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...

45 comments:

  1. WOOOHOO!! I'm gonna be odd-man-out this week for LW3.
    I think you, Prudie, Marc, and the Sage (at the least) have all gotten this wrong. Or at least, it's not so cut and dried as y'all are making it. The type of people the uncles were, and how they'd feel about the trip being canceled, etc., need to be taken into account for determining if going on the trip was the wrong choice.

    Yes, grieving is for the living, not the dead, but that includes everyone who is grieving, not just the immediate family members.

    My wondering about the gender neutral "spouses" for the "uncles" is if there was something "non-traditional" about the relationships, and that was why that wording.

    Do I think a card for each of the wives/kids (or "spouses") was sufficient? Not really. There should be some time spent too. I know for some people going to the funeral is more than they can bear, and trying to explain that to an overbearing family would be an additional burden during the time of grief. A pre-paid for trip in that circumstance would actually be a bit of a blessing in disguise...

    I think there is too much about this LW that we don't know (shocking I know) to decide that they were strictly being selfish and disinterested in the family that was left behind. I maintain that the LW is the only one who can answer if going on the trip was a bad choice, based mainly on who the uncles were, and how they would have felt about it, and adding in how much time they have chosen to/are planning on spending with the family members who have experienced the loss during the first weeks and months after the deaths.

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  2. I did, however, love your responses for the rest of the letters! =-D

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  3. @Madd Libby: No one is saying she had to go to the funerals. But she can't not do her nepotial duty and then ask for a pass. If she thinks she's a bad person, it's because she knows that she is. If the relationship with her family was different, she wouldn't be worried about it, or writing Prudie to get her blessing for her behavior.

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  4. Ahoy, Libby! :-) While I can buy your argument on one hand, the LW seems to be concerned with whether or not they are a "bad person". In other words, the LW wants to know if he/she is right, or if the family is right. If that means that the LW doesn't care what the family thinks and just wants to know Prudie's opinion for the purpose of logical exercise (and thus is only concerned about what the uncles think, and, as such, grieving is personal), I'm with you.

    But, if it means that the LW is concerned about what the family thinks, then, he/she has already blown it, because, in that case, grieving *is* about those left behind, even if the LW finds them to be illogical in their grief. One doesn't have to be correct to be hurt! To me, if there's any concern about the family's feelings, the LW is in the wrong.

    As for the spouse(s) potentially being male, I can buy that, too, but, on the other hand, it's just another nugget that smacks of the impersonal, non-caring nature of the letter. If it was just that one bit of wording, or, just the going on the trip, I might be more willng to buy one or the other argument. Together, I think we're building a pretty good circumstantial case for an impersonal LW.

    But, I fully acknowledge that the letter could have been edited, and, as you say, that we just don't know enough. As always, we have to guess.

    Good cheer, and good points! :-)

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  5. I guess I am seeing this differently, because if I'm fully emotionally messed up, I do my best to take a step back and look at it as though I were my own counselor. With some distance and an attempt at objectivity. In fact, the more emotionally messed up I am, the further I step back when analyzing the situation. Mainly so I can determine, for myself, the appropriate level to indulge my emotions. I can see the LW trying to make the letter as emotionally neutral as possible, but failing at the point where they asked the actual question.

    I can also see that, depending on the family dynamic, some in the family seeing the trip as tantamount to saying that the LW hated the uncles in question, and they (the family) have hounded the LW about how they (the LW) obviously never cared, and is an emotional cold fish, and how could they be so cold, and will they even make sure they (the family) get buried, if the LW is the survivor.
    Enough of this and most people would find themselves wondering if they really are that messed up, and turn to an "objective third party" to try and understand their situation.

    Now I'll grant, I'm extrapolating a hell of a lot out of the very short letter. But the way I read it, it's the LW's immediate family who is being the bullies (or point men, or advocates, choose your term) about how the trip was wrong, not the family members who were immediate family of the deceased...

    Which to me reads as more of a family dynamic that would lead to my above speculation, than a family dynamic where the LW wants to care about the family, but really, truly doesn't.

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  6. asking for a "friend"August 26, 2010 at 12:03 PM

    LW#1 - what if one or both are sadomasochists? :). ps. bonus points for Princess Bride allusion;

    LW#2 - She could be like Juno! :).

