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, September 30, 2010

...on Swingers, Retirement, Fast Food Careers and Fraud

http://www.slate.com/id/2269153/ (9/30/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day?! I hope that all’s well, that you’re relishing October’s impending dawn, and that, overall, life is good. Are you fans of football? Baseball? Theater? Dance? They’re all in full swing this time of year. Matter of fact, I recently attended a concert by one of my all-time favorite guitarists. Cameras were strictly forbidden, but, I enjoy this guitarist so much that I couldn’t help myself (I shot some video from inside my concert program, which I held under my chin as if I was resting on it--I couldn’t see what I was shooting, so it’s not the best in the world, but...). Anyway, if you appreciate incredible guitar work and unique renditions of old standards, you may enjoy this video (my apologies for the truncated opening): here. Okay, enough of that. We’ve got letters! So, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I have a long sad story, but I’ll try to cut it short for you. My parents recently died in an accident. At the funeral, a couple approached us whom my brother and I have not seen in years. They were the former inseparable best friends of my parents. They informed us that our parents were swingers and that they (this couple) had been our parents’ partners. We freaked (justifiably) and hoped to never hear from them again. Well, since then, the husband has contacted both my brother and me demanding video tapes that he claims my parents shot depicting various levels of congress between the two couples. He said that if we don’t comply, he’ll tell anyone and everyone who’ll listen about our parents’ history. This is all terrible news, somewhat frightening, and, it’s certainly not made the prospect of cleaning out our parents’ house any less savory. What can we do? Do we involve the police? Signed, We So Did Not Sign On For This

Dear Eyes (Now) Wide Open, I’m extremely sorry for your loss, and, on top of that, the added grief of a real life asshole pestering you. Please know that I understand and empathize with you on those fronts. But, as for anything else, I’m sorry, but I just don’t understand your problem? Block this fucktard assmunch from your phone and e-mail. Tell him if he ever fucking calls you again that you will get a civil restraining order against him and his wife. Further, tell him that you don’t give a flying FUCK what he tells people about your parents. Say to him, “You want to tell? Have a ball!” (and say it like you know it’s punny). If people believe him, and if it matters to them, then they weren’t your parents’ true friends, anyway. True friends? They’ll punch the fucker in the nose. The only power this man’s threat has is what you give it. If you accept your parents as sexual beings, he has no power over you. At all. As for the prospect of cleaning out your parents’ house, aside from the tragedy that this situation is (and I really do sympathize), this is no different from what I said above. Everyone has secrets. Everyone. And your parents’ aren’t all that particularly tawdry, if you want to know the truth. They had a sex life. Sounds like it was kind of kinked. So? Listen, if you find a tape with a little sexy-sexy, just destroy it. How hard could that be (again with the puns--sorry!)? Good luck. I know you’ll do the right thing.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my father is retiring after sixty years at the same business! My husband and I have worked there for the last thirty years, and many of our colleagues have been there that long or longer. We’re planning a great party and roast for my dad and we’re all really looking forward to it. The problem? My sister is coming from out of town with her boyfriend. It’s his "birthday weekend" and she wants to acknowledge it at my dad’s retirement party with a song and cake?! I told her that I didn’t think that was appropriate, so she’s decided not to come, claiming that my statement was indicative of how I (and our family) feel about her boyfriend. My father will be heartbroken if she’s not there. What should I do? Signed, So Over That Bitch’s Drama

