From a Submariner's Perspective is a weekly column, written in response to the letters sent in to advice columnist "Prudie" at Slate.com. Each week, The Submariner responds to the letter writers in a way that Slate.com 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 smagboy1@gmail.com 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, June 3, 2010

...on Masturbating in the Law Office (and other offenses)

http://www.slate.com/id/2255751/ (06/03/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There


Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? How is the wonderouds, beauteous, incredible month of June treating you? Are you happy, healthy and warm (or at least appropriately air-conditioned)? I hope so! I am on vacation this week, enjoying an extended holiday weekend all week long! But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not with you, too, here in the Lagoon! In that way, I’m always here, and happily! But, all of the pleasantries aside, we’ve got several letters to get to, eh? And there are some good ones this week, too! So, what do you say? Let’s get crackin’!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I am a young female attorney who recently started work at a small law office. On a recent morning, I arrived at work much earlier than normal and believe that I walked in on my boss masturbating. He was the only other person in the office and had no idea that I was there. Though, admittedly, I didn’t actually see him masturbating, I’m 95% sure that’s what was going on. If I report anything, it’ll feel very strange because I’m the new, young, female attorney and I’d have to report it to the older, established male attorneys. And worse, my boss is not the person who makes pay decisions, so, I can’t even leverage this information in any lucrative way. What to do? Signed, Ruminating on Masturbating

Dear Ruminating, I think I can help. I recently received a letter from an ungrateful, twit, shit bag. I’m 95% sure that she was masturbating while she wrote it because nothing else would explain how someone so ostensibly intelligent (she holds a law degree that I assume did not come from a Cracker Jack box) could be so out-of-this world, undeniably fucking stupid. Do you know what I told her? I said, “Mind your own fucking business, you goddamned, gold digging fuck stain. How about you try actually working for your pay instead of getting everywhere in life through the work of others? First your parents, who I’m certain paid for your schooling (although clearly forgot to instill any morals or common decency or work ethic), and now your innocent boss who, assuming he was alone, got caught in an unfortunate, but entirely harmless situation.” I doubt she heeded my advice though. Some people are beyond being helped. Mostly, from what I hear, they become attorneys.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, Several months back, my ex, angry over having to pay child support, told my 15-year-old son several lies about the nature of our marriage and my son’s parentage! He said that I’d trapped my ex in the relationship with lies. That I was a slut who had no idea who the father was, that I’d tried to put up our son for adoption, and other lies. My son was furious when he came home to me, but wouldn’t say why. As a result, I snooped on his computer and found out what my ex had said. Now I don’t know what to do? If I defend myself to my son, I’ll have to admit that I snooped. Which is worse, being a slut who doesn’t know the parentage of her child, or a mom who snoops on her 15-year-old son? Signed, Ruminating on Capitulating

Dear Ruminating, the solution is simple. You snooped, right? You knew it was wrong and yet you did it. Why? Well, because you were concerned and were trying desperately to find answers. Should you have? No. Never. Because we see how it ends up. Every. Single. Fucking. Time! Point is, there’s no excuse to snoop. Ever (unless there are drugs or other potentially death-inducing situations involved and the person in question is a minor)! But, now that you’ve done it, you sure do have your answers, don’t you? What can you do now? Well, the way I see it, you’ve got only once choice. Continue being the stabilizing factor in your son’s life. Continue (or start) being the mature adult in his life. Continue (or start) providing a solid example for the kind of person he should grow up to be. He may not be your friend right now. He may not even like you. But don’t give him reason to not respect you. The former concerns pass, but the latter one? That goes on forever and spills into other relationships. He’ll figure out that your ex is a flaming fucking idiot and the former concerns will change. You, on the other hand, can do better than that. Be the adult in this situation as it’s in desperate need of one. Good luck and hang in there.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I’m in my mid-20s and my best friend and I used to be inseparable. At the beginning of the year, we were in a terrible car accident (she was driving). While I escaped with only a few broken bones, my friend died. Everyone was devastated. My question is about her stuff. I want it. Well, not all of it, just the things that I gave her. And maybe some additional sentimental trinkets that might help me remember her. I don’t imagine they’re things that would mean a lot to her family, but they would to me. Oh, yeah, I’d like to get back a book that I loaned her, too. How can I broach this subject with her parents and family? Should I just let it go? Signed, Ruminating on Indignating