    LW#3 - hypothetical here for smag - recently was at a funeral and one of the close family members took a call (non-emergency) midway during service. is that better, worse, or same as not attending? :).

    LW#4 - where I work (snicker), we make the new people bring in donuts after their first week. If not, then bad things happen. :).

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  7. I had bought and paid for tickets for a trip home when my Grandfather died. I adored him and had been very close to him, but my mother convinced me that I should use the tickets and come home (instead of going to Florida for the funeral). There wasn't a single family member who passed judgement but I'll never regret a decision more in my whole life. Needless to say, there's nothing to do about it now but I have always felt that I made the wrong choice. I would have liked to have shared that time with my family and I didn't.

    My situation and the LW's is quite different though. The LW doesn't really regret the vacation, just the resentment of the people who felt he should have shown more familial loyalty by coming to the funeral. Really, you just can't have it both ways. The LW picked vacation over family. Whether or not they really felt that way, that's what they picked. They're just going to have to live with what that decision implies to their family.

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  8. What disturbs me about statements such as "The LW picked vacation over family" is the implication that by going on the trip, somehow, they valued the family less than the trip, which may not be the case at all.

    I get that there are special circumstances around the death of a loved one. I truly do, but in no functionally healthy family, should the decision to continue with previous plans be something to be vilified.

    As a hypothetical, slightly different issue:
    Libby plans a vacation, one she's saved for over the course of 2 years, puts the money down for the vacation, books everything, and then a month before the vacation is set, is told that the family has chosen the week she's gone to hold the first family reunion in over a decade. The first since 3 of the oldest generation have died. Family from all over the country will be coming to the reunion.

    Should Libby's family take her going on her pre-paid/planned vacation as an indication that she values them less than the vacation, and make her life miserable over it?
    Or should they realize that the family, however important it may be to her, is not her whole life, and she has another life, that includes vacations, which are planned as by an independent adult?

    To me, this hypothetical is similar in circumstance, depending on when the trip was, and how close the LW is to the deceased's immediate family. They sent a sympathy card immediately, and have plans to go and visit the family. They are fulfilling their end of the familial bargain of being there to support them, just not in the way the LW's immediate family thinks is appropriate.

    I think the LW's immediate family should be told to deal with the fact that it is what it is, it can't be changed, and the LW should do what they can to insure the aunts' and cousins' relationship to them is as unchanged as it can be.

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  9. Libby, I understand your take, but, I don't think there's any indication that it's just the immediate family. Not that that necessarily matters, but still.

    As for your hypothetical, if you bought the tickets before the reunion was planned, how could any reasonable person hold you accountable if you chose to take the trip. Especially after saving for two years, and especially if the dates were non-refundable. In your example, both events were planned. As such, the one planned first had a right to have precedence, IMHO.

    Regarding the LW's situation, though, we have to assume that the deaths weren't planned. We further have to assume that the LW has some reason to feel guilty, otherwise, why write in? I mean, if they don't feel guilty, there's nothing to write about! As such, especially given the extremely tragic nature of the events (two deaths in two days--holy crap!!), it seems only reasonable to conclude that the LW probably shouldn't have taken the trip if they want to be given "credit" for properly grieving.

    It's not for us to project our values onto it. If it were, I'd be all for the trip because I don't do funerals. :-) But, we're talking about the LW and his/her family. It's for the LW and the LW's family to determin the appropriate protocol. In this case, both seem to agree that there's some reason for guilt. Absent any other evidence, I have to agree with them! :-)

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  10. Ahoy, AFA'F'! Damn, I didn't consider the sadism or masochism angle! As for the "Juno" reference, sadly, I haven't seen the movie. I need to! :-)

    As for the family member taking a non-emergency call at a funeral?! Holy crap! I don't do funerals, but, if I did, you can bet that either the phone would ahve been destroyed, or I would have been. One of the two. No room for an alternative on that one.

    Bad things if doughnuts don't materialize, eh? Sometimes hazing does have a purpose! :-)

    Good cheer, Asking!

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  11. Ahoy, Robin! I think that you nailed it with this, "The LW doesn't really regret the vacation, just the resentment of the people who felt he should have shown more familial loyalty by coming to the funeral. Really, you just can't have it both ways." That's it in a nutshell.

