime very soon that should be a hoot! So, if you want to participate, check out my e-mail address above and send me your letters. Scrub any personal info out that you don’t want published and I’ll answer each in the extra edition. Recognize that no one will know who sent in each letter and that might be fun in and of itself, trying to guess whose letter goes with whom! :-) I’ll need them by, say, the 16th, to include in the anniversary issue. I already have two great ones! I’m looking forward to hearing from you all. So, ‘til next time, fair winds and following seas, Shippers!