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 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 fiancé 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 (München) 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!

****
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...

32 comments:

  1. Ahoy Mon Capitan!

    So, I musta missed something in LW4 that led so many to think it was an EX not DECEASED husband. It can be a rather significant difference. Unless, of course, LW4 is Mrs. White from the '80s movie Clue.
    Otherwise, swimming advice as usual.

    I especially liked your bonus letter and answer!!

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  2. Small correction: LW#4 didn't fight with her "ex" husband, she fought with her "late" husband.

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  3. Ahoy Libby and Mick! ACK! You are both correct and I blew that one. I have since removed the offending sentence. Thank you for the catch! I guess her attitude in general just seemed more appropriate for a divorcée than a widow? *Needing* to fight? Come on! I mean, I'm not condemning fighting. If that works for a couple, fine. But thinking it necessary for a happy relationship? Bad juju.

    Anyway, good cheer to you both, and happy-happy! :-)

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  4. Smag, I'm just reading LW4 really sympathetically for reasons that I can't pinpoint, but here's what I think is really going on:

    Dear Prudie, I'm engaged to a man who is a really good friend in addition to tickling all the right turn ons for me. I don't see any problems, but I'm kind of easily persuaded that I'm wrong. Probably because I don't have much relationship experience. I mean I'm a widow in my 30's for pity's sake. I got married to who I thought would be my one true love right out of school, and I was convinced that we would be together until we were old, shrunken, and adorable together in our longevity, both in the relationship and in life. The marriage was good. In fact, it was so good that I'm following statistics and looking to get remarried, and sooner than your average divorcee. Now my friend who's had plenty of relationships, both good and bad, is talking to me as if I'm still just out of school and naive about the ways of the world. She's telling me that without conflict, there is no healthy relationship. In fact, she's hinting that Mr.-Divorced-But-Wonderful is probably a closet abuser, because everyone knows that abusers will do anything, including seeming really agreeable, to get their next victim "hooked" into marriage. Now I'm starting to doubt my own ability to judge character, or what I knew about this guy before I started boinking him. Please, oh please, tell me that I've not gone from a good relationship to an abusive one. Tell me that it's a great relationship and life is good.

    Do I trust my gut or my friend?

    My response would read something like this:
    Look back at your relationship with this man, not just the dating/engaged part, but the rest of it too. Does he have a history of being two-faced, untrustworthy, temperamental, or otherwise displayed behavior that would cause you to doubt his sincerity in your relationship? The disagreements that you have had, which party did the most give for the compromise solution? There was a compromise solution, right? (If the answer the the last two questions indicate that he just gives way to you, ask this question: Does he tend to give way to anyone in his life (i.e. is he a doormat)?)
    Now, take stock of these answers and evaluate this relationship based on - THIS relationship. I know, it's difficult, but OH so worth it.

    Also, ask yourself some questions about your "dear friend": Has she had many relationships, or just one or two? How tumultuous have her relationship(s) been? How long has she been in her current relationship? How long have the people closest to her been in their relationships? Do you trust their experience with their lives more than your experience with your life and your current beau?

    Now evaluate the value of this "dear friend's" advice in the context of the above, and perhaps, evaluate the value of this "dear friend" in your life. Because if a person who is dear to you can't be happy that you've found what sounds like a spectacular relationship, perhaps THEY are the problem, not your relationship.

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  5. O, Ms Libby, Ms Libby! Did someone slip a Sympathy Pill into your breakfast?

    It might be one thing if her dear friend, her sister, her mother, her butcher, her maid, her day care provider and, most important of all, her hairdresser, were all warning her off the fiance. That might be a good time to question the relationship.

    If LW4 hadn't annoyed me, I might have gone more deeply into the giving of the advice and whether, for instance, it was a casually tossed off comment as opposed to the dear friend saying they needed to talk, sitting her down and then going into a prepared speech about the need for conflict in all healthy relationships. Who among us has not dropped a half-baked comment into a conversation and then backed it up just for the sake of backing it up?

    I'd also like to inquire into what all the other friends LW4 has doubtless consulted have had to say. Give us the full polling data.