Dear Ruminating, I find myself very confused by your letter. I mean, I should feel really bad for you. I should pity your circumstances and want to help you navigate this minefield with your friend’s family. But for some reason I don’t. And I’m not sure why? As a matter of fact, I find myself almost having to resist admonishing you for even writing in. Why is that, do you think? And, if I, a stranger, feel that way, how do you imagine her family will feel? Perhaps we can figure this out through some questions. I have several. If you were so close with your friend, why haven’t you talked to her parents before writing to Prudie?! Why haven’t you met with them? Why haven’t all of you grieved together? Perhaps your friend had a bad relationship with her parents? Perhaps you’ve only known her a short time, or the two of you lived far away from her family? Perhaps you’ve never met her family? Something in your letter just doesn’t add up and I can’t put my finger on it, but, in the meantime, it makes it impossible for me to offer very specific advice other than to say that you should, in fact, just let it go. I would hope that you’ve sent your condolences to this family? In this case, that may be all you can do. I’m sorry for your loss and wish you the best for a full recovery, but I wish the same for your friend’s family, and I fear you hold part of the key to that one in that a careless or insincere request from you could cause far more pain than healing.  I do hope you'll proceed wisely.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, My husband is a 15-year military veteran. Since leaving the service, he developed a condition that caused him to lose his leg. The condition was not service related. However, we are often stopped in public by well-meaning individuals who ask if my husband is a veteran, and, upon his answering in the affirmative, will offer all sorts of gratitude for his service and sacrifice to our country. It seems dishonest to accept the gratitude, though, considering the fact that he leg was not lost due to a service-related injury. We don’t want to go into my husband’s medical history when this happens, but also don’t want to discourage people from thanking vets in the future. What should we do? Signed, Ruminating on Fabricating

Dear Ruminating, why not just tell the truth? Say, “Oh, thank you very much, but, just to be clear, while I am a veteran, my condition is not a result of my time in the service.” Whew! Tough, eh? One whole sentence! Listen, just so you know, when I wear my command ball cap to the local hardware store, I get stopped and thanked for my service, too. Sometimes, yes, even with tears. And I have both of my legs. And while, like you, it makes me feel a little awkward when this happens, it is well-meaning enough. The specifics of your situation, however, are not difficult to explain. Just use the sentence I gave you above. How hard is that? And finally, just because I’m curious about the specifics, why are you writing in about this situation? Your husband is the veteran, yes? Your husband is the one with the missing leg, right? Presumably, he’s the one who answers these queries (or do you answer for him)? Since I see this entire situation as one that he should handle, and not you, I’m not sure why you’re handling any aspect of it, but, that’s a letter for another day, I suppose (but, you don’t cut his meat for him, do you?). Good luck, and remember, the truth will set you free!

****
Well, Shippers, that’s about it! This is a quick, down and dirty version because, as I say, I’m vacationing. But, if I’ve missed anything, if I’m off the mark, or, if you just wanted more snark and would like to add it in, please feel free to leave word in the comment section, below. Good cheer, Shippers. Fair winds and following seas to you all!

37 comments:

  1. The last one could be even easier. When dealing with complete strangers you never plan on seeing again, just tell them your not a vet. Keeps the conversation short, doesn't give them the idea you lost a limb in combat, and doesn't affect their future sympathy for other vets. Might be other reasons not to go that route, but it ought to be suggested.

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  2. The thing that jumps out at me about LW#3 is the book. If she loaned her the book, why the hell didn't she put her name in it?
    If she did, the family will most likely be returning it to her post haste. As for the rest, Prudie was right when she asked if she didn't get some presents from this friend over the years, and why wouldn't those work for sentimental reasons.

    I hope you are having a Smagtastic vacation! Well done this week, per usual!

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  3. Greetings, my Captain ~ !

    LW#1 ~ Mermaid works for attorneys, always has, probably always will. It's been instilled in us that, for any question or comment presented, there are two responses that will cover any possible situation. They are: "Why do you ask?" and "I'm sorry you feel that way." Let's see how this works for Miss Thang, shall we?:

    LW#1 ~ For the sake of my career, should I just pretend it did not happen, even though I am totally grossed out and uncomfortable?

    Response: Why do you ask?

    LW#1 ~ Unfortunately, he's not even the person who makes the pay decisions, so it is not as though I can leverage this in any lucrative way.

    Response: I'm sorry you feel that way.

    LW#1 ~ What do I do?

    Response: Why do you ask?

    Then just keep this up until they get tired and go away. Works every time!

    Video Letter ~ You didn't tackle this one but I thought it would be an opportune moment to point out that Mermaid has never ever been to a Starbucks, so she's not quite sure what all the fuss is about.

