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, August 26, 2010

...on Assault, Asperger's and Alternatives to Mournful Travel

http://www.slate.com/id/2265082/ (8/26/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? All here is well. But, for some reason, no Jody Calls outside my window this morning! That’s a weekly ritual; I read Prudie, start my response, I hear the Jody Calls, all is well. Strange to have them absent today. The absence is probably due to a training holiday of some sort... Oh well, nothing to worry over, I’m sure. And, since we have letters to address, and they’re not getting any fresher, we'd best get crackin’, eh?

LW#1: Dear Prudie. I’m a happily married man (and father to an infant). Although, that happiness is relative, I suppose, in that my wife has self-esteem issues, I’m a stubborn jackass, and, we’ve been fighting like cats and dogs because my wife says I don’t pay her enough attention, but I say that I do! And I’m right! But you know, other than that, we live in Happiness Fucking Central, Prudie! Anyway, during a recent fight, my wife began literally pushing me. Then striking me! Even though I swore that I’d never hit a woman, I struck her back. Now I feel like shit, but my wife, now calmer, says she understands what I did and why. I feel terrible, Prudie. And I have a feeling that my wife, now that she knows I can be driven to the point of striking her, will try to drive me there again. And, frankly, I don’t know what to do. Signed, Perplexed Pugilist in Happy Town

Dear Muhammad Alidiot. First of all, you’re not happily married. You need to recognize that. How can you even say that?!  Would you like for me to list out the reasons you're not happy, all logical-like? No? But why, since you’re so into logically listing things? Look dude, you just fell victim to one of the classic blunders--the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia"--but only slightly less well-known is this: don’t get into an argument with a nut-job who’d resort to hitting you to prove her point (consciously or no). All the “logic” in the world isn’t going to change the fact that you both think you’re right. Here’s the thing. Your wife feels like you aren’t giving her enough attention. You feel like you are. Do you honestly think arguing those points is going to help?! You don’t give me enough attention! Yes I do! No you don’t! Yes, I do!!! No, you fucking don’t!!! Yep, I can surely see a solution there. Any day now...  Think that’s ever going to solve the core issue there? No wonder you’re so confused and think that you’re happy. You’re a couple of complete dumbasses! So here, let me lay it out for you. You two are in the middle of a full-on dysfunctional relationship. You need some counseling on communication. And pronto. In the meantime, if you can’t trust your wife not to hit you, and can't trust yourself not to hit her, you two need far more help than an Internet columnist is going to provide, and, for your sake (you know, if you want to be able to have visitation after the divorce), you’d better, a) start documenting any time she hits you (after you’ve left the room and removed yourself from the argument, of course), and, b) never hit her again. Ever. Because right now, you’re both messing up. Big time.  Happy indeed.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’m an Asian girl about to enter high school (my being Asian is an important cultural point that you should understand as you read the rest of my letter). I’m writing to tell you that I present with every symptom of Asperger’s syndrome known to man. Shall I list them for you? Straight from the Internet sites where I took the tests that confirmed my suspicions? No? But, I really feel compelled to do so! No? Sigh. Anyway, my concern is that I have Asperger’s (it would explain a lot of things, actually), but, my parents believe mental disease to be a sign of inferiority and weakness. I need help in seeking treatment, but I’m scared to tell them. What should I do? Signed, Asperteen

Dear Internet Doctor. First off, I want to point out that I think this letter is as fake as the day is long. Why? It demonstrates an amount of self-awareness not present in even most fully-formed adults that I know--take LW#1, for example--much less middle schoolers! Of course, that impression may be the product of a concerned, real teen, retro-fitting specific symptoms into a condition that she believes she has (and, she may well have it). Since the latter is a possibility, I’m going to address the letter in that way and second Prudie’s advice. You should raise your concern to your parents, showing them the research you’ve done. Attempt to engage them. But, if they resist, if they push back, there is still a lot of available help (as Prudie outlined)! The main thing is to try to get an accurate assessment. Don’t be dishonest with the doctor when asked about your symptoms/concerns. Being diagnosed with Asperger's is not "cool", and it's not going to solve your problems.  But, if you honestly have it, you can be helped.  So, be as forthcoming as possible. Social awkwardness does not have to mean anything other than that. Lots of people are socially awkward at your age! Many grow out of it, some do not. But that’s very different from Asperger’s. Hang in there, kiddo, and good luck!