    My grandparents both died during my first patrol. The Red Cross sent news of my grandmother's passing. Fortunately, I'd been able to talk to her just a few days before. However, when my grandfather died a week later, entirely unexpectedly, my family chose not have me notified. Not that I could have done anything about it, anyway. :-( They both lived in Lakeland, and to this day I regret missing their funerals because they found functions like that to be important. I loved them both dearly and would have attended out of duty, but, I still talk to them in my own way. So, I do understand.

    Good cheer, Robin. :-)

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  12. Erm...
    "Dear Prudence,
    Recently, my family had the misfortune of having two uncles pass away within a day of each other. Unfortunately, I had already paid for and planned a five-day getaway before these tragedies occurred. NOW MY IMMEDIATE FAMILY IS REALLY DISAPPOINTED AND UPSET WITH ME FOR NOT CANCELING MY TRIP. I loved these uncles dearly and always showed it to them while they were with us. I have sent a sympathy card and remembrance gift to each surviving spouse and my cousins expressing my apologies for not being there. I plan on visiting with both families at a later time. Am I really a bad person?

    —Family Disappointment"

    Which is why I went with the whole, it's their immediate family piling the crap on.

    Now I'll grant you, the act of writing the letter leaves some leeway to tell them they were a jackass, but it's possible they were like "I don't think I did anything wrong, but mom and Brigitta are telling me I'm worthless and heinous, and I can't just ask my aunts, because if they really feel that way, talk about on the spot, I'll ask Prudie instead."

    Which was how I read the letter. ;-) I totally understand that wasn't how you saw it though. =-D

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  13. Also, Smagster, on the whole "planning" thing. Depending on the timing, that five-day trip, vs. funeral choice may have been one that was a planning issue also.
    Vis-a-vis, we had 5 separate family members with different things that had to be juggled when planning my grandpa's funeral. We did the best we could when scheduling it, and keeping those who had other things to juggle in the loop, so we could make it happen when everyone could be there, who needed to be.

    Admittedly, when you were on patrol, that was a different situation, because you couldn't get there, even if you'd wanted. Which is a different thing. It's not like it would have been practical to hold the memorial service when you finally came back home.

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  14. Now, would someone please burn this damn soapbox so I actually stop climbing back on top of it?

    *tries my lighter and finds I'm out of fluid*

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  15. Hello....my name is Indigo Montoya...Always love a good movie refrence. Don't love the answer to three though. Buttttttttt I guess I will still stop by and see what you are up too! :)

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  16. OK, just to throw some more fuel on the fire...I was, at first, on the same page as Libby when I read the funeral letter. Who knows how much hard earned cash she could have lost on the vaca, and how long it had been planned, and so on... And I got the whole "immediate family" part of the letter.

    I took that to mean her parent(s) and or siblings. And I thought well, bad situation all around, but LW didn't just blow off the uncles families and has plans to visit after, so give her a break.

    Then someone in (what I call) the "under" comments pointed out that we seemed to be forgetting that one or both of the LW's parents had just lost a brother (or 2 brothers)...and I had that A HA moment. That changed my perception. Suddenly "immediate" family took a turn. IMO LW should have been there for her parent(s) sake, and maybe that's where her family's bad feelings are coming from?!

    There's just too much we don't really know. But I lean more towards the side of "you're not a "bad" person, but you did lack some major good judgement in this situation so you'll have to suck it up and deal w/ your family's feelings right now!"

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  17. Well, phooey, I'd just decided to delete my last couple of comments, and then you come right along, clhriker, and now I just can't. ;-)

    I see what you mean.

    *sweeps up the ashes of that soapbox and tosses them in the compost heap*

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  18. Damn! I missed the "immediate family" portion of the letter--thought it just said "family". But, as I say, I really do feel that part's not terribly relevant.

    So, Libby, a little birdie suggested to me that you must *really* like your vacations? ;-) I won't say where they (the little birdie) might have gotten that impression from! :-)

    Cheers! :-)

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  19. Ahoy, mommylady! Good catch on the movie. Hey, it's okay if you don't like the LW#3 answer! As you can see, Libby reeeeeaaaaaly doesn't like it. But we still get along! So, it's okay. Let me have it! :-)

    Cheers! :-)

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  20. clhriker, I think your point illustrates what I was trying to say to the LW and to Libby. It's not so much that any person and any set of uncles should mean vacation cancellation! Far from it, in fact!