    LW#2 ~ Mermaid may tackle this in more detail on her side of the Lagoon ~ but she is quite dismayed by the son's easy acceptance of these lies perpetrated by the father without so much as a discussion with his mother. I can't picture my son doing that. If the father is as much a blowhard as he sounds, it would be easy for the mother to tell the son she's put two and two together with his new attitude post-visitation, and say that she has a good idea what the father has been saying about her as she's likely heard it herself or he's been spreading this filth past their son's ears. This is small enough of a white lie that it wouldn't bother Mermaid's conscience unduly. That would be a way to broach the subject and get a dialogue started without having to admit the snooping. Which wasn't cool, and which WOULD have bothered Mermaid's conscience unduly!

    LW#3 ~ Re LW#3 ~ that "thing you can't quite put your finger on" (I'll let that one go btw ~ too easy) ~ I wonder, as I posted on the Fray, if perhaps the LW and her friend didn't have an intimate relationship? It wasn't spelled out, but the way it read was exactly the way a partner expresses themself after losing their partner ~ they wonder if they are "entitled" to go through their loved one's things and don't know how to broach the subject with the grieving parents, who may have not been aware of the relationship, or its significance to her (or their daughter.)

    LW#4 ~ Hmmm. (gentle teasing coming ~ brace yourself, dearest!) One wonders (okay MERMAID wonders) why you would choose to wear that particular ball cap over all other ball caps when you know what sort of reaction it will elicit from people? One does not wear a conversation-starter unless one wants to have the conversation started.

    You see ~ I learned my lesson the hard way, Smag. Every time I'd wear my Hooters t-shirt to the hardware store, I was beseiged by men approaching me, and hugging me ~ some with tears in their eyes ~ and thanking me for my service. Sure, sometimes it was a little awkward. But I knew they meant well. So I just stopped wearing anything to the hardware store ~ as it was just too much trouble to explain each time.

    A truly satisfying experience with you, as always, Diving Buddy! Fair currents and gentle tides to you... ;)

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  4. Mermaid's point about LW3 is an interesting perspective. I recently read a wonderful book called "Hood" by Emma Donoghue about just that subject... a closeted lesbian loses her partner of 13 years in a car accident, and it chronicles her experience as the "invisible widow," who is unable to publicly grieve the way one would for a spouse. But I don't know - you'd think under the cloak of anonymity, she'd be able to just come out (so to speak) and give that bit of information. To me, it sounds more like that 20-something unawareness of social norms and etiquette that one only learns with experience. Maybe this is the first time she's ever experienced the death of anyone close to her. It sounds less like wanting stuff and more like a misguided way of wanting to be acknowledged as "family."

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  5. Ahoy, Drekab! I like your style! You solution is short, snappy and very efficient! Admittedly, my solution was less so on all fronts, so, I'll go with yours, but I think either will work. ;-)

    Good cheer to you! :-)

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  6. Ahoy, Libby, and greetings. Yeah, I still can't figure out LW#3. The letter just reads like a property grab, though. I mean, if she was such a good friend, why didn't the parents know her? And, if they did, how difficult could it have been to talk to them? Very perplexing letter!

    Good cheer, Libby, and thank you for the well wishes! :-)

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  7. Ahoy, MM! And greetings! As you well know, it's a sincere and wonderful event to see you surfaced here in the Lagoon! :-)

    I agree with you 100% on LWs #1 and #2. The snooping is the only issue with #2 that I find unsavory and, you're correct, she easily can hide it and still approach her son.

    As for LW#3, if they were lovers, to me, the only thing that would indicate that fact would be the one phrase you've highlighted. Otherwise, the desire to get back a loaned book (not a book with sentimental value, but a "loaned" one) is even more unattractive. Also, if they were lovers, but had never met the parents, that indicates something about the relationship between the parents and the deceased girl which, to me, gives the LW more leeway to approach them since they'd oppressed their daughter's freedom. To me, the letter still reads like a desire to get back not only loaned items and gifts, but otehr items that belonged to the deceased girl, too (items whose value she seems to want to minimize by calling them "trinkets"). And I understand that, I do, but, why didn't I feel the least bit of sympathy for the LW? What was missing from the letter? I honestly can't say (seriously), but, for some reason, I just didn't buy her pain and loss.