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I recently had two uncles pass away within one day of each other. As you can imagine, this devastated my family. Unfortunately, I’d already planned and paid for a five-day vacation before these tragedies occurred and so, of course, I went on the vacation! I mean, duh! Now my family is all pissed off at me. I loved these uncles, Prudie! Like, a lot and stuff! And I always showed that fact when they were alive by saying “thank you” to them when they gave me gifts and money and stuff (well, you know, provided it was something I wanted)! I mean, damn, I sent a sympathy card and trinket of remembrance to each surviving spouse. Why is everyone so pissed off with me now? Signed, Tanned, Relaxed And Shunned

Dear Jackass. Talk about social awkwardness and inability to understand social cues (a la LW#2). Listen, either you were close with your uncles or you weren’t. You say you were, but then you call your aunts, their wives, the “surviving spouses”. Clinical description much?  So, who are you kidding here? Certainly not yourself! Fuck, you hopped on that plane, no problemo! Which is fine, you know? But you need to be willing to accept that your uncles weren’t all that important to you. You’re wanting to have your cake and eat it, too. You want to be seen as all family-oriented and caring, when, in fact, you couldn’t have given two shits about your uncles or your family! And, you made that fact perfectly clear to everyone. Now you need to own it. And, in the meantime, if it legitimately bothers you that some folks in your family are upset with you (in other words, if there are some people in your family that you actually do care about), you might want to consider their feelings next time you decide to be a selfish jackass, yet not want to have to pay the price for it. Mourning death isn’t for the dead, you twit, it’s for those who are left behind. Perhaps, you know, between manicures and vacation time, you can ruminate on that a bit.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I’m working at a temp job that I enjoy. However, one of my co-workers, Bob, is an eccentric elderly man who’s asked me to bring him fruit and bread. On a continuing basis. He pays for it, of course, but, I don’t want to be his errand runner! I have a feeling that he has some physical disabilities and can’t get to the grocery store. I’m concerned for him, but, you know, not that concerned. What should I do? Signed, So Not The Office Gopher

Dear Gopher (he’s now a former congressman and current radio host, you know!). Look, it sounds as if you’re new to the professional world, so, let me be frank. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to be Bob’s fruit and bread source. At all. Period. It’s inappropriate for Bob to ask you to do so under the guise of some sort of workplace responsibility. If you don’t want to do it, simply explain to him that you aren’t comfortable with the task as you don’t believe it to be work-related. Do not apologize for it, and do not explain yourself. Be professional and direct, but not mean or rude. If this causes any problems with Bob, at all, make sure to speak with a supervisor immediately, and make sure to document the events. And remember, this can be a burden or it can be a life lesson. And, too, it can be something nice you do for Bob as you have the chance. But it's your choice.

****
Well, Shippers, that about does it! Not a lot to work with this week, eh? I should mention that one singing company went by as I was typing this, so, at least I got to hear one set of Jodys. :-) All is now right with the Universe! Have a great week, Shippers. Fair winds and following seas, Shipper! Until next week...

Friday, August 20, 2010

...on Family Fears, Fuck-ups and Frothy Loins (not necessarily in that order)

http://www.slate.com/id/2264417/ (8/19/10) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There


Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I have to admit, Shippers, it’s a woeful day for your ol’ Smaggie. I had a dental appointment earlier. And shippers, in my fourth decade of life, after a great deal of smartass bragging on this silly subject over the years, I’ve finally gotten...a cavity. Now, don’t make fun of me! It really pisses me off! I was proud of the fact that I’d never had one. I mean, that might sound like a silly thing to have been proud of, but, I was. No more. So, next time I go in (in six months or so), they’ll fix me up. Oh well. Such is life, eh? But, enough of my pitiful whining. We’ve got letters! So, without further ado, let’s get crackin’!

