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!


  1. asking for a &quot;friend&quot;May 27, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    in my office, we have a lot of elderly people so I make them do it - I'm 37 and in good shape. Then when they R almost done and complete, then I ask if they need help while almost pissing myself from laughter. my question is this: do they serve whiskey in the circle of hell that I am going 2? :).

  2. AhA! You want to see some tittage before you'll change the water bottle?? Bwahahahaha! That was a great line!

    Good advice on LW#1, and I have to agree with the concept on #'s 2 & 4. Really? You don't know this? Ok, here's the answer.

    Way to pick up on the "read" thing about the life expectancy for LW 3. I didn't see that in the original letter, and if I had I would have definitely gone the same way you did. I guess Prudie couldn't help herself and reverted to form with LW3 with the real problem. Let's see if it continues next week, eh?

  3. Hey asking... I'd say that if they do it's urine flavored with none of the happy alcohol benefits. =-)

  4. "It’s called lust, and it’s well documented."

    I loved this line! LOLLOLLOLLOLLOL!

    This chick is addicted to drama. There's really no reason anyone has to find out she's boinking the kid at all. The whole letter did not have to be written.

    That having been said, I hated Prudie's advice. Yours was much better!

  5. Ahoy, asking for a "friend"! And greetings! I'm known for telling my Christian friends, when they bemoan my certain eventual residence in Hell, that I'm happy with my fate as the souls in Hell are sure to be far more entertaining than the alternative Eterno Condo. That said, the one thing you have to watch out for is that the folks in your ring of Hell will be just like you. So, like Libby says, you'd better check that stuff before you drink it, or, just look to see if any of your buds are trying not to piss themselves with laughter after handing you the drink! ;-)

  6. Ahoy Libby, and greetings to you! Thank you for the kind words. Good cheer! :-)

  7. Ahoy Bella. I was curious for your take on this. My only reservation about her letter (other than the obvious overly-dramatic flair for Romance, with the capital R) was her claim that he'd just *never* be her student again. Can she say that for absolutes? As a 19 year old, I reckon he's a sophomore, so, is there no way she might pick up a 3000 or 4000 level course?

    Either way, thank you kindly for the kind words. Good cheer, as always! :-)

  8. Greetings, my Captain! I take it from your opening that you pee-peed your pants again? I'm sorry I missed it. Was it in response to Bret Michels winning Celebrity Apprentice? What?! No, it was NOT a pity vote and he totally earned that!! Guy!

    I do like your idea of LW#1 taking care of Cindy at mom's house ~ and why do I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of Cindy's problems may have to do with acting out due to the LW's mom's "flightiness" and this sort of openly acknowledged idea that mom's just doing it for the money? Perhaps if she had an adult to focus a little more on her, she might not be so much of a discipline problem. But then, I always think that, especially for a child, there aren't many problems that compassion, kindness, patience, and understanding won't overcome.

    LW#2 ~ Michael Phelps ain't got nothin' on you, Diving Buddy. He's only good on the surface, not down below where it really counts.

    Okay ~ I wasn't going to mention it but you did ~ now you have opened the door for Mermaid's rebuttal. Regarding Bret Michaels and his "many shelale milkers"... I think it's pretty evidenced by the newly-discovered hole in his heart that the problem has not been an inability to FIND love ~ it's to hold on to it! It's just been leaking out all this time, Smag!!

    LW#3 ~ The lesson to be learned here is ~ stay away from the Internet! There is some scary scary stuff on there! Like this!:

    LW#4 ~ Seriously ~ as many times as Mermaid has shown you her gorgeous titties ~ you should be changing out the water in the ENTIRE LAGOON! I'm just saying!

    I'll try and focus on the lovely weather and the tranquility this weekend. I'd prefer to focus on the "happy times spent doing what I treasure most" but alas, "what I treasure most" has other plans... Fair currents and gentle tides to you, Dearest! :*

  9. asking for a &quot;friend&quot;May 27, 2010 at 12:25 PM

    madd libby,

    HELP!!!!!!!!!! :). haha

  10. I enjoyed this and I needed the laugh today. Thanks so much Smag!

    By the way, a good friend of mine once told me "You're going to Hell, but you're gonna be there with all your friends!" Never was one for harps anyway!