    But, with *this* LW and *this* set of uncles, it certainly seems reasonable to believe (you know, seeing as how the LW feels awkward enough to write in due to the immediate family giving him/her the stink eye) that the circumstances with this LW and set of uncles does deserve vacation cancellation. Seems that if the LW was comfortable enough with his/her decision to go, then, there wouldn't be an issue.

    Further, and this is important, too, like LW#1, even if the LW was comfortable and the family wasn't, what can be done other than accepting the different viewpoints or apologizing? I mean, entering into a "You are selfish for taking that vacation!" "No, I'm not!" "Yes, you are!" "No, I'm not!!" "Yes, you so fucking ARE!" isn't going to help anything. Righ?

    Good cheer, clhriker! :-)

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  21. Heh. It's more I like the idea of vacations. I used myself as the hypothetical, because I figured that way there would be less confusion about trying to assign gender, etc to the hypothetical. ;-)

    In the past 4 years I've had two "vacations" and a few "weekend runaways." Admittedly, the two vacations were good things. Deep down inside I'm still a country girl at heart, and living/working in the city gets to me, so I need the downtime to keep my frequent flier miles to crazy at a minimum. ;-)

    I dunno, specifically, why this particular letter/responses got to me so strongly today. And I swear, I've burned the soapbox. ;-)

    Cheers!

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  22. LW1- Dear...Future Client, so many Eminem songs just came to mind that I don't know where to start. Good luck.
    LW3- Right now your dead uncles are sitting around plotting on ways to set you on fire and send you to hell. Feel better?
    LW4- Dear Prudie, similar to the lady at the pool recently, someone is asking me to do something I don't want to do. Can you tell me how to put on my big girl panties and say no? I'm not sure how to pronounce it. Does that like, start with an n? Okay, but, like, wait, are you saying that if I did keep getting him food I could actually maybe do something nice for another fucking human being that maybe wouldn't eat otherwise? Like, why would I do that? Seriously, I've got better things to do. Like write to you Prudie. Screw that old man.
    Best,
    J

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  23. "even if the LW was comfortable and the family wasn't, what can be done other than accepting the different viewpoints or apologizing?"

    Exactly. Apparently the LW hadn't thought of doing anything more than argue that the vacation was so "Im-PORRRRR-tant!" than it couldn't be cancelled. As in, maybe they implied the uncles were not.

    If the LW had not been busily defending himself/herself, it might have dawned on the LW to say, "Gee, Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it was so important to you," and then vow to come up with a better excuse next time they miss a funeral, like an unavoidable business trip to Abu Dabi.

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  24. Libby - I'm sorry I blocked you from deletion...but it's OK 'cause I like reading your take on things :) Generally I'm with ya (and I'm not really that far 'without' you on this one)!

    Have a wonderul weekend :)

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  25. Thanks, clhriker, I hope you have a great weekend too!

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  26. Hey Smag, how goes?

    As for LW2, I'm not sure if it is a fake letter. I too am Asian, and grew up with parents who are ignorant of mental disabilities and illnesses. My youngest brother has some kind of mental disabilities (maybe Autism?) and for years was ridiculed by my father because he was slow at math and English. My parents refused to believe that he had a disability and thought he was just dumb. Eventually, they came to terms with the thought that he may need help for the rest of his life.

    Mind you, Asian culture can be strict and rigid. I feel for this girl because her parents think that their daughter is perfect and that there's nothing wrong with her, especially if she's doing well in school. Her parents would be heartbroken if she tells them that she may have Asperger's. I wouldn't dismiss this letter as fake.

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  27. Ahoy, Libby! No, I understand. I was just havin' some fun with you and your extremly ferverent responses to this topic! :-)

    As for erasing posts here, unlike at The Fray, you can delete your posts at any time, even if someone has responded. I realize that you likely knew that, but, I just wanted to throw it out there. :-)

    Cheers! :-)

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  28. Excellent stuff, JayJay! :-) Man, you were on fire this week! Especially with #4! That was most kick ass! Yeah, screw that old man! :-)

    Cheers! ;-)

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  29. Exactly, CoolOne! Exactly! But be careful. Libby might read your response and build another box! :-) (just kidding, Libby!)