LW#1: Dear Prudie. When I was a kid, just six years old, I accused a man of cornering me in a bathroom. It was a lie, told on the spur of the moment, as I didn’t want to go home with my dad, an abusive, alcoholic man who’d taught me early in life that cornering a child in the bathroom is bad. As a result, this man that I accused (likely somewhat mentally handicapped, I now realize as an adult) is perhaps labeled a sex offender--or worse. I’m living with unbearable guilt over this, and afraid that I may even go to jail over it if I admit it. What can I do? Signed, Cornered In a Bathroom of Lies

Dear Cornered. What a shitty set of cards you were dealt. Listen, there are a lot of unaddressed skeletons in your closet. And this one may not be the first one that can be hauled out, but it can be the goal. What I mean is that you may have to talk with your dad first. You may have to explain to him how he made you feel as a child. You may have to tell him what happened and see if he can help you find out what happened with this man in order to make progress. And then, you’ll have to verify it yourself--his take won’t necessarily be reliable. For you sake, and for the sake of this man, you need to find out what happened. Your father may not be able to help, but he’s complicit and you need to address the issue with him, too. There are all sorts of people who can help you, and you’re more than intelligent enough to figure out who they are. As for potential jail time, though I’m not lawyer, I have to believe that’s not even a consideration. You were six. You’re just now at a point in your life where you can deal with this information and, as such, you’re trying. Sometimes people do the best they can with what they’ve been dealt. But you can call the betting. You can get some better cards. You just have to take a deep breath, look around the table and do it. Now come on. Belly up and make this right. Someone’s counting on you and one day, when you look in the mirror, you’ll know who...

LW#2: Dear Prudie. I like people to think that I’m successful. I like people to think that I’ve got it together. But, fact is, my family (and one family member in particular) have ridiculed me all my life. I’m intimidated by them all, but by this one woman in particular. The abuse is so acute from her that I’ve had to limit our contact to the barest minimum. Well, recently I found out that she’s applying for a job with my company (her last job is on the rocks because she’s so mean--something that happens frequently in her work life). Prudie, if hired, she would put my job in jeopardy. And I love my job! And fact is, I’m senior enough that a gentle whisper from me to the right person would put the kibosh on her application. What should I do? Signed, Pissing My Diapers

Dear Pissing. You’re successful in your job, eh? Senior enough that you could put the kibosh on the hiring of a known office cancer, yet you’re conflicted about what to do? I’d suggest that you’re neither very senior nor very successful if you don’t know what you have to do. You don’t have to mention anything personal. Matter of fact, you should not! What you should do, though, is make sure that the hiring official is aware of the woefully dismal track record that “the applicant” has in keeping her jobs. What you should do is recognize that, regardless of what happens, you know your job and are well-liked and respected at work--you do know your job and you are well-liked and respected at work, aren’t you, Pissing? Or should I doubt your story? Because, frankly, anyone as senior and successful as you claim to be shouldn’t have any problem with this situation if they remember to keep their personal and professional lives separated. Do that and the solution is painfully simple.

LW#3: Dear Prudie. I have the bestest boyfriend in the whole wide world. He’s so great that from very early on, we’ve argued over my past boyfriends. He insists on details about my sex life before him. He’s very insecure and so wants details. He was a virgin before we met, and, in order to spare him any hurt feelings, I lied and said I’d only had sex with very few people before we met. I feel that lie’s okay, Prudie, because I’d had a full STD screening done and his health was not at risk. But now that lie haunts me, Prudie. What should I do? Signed, Living With an Asshole