  11. Asking, you want me to put the new water bottle on the cooler? K. ;-)

  12. Ahoy, MM! Greetings and salutations! :-)

    No, I did NOT pee-pee in my pants! Gawsh! I'm normally very graceful, so, I will not rise to your orneryness over this. So I spill something on myself *one time*! Is that so wrong?!

    I agree with you on Cindy. I wish that I wasn't trying to tighten up my column, I could have riffed on Cindy's care for paragraphs. Suffice it to say that I agree with you completely.

    So what, do reckon Bret's hole got put there by a rose thorn? Every rose has them, you know?

    As for that NSFW picture that you linked to, MM, all I have to say about that is that some art is more art than other art. And this picture? It's neither! :-P But OMG is it funny!

    What?! MM, you're a mermaid! You showing your titties is your normal, every day mode of operation. For me to change out the water jug for you, you'd have to do that magical transformation thing that mermaids can do and then go bottomless. I realize that seems like a huge sacrifice, but, you know, those water jugs are heavy! Just sayin'! ;-) But, please don't take this to mean that I don't appreciate your boobies!

    Much good cheer and fair winds to you, MM! :-)

  13. Ahoy Robin! Thank you for visiting! I'm glad that you got a good laugh. Please stop by often. It only gets better. :-)

    Yes, harps are overrated. :-)

    Good cheer! :-)

  14. Lurker (and avid reader) here:

    1) As someone whose mother had been dealing with cancer for the last few years I loved your response to LW3. She needs to get off the Internet and talk more to her doctor and his/her staff (and if her doctor won't do that... look for a different doctor.) Especially since after reading the letter again I'm wondering if LW isn't confusing "5 year survival rate" with life expectancy.

    2) The one thing I REALLY think Prudy dropped the ball on with LW 2 is the idea that somehow dating this student is going to destroy LW's career.

    Speaking as an academic: as long as she's following university guidelines and is careful that she's never in a teaching/supervisory position over this student again, I doubt anyone is going to find it shocking that she's dating an undergrad who's a former student. If it were a long string of former students, sure. But one?

    Heck, there are probably a few profs in her department happily married to former students even as I type. These things happen, which is WHY universities have guidelines to deal with them.

    As far as, "How does she know she'll never teach him again?" if necessary that can probably be worked out between her and the department. That is, if BF wants to take English 406 next semester, and English 406 turns out to be LW's TA assignment, she goes to the person making TA assignments and says, "Would be possible for me to have a different assignment, my BF wants to take that class, and he can't if I'm TA-ing for it?" Or, if no switch can be made, BF just doesn't take that class.

    It's not the simplest thing in the world, but I don't think it's nearly as big a deal as LW and Prudie are making it out to be. People may josh her about it but I don't think it's going to cause her career problems.

  15. Greetings and Ahoy, Bethany, Lurker and Avid Reader! Welcome, welcome! :-)

    Thank you for weighing in on the academic concerns. From the outside looking in (actually, currently from the perspective of a student's seat), I figured that so long as the student wasn't in the professor's/TA's class, dating would be okay, but, for painfully obvious reasons, the student couldn't take a class from their boyfriend/girlfriend. I'm glad to hear it verified by not one, but two academics. I mean, after all, we're all adults (at least physically--although, according to our other resident professors, even some many "adults" are apparently cabbage heads). ;-)

    I'm sorry to hear about your mother, but, it sounds like you are a strong advocate and I'm sure a wonderful help to her. Here's hoping there's someone for our LW if it's not something she feels she can do herself.

    Good cheer, Bethany! Please come back to see us! :-)

  16. SB1, were you by any chance referring to a shillelagh? I won't say what my original interpretation was of your actual spelling.

    Just out of curiosity, don't you lose a little respect for anyone who consents to appear on a television programme designed to glorify the odious Mr Trump?

    LW1 certainly never has to be the bad cop. Since I finished my bit on L1, I've been reflecting that she really might be enjoying her lot in life enormously - surrounded by all these forceful people who usually spare her ever having to make any decisions so that she can be happily torn all the time.

    There is a good reason against LW2's boinking the young man. When it ends - and it will - she'll find some way to get back at him. In fact, it may well play out that way if she pursues him and he's just not interested, though there actually having been a sexual relationship will probably fuel her to greater heights of revenge seeking in the best style Regina Barreca could devise. You do seem a little on the certain side that her interest is returned. But my main concern is that LW2, whatever amiable or admirable qualities she may possess (none of which appear in this letter), ought to be doing anything in the world other than teaching English. Any course of action that relieves her of such a responsibility as quickly as possible is to be commended.