    As for LW#4 and the command ballcap, my dear MM, you may not know this about me, your beloved Captain, but I only own two ballcaps in this entire world. Both were issued by the Navy. When I work outdoors, I grab one. One day, when they wear out, I'll buy a new one. But they're no more meant for attention than my tattoos (which only my closest friends and loved ones even know about, and even fewer have seen in real life), but, just to be clear, I'm not offended when the cap is noticed. Nor do I have a problem with it. I answer truly and correctly every time and am proud to do so. However, that's not the case with our LW. Just sayin'. ;-)

    As for hugging you, Hooter shirt-clad and all, all I can say is, may I? :-)

    Good cheer, MM. As always! :-)

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  8. Ahoy, Amy, and greetings! You said, regarding LW#3, "But I don't know - you'd think under the cloak of anonymity, she'd be able to just come out (so to speak) and give that bit of information [to the parents]". I thought/think the same thing. But, I can understand her wanting to honor her former lover by not outing her in death to her parents if she didn't out herself in life. Regardless, it's likely a tough situation--one that we clearly don't have enough information to fully appreciate. Maybe we'll get lucky and she'll write in to The Fray? :-)

    Good cheer, Amy! :-)

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  9. Of course, there may be another reason entirely for the parents not to contact LW #3. It's in SHADDAP, but in essence, I imagine it would be almost impossible for them to look at her and ask themselves why she's not the one that died....

    ...or, if alcohol was involved, why she didn't take the keys away and stop the accident from happening in the first place...

    .. or something of that nature.

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  10. Greetings, SB1. I think "start" is much more likely to be accurate than "continue" for L2, but I am increasingly suspecting it's too late.

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  11. Ahoy Messy, and welcome! :-) Yes, absolutely! And that's the sort of information that I'm after. In this case, though, it seems the opposite. It seems (at least by what we have in the letter) that the LW is the one who hasn't reached out. She barely knows throught the grapevine that the parents are starting to go through her friend's stuff. As if that's the cue she's been waiting for. Seems somehow unsavory. :-( But, yes, I agree that your suggestions are all entirely possible.

    Good cheer! :-)

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  12. Ahoy, hrumpole. "Start" could very well be more accurate, but, too, we have to weigh that even that will be better than the prize the sperm donor appears to be--and perhaps one of the "adults" in this scenario can manage to wake up? But yes, considering the boy is 15, it may well be too late already. A shame. :-(

    Good cheers to you, hrumpole. :-)

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  13. asking for a "friend"June 4, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    I work as an atty and the weirdest thing happened this morning, our new female hire walked in while I had a stuck zipper. Should I have asked her to help w/ it? :).

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  14. Ahoy, asking! Are you kidding?! Of course you should have asked for help! Why else make new hires? Just make sure that if you ever have a male new hire and the same thing happens, you must ask his help, too. Otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for some nasty discrimination litigation. ;-)

    Cheers! :-)

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  15. Why do I suddenly feel like I'm seeing the plotline developing for some B-grade porn?

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  16. Ahoy there Captain Smag!
    Glad you taking a vacation, I'm sure you were overdue for one though I wish it could be more than one week...

    Sound advice as usual, though I find myself wanting to yell at those LWs.... (except the mother whose ex has told those horrible things to their son --it must have broken his heart....)

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  17. Mermaid, I had to laugh my head off reading your "why do you ask" and "I'm sorry you feel that way" --brilliant!

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  18. Libby, the whole of "From A Submariner's Perspective" is the plot for some B-grade porn! This discussion just adds to the greater meme. ;-)

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  19. Ahoy, Kati! I understand the tough position the son is in, being as I grew up as a male from a broken home. As such, I think that by far the best advice for either parent is to try to live life as best they can and not speak ill, ever, of the other parent. My parents followed this wisdom at times. And, at other times, being human, they failed to do so. Also, at fifteen, a child is more than capable of making up and believing all manner of things that neither parent said! It's a tough time and I wish them all three good luck and happiness. Here's hoping...

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  20. ah smagboy - apparently you don't have a visible handicap so you cannot believe how people respond to it. i would not be surprised if the wife is the one questioned about the limb loss. i am a below elbow amputee as the result of a croc attack in central africa. the residual limb is a bit mangled up yet. not many one-armed white women walking around, so it draws attention. many people will ask my kids, my husband or someone else near me what happened as opposed to asking me. i think they are trying to be nice - it seems like they are afriad to mention the lost limb thinking that bring attention to it will upset me - as if i am unaware of my condition. and then there are those who barge quite persistently into a conversation with me despite any and all efforts to be vague or firm in answering succintly. it is often hard to know the best, most mannerly way to answer curious folks. don't blame her for writing. you don't want to be the cranky handicapped person, but you don't feel like telling your life story either. never hurts to get another opinion on manners for dealing with weird situtions. just trying to broaden your world view ... ;-)

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  21. Greetings, Sandy! Ahoy and welcome! :-)

    I sincerely appreciate your efforts to broaden my world view, I do! And I will take what you've said under consideration.