Dear Lover of An Asshole. Your boyfriend is a Grade A, Top Shelf, Douche Bag Asshole. And you are a Chicken Shit. Anyone outside of middle school who gets all jealous and wants to fight about past partners deserves to be left right there, on the spot (provided you haven’t given them an STD, etc., which sort of gives them the right to be a little pissy...but not about your past, just your irresponsibility). Period. Saying your boyfriend is all great and excellent just cements this all for me. He’s an asshole and you’re a doormat. Either get used to being a doormat and feeling guilty about all manner of things (because it won’t end with this, trust me), or, put on some adult panties and get the fuck out. This feeling of dread that you’re experiencing? That’s not how relationships are supposed to feel.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. I’m divorced. I have a minor son. I say “minor” because I can no longer say “young” or “toddler” (but that’s a whole other issue that adds to the inappropriateness here). When my son stays with me, I have him sleep in my bed because there’s no room anywhere else. When my boyfriend’s over, though, I have my son sleep on the couch (amazing how I can find room!). My ex husband says this is wrong. I don’t think it is and need you to help me figure out how to argue with him, Prudie. Signed, I Am Right

Dear Retarded, Selfish Idiot Who Is So Not Right. Buy an inflatable mattress or a roll-away bed for your son. Buy some real bedding. That stuff costs next to nothing and can be stowed away neatly when he’s not there. I know, you might have to forego drugs or booze for a week or two to buy it, but, it’s the little things, you know? Then, when your son is there with you, set him up in a quiet place. Also, due to how small your apartment is and how little self control you obviously have, ditch the boyfriend sleep overs when your son is with you. I know, poor you. Here’s a tear for you. You might want to decide not to drink or do drugs during that time, too. You know, just for the hell of it. Dumbass.

****
Well, Shippers, that’s about it. I’ll be back next week on my regular schedule, regular day, regular channel . Until then, fair winds and following seas to you all!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

...on Parents of Every Disposition (except "Good")

http://www.slate.com/id/2263601/  (8/12/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day?! It’s a hum-dinger of one, too, in that I’m enjoying yet another gorgeous, incredible sunrise. Of course, weather calls for it to be the last for awhile, what with rain and clouds moving in this evening. Oh well. Enjoy the glories of life as they can be enjoyed, yes? :-) But, that aside, and with even more Reader Mail to answer today, we’d best get crackin’!

LW#1: Dear Prudie. About three and a half years ago, I dropped out of college (with one semester to go) to take care of my ailing mother for the last two and a half years of her life. I took care of her every need, day-in and day-out. During that time, I borrowed $4,500 from my father to pay for living expenses. Well, after my mom passed away and my dad began collecting her hefty life insurance and state pension payouts, he presented me with a bill for the money I’d borrowed! And while I haven’t paid him, he never allows the opportunity to pass to mention that I “owe” him. What should I do? Can I present him with a bill for the two and a half years of my life that I gave up caring for my mom, his wife? Signed, In Debt

Dear Liar-liar, Pants on Fire. You’re bound to get all sorts of sympathy from your fake-ass take on this situation. I mean, Prudie bought your bullshit story, hook, line and sinker. But I don’t. At all. First off, I’m pretty good at math. And no one, and I mean no one, can live on $4,500 over two years without supplemental income of some sort. Especially if they’re living away from their parents’ home. Which, if you were, you weren’t caring day-in, day-out for your mom, you were working a job, paying for your stuff and running from college (was it grades? a relationship gone wrong? about to be kicked out for integrity issues?). If you were living at home while caring for mom, you were eating there, showering there, using the facilities there. In other words, if that’s the case, the $4,500 wasn’t for living expenses, it was for luxuries like your brand new smart phone, upon which you probably tweeted incessantly about the years of your life you were giving up. My ass. No one quits college (which, by the way, who was paying for that?) five months prior to graduation to then spend two and a half fucking years caring for an ailing relative, spending every waking moment there. You’re lying, or exaggerating, plain and simple. You could have gone back to school for those few classes at some point during that time. But you didn’t. You’re a scared, entitled little bitch (gender neutral) and trying to place the blame on Daddy (who I have a feeling was very clear, from the beginning, about the $4,500 being a “loan”--you even call it that yourself) and on “caring” for your ailing mom. For two and a half years. Day in and day out. Whatever. Adults pay back their loans and don’t use family deaths as excuses for their own failings. Grow up.