Dear The Good Sister, first off, please, for the love of all that is holy, do not follow Prudie’s advice by acting as if you have some kind of control over your sister's life. That plays right into your sister’s manipulative hands. Your sister’s put you over a barrel, you see. She’s made it to where you are the villain for causing her not to come! And, fact is, that cannot be allowed to stand. What you do is exactly the opposite of what Prudie says. You tell your sister that she is an adult and can do whatever in the hell she chooses to do at your father’s retirement ceremony. If she wants to bring cake and party hats for her boyfriend’s celebration (and if he’s a jackass enough to go along with it) and have the guests sing happy birthday for him (a man they absolutely don't know), that’s on her. You should neither condemn nor condone it. You are planning a retirement party for your father and that’s all that you’re planning. Your sister’s actions are neither your responsibility nor your concern. You are not her keeper.  Never, ever, ever be embarrassed for the actions of others. And never try to control the actions of others. I have a sneaking suspicion that once this decision is put back on your sister instead of on you, the issue will resolve itself quite nicely. She’d have to be a complete idiot to celebrate her BF’s birthday at your dad’s retirement party. But, if she does, you’ve got to learn to let it go. It takes two to tango, Sis, and you’re currently providing the music.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, My wife is the bestest, best wife that has ever been. She’s as wonderful as the most wonderful goddess ever! We’re so hap-hap-fucking-happy that we couldn’t be happier if Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Fucking Kaye! Aside from that, I am terribly embarrassed by her job. Prudie, she doesn’t like authority, so has never kept a job for over two years. Her latest place of employ is a fast food joint. When all of my high class, super-duper friends and colleagues at my snooty and high-powered advertising job ask me what my wife does for a living, I don’t know what to say (their wives are all firefighting, best-selling authors and Nobel laureates who strip on the side as they’ve all, to a woman, kept their bodies in pre-baby form). Once I tell them what wife's job is, it usually leads to awkward silence and then to laughs, as if I’ve made a joke. It’s no joke, Prudie. What can I do? Signed, Married to an Edsel

Dear Idiot. Let’s combine my advice to LWs #1 and #2 for you, okay? First off, who gives a rat’s tiny hairy ass what anyone thinks of your wife’s anything?! What is this, a cattle call and show-and-tell, all wrapped with a corporate bow? If they don’t like what your wife does, fuck them. They only have power over you because you lend it to them. Got me? Second, you should never, ever, ever be embarrassed for the actions of others. If your wife is a terrible worker who can’t hold a job, so be it. The question is, do you love her? If you do, fuck those guys! Who gives two rips about them? If you don’t, you need to figure out why. If it’s due to embarrassment, that’s pretty sad and should show you just how weak you are. If it’s jealousy over their having wonderful wives, you are a clueless idiot. We’ve all got secrets. Remember? And believe me, none of you are nearly as clever or snoot-worthy as you think you are. But, hey, love is a fickle thing. I don't know what's up in your marriage and certainly won’t condemn you for feeling whatever you feel. You just need to know the truth and embrace it, okay? As for your happy marriage? Yeah, right.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, My oldest friend is going to school for a very nebulous, somewhat shady-sounding college "diploma". The program calls for coursework in an elective second language, but his classes in the area of study for his program have him swamped. And the language requirement is just an elective (even though, you know, it’s called a “requirement”). He doesn’t reckon he should have to take this “requirement” and has offered to pay me to take the “requirement” for him. I know him to be qualified, so, should I do it? Signed, Fraudy McFraudster

Dear Asshole. Yepper, college is so hard that your friend just can’t manage it alone, eh? And you're qualified to judge his qualifications.  Okay, got it.  How about you give me a break you brain-dead, retread, inbred, got me seeing red, want to take you out to the woodshed, big, fat meathead. What you’re talking about is justification of fraud. Your friend’s degree will be worthless. A piece of toilet paper with fancy words on it. You’re justifying his bullshit by reasoning that he’s done the coursework in the important stuff. Let me tell you something about electives. They’re there precisely because they broaden one’s mind and expose one to courses of study outside one's comfort zone. They’re also required for the degree. If your friend wants to have a degree in just his area of interest, tell him to go to vo-tech school. If he wants a "college diploma" that means something (or at least means as much as those who didn’t cheat to get theirs), he needs to, you know, actually do the coursework. You can help him be a cheater if you want. That’s on you. But know full well that he didn’t complete shit if you do. He’ll be a fraud. A fake. A liar. And his excuse about being so busy in his in-subject coursework? Hey, you know, college ain’t for everyone. Some people just can’t hack it, apparently. Others do this magical thing called taking an extra semester to complete their coursework.  Asshole.

****
Well, shippers, that about does it! Another week down, another week done! You know, sometimes with these letters, I feel like we’re all Scott Peterson’s defense attorneys, set up with an impossible task due to our client’s idiocy. Oh well, that’s half the fun of this exercise, eh? :-) Good cheer to you all. Fair winds and following seas, and, may the wind always be at your back and never, ever at your front (cause that makes everything all shrivel-y, unless you’re a girl, in which case, I favor cool wind at your front. Sorry, just how I am.). ‘Til next week...

31 comments:

  1. Good post.

    #3 - Hubby worked in a menial job until her retired. I had no problem telling my "friends" at work (most of whom I've completely lost touch with) what he did. It showed he was willing to work for a living and not just sponge off me. Besides, they were all jealous of his discount at work.