    Getting rid of one particular friend won't solve the problem. Another will just take her place. This friend has done LW4 the great service of demonstrating to her, even if the friend is a complete crackpot and killjoy who deserves to be dumped at the first opportunity, that LW4 lacks the mental fortitude without which one ought not to enter the married state. She is far too easily swayed by one person and incapable of working out anything like your very sound plan of how to evaluate that friend's advice for herself.

    SB1, while I can understand feeling sorry for anyone who's been so unfortunate as to misinform her daughter by accident about her bio-pop, hasn't the daughter gotten completely out of hand by now? As you seem to want to be nice to LW1, why have her join the train wreck in progress? Now, if you'd wanted to treat her like LW2 and tell her she must do her best to marry Tom and make a Real Family, I'd have had no objection - it does sound as if they all deserve each other. But if one wants to be sympathetic to LW1, the daughter at least seems a complete pill and not someone who ought to be joined on this particular journey of havoc. No?

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  6. hrumpole, like I said, I knew I was feeling overly sympathetic. ;-)
    Great analysis of the LW, though

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  7. There's a guy out there on the interwebs who says that people are addicted to four major things.
    I haven't read his book, so I can't say where his theory goes from there, but the first two are: Other People's Opinions, and Drama.

    Nearly all LWs exhibit the first, ipso facto, and most, the second as well. LW1 hits for the cycle, being addicted to the Past (how she mucked it up) and to the Future (what happens when the daughter...)
    The guy may be on to something, at that.

    LW4 sounds like she's as painfully addicted to her friend's opinion, as her friend is to Drama. Seriously? the question should run the other way. What's up with squabbling all the time? What does it get you, that a reasonable person would want? Can you really Win, in other words, if your partner has to Lose? There are so many other ways to communicate, and to get what you need.

    My honey and I go from one season to another without anything I'd call a fight; it isn't because we agree about everything, or always want the same thing, but because we trust each other to hold those differences in a larger context of care and respect. We like solutions, however imperfect, better than we like Drama.

    As for the Litigious Lulu, a career in the law is going to call for a whole lot more starch than she's showing now.
    Where she's sitting is what her firm gives people who aren't important--like her. She should not ask for a change unless she can see that it could be very easily accommodated.

    What's directed at her, she needs to come back with a "Seriously?" Prudie's phrasing is hopelessly Kick-Me, but there must be a way to say, "Jerry, seriously, dude, I'm not saying I know what you meant by that, but it could be taken for harassment, so you should cut it out, already."
    Say it as often as necessary, in front of whoever, in whatever vernacular works, but Man to Man, as it were. If he thinks he can make her stand on her chair and say "Eeeeek", she's cooked already.

    What she overhears, gross though it is, she can do Zippity-Nada about.

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  8. Ah, Carolina--yes, by all means, shut off the evening news and stop the paper, if you happen to be old-school that way; the most negative, painful person I know wallows in these things, and it shows.

    I agree about the travel, in principle, though it wouldn't work for me. I do know the names of the homeless people I see every day, fwiw.

    The other thing I'd say is this: for me, this is what religion is for. Week after week, I hear, "Cantahamster, you are a Beloved Child of God. And So Is Everybody Else." See, I can't be unless they are, and I want to be, so I go through my days saying, "What a dickhead that guy is! And... a beloved child of God." "Wow, what a nasty greedhead,--just like me."
    The intention is not to kick myself around, just to try and take a giant step back, and see that I live with loss, error, and failure, and so does everybody else. It's denying it, putting it off on the scary other, that gets us in trouble. Imagine them as babies: somebody once loved those stupid, nasty people, or if they didn't--God help them.