    Good cheer! :-)

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  30. Ahoy, Nachtmusik! Long time no hear from! We've missed you here in the Lagoon! :-) Please, please read my response again to the young LW. I ask that because I agree with you 100%! If the letter is real, I completely and totally understand how the LW's culture plays a very significant role in the concerns (when compared to other cultural properties, etc.). My reasoning behind the letter being fake had nothing to do with any of that! It was with the fact that it was so well-conceived, mature and wildly self-aware! For a twelve-thirteen year old! Just seemed a little *too* perfect for me. But, please note that I wrote that "I’m going to address the letter in that way [as if it's real] and second Prudie’s advice". I then went on to give, what I thought, was stellar advice (you know, for a submarine)! :-)

    Good cheer, Nachtmusik! :-)

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  31. *Pulls out nails, hammer, and lumber*
    Oh wait, he was just kidding. *puts it all away*

    LOL

    No, I was aware I could still delete the posts, but for me it's an etiquette thing. I won't delete a post that someone refers to, however mildly, in the interests of preserving the conversation for the sake of others reading along.

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  32. Hello Smaggy!
    I thought at first the "Jody Calls" were some sort of bird species, but I guess they're actually some sort of military maneuver?

    (like yelling yoohooo and frantically waiving your arms as if they were wings so that the enemy will think you're a bird ---hopefully an unedible one?)

    My head is spinning with the letters this week. Actually I suddenly want to say, "hey, I have enough problems of my own!" --but that wouldn't be good for a discussion of an advice column!

    I have my doubts about letter #1. In what way isn't hubby not paying enough attention to the woman who has just given birth? How did the birthing go? Did she need to be cut? Did she need to have a Cesarian? Is that baby alright? Is he sleeping through the night or is that couple catastrophically sleep deprived --or is only one of them --the new mother-- sleep deprived? Also as posters have mentioned on the Fray, the new mother could be suffering from post-partum blues, or at least from pin ball machine hormonal flux and reflux.

    Giving birth can be as trying as major surgery and require someone to care for you. Perhaps Wifey is complaining about a lack of attention because Hubby is blissfully unaware that she needs someone to make her meals and perhaps even help her to get around. Perhaps hubby has taken to sleeping in another room so as not to be wakened by baby and is unaware that she's up all night and all day?

    I guess we interpret those cryptic letters from the perspective of our own experience. So, even though, your advice to the husband to keep track of each time his wife provokes and maybe even hits him is a good one, I would suggest the mother keeps track each time the father actually changes a diaper and actually shows some sort of concern for her health --even perhaps taking her to the doc.... I suspect there wont be much for her to tally, or he would have brought up how much care a baby and a woman recovering from birthing require....

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  33. Ahoy, Kati, and greetings!

    I agree that your points are worth exploration. I gave the LW a hard time about his "list", implying that perhaps he's being an insensitive ass. Futher, please note that I said, "...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..." I think that's quite understanding of both sided.

    Postpartum depression is certainly a concern, but it's *still* no excuse for striking anyone. And my point in asking the LW to keep a list was that if counseling didn't help them, the LW better protect himself *without* hitting his wife.

    My wife breastfed, but we took turns waking up to get our child out of the crib when she was hungry. We also took turns with diapers and baths and meals. So, while my perspective doesn't include postpartum depression, it certainly includes the caring for a child.

    Hitting in always unacceptable, in my opinion. And so, yes, that colored my opinion. I think they both need to address that right now.

    Good cheer, Kati! :-)

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  34. SB1 came the closest to my own take on L3. The funerals or the vacation aren't really at the heart of it. One might raise an eyebrow at someone claiming to be doing EXACTLY what the dear departed would have wanted when it just so astonishingly happens to coincide with the most pleasant course of action, but enough people as eventual dear departeds are saying to their eventual survivors to get on the plane that I can accept that it does happen, and that good people can do that. And good people can decide that with TWO deaths in such a short period it would be impossible to enjoy oneself on the beach knowing that two funerals were taking place at home. And good people resort to juggling and rescheduling. (We do have a decent negative inference in that LW3, in listing what might be considered exonerating factors, does not mention an attempt to reschedule or acknowledge that it would have been impossible to do so for one reason or another.) What LW3 chose to do wouldn't have bothered me one way or the other.