    #4. I guess the "friend" never though about the fact that he can take fewer classes per semester and graduate a semester or two late. Gasp! Oh no! The world as we know it would sure end!

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  2. Ahoy Captain~

    I so look forward to Prudie Day, it gives me something to kick start my brain on Thursday AM. Today I have nothing to add to your posts - except "yep, yep, yep, I totally agree!"

    #3's letter made me think of an episode of Little House on the Prairie: Pa was cleaning out the stable (as extra work) and Laura was embarassed. Pa told her something that has stuck w/ me all that time. I don't recall the exact words, but it was basically: any job worth having is a job worth doing well, and if you do it well you should be proud of yourself, and who cares what others think! That's the general idea of it anyhow. I also think Mike Rowe has helped some see that even the "dirty jobs" need to be done an God Bless the people who do them!!

    That's all - I just feel like I have to check in weekly now :) And yes, here in the Great Lake State we are welcoming fall in! All the other captains are getting their boats outta the water and winterizing them. I even here in our northern region the fall colors are almost at peak!!

    I hope everyone enjoys their weekends!

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  3. um, that should have been: "I even HEAR in our northern...." Obviously that 'required' freshman english class I took in college didn't pay off ;)

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  4. Smag, have you been listening to Car Talk again? I love it.

    When are people going to realize that they don't HAVE to obey every demand someone makes of them?

    (This is a paraphrase....remember the Bugs Bunny episode where Bugs and Daffy were climbing the "Smatterhorn" and when Daffy fell off the mountain, Bugs said something like, "I wonder if Daffy will realize that ducks can fly." For some reason, that's been sticking in my head of late...)

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  5. You know, I don't understand why people can celebrate the joys of life together -- the father's retirement and the sister's boyfriend's birthday. They're both something worth celebrating. The sister can bring a cake or something to celebrate her boyfriend birthday just as long as it doesn't overshadow her father's retirement.

    But I guess that's me. If I found out that a friend is celebrating important on my birthday, I'd welcome it and say, "Hey, let's celebrate together!"

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  6. Ahoy, CoolOne! Yes, employee discounts are often a great thing! It's why I keep applying to be a greeter at The Bunny Ranch! ;-) No, no, just kidding!

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  7. clhriker, I'm so glad that we're all a part of your weekly Prudie ritual! :-) I hope that you enjoy your weekend, too!

    Cheers! :-)

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  8. Ahoy, Messy! I haven't listened to Car Talk in months. But those gentelmen are wise beyond their years! I've never seen that epidose of Bugs and Daffy, but, I love it! :-)

    Good cheer, Messy! :-)

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  9. Greeing Nachtmusik! I agree in principle. That's certainly why I suggest to our LW that she not enter into the decision process in this one. Let that be up to the sister. But, I would argue that this scenario is a bit different than the one you outline. We have birthdays every year. I imagine we celebrate a 60-year retirement only once in our lives. Would you want your BF in law to have his birthday celebrated at your wedding ceremony? Not the reception, the actual ceremony. Be honest! ;-)

    But, regardless, we agree in principle. I'm just betting that, given the actual choice, instead of used as an opportunity to fight with her sister, the LW's sister will choose not to have a group of strangers regale her BF for his BD. ;-)

    Much good cheer to you, Nachtmusik! :-)

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  10. OMG, Crosby/Kaye reference FTW!!!

    Oh, and I think there were some awesome answers in there too, but my brain just reset. I'll go reread. ;-)

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  11. asking for a "friend"September 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    yay Smag! luved the responses this week! hard to add much to a Mozart sonata but I will try! :)

    LW#1 - my parents were asked about stuff in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hzpYDxL-wo

    LW#2 - this can happen when parties go bad: http://abcnews.go.com/US/year-olds-party-turns-bloody-brawl/story?id=11758081

    LW#3 - hey those titties on mickey D girl aren't retarded! :). (Dave Attell reference)

    LW#4 - I'll take consilience for $1000 Alex; :).

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  12. Ahoy, Libby! You caught the reference, eh? One of the greatest continuous shot monologues in the history of film, IMHO. Definitely worthy of consideration, anyway. :-)

    Good cheer, Libby! :-)

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  13. Ahoy there, afa"f"! How are you on this fine, fine Prudie Day?