LW#2: Dear Prudie. My husband and I are in our mid-20s and have a great relationship. As a gift when we got married, my in-laws (who live overseas) gave us a considerable amount of money to put toward the purchase of a home. They’re now moving back to the States and have announced that they’re moving into our home. And, into our master bedroom! And my husband has agreed to it! WTF, over?! Signed, Holy Shit

Dear Time to Move Out. Listen, I know this is going to sound hard, but, there’s only one thing for this. Move out. Gather your stuff, and your husband (if he’ll come), and move out. I’m not suggesting divorce; I’m just saying that, obviously, that house isn’t yours. You can get all butt-hurt and go to court about it being a gift, yaddah-yaddah, but, your husband obviously believes the money given still belongs to his parents. So you two need to find a place of your own, that you two pay for with your own money. DO NOT sell the home. The parents would likely gig you two for the depreciation it’s probably suffered due to the bad market. Just send them the keys with a note that says, “Hey, the kitchen/garage door is a little funny, you have to rattle the handle as you unlock it in order to get in.  Enjoy!” And then move the fuck out. Don’t be bitter. Just think of your mortgage payments as rent and as a very valuable lesson about your in-laws. If your husband won’t move? Yep, well, you know what to do.

LW#3: Dear Prudie. I’m a divorcee living in an apartment complex. There’s a man there who frequents the pool (like I and my daughter do) and it’s obvious he has the hots for me. I’ve never encouraged him, but have found no need to not be friendly. We chat. It’s nice. Well, the other day, he walked toward me with some suntan lotion and asked me to “do his back.” Prudie, he’s gross! He has acne and is hairy! I did his back, but don’t ever want to do so again. He crossed an obvious line, wouldn’t you say? What a dick! What should I say if he asks again? Signed, Perfectly Blemish-free and Hairless Lady

Dear Squeamish. Okay, I don’t know what the condition of his back has to do with this. Are you saying that if he was all fine and buff and squish-inducing, you would have been fine with slathering him up? Regardless, here’s the deal: don’t be fucking “doing” people’s backs with whom you don’t currently have (or want to have) an intimate relationship. That sends all sorts of wrong signals. As for what to do with this guy, it’s not like you are now required to do his back just because you’ve done it once. If he asks again, just say, “Sorry Dude. I shouldn’t have done your back the first time. I’m not comfortable with it. I like you, but I don’t like you like you.” He’ll counter with something about how it’s not a sign of liking him, liking him. To which you hold your ground. Problem solved without any bullshit stories or finding new pools. Do not, as Prudie suggests, avoid the pool and lie about your availability. Just grow up. Damn.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. I recently signed up for a cancer walk. I sent out a mass e-mail requesting donations, even noting that a simple $5 donation was enough to help. I don’t care if anyone contributes as it’s for a great cause and I’m just doing it to try to help. Obviously, though, I kept a spreadsheet of everyone who’d contributed, how much they’d contributed, and how quickly they contributed after I sent my e-mail. Doesn’t everyone? I then cross-referenced it with my files on the monetary values I’ve assigned for the time and money I’ve given to them over the year (which, of course, I don’t expect any repayment for). I don’t want to feel all petty, Prudie, but several people didn’t respond to my e-mail! People that I’ve helped significantly in the past by buying their kids’ crap and for whom I’ve done considerable volunteer work (which I’ve tallied to the penny in my spreadsheet). What should I do to guilt them into evening up the scales of our magnanimous, munificent caring for one another? Signed, Not a Flaming Ass Monkey. Honest.

Dear Flaming Ass Monkey. You are the worst kind of flaming ass monkey. The kind of shit bag who ostensibly gives of his/her time, but who constantly keeps a tally of said time and expects repayment, with interest. Prudie says that we all keep a tally of mental favors done. My ass. Perhaps in middle school. Mature adults do things because we want to. And when we decide to give of our time, we should do so with no strings attached, or, we should be clear, up front, that our time is being given with strings. Yours is. Obviously, you prick (gender neutral). So have a shirt made up that says, on the front, “I’m volunteering for you, but...”, and on the back side, in really small print, have it say, “...I’ll be calling in the favor soon, you ungrateful bitches!” Asshole.

And, like last week, Shippers, we’ve got a bit of Reader Mail from a real, live, actual reader! So, as you know, I especially encourage comments on reader mail, but ask that you hold back (at least a little) on the snark, since we like to encourage these letters!