    Not saying I'm there, by any means, but most days it helps.
    Peace out--

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  9. hi carolina
    i have to second smag's advice to a) avoid the assholes, and b) get out and travel. you can meet the coolest people and hear the most amazing stories. but you can also meet a lot of assholes when you travel too. and if money is an issue, sometimes travel is going to have to mean just taking a different bus to work, or sitting somewhere outside for lunchbreak and talking to people you hadn't talked to before. i might not have visited as many ports as our illustrious smag, but i have also done a fair bit of foreign and domestic travel, and heard a lot of stories, and from my point of view, here is the trick to it all. take strength from the stories. realise that many people have it way harder than you and focus on not taking what you have for granted. go join an adult kickball league. volunteer for a cause you believe in. have some fun for cripes sake. get out of your own way. get some meaning in your life and look for something to laugh at or about every day.
    or maybe just look at the sad stories to keep a perspective on your life and how privileged your life is.
    keep a file of stories titled "glad i'm not that poor bastard." go reread the stories every time you start to thing life is hard. know it could be worse and get over yourself. i am a left arm below elbow amputee. it would be easy to get pissed when i can't braid my kid's hair when she asks me to, or when i end up smelling like pickles all day b/c the stupid jar i was trying to open jolted away from my stump when i tried to open it and pickle juice spilled all over me, but then i think about the poor bastards who are coming home from the war missing their arms above elbow, and know that would be worse. and i get out of my own way and spend the rest of the day teling everyone that asks why i smell like pickles that i am trying a new perfume. stupid joke but it makes them laugh. cliche, but their smile makes me smile. and then they usually offer to help open the pickle jar next time, and we all feel better.
    give in to depression an inch and it will suck you in a mile. you don't need to stand around holding hands singing kumbaya, but broaden your horizons, crack some jokes and lighten up the day.
    it is late and i'm rambling, but until you have experienced the true poverty and devastation inthird world countries, it is easy to take what you have for granted. and if you are listening to "angry radio" or "angry tv" - you know the talking heads i mean, turn that shit off.

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  10. Libby, I understand. It's just that it seems rather, well, "childlike" to be so naive as to ask, "So, Internet Lady, if we don't ever fight, is that a sure sign of ruin?" And, I do get that there's a lot to consider, and I do appreciate that that I may have been too hard on her. Maybe.

    But I can't back off of her, because, with a daughter of my own, I have to make sure that my view on this subject is consistent, and it is this: drama is *not* required to make a relationship real, mature or worthwhile. As a matter of fact, it's usually a bad sign. A very bad sign. And while I expect to have to remind a 17 year old of that fact (over and over and over..._, I'm not as keen on nicely providing that guidance to someone twice that age. She should know better. I'm not disagreeing with you, though, just telling my side. :-)

    Good cheer!

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  11. Smaggy,

    I actually do get it. Like I said, I was feeling highly sympathetic to the LW yesterday. For reasons I'm still not clear on.

    I do agree, though,that this LW needs to seriously put on her big girl panties and figure out real life.

    Good cheer!

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  12. Ahoy, hrumpole, and greetings! Excellent points on LW#4. A nice continuation from last week on that theme. As for LW#2, I wouldn't say that I was "feeling sorry" for the LW, so much as not wanting to crush her for a mistake of youth. It's the continuation of that mistake into the present that bothers me. She needs to grow up, quit being an idiot, and embrace her past as it pertains to her and her daughter's present. At least so much as is necessary to get to the bottom of *this* mystery.

    As for the daughter, I can't fault her in wanting to search out her birth father. We only have the LW's word for how relations were with the step-dad, so, heck, maybe she's never had a "dad" in that respect and is searching for that fictional one that exists only in movies... She may have to learn the hard way. I can't fault her, though, as she's currently the age her mother was when all of this happened. And apparently wisdom is in short supply in that family tree. ;-)

    Good cheer, kind Sir! And happy weekend. :-)

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  13. Okay, Libby, we're just going to continue to race to agree with each other while still having pieces of our own opinions that are different. That's okay, though! It means we aren't twins! ;-)

    Smiles and good cheer! :-)

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  14. Heh. No it means I'm wishy-washy as all get out this week and I couldn't hold a formed opinion if you paid me.

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  15. Ahoy, Cantahamster! :-) I'm guessing that one of the others is sex. Although the sex that gets written in about to Prudie typically falls under the "drama" category, so, your Interwebz guy may not differentiate? ;-) I like your advice for Litigious Lulu, too! Most apropos.

    Finally, you started on a theme that Sandy worked on, too, and it's one that I want to reiterate because I didn't mention it enough, but, by "travel", I certainly didn't mean that it had to be out of the country or even out of the state you live in. Or, even out of the city. But, what I meant was to get out of the comfort zone. And by "out of", I mean, *completely* out of. I'm not suggesting putting one's self in danger, but, going and doing and experiencing things that have, to this point, been only stuff read about or seen on TV. Get out in the world and know it from a personal standpoint! Smell it, touch it, fell it.