    What does bother me are people who make all sorts of Family Vincit Omnia statements and take all sorts of credit for them, much of that credit being self-inflicted, and then squeal like stuck pigs when life actually makes them back up their words! Some variation of that is what we have here. Maybe LW3 is on the record as having voiced many times a very pretty sentiment about family meaning so much more than money. Maybe LW3's family have just been used to making that sort of statement and including everyone in it, and LW3 has been, consciously or not, happy to take credit for it or at least happy not to have to disclaim it. Whatever the true state of affairs, LW3 is going to have to cope with an immediate family, many of whom would drop a vacation for two funerals or at least have yet to be caught out, and it would be as well to get used to owning one's decisions and one's policies.

    I wonder if anyone's views would alter if, instead of a funeral, LW3 were missing a farewell gathering a la *It's My Party*.

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  35. I sure agree with you Smaggy. Hitting is never ever ever justified and is a bad sign for the marriage and the parenting.

    I'm happy you're a good dad, just like my son-in-law is. What a contrast with previous generations!

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  36. "...and then squeal like stuck pigs when life actually makes them back up their words." :-)

    hrumpole, I love it when you go all base like that. Because you so rarely do it, when it happens, it's like a wonderful double-whammy of snarky goodness! :-) And tasty, too!

    Good cheer! :-)

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  37. Ahoy, Kati. I stove to be an equally-contributing father when our daughter was an infant and toddler. That doesn't mean it always worked out. I was often deployed, during which time, obviously, I changed no diapers nor prepared or fed any meals. But, I would video record myself reading books and talking, such that I could help keep her entertained while I was gone (for what that was worth).

    Now, at seventeen, she doesn't need either of us nearly as much as she did then. At least not in the same ways. But I try to be there in the ways that she does need us (and no, I'm not talking about as an ATM!). ;-)

    Cheers, Kati! And a happy Sunday to you! :-)

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  38. Ahoy-hoy Smagdiddlyumptious-

    Yay, the edits to Gmail worked. I am Me.

    LW1 - yeah, he probably hasn't been helping out much with the kid. New moms dig that sort of thing. But I like the idea of a little martial arts foreplay! Builds character!

    ...No?

    Should I tear up my mail-order marriage counselor certificate, then?

    {{{sigh}} OkAYYYYY...

    LW2 - M'lord, you may not realize that one of Asberger's little quirks is a really formal, advanced way of speaking and writing. And - speaking as somebody who's ridiculously introspective to the point of probably having a touch of "A" herself - really, REALLY living inside their heads. So I'm perfectly fine with all that introspection coming from a middle-schooler.

    I'm compelled to honor her with a song, to the tune of "Love Grows (Where my Rosemary Goes)"

    She makes funny faces
    and hates crowded places
    and may have no em-path-yyy
    Oh, but love grows where that Asian girl goes
    And nobody knows like me

    She talks monotone-ly
    And people thinks she's lonely
    She never changes her rou-tiiiine
    Oh, but love grows where that Asian girl goes
    And nobody knoooooooows liiiiike meeeee

    There's something about her talking out loud
    Even when there's no crowd
    And I just gotta sayyyy-HEY
    She's got most of her subjects down pat
    Maybe not so for math
    Talks about one thing all day

    ayyyyyyyyyyyy

    She talks real precocious
    But her body language's atrocious
    But hey it's Asberger's way, y'see
    Because love grows where that Asian girl goes
    And nobody knoooooooows -
    Liiike meeeeeeeeeeeeeee


    ----
    Stuff about LW3 and 4 TBC!

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  39. Continuing the To Be Continued!

    LW3-
    As much as I hate moving any of my time off to other... uh, times... in her situation I would've talked to my family, gotten a consensus, then would've done whatever the consensus was. Some families are all "Oh, don't worry about us, you enjoy yourself, we'll be fine!"

    Some families, like mine, are ALL OVER THE FUCKING MAP. From "Oh, don't worry about us!" to going utterly and totally ballistic if the question "Should I cancel?" is dared to be asked. So I can't help but feel LW's pain. Maybe she got mixed signals from family who then went, "Hey! She went, anyway!" I would absolutely get mixed signals from mine. So all my crap about "consensus" is crap. Ultimately I'd probably cancel just to avoid the Ballistic One, if you know what I mean.