Dear Smag, I received a rambling 4-page email missive today from an old friend that essentially ripped me to pieces. This email was sent to all of the writer’s family and our mutual friends. Back story is that we were close (platonic) friends (dinners every other friday, etc.) for about a decade--up ‘til about six months ago. Six months ago, she started a relationship with a man recently back from Iraq (physically, but not mentally). He began bugging her phone/email, etc., isolating her and getting her all to himself. Then, I felt that I was in physical danger due to a text from him and so severed all ties with my friend by explaining that I didn't feel safe around the new boyfriend. She, at the time, was fine with that and wanted to continue to pursue her new relationship. I have no interest in her romantically (have been happily married for over 5 years). During the ensuing 6 months, she became addicted to painkillers and got up to 10-12 daily. I left her alone, and when her family/friends asked why we were no longer friends, I explained that I didn't think she was of right mind/body and that she and her new boyfriend were dangers--primarily to themselves. Family/other friends attempted an intervention and were rebuffed. Flash-forward 6 months to the e-mail I just received. It states that I got her addicted to the drugs! Further, it says that I am the root of all evil, up to and including the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby! :-) My initial reaction is to not respond as I am not involved with any of the parties and believe this to be the ramblings of someone I no longer know (drugs have changed her too much, etc). Furthermore, I no longer see any of the parties as we don't share the same circles of friends anymore. Any advice? Thanks!! Signed, asking for a “friend”

Dear asking for a “friend”.  My first thought on this is to go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5Snehl2bAk. Start at 1:10 and go through 1:30. That really is just about the gist of my advice! Packaged in nice three-part harmony! :-) Here’s the thing: it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good hold on the situation (mostly). Anything you say in response to this nutty letter will just be twisted and misused (by your former friend, her boyfriend, and by others who side with her). And, it’ll make you look petty. The (perhaps) more difficult, but far better, thing to do is to just ignore it. Block her e-mail address. You don’t need that shit in your life and your family certainly doesn’t! Block her phone number. Completely ignore her. Make her a non-person in your life. I state this so strongly because, the fact that you know how many painkillers she was taking a day, and other details like that, indicates to me that you know too much about a friend with whom you’ve supposedly cut ties. I don't mean that to be rude, I just mean that you have to really cut them now. This letter she sent is obviously not acceptable. The boyfriend is unstable and trained to use weapons.  Distance, in this case, is your friend.  However, do save the e-mail. Just in case. You never know what'll happen in the future and it's good to have proof.  I have a feeling that at some point down the road, once she’s cleaned up and gotten past this, she may come asking for your forgiveness. No matter what, if that does happen, I suggest that you ask her for some time to ponder it. And then, you know, if you're willing, come back here and tell us the juicy details! :-)  Hang in there, asking for a “friend”!

****
Well, Shippers, that about does it! Another fine, fine Prudie Day, come to a close. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me? Have a great day and week, Shippers. Fair winds and following seas to you all! Cheers!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