    That said, had the situation been as you outline, I would have expected our letter writer to say to Prudie something like, "...because of my husband's lost limb and people's discomfort with speaking to him directly, people will often ask me if he's a veteran. When I indicate that he is, they'll assume the lost limb is due to his service and thank him, sometimes with tears in their eyes..." etc. Instead, she was clear that the interactions were with him, that he answers the questions, and that the reactions are aimed at him.

    As such, I think my (rather gentle) prodding of the LW about why she was involved at all is valid and on target. It was not so much meant to be mean as to point out (as you did) that he's the one with the injury and the one fielding the questions. I will certainly entertain any rebuttals, however. :-)

    Finally, on a side note, one of my father's good friends lost his right arm just above the elbow for trying to (drunkenly, I assume) feed "Blinky", the local alligator (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1350&dat=19780830&id=UAoVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=fgIEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5952,5043972), so I'm quite familiar with at least the general nature of your injury. And I promise that if I had a question for you about it, I'd ask you directly. That way you could decide if you want to answer directly or step on my toe for being too forward. ;-)

    Good cheer, Sandy! :-)

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  22. she might not even realise that is why they ask her. of course, she could be one of those helicopter people that hover over the handicapped - helping whether they want help or not. but rarely does anyone admit being uncomfortable around a handicp. i have a boston accent, one arm, and a face like everyone's uncle fred. and yet people come up to me all the time and say - oh, it's you! i thought i recognised your face! - no one remembers my face. the arm triggers the memory, but very few will admit it. on the ontrary, people often tell me they broke their arm once, so they know exactly how i feel, or grab me and tell me "what an inspration" iam. it can be quite disconcerting. remembering manners or figuring out manners in some situations can be be tricky and her hsband might not always be willing to be gracious. it happens. frequently to me. :-)

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  23. truth be told, i was way more worried about the dumb shit layer who didnt know how to mind her own business (and not be resentful about the lack of blackmail opportunity) and the tactless dumb shit who was involved in the accident and wanted her book and stuff back. they seem waaay more handicapped than i am.

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  24. Hey Smaggie!

    Once again a priceless group of letter's this week each deserving of the Snarklite tone of your replies. How snarky can a man get when he's vacationing while trying to enjoy a drink without that pesky umbrella sticking you in the eye? You've again done a fine job calling out the ruminator's!

    I've used Mermaid's, Why do you ask? I'm sorry you feel that way...and then I have my completely noncommittal, somewhat non-verbal grunt of confusion added in and it goes like this...huh...I serve that up when they truly aren't capable of "getting" it? Barely a chuff of noise but it's loud enough for the moron in question to not go further. It's that...huh...who the hell cares chuff, that whisper of a noise that says...I am done...not one more thing to add..huh...a question for the universe you are on maybe..but alas I must take care of real business in the real world. See you!

    My tolerance of moron's is still at an all time low. And I still don't see that changing any time soon.

    I do believe the title of Moron of the Week goes to, Ruminating on Masturbating...Get a life, Get a clue!

    Happy trails everyone....;o)

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  25. Kudo's Smaggie...last week...loved it!

    I'm stealing this one from last week....‘Rock of Love’ shillelagh milkers...so'oooo funny, regardless of spelling.

    And Hrumprole...the Odious Mr. Trump...very good...that man bugs me to no end and my feeling's are not all about his head of glorious hair that is NOT a comb over, it's a halo of milky goodness...sheesh.

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  26. Well, Sandy, I'll certainly bow to your more intimate knowledge of the potential interactions. As such, I'm willing to concede that I could have caveated the answer perhaps a *bit* more. ;-) But I can't go too light on her, dangit! Afterall, I *am* supposed to be a grizzled ol' Submariner. What would everyone think if I didn't fling her a little poo?

    As for the others, they bugged me a heckuva lot more, too, no doubt.

    Good cheer, Sandy! :-)

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  27. Ahoy, Debbie! You've been missed! But I'm thrilled to see you've returned to the lagoon. I have a sneaky suspicion that you don't put up with any crapola whatsoever. I can hear your non-verbal cues now. :-)

    As for the shillelagh milkers, I'm sure Bret enjoys them, too. But I fear, given all of his medical issues of late, that he needs to slow down a knot or two! Holy smokes!

    Good to see you back! :-)

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  28. Greetings again, my Captain!

    I'm always a bit befuddled when people get all up in the wife for writing in to an advice columnist on behalf of her husband, as if the assumption is that the husband doesn't really have an issue with the situation ~ it's the wife who does, and she just needs to MYOB.

    The last line of her letter says "How should WE handle this?" ~ which gives me some indication it's a concern for the husband, also. And when he asks his wife how he should handle it when strangers approach him and make assumptions, should she say, "That's your problem. You figure out a way to deal with it." No ~ she'd help him figure out a way to deal with it. And if she doesn't know how, she'll likely do what women tend to do and that's reach out to a third party for help ~ in this case, an advice columnist.