    And, fact is, even traveling out of state and country is doable, it's just a lot more limited for some of us due to various factors, but, if made a priority, it *can* happen. It's *that* important, IMHO. Almost a life requirement because of what it can teach us.

    Good stuff all around, Cantahamster! Much good cheer! :-)

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  16. Sandy, thank you, thank you, thank you! You did a great job on the travel advice and touched on tons of stuff that I missed. I was reading your post and thinking, "Yes! Yes!" I hope that Carolina reads what you've said because you've made a number of really great points. I love your advice to keep a file of stories. For inspiration. For perspective. For wonder. I keep yours, by the way, Sandy. It's extremely inspiring. And rather amazing, too! :-)

    Also, your point about "angry radio" and "angry tv"? Dead on target! So, Carolina, if you're reading these comments, please take Sandy's and Cantahamster's to heart. They're great words to live by and variations of them have served me well to date. :-)

    Good cheer, Sandy! And a wonderful weekend to you! :-)

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  17. Smaggy, you must be doing something terribly wrong. My user mail usually reads "you f*cking idiat liberel scum! all you obama lovin morans aut to just shoot yours selfs!"

    Great stuff, though, even if you attract the wrong crowd.

    A good call on Carolina's letter too. I had a coworker ask me some similar questions a few weeks ago, given the project team I work with encounters some rather unsavory team members about the place. She said I seem to "let them roll off my back" and asked "how do you stand them? People are such assholes."

    To which I responded "they don't, and I don't. Kay from Men in Black said it best: 'a person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.' Makes it easier, taking people one at a time. Put too many of them in one place and you have the tea party or PeTA or Glenn Beck's fans, and it gets right scary. One on one, people tend to be a hell of a lot nicer. So I view them that way when I can."

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  18. Ahoy, Schuyler! Actually, and to be fair to Carolina, I must admit that I edited her e-mail somewhat. She actually asked how I lived with *myself*, being the asshole/stupid/ignorant hoser that I am, and how I was able to still face myself. I just changed the pronouns around a bit, and voilà, reader mail! ;-)

    Well, okay, that's not entirely true. But it makes for good copy, eh? ;-)

    Your advice, though, good Sir? Outstanding. And dead nuts on the mark. Carolina, here's another comment to take to heart.

    Good cheer, Mr. Cat! And happy-happy! :-)

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  19. Hello, this is Carolina.

    Hi Cantahamster:

    I very much appreciate your thoughtful point of view :) Yes, I'm currently working on cutting back from constantly looking for negative news. I realize it's distorting my social perception in a very unhealthy way. I guess the trick I need to learn now is how to expand on social awareness without getting too emotionally involved...

    And thank you for your spiritual perspective; you're a long way ahead of me in terms impartiality and self-reflection. I definitely will work on reminding myself that everyone is a child of the divine, whether it be an abused kid or his/her abusive parent(s); at the very least, it'll give me a reason not to drown myself into negativity :)

    Hi Sandy:

    Thank you very much for sharing your input! Currently still very sheltered in comparison myself, I regret that you have to deal with such difficulties on a daily basis; it us indeed really inspiring to learn how you refuse to let them drag yourself down :) And yes, I shamefully admit that I do take many, many things in life for granted, and tend to fall into self-defeat over petty things.

    The thing is, I've been obsessing with articles/blogs specifically about social discrimination against minorities, and the overwhelming apathy or even backlash against the minority stance really gets to me.
    Thinking back though, there was likely a lot of projecting on my part. And sadly yes, if I had more (immediate) problems in my own life, I probably wouldn't be so emotionally invested in other peoples'.

    Hi Schuyler:

    Wow, I really never thought of the "individual vs. people mentality" that way. Though it's very hard for me to imagine that a nice individual and pro-discrimination supporter can be the same person, I think I understand. I guess clear thinking still flies out the window for a majority of people when it comes to social opinions, as disheartening as the implications are. Much thanks for the insight!