    You were in grand form with LW3.

    If I liked LW4, I'd tell him to find some equivalent subject on which to send the guilty woman equally snarky emails. But I don't, so I won't.

    Even if you don't generally enjoy tennis, you might want to catch one of Venus Williams' matches. This year she is wearing a can-can dress and has, as one commentator put it, taken it literally that she is in the Bottom half of the draw.

  17. South Park's episode 'Miss Teacher Bangs a Student' comes to mind. :-P

  18. hrumpole, thank you! I am sincerely red-faced over my misspelling of shillelagh, but, I will now know the correct spelling. And yes, that is absolutely the word I intended, though I was certainly using it euphemistically.

    As for Bret Michaels, my respect for him transcends time and space and cannot be affect by force or Earth or the spirit world. But, yes, I do hope he avoids Mr. Trump in the future. Although, Bret's awesomeness can't be too negatively affected by even the most vile of odious folk. ;-)

    I love your take on LW#2, but hope that what we're seeing demonstrated in her letter is the ramblings of a not-as-of-yet fully matured woman. Perhaps there's hope yet? I am ever-hopeful. As for my certainty that the interest is returned, I only presume that due to my former experience as a 19 year old who would have fallen all over himself had his English TA shown him the least bit of saucy interest. Though, to be sure, the interest would have waned with the next interesting TA. Such was the life I lived at that age. ;-)

    OH! As for tennis, and Venus Williams, I commented on your last week's blog regarding just that subject. I'll endeavor to learn more...

    Good cheer, hrumpole! :-)

  19. Ahoy Nachtmusik! Long time no see! Welcome back! :-)

    I don't know that episode, but, I will now surely look it up. Was it the one where the substitute offers a "date" to whomever scores highest on the spelling test and Stan mistakes her attentions for genuine romantic interest?

    Good cheer, Nachtmusik! :-)

  20. Hi again! I guess what I meant when I said that the TF is addicted to drama is just what Bethany said---a grad student, teaching fellow or not, dating an undergrad is so (yawn) not interesting. Not when you have full professors sneaking around dating students. If she does not behave badly, not a soul will care. And it is so not a big deal that just as Bethany says, should the 'impossible' happen and her BF wants to take some upper level class she is offering, she can simply tell someone she needs another assignment and why. We used to switch up class assignments for even less interesting reasons than that when I was a TF.

  21. Ahoy, Bella! Agreed, there is definitely some drama in her DNA. The Gothic Romance kind celebrated by the Bronte sisters, leaving her to pine after this young, unobtainable dish, and, once she fails to land him, wandering the misty moors late at night in her bedclothes. Soon enough she'll succumb to pneumonia, but, not until her epic and tragic death is known to all. Sniff.

    Good cheer, Bella. :-)

  22. Ahoy there Captain Smag! Great pungent advice! (Sorry I too thought you had wet your pants!)

    I'm beginning to wonder why no male student ever showed any sign of having a crush on me when I was in my prime... could I have mistaken the signs of lust for an interest in post modernism or some such nonsense? If only I had a time machine I'd go back and investigate and perhaps catch up on any missed opportunities.

    On the other hand I never had any problem knowing how to get a young dude to change a light bulb. In my prime they would have fallen on each other to get to it faster. Now I have to rely on fear and guilt: I pretend I'm going to change it myself and they jump up before I blow out all the fuses or, gasp, drop the light bulb on their heads. As for the water cooler, I just stand there and stare at it, and sooner or later this huffied 30 year old kid shows up and accuses me of misandry and of "reverse" agism but he does change the jug (hee hee)...

    As for the LW who doesn't want to take care of her adopted sister for a single week, it's a toss up whether she's concerned about the kid, or her kids, or whether she's pissed off at her mother taking a vacation in Europe..., not to mention taking in foster children when, at the incredibly advanced age of 60, she should have signed her house over to her "legitimate" daughters and gotten herself to a nursing home.... sheesh!

  23. ... I meant to say, I would stare at the empty water cooler and emit very loud sighs, loud enough for that huffity twerp and everyone else in the office to hear them....