    I'm always loathe to make blanket statements (like the one I just made above!) but I have found the majority of men to have difficulty in asking for help with anything that doesn't involve "hold this thing steady for me while I do this other thing..." kind of situation. They don't even like to ask for directions, people! Why is it so hard to figure out that they keep "asking" their wife what to do in these emotion and/or socially-based situations instead of asking a third party for advice ~ of their own accord? And is it hard to figure out that a loving wife would not want to see her beloved husband distressed this way on a regular basis, and would seek to help him by whatever means she could? When you love someone ~ don't their problems and concerns become YOUR problems and concerns?

    I just think it's a bit of a cop-out to not take the situation and/or the query seriously (NOT saying you were in this particular case, just in general, Diving Buddy!) because of the technicality that the person directly affected by the situation doesn't happen to be the one who wrote the letter asking for advice.

    And ~ yes, you may, by beloved Smag. Any time. ;)

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  29. Sorry, that's "my" not "by" ~ but close enough. ;)

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  30. Ahoy, MM! And greetings to your fine, Hooters tee-shirt-clad self! I will explain why *I* sometimes get all up in the wives (or husbands, or SOs) for writing such letters. I won't endeavor to answer for anyone else, though, as I would never presume to do so. For me, it's an issue of autonomy. Relationships sometimes get very weird, where on partner will sort of take on an almost "parental" role over the other. They will do things for them that are far and away past what should be done for a functional adult (e.g. cutting their meat for them, picking out their clothes for them, answering questions asked of the other partner, etc.). In these instances, they should be called out, IMHO. That's not to say that a concerned spouse can't write in to advice columnists! It's not to say that a concerned spouse can't share in their partner's concerns! It's just to say that some letters beg for the question to be asked. This letter was one of them. Why is the spouse, in this case, concerned? She's not a veteran, she's not been injured, she's not the one being asked the questions. And, most importantly, there's no indication in the letter that the spouse has asked for her help. She doesn't say, "This makes my husband very uncomfortable..." Actually, it's even worse...it's as if she's usurping his position. Read this, "While my husband is a veteran and technically qualifies for the warm gesture, it seems deceitful to allow these people to believe he suffered a grave injury in Iraq. We don't want to share my husband's complicated medical history with strangers..." Sense anything potentially weird in there? I do.

    Presumably, and as the LW said, the questions are being asked of the husband. The husband is the one answering, according to the letter, yet, as you so aptly point out, the LW asked how "WE" should handle this. This is not a "WE" situation, in my book. It's a "HE" situation. How a partner answers queries to them, about them, and of them, is not something that the other partner should be concerned with. If they are, they're on the precipice of helicoptering. At least to me, they are.

    Now, if the husband asked the wife for help, then, surely, and by all means, she would be in the right to ask Prudie, etc. And you'll notice (as you pointed out), that I wasn't too heavy-handed with this LW. Some cases are certainly much, much worse!

    I would just caution that even the most loving, devoted, committed couples should have certain boundaries that shouldn't be crossed. Answering for one's spouse, when the question has been asked of the spouse, is one of those areas (save for if the spouse physically or emotional needs/asks for help). Again, this is only my opinion as I would *never* presume to answer for anyone else. ;-)

    Good cheer, MM! :-)

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  31. But, Smag, in fact, you DID say that a concerned spouse can't write in to Prudie! Or at least you implied that they shouldn't ~ that merely "being concerned" is not enough reason to write in!

    Your initial post asked her "why are you writing in about this situation?" and then went on to say that, because her husband is the one with the condition, being asked the questions, you didn't understand why she "was handling any aspect of it at all." I know your last sentence was referring to the possible answering of questions on behalf of her husband, but your first comment indicated to me that you didn't even think she should be writing in to Prudie for advice, even though she's concerned, because her husband is concerned. As if that's not reason enough.

    And in answer to your question ~ SHE'S concerned because HER HUSBAND is concerned! For some people, that's enough to make them want to help their spouse with their concerns! I have to tell you, I got a strange feeling in my stomach, Smag, when I read you write "Why is the spouse, in this case, concerned? She's not a veteran, she's not been injured, she's not the one being asked the questions" ~ because this seems a really odd and mean sort of disconnect from someone you presumably care about. There's a big difference between being a helicopter and just not giving a darn because "it's not your problem".