    Holy smokes, that was a chicken fuckin' video right there! Holy smokes! If my parents were into that, I don't want to know! :-)

    Good stuff all 'round, afa"f". Good cheer to you, Mister, and a great weekend! :-)

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  14. hey smags - here's the real problem with accommodating the sister - no matter what they do, it will not be "right" or "enough" and the sister will still perceive whatever they do as a slight and make the night all about her. i appreciate prudie's advice to do it for the sake of family, but it isn't worth the stress and the drama. i know b/c i have a sister just like LW's sister. it is exhausting trying to keep up with the ego and needs of people like that.

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  15. Ahoy, Sandy! Exactly my point! The LW is doing nothing but hurting herself by trying to accommodate her sister. Plus, the LW has no say over what her sister does, anyway. So, why not put the responsibility squarely back on the sister. Right where it belongs! :-) A lot less stress that way, too! ;-)

    Good cheer! :-)

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  16. Couldn't agree more, Smag! I was just generally...confused...by the letters this week.

    I also thought Prudie's advice on the retirement party was bad. Why can't she just say "We'd love for you to be here and you can do what you want with your boyfriend's birthday"? She doesn't have to incorporate it into her plans as she's already made it clear that the party is for their DAD, not for the boyfriend. And if the sister wants to make a fool out of herself and show herself to be a baby, let her. If she wants to stay at home and pout because LW isn't planning on leading everyone in another round of "How o-old are you...", that's her choice too.

    I am also confused by the last letter. If this friend is so "qualified," why can't he handle a language class with his other coursework? Maybe just say "Hey I'd really like the money - so that makes it okay to cheat, right?" rather than pretending like this guy is really smart and that's why he needs someone to take a class for him.

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  17. asking for a "friend"October 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Smag,

    I like putting that video randomly into conversations! :).

    have a good one and good luck w/ class!

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  18. Smagy, I just love the video of the guitarist! He plays so beautifully, and he has a beautful voice too. I just love that rendition of the house of the rising sun.... Thanks!

    Good advice, of course. Yes, it takes two to tango in many situations....

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  19. Ahoy, Miss Scarlet! Well, I agree with you agreeances! ;-) I realize that's not a word, but, I do so like to play with language. Sometimes I come across something lovely. :-)

    As for the friend being qualified, that whole letter struck me as strange, and fishy. The program sounded fishy, the friend's motives sounded fishy. Just fishy! :-)

    Thank you for the kind words and the visit!

    Cheers! ;-)

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  20. Well, afa"f", that video is *definitely* on to be stuck randomly into conversations! :-) Thank you for sharing it! :-)

    Cheers!

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  21. Ahoy, Kati! I'm glad that you like him! His name is Tommy Emmanuel and he is absolutely brilliant. He's an Aussie and I've been a fan for years. I'd never heard him to "House of the Rising Sun" and I love his take of it. For another incredible video of his, go here (you'll see some hints of professional percussionist side, too--you won't be sorry, I promise!):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBEbYXa6Cik

    Much good cheer, and a wonderfully happy weekend! :-)

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  22. While I approve heartily of your replies, your rewrite of L3 seems a little on the unfair side. While you may well be entirely correctly about how happily they're really married, inserting that sort of nauseating Pretending Everything's Perfect Except for This One Problem for Which (S)He Should Be Executed into a letter that manages to avoid such an offense because you think the LW has that sort of mindset just seems to be tempting Fate. It was clever and well executed, but perhaps self-defeating?

    On the other hand, as I am starting a major depression (fairly typical for this time of year), I might well be off.

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  23. First, I'm not dead. Apologies for having been away for what would almost be 3 weeks now, even to the point of neglecting my OWN blog, but I was buried (and honestly, still am) in a frenzy of artsting and craftsing. This happens to me every so often. I mean, I think of myself as constantly hobbying, even if it's only to think up projects, but I've been hobbying every moment that I could that I wasn't stuck at the day job.

    Thanks to my incessant Show and Tell at work, people have been surrepticiously ordering things(!!), so naturally I get cracking on the orders once I get home and, well.. neglect my online buddies! Sorry.

    But enough about me! I haven't even read the original letters, so can only take the rewordings at face value! Ha!

    LW1 - that's his threat? "I'm gonna tell!" That's adorable. I also think it's adorable that so many people can't handle the thought of their parents having sex lives. I mean, particularly if Mom gave birth to them and not, you know, adopted or fostered. Okay, even THEN, but you know what I mean!