    And yes Smagboy1, so far everyone has generously offered wonderful advice that I'm definitely taking to heart!
    I do very much appreciate how patient and helpful everyone has been, and for bearing with my long-winded, clueless self :)

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  20. Hey, Carolina,
    I'm guessing you're less clueless than you imagine... especially these days, drinking from the firehose of news, it's hard to control what pushes our buttons.

    I still can't believe all those people voted for Prop 8, or that those churches with their own heavy gender-politics problems threw so much money into it, and on and on (so this week, for now, I'm happy for California--but it does go on.)

    I recently got into a big argument with a guy about the (Fox news story about the) women who were denied counseling credentials, for saying they wouldn't treat homosexuals (because the Bible told them being gay was wrong--SOB!--)
    my friend didn't get that there are NO schools these people could go work in where there wouldn't be gay students. Even the conservative Christian schools have gay kids--that's why so many kill themselves--that's NOT OKAY.
    But if I thought about it all the time, could I get out of bed and go to work? Breathe in peace, Breathe out love.

    Even poor old Lulu there, with her evil office-mates, gave me an Anita Hill flashback--It's a tough old world, no kidding.

    It all takes courage, my friend, and companionship (such as we find here); may you grow in wisdom to match your goodwill.
    You're headed the right way.

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  21. hi carolina - i agree that you are not as clueless as you think you are or you wouldn't be worried about the things that you worry about.
    i have seen the suffering and the injustice you describe first hand. i have held children right before they died of some very preventable disease. i have walked beside women in burkas and seen girls not allowed to go to school just because they are girls. it is horrifying and frustrating, and can seize you up with fury to where there is so much to do that you feel impotent against the huge tide of horrors.
    i didn't menntion my handicap to play a sympathy card. there is no need to pity me at all. i lost my arm in a traumatic acident in central africa in which i chose to lose my arm over my life and it was an okay trade. there is no point in wasting time being depressed about what cannot be changed. i have bad days - yes, i walked around smelling like pickles yesterday and people thought i worked at steak and shake - but i am a survivor of the event that caused me to lose my arm, not a victim of the event. so be a survivor of life. do what you can do against injustice, etc when it is reasonable and right to do so. for the rest, be fearless for a day and go find some new ways to have fun. life is too short not to spend as much of it laughing as you can.
    i read smag because when he mocks and ridicules the nitwits that write in, it makes me laugh. (i miss the lol cats immensely. they remided me to be a ninja more often.) some of - okay most of, smags answers might seem mean spirited, but his intent seems like he mocks and ridicules to point out how stinkin unreasonable everyone is these days. like the intern this week - sexual harassment my ass. tell the prick to stop it then ignore his ass or ask to have your desk moved. there was such a sense of entitlement from the letter. she should try being trapped in a room after hours with a boss who comes in drunk and wants to play run around the desk when you are 17 and from a strict catholic family. that was harrassment. but nobody seems to want to be reasonable anymore. it doesn't seem like anyone wants to work for anything. everyone seems to want to look for offense and then use some small infraction as a reason to sue about it to win the lawsuit lottery. so when smag nails 'em for puerile behaviour, i read it and laugh and cheer him on, b/c life is too short not to just grow up and deal.
    crap. it is late and i am rambling again. but stop watching life caroline - go live a little more. we're pulling for you...

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  22. asking for a "friend"August 7, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    LW#1, if u can narrow it down to a geographic region, it helps as well, e.g., south side of Chicago. :). btw, awesome south park reference - it could be the Denver Broncos team. :).

    that's all i have 4 now - the other letters (particularly the reader submitted) require more thought and i have a brutal hangover so i will be back 2 comment on those later. :).

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  23. Hi Carolina,
    For me too the news of the world are terribly depressing and angst producing, along with some very stressful things that are happening to one of my loved ones.

    I suspect part of the problem is the feeling of a total lack of control. Sometimes you can alleviate that feeling and the depression by being active in one cause or another. For instance you write that you are concerned about discrimination of minorities. There must be some local organizations dealing with this issue as pertaining to the minority you feel more involved with, or if it's all of them, you can be active for instance in the ACLU (local chapter), or the Southern Poverty Law Center, etc etc etc etc.