    Why do you assume the husband hasn't asked her for help in this situation? Because that wasn't spelled out in Prudie? Can't you imagine that each time this happens, he gets a look on his face of concern or pain, or he says to her "I just don't know what to say to people when they approach me like that" ~ and read that as him asking her for help in how to handle it? I think that's an overly stringent requirement that the husband should officially ask the wife for help before you'd think it all right for her to write in to Prudie ~ esp when you consider that some men have difficulty asking for help or being able to articulate what it is they need ~ and an empathetic spouse would be able to tell that without being "asked".

    I think you're assuming that because she wonders how "we" should handle it, that she plans to be vocal in her assistance ~ that she plans to answer for her husband. Or you're assuming that she hasn't been asked questions herself, however peripherally. And I can tell that the line between "he" and "we" being blurred is bothering you, and I'm not sure why. Haven't you ever seen one couple approach another couple ~ the husbands would address each other, the wives would nod to each other, but to describe the encounter, the first couple would say "they came up and spoke to us" when actually only the husbands spoke. Do you understand how the line between "he" and "we" becomes blurred ~ when the wife's involvement in the situation could amount to nothing more than standing there and being supportive?

    So, when she asks how "we" should handle it ~ I don't think she was looking for anything more than advice for her husband on what he should say to people, and ~ I don't think she plans on doing anything more than supporting her husband in a situation that "they" encounter with regularity ~ but she would like to have the advice for herself (part of the "we") in case she ever IS asked, instead of her husband, because it's obvious this sort of thing is going to happen to "them" with regularity.

    So I can understand your position if you have been assuming that the LW plans on answering for her husband ~ because that's just wrong and helicopter-y, I agree ~ I just don't see that as the case.

    Good cheer back atcha, Diving Buddy! :)

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  32. Ahoy again, MM! I understand what you're saying! I really do. :-) And, please know that what I'm expressing here is only my opinion based on the vibe I got from a short letter to Prudie. As I've explained before, with these letters being what they are, I have to make snap decisions based on very limited evidence. But, the quote that I mention above it what made me think the LW might be thinking more "me" than "we", and that she might be helicoptering a bit. Again, I might be wrong, but, here's how I interpreted the quote: While my husband is a veteran and technically [snarky word, isn't it?] qualifies for the warm gesture, it seems deceitful [of him] to allow these people to believe he suffered a grave injury in Iraq [when, in fact, he clearly and most certainly did not!]. We [as in, *I*] don't want to share my husband's complicated medical history with [totally nosy] strangers [so I'm writing to you to justify shutting them down when they ask]... I just expected to see a "my husband feels" in there, even just one, to make me believe this letter was more about a mutual concern than how I took it.

    Now, okay, yes, my interpretation was over the top, but, that was an extreme version of sort of what *I* got from the letter. Understand, I was pretty gentle with her in my response! You've seen me be a lot, lot, LOT tougher, so, that should indicate to you that I understand that there is more than one interpretation of this letter. And I do, I honestly do, understand what you're saying, MM. :-) I'm just interpreting the letter differently than you.

    I think we're saying the same thing, though. That spouses certainly have the right to be a team and often need one another in that capacity, and want one another in that capacity! And that's a beautiful thing and a very important part of good relationships! :-) But, too, sometimes people insinuate themselves into situations with their spouses that are perhaps outside their purview. And that happens, too, sometimes. And, in this letter, I was driven to wonder if maybe that was sorta, kinda going on a little. :-)

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  33. Ahoy yourself, Captain!

    Oh! So what you're saying is ~ you think the wife is a little resentful that her husband is getting "credit" for being a "hero" when, in her opinion, he doesn't really deserve it? And I don't mean that to sound as snarky as it sounds when you read it back, honest hon! :) I meant that literally ~ is that a bit of what you think is going on here? Like maybe she's a teeny bit jealous of the undeserved attention? Because I CAN see reading it that way also, now that you mentioned it ~ I guess it's just my habit of assuming the best of intentions in people that didn't lead me right to that possibility!

    But then again, I also read that quote like this: While my husband is a veteran and technically (I didn't detect any snark ~ she's trying to differentiate between "actually qualifying" (being a war amputee) and "technically qualifying" being just a vet that people ASSUME is a war amputee) qualifies for the warm gesture, it seems deceitful (of US ~ why us and not just him? because her silence implies agreement) to allow these people to believe he suffered a grave injury in Iraq (because they might unjustly blame George Bush for it!(jk) We don't want to share my husband's complicated medical history with strangers (it would bore them just to make ourselves feel better by being completely honest) but we don't want to discourage people from giving thanks to vets in the future (and therefore harshing their good samaritan glow). What should we do? (how can we make sure everyone has a great day and walks away from the experience feeling good about themselves?)