...on Paternity, Prosecution and Pugilism

http://www.slate.com/id/2262763/ (8/05/10) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day?! Oh my, Shippers, the sun rise this morning was absolutely wonderful. It was so beautiful, in fact, so perfect, that it’s as if they shipped it here overnight express, straight from the Beautiful Sunrise Factory! It was that rare and beautiful! But, don’t worry, I’m not going to go all “double rainbow” on ya! And enough about my morning, anyway. We have to get straight to the letters because not only do we have the typical batch from Prudie, we’ve got a piece of mail from an actual reader in the Submarine Mail Bag! So, with so much to do, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie. Holy shit! I’ve done some doozies in my life, but this one tops them all. See, back in my younger days, I got pregnant. And, even though math is hard, I sort of reverse engineered things based on the wholly scientific and accurate method of determining impregnation date based on when I’m pretty sure I had my last period, plus fetal size, as measured via ultrasound, etc., and determined that the father had to be one of two men. Probably. Most likely. One of those men, the one I totally suspected was the dad, said it wasn’t him. He proffered an official-looking document stating that he was infertile, so, I assumed it was the Other Man. And, amazingly, my daughter looked like Mr. Other Man! Well, fast-forward 20 years, and, upon reaching adulthood, my daughter wanted to get in touch with her bio dad. I gave her Other Man’s information and she met him. They got along famously, but, did DNA tests, and, no match. So now, in true Cartman fashion, my daughter wants to go meet Professor Infertile. What if it’s not him, Prudie? What do I do? Signed, So Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed Lady. Chill out, take a deep breath, and just be honest with your daughter. Tell her the whole story so that she’s warned ahead of time. This will help explain, too, why you assumed her dad was Mr. Other Man, rather than Professor Infertile. And, guess what, if it’s not Professor Infertile, you’ll have to go through this again, so, rather than counting on creaky math and hoping you got it right, you need to just come completely clean with your daughter and lay it all out there. I know you’re embarrassed. I know that you hate thinking about this. But it sounds like she’s on a mission. And you can either let this split the two of you, or you can move forward together. Your choice.

LW#2: Dear Prudie. I’m a woman who would be in a sympathetic situation if not for my unbelievable ignorance and feeling of entitlement. See, I’m a law student, temp-employed by a great law firm. Unfortunately, we share office space with another firm staffed with rude, obnoxious attorneys. One of them frequently comments on my clothing in a lecherous manner. I would ask for help from the attorneys in my firm, but I don’t want to be seen as weak. As a result, I’m thinking of suing the other firm for sexual harassment so that they can pay for my legal education (ironic, eh?!). What do you think? Good choice? Signed, Very Nearly Unemployed

Dear Dumbassed, Stupid, Vacuous Twit. Okay, let’s think about this for a second. You’re a temp employee working for a law firm that shares office space and a currently congenial professional relationship with another firm. You’re having a (sadly) typical problem with an asshole and you’ve decided as your brilliant solution to sue that man and his firm?! And you don’t reckon your firm will have a problem with that clearly well-thought-out solution? You don’t reckon they’d prefer that you talk with them about it first? Perhaps taking the significantly easier fucking solution of moving you to a different desk?! Please go shove a letter opener in your ear hole. As far as it’ll go. Now swirl it all around in there. There shouldn’t be much resistance. All done? Good. Whew! Okay. I’m all better now.

LW#3: Dear Prudie. My dad (age irrelevant) just sent me a friend request on FaceBook. I don’t like him like that, Prudie. Plus, my page has pictures and jokes and all sorts of stuff that I don’t want to share with him. We’re not close. But I don’t want to hurt his feelings. What can I do? Signed, Not in Need of Any New “Friends”

Dear Twit. Learn how to either, a) say "no" to your dad, and to explain to him exactly why, because, you know, you’re an adult now, or, b) use the privacy controls on your FaceBook account so that dad can’t see what you don’t want him to see. This can work for your other friends, too, so that they can’t see dad’s comments and pictures of you in diapers. Ones that he’ll surely post and comment on! I know, right? I mean, holy shit, how hard was that? Almost caused me to pull a thigh muscle, thinking about that one. Sigh.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. My fianc√© is the greatest, most wonderfulest person in the whole wide world. He’s incredible! I love him more than I love oxygen. But, Prudie, we don’t fight. And while I don’t see this as a problem, my dear friend recently told me she’s very worried about the state of my relationship, claiming that “everybody” fights, at least weekly, and that it’s not healthy not to! Then I thought about it, and, sure enough, my late husband and I fought and we were okay. Is my relationship doomed because we don’t fight? Signed, Perhaps Dumber Even Than LW#2 and LW#3 Combined

Dear There’s No “Perhaps” About It, You Are.  Listen, for the sake of this guy, I’m going to suggest that your friend is right. You and she (your friend) apparently do need to fight with men in order to be happy. You need the drama. But this guy that you claim to love? This decent fellow who treats you right, is considerate of your feelings, and doesn’t yell or scream at you? He doesn’t deserve your brand of “love”. So, do the right thing and cut him off. Take my word for it, your relationship with him is doomed. Maybe he can find a crazy, foolish woman who’s actually happy not to fight with him. That’ll sure show him! In the meantime, go find a guy wearing a wife beater who grunts more than he speaks. Make sure he’s got a record for domestic violence, too. Hook up with him. That’ll make both you and your friend happy.