    Joining any of those groups and working to better the world around you will not only make you feel swome measure of control (even if imaginary!) but also get you to meet some interesting people and make new friends.

    I noticed that activists tend to have an optimistic outlook even though they do keep abreast of bad news.

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  24. Hi Captain Smag! Top of the morning to you and double and triple rainbows too...

    Lots of good advice you're dispensing as usual. I suspect that the common denominator in most of the letters is a lack of common sense, or alternatively, imagination that has run dry inventing new letters each week --so yes, this week's letters were pretty boring! I mean worrying about not fighting enough with hubby. Give me a break! (oh yes and the paternity issue, I don't think Amazons ever wasted time on this....)

    Incidentally, I have a sartorial query: why are tank tops for men called "wife beaters"? I've known my share of wife beaters who wouldn't be caught dead wearing a tank top, and some tank top wearers who were the sweetest folks on this planet.... go figure!

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  25. LW2- please, quit law school and enter another profession. We have a bad enough rap without you. You know if you weren't such an obnoxious spineless twat you could walk up to the guy next time he says something, lean over and put your mouth about a mm away from his ear and say, "hey asshole if you ever fucking say shit like that again, I'll fucking cut your shit off". But hey, maybe you should listen to Smag and stick a fucking letter opener in your ear hole, idiot.
    LW5 Carolina- Nietzsche said something pretty cool about: "if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you". I'm not much for sticking my head in the sand, but you have to find some way to distance yourself and have some humor about the truly horrifying if you deal with it a lot or it will suck you in. So- if you HAVE to deal with stupid/nasty people, you can try imagining that you work in a mental hospital and they are your patients...always gives me a giggle:)
    Cheers,
    J

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  26. Hey Carolina,

    I glad that you're here reading, and glad for the truly great advice coming in for you. Man, I feel like a third-rate hack next to all of these wonderful posts! You guys are all great! :-)

    Please keep in touch and let us know how things go. Good cheer! :-)

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  27. Cantahamster and Sandy, I know that your posts were for Carolina, but I just wanted to reiterate how wonderful I think they are and to tell you both how much I enjoy that you read and post here! :-)

    Good cheer to you both! :-)

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  28. Ahoy, asking for a "friend"! Dude, I'm getting worried! Your hangover has gone into days now! :-) And you were on an incredible roll with the advice to the mom who's not sure of her kiddos parentage! Wonderfully full of the snark! :-)

    Good cheer and may the hangover be overhung, soonest. :-)

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  29. Ahoy, Kati, and quadruple rainbows to you! Times infinity! :-)

    As for wife beaters, heck, I figured that Marlon Brando's use of the garment in "Streetcar Named Desire" is what caused it to be named such. I don't know if he was actually a sweet man or wife beater, but his character "Stanley" wasn't sweet. At all. The thing with the orange peel he did for his granddaughter in "Godfather" was sweet, though. But, she wasn't yet a wife, so, who knows? ;-) Then there was the whole horse's head...

    Anyway, just so you know, I think that I'd have been a fan of the Amazons! :-)

    Good cheer, Kati! :-)

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  30. JayJay, your quoting of Nietzsche was likely a first here on the submarine. I don't know if we can take too much of that as my mind is now officially blown! :-) No, just kidding, great stuff! And thank you, too, for the great and thoughtful advice for Carolina.

    As for our young law student. She could try an automatic stapler, too? Maybe simultaneously with the letter opener? :-)

    Good cheer, JayJay! :-)

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  31. My dear Smag,

    I LOVED your answer to LW1. I am so glad you were not snarky with her (at least not too snarky). So she was a little slutty as a youngin'! Does that mean she needs to be made fun of in her (late?) middle age? She already SAID she's embarrassed about it, ferchrissakes! Anyway, I loved what you told her.

    As for LW2, your greeting says it all: "Dear Dumbassed, Stupid, Vacuous Twit"

    I love it.

    I think your response to your original mail was really great too. I think I must also take that advice, right? You are truly a role model for the less positive minded of us out there, Smaggy!

    Hope you are well and [maybe] home from not air conditioned Germany? I was away from the ole internet for a while and I actually have found it rather trying to catch up. Anyway, LOVE YOU!

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    ReplyDelete