    So, I guess we did interpret it a little differently! ;)

    But what I was really and ultimately trying to address with my initial post was what I feel is a chronic response here on The Fly, and on the DP Fray, when someone's spouse or another third party writes in ~ at some point, in an attempt to win the argument ~ SOMEONE will dismissively ask ~ why didn't the spouse themself write in? And the attitude is usually ~ if the spouse really had a problem with something, they'd be writing in to Prudie, and because they haven't, it must logically follow that they aren't the one with the problem ~ it's the LW. And THAT'S what I was having an issue with ~ I think it's a cop-out to ask that question EVERY time a third party writes in ~ and I seem to see it EVERY time! Just like last week with the lady with the m-i-l causing trouble at the private school ~ people were all up in arms about the fact that they didn't feel this lady had a dog in the fight ~ so why was she even writing in? And while it may be the case ~ I just think it's a cop-out as far as argument tactics go.

    So that's why I didn't have an issue with how hard I felt you coming down on the LW (because you're right, sweetie, I didn't think you were hard on her at all!) ~ it's just the issue being raised AT ALL as to "who wrote the letter" as if it automtically has some nefarious meaning by not originating from the husband ~ that was my issue.

    And just as an aside ~ I'm going to give the LW a bit of a pass in this instance anyway. I can imagine that having my spouse go through something as traumatic as the loss of a limb might make me a little protective of him also (and also might make me feel as if "we" had been through something together) ~ but it wouldn't make me start cutting his meat or laying his clothes out every morning, okay? He'd have to ask real real nice to get that. ;)

    It's been a pleasure, as always, Diving Buddy! :)

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  34. Ahoy yourself, yourself, MM! :-)

    Yes, I think it's *possible* that "the wife is a little resentful that her husband is getting 'credit' for being a 'hero' when, in her opinion, he doesn't really deserve it?" Only a little bit, and only as a side thing--that's why I mentioned it sort of playfully (the whole "cutting his meat" thing), etc.

    Now, as for other posters coming down on other spouses, etc., I can't speak to that as I would *never* do such a thing! :-P

    Good cheer, Diving Buddy! As always.

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  35. Ahoy Cool One! You are right on point, obviously, and I bow to your superior knowledge, but, I wold like to add one more character type and that's the person (usually a parent, but, sometimes a spouse), who actually answers FOR the child or spouse when people DO ask them questions. So, if someone directly asks a school age child, "How old are you? Where do you go to school?" etc., some parents will just pipe right up with an answer! It's true! :-) And, it's been my experience that you're 100% correct, they have to be corrected, and sometimes not pleasantly, in order for them to learn.

    Good stuff, all! :-)

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  36. Greetings, Diving Buddy!

    This very thing happened to me the other night ~ and this is how I handled it.

    One of my classmates brought her son in with her to class (babysitter issues). This classmate is always talking about how the boy has been moved up a grade because he's so smart, and he appears to be a very well-behaved little boy. When I came upon the scene, they and several other students were waiting in the hall for the previous class to let out so we could go in. The boy sat on the floor, resting with his back to the wall, and mom stood at his side ~ talking about him. She talked about where they went that weekend and what he wants to do with his life and about the missionary work he has to do ~ basically just talking about him as if he wasn't sitting right there. I looked at him, and our eyes met, and he lowered his right away. I got the feeling he gets this a lot from his mom. You could almost feel the *eyeroll* from him.

    So I noticed his book on "mythical monsters" and I said to him, "I notice your book there ~ does it have any ocean monsters in it?" and he sort of lit up and grabbed the book and opened it to start showing me things, and mom piped right up with "He wants to be an oceanographer when he grows up..." and I never took my eyes off the child as he was talking to me (while mom was standing right there talking to me) and I'd ask him questions that mom couldn't answer "Which one is your favorite?" etc. and every time I'd ask him something, his mom's mouth would kind of open and snap shut ~ she was THAT used to answering for him!

    I like to think I made my point without offending her (because she's a nice lady and I like her) that her o-so-smart boy is perfectly capable of answering on his own.

    I just think children deserve the same respect and courtesy as an adult (and I Know I'm preaching to the choir, Smag.) I used to refuse to attend parent-teacher conferences unless my son could attend also. I told them I don't think it's appropriate to have a meeting and discuss someone behind their back, and that includes my child.

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  37. Will the Fly let me post today?

    I agree with Mermaid that if one doesn't want to be bothered by people asking if he's a veteran, don't wear stuff that indicates that he is. Hubby is a veteran, and while lately that gets a certain amount of attention, it doesn't generate nearly as much attention as when he wears a Cubs jersey! It's enough almost to make one want to dress like an adult!

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