Now shippers, normally that’d be it, but today, we get a bonus letter! From an actual reader, sent directly to the Submarine Mail Bag! So, remembering that this is an actual reader, do be polite, but, also, please do comment!

LW#5: Hello Smagboy1. This is sort of a broad life question as opposed to a specific problem question, but, as a general rule, how do you keep yourself upbeat and level-headed when dealing with stupid/nasty people (and stupid/nasty everyday news)? I'm trying to get out of my habitual wallowing in ignorance and escapism, but the more I learn about the world, the more I find myself sick with anger and depression. It's really affecting my motivation to better my life.


I'm just wondering if you have some practical advice about living life to the fullest in the long term, despite the fact that at least 60% of the (privileged) human population seem to be either real idiots or assholes. I'm trying to figure out how people can strive for impartiality and still enjoy life. Signed, Carolina

Dear Carolina. There are three immediate thoughts that I have when reading your letter, but please follow-up if I’ve missed something...

First, if 60% of the human population seems to be either real idiots or assholes, you’re hanging out with the wrong sample of the population! And I’m serious about that. When people demonstrate to you that they’re assholes, drop them. That may see harsh, and I certainly don’t mean to drop a true and good friend over one mistake. But assholes are assholes. They can be cleaned up real purty and all, but, in the end, they still spout shit. So, as hard a lesson as this may be, you have to learn to avoid and eliminate these people from your life. And sadly, that includes assholes with whom you share blood. Perhaps especially them, because they hold special ties that can be used to cause you extra pain. So, first piece of advice: eliminate assholes as much as possible from your life, including family assholes. That will serve you well for the rest of your life.

Secondly, I suggest that you avoid bad news. Seek and get involved in the good news! It’s out there. Honest! :-) For example, I have a friend who loves cats. I mean, she loves them! And she could focus, day-after-day, on all of the abuse and neglect and feral colonies out there (and it can be hard to avoid that news, and, fact is, she can’t completely), or, she make a real and concerted effort to actively support, volunteer for, work at and involve herself in rescue education, missions and fund raising, etc. And while she can’t avoid all bad news, the bad is at least nicely tempered with lots of good news and good feelings. Another way to avoid the bad is to simply delete all of the links from your favorites/bookmarks that take you to websites that make you feel bad. If you find that three out of four times you visit a site, you leave feeling bad, delete it! Don’t go back! There’s enough bad news in the world that we don’t need to spoon feed it into our heads. :-) Sure, ignoring this news doesn’t cause it to go away. But, actively involving yourself in good guarantees that you aren’t ignoring problems, you’re actually working on solutions.

Finally, and this is the hardest, but, I find, potentially the most effective and elightening. Travel. Get out there in the world. Go far and wide. Go places you haven’t been and talk to people there, even if that’s terribly uncomfortable. I love people. I love their stories. I remember one time in Munich (M√ľnchen) talking to a food street vender. He was a recent Afghani immigrant. Neither of us had very good German (although his was certainly better than mine), but we couldn’t speak a lick of each others’ native tongues, so, we did our best with pigeon and sign. I learned that he’d moved his family to Munich when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan. He told me how terrible it was and how the women in his family were treated terribly, how oppressive everything was. This could have been a depressing story! But, they left. They came to Germany and were in college, he and his wife, both. Their kids were in school. All learning German at the same time, and, working at the food cart to make ends meet. And his kebap?! Out of this world! I have a hundred stories like this from my travels in and out of the U.S. And each and every one makes me smile. Go out at find your stories, Carolina. Replace the bad with good. You can do it. And it’ll be worth the effort. I promise!

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Well Shippers, that does it for this version of Prudie Day! Please comment below on all of the letters, but, if you have a strategy that you think will help Carolina, by all means, post it, too! I wish for you all fair winds and following seas. Until next time...