http://www.slate.com/id/2252949/ (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!