    LW2 - my prediction for what will happen is that Sis will bring out the birthday crap at some point, have a HELL of a time trying to get people's attention, maybe even to the point of getting cross with them ("HEY!! I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!! HEY!!") till they're all "What?? WHAT DO YOU WANT??" leading to an extremely awkward forcefeed of the bday part.

    Man, now I almost wish I were invited just so I could see that!

    LW3 - I have nothing to add here. I mostly love your description of the Other Wives. Guess it's unlikely he'll make it into a quirky bit of endearment that makes him wuv her that much more, eh?

    LW4 - Back in the Bronze Age, when I was in college, I planned and plotted my credits anally, so imagine my stunned horror when it turned out that I was actually SHORT OF CREDITS and had to take (dun dun DUUUUUUUN) Summer School!

    They were really cool courses, though. One was about Folklore, and the other was about Greco-Roman Artwork, especially vases. Okay, just trust me that the latter was interesting. The truly embarassing part, though, was that the latter class was at 2pm in the summer afternoon, after the standard high-carb meals served at college cafeterias. You figure out the result.

    And don't think I didn't try my damndest to stay awake during class, because I was a conscientious student who couldn't bear the thought of being unconscious during a lecture! I think I got a B+ in that one.

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  24. Hey, Smaggie! If you care to know my take on letter one I will tell you. Actually, I will tell you even if you don't care. I find it odd that the swingers are so anxious to get their hands on the tape. I would think they wanted it so no one would find out about them, making the threat to reveal the letter writers parents empty. Just my thought.

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  25. Ahoy, hrumpole! I'm sorry to hear about your depression. I know that a lot of people suffer depression as the seasons change, and I'm sorry to hear that you're one of them. I hope that you're doing well.

    As for your observation that I may have been crediting our LW with that all-to-familiar mindset, please know that it was based entirely on this statement, "My wife and I are in our 40s and happily married." This type of statement, inevitably followed by a "but" gets my goat every time. These two are most certainly *not* happily married. And I'm on a one-man mission to get LW's to own that fact. ;-) But, it's a thought entirely inconsequential to this reply. So, I'm happy to let it be set aside for this one if you object. ;-)

    Feel better, hrumpole, and good cheer! :-)

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  26. Greeting HerdThinner! It's great to hear from you! I was just about to post an APB and missing person's report on both you and Debbie! I still have to do so regarding Debbie, but, I'm glad to see you! :-) And, glad to know that what kept you away was fulfilling and potentially lucrative! :-)

    Regarding LW#1, I think it's cute, too! These folks thinking that their mothers are virginal, sexless maidens, put on the Earth for the singular purpose of being their mom. It's sweet, in it's own way, but also pretty naive. And silly. And ridiculous.

    Glad you enjoyed your "extra" courses! :-)

    Good cheer, herdThinner! And welcome back! :-)

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  27. mommylady, that's a GREAT point! :-) So, there's *some* hidden agenda here. Or, there's a whole lot of stupidity going on! Great points!

    Good cheer, mommylady!

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  28. Ah, SB1, but you may be cutting it a bit too fine. HE might think himself happily married on the whole even if THEY aren't. I am reminded of the time Ann Landers wrote about the results when she asked readers to write in about whether their marriages were happy and if they would marry the same person again given another chance. One woman sent in a postcard with a great big enthusiastic yes, and her husband, who mailed it in, added a postscript that he'd been miserable the entire time married to such a shrew.

    Mainly, though, even if he was being deliberately untruthful, it was relative neutral untruth, rather than attempting to curry favour with false praise. "We are in our forties and happily married," just seems so pale in comparison to the accolades so many LWs heap upon those to whom they would obviously rather refer using the Savagerian acronym CPOS that it seemed a little unfair of you to give it the same or even a stronger than usual "bestest wife in the world" treatment in the rewrite. Do we not want to encourage future LWs to spare us the false praise? It ought to be possible to acknowledge one virtue without having to be nice to them.

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  29. LW1- Dear Prudie, these weirdos approched me at my parents funeral and asked for their sex tapes back. Now they're threatening us. I'm not sure if I should tell these obnoxious, addlepated, scum-sucking blowhards to fuck off and die, or merely eat shit and die. Can you please remind me to do one or the other? As far as calling the police, I think "fuck off and die" combined with "go ahead and tell then" should take care of the problem, but if it doesn't...unlawful use of the telephone perhaps, no?
    ;)

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