    Four years ago in early August, one of my sisters died, and the family didn't have the memorial/funeral till late September, I believe. Perhaps even early October. Thanksgiving was even suggested as an option!

    Why? Mom didn't want or expect all us remaining sisters to drop everything and fly out. Seriously. Ours is a far-flung family, see. Mom herself had been on a motorhome trip and couldn't even get back home for 3 days. I took one grievance day off from work and didn't know if I was supposed to hop on a plane the day after that, or what. Mom said to stay put until further notice. So believe it or not, I went back to work the rest of the week and "saved" the rest of my grievance time off for when I flew out later. But working was a surreal experience, I tell you. I was in a fog and did what I was supposed to do, but didn't give a crap about any of it. I wanted to scream at people, "Who cares if this report is missing data from 2007?? My sister just died!!"

    Put another way, a vacation may have been the best idea for me. Every family's different; LW3 is the black sheep or odd one out or has Asberger's or whatever, but few things mess with people's heads like death and funerals.

    My verbal instructions for how to handle my death are as follows:
    --cremation after all that organ-donor stuff is done
    --everyone should spend the day at the Disney park closest to them
    --No, mom, do NOT try to scatter the ashes in the Haunted Mansion! They hate that.


    LW4 - the old guy can work, but not shop? Why do I care this time if it's a guy or girl doing the errands? If it's a girl running errands, it makes me think of an old guy who still fancies himself the lady-charmer, and who can brag to his buddies about he's "still got it." That bugs me. Even considering the Good Works going on of feeding the elderly, that thought still bugs me. Should the thought be banish-ed?

    Oh, what a piece of work is (old) man!

    If it's a guy doing the errands, I dunno. New Kid's Initiation?

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  40. herdThinner! You're back! And as "you" no less! Out-freakin'-standing! :-) You're also in rare forme. :-)

    As for LW#1, I like the results of your mail-order marriage counselor certificate! Keep 'em coming. :-)

    As for LW#2, I can't stress enough that even though I thought the letter to be fake, I answered it as if it wasn't! Geez, you guys think I'm a Mr. Meanie Pants or something! ;-) Excellent song, by the way. :-)

    I think you nailed Letter #3, because you talked about how you'd be affected, not the family. And it's clear that's what's important to you. The LW hadn't yet embraced this. S/he was fine with going on vacation (no mention of grief, only a mention of sending condolences to the "remaining spouses"), yet didn't want to own that feeling when it came to it. You seem to have no problem owning your feelings on the matter. That's the difference. And it's a big one! In this case, you win, the LW loses.

    While gender doesn't matter to me in this one (heck, the old guy could be gay and brag to his friends that he's still got it if the temp was a man!), the situation does matter. I think the LW needs to say right up front what s/he is willing to do for Mr. Fruit & Bread. And, too, that if s/he is not willing to be the Gopher, that there should be no repurcussions.

    Good cheer, herdThinner! Glad that you're back to being yourself! :-P

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  41. Ah, Smag with a side of coleslaw,

    Sorry if I seemed to be jumping on the Mr. Meanie Pants train. I was just trying to sound all learned and knowledgeable and stuff about Asberger's, which these days just meant that I got my list of "symptoms" from WebMD and not Wikipedia.



    Hey, wait - I thought we were all fans *because* you're Mr. Meanie Pants? A Magnificent Pair of Meanie Pants. I shall pounce upon and depants anyone who does not honor the Magnificence! Especially if they're lightly worn, size 22W petite women's pants with deep pockets, preferably navy blue or black!

    Er, not that those details matter. I'm just sayin'

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  42. Wowza, herdThinner, now I'm wishing my legs were shorter...

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  43. Ahoy, herdThinner! Thank you for the support! You are far too kind. As for the details, being a guy, I have not clue what they mean. But, any talking of depantsing women of their pants is fine with me! :-)

    Libby, you, being a woman, can glean stuff from herdThinner's post about leg length that I could only deam of! But apparently some mysteries aren't meant to be known by submariners. :-)

    Good cheert to you both! :-P

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  44. I was describing my pant size and preferred style and color. Why depants someone if you can't get any use out of your ill-gotten gain??

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