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, October 14, 2010

...on Denial, Dental Transgressions, Human Trafficking and Unwitting Nannies

http://www.slate.com/id/2271005/ (10/14/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey Hidey and Ho, Shippers! How in the heck are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? What interesting things are going on in your neck of the woods? School? Festivals? The new TV season? There’s loads of good stuff, eh?! Plus, we continue to get letters! Three cheers for Prudie Day! And, with that in mind, let’s get right to it, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I grew up being a short-tempered, mean, spiteful bitch. But, I’ve really worked hard on that and on being patient with others. And I’ve really gotten better! Case in point: I recently attended my brother’s wedding. The whole family was there, many of us traveling from way far away. Like, I mean, waaaay far! Which, as you know, if there’s ever an excuse to be grumpy, that’s it! So, okay, admittedly, I was a little short tempered with everyone. I may have even been a little mean, but, only after the ceremony, blowing up at the family (just that once), with my sister taking the brunt of it. Well, I apologized to her. Twice, even! And that hateful thing still won’t speak to me, claiming it’s all my fault?! Now my family wants me to make nice with her! How dare they? I’m thinking of just dropping them all, the ungrateful shits. I mean, it was just that one little outburst! What do you think? Signed, I Once Was Mean, But Now I’m Not

Dear Blind Woman, Narcissa. You have a sickness. I’m not a professional treater of brain and/or psychological disorders, but I’m guessing it’s called Narcissistic Self-centered Personality Disorder with overt World Revolves Around Me tendencies. NSPD WRAM for short. Or, just “Flaming Bitch Disease” (FBD), for shorter. And, just so you know, things are going to get worse from here. Growing up, your family had to put up with you. Out of obligation. Now? As an adult? They can and will choose to dump your ass. And you may claim you want that, but, being as I guarantee that you have an awfully hard time keeping friends, that’s not something you want...you know, deep down in the black space where your heart resides. You notice how your solution to this problem was to immediately blame your family and threaten to quit them? You have a problem that needs serious treatment. In AA, they call it “stinkin’ thinkin’” and it’s noted by always blaming everyone else for one’s own behavior and for the consequences that result from said behavior. You are in the wrong here. You can’t even hide that fact in a letter meant to paint you in a less offensive light. And I barely know you! So what do you think the real reality is?! I hope you can find help because you truly need it, but, all the help in the world won’t do a thing so long as you think it’s acceptable to be mean to other people. Even once. Even when you’ve traveled all the way from The City! It’s one thing to be mean to Letter Writers via the Internet. It’s a whole other thing to do it in real life, with real people and real family members (who are real people, too, by the way). Don’t address this and you may get exactly what you claim to want: life without your family (and trust me when I tell you that you don’t have any friends that’ll stick by you through more than your family already has, so, you may want to consider that in your calculations).

P.S. I love that you had the balls to sign off your actual letter with the handle “Vivisected.” You are a true and utter piece of shit work.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, Last week I had some pretty significant dental surgery. I arranged for a coworker/friend to pick me up from the dentist’s office and to drop me at the bus stop that’s on his way home. Unfortunately, I don’t recall anything until after the bus ride. The coworker/friend says that I was sexually aggressive with him, even going so far as to stick my hand down his pants, causing him to have to pull off the road! He’s now very distant. Prudie, I don’t remember any of this! I am a gay man, but not aggressive, and I would never, under normal circumstances, anyway, treat anyone that way! I’m afraid that he now thinks I have a crush on him, which could not only ruin our working relationship, but what (if anything) is left of our friendship. What can I do? Help! Signed, Regretful Passenger

Dear Amnesiatic Anesthesiatic. This is a cruddy situation and there’s only one thing for it. Talk to the guy! Tell him what you’ve said here! The words don’t have to be perfect, just honest. Explain that you honestly don’t remember a thing. Point out that people do and say weird things all the time under anesthesia, and that those things aren’t always, or even often, accurate or indicative of anything. Apologize for your behavior, but don’t try to downplay it. Admit that it was probably really weird for your friend and offer that you’ll never ask him to pick you up from the dentist’s again! Further, and I think this is important, too, learn from this adventure that if you’re ever under anesthesia again, you need to have a better, more understanding friend pick you up---one that actually takes you home and ensures that you’re safe before leaving you! I’m disappointed that your friend dropped you at the bus stop while you were displaying such uncharacteristic behavior. Would he have done the same with a female co-worker? Or a hetero co-worker who perhaps had been making passes at/trying to grope women on the way to the car? That may inform you about where the friendship actually was with this guy. I wish you luck.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I recently found out that my cruddy apartment is run by a man who used to deal in (and was convicted of) human trafficking. Some of it out of the very apartment I live in! He served time and was released. Now that I know this, I can’t stand to write the check to this animal every month. It seems morally wrong. What can I do? Signed, Repugnant-ized

Dear Judge Judy (or Jim). Look, I don’t know how you’re colluding your honest paying of the rent and this man receiving honest rent for an honest room with his past. Your paying rent for a room is simply that. It’s not supporting the sex trade. It’s not condoning this man’s past. It’s you putting a roof over your head. You can’t break the lease without taking a huge financial hit, so, either take the hit or don’t. If you don’t, move out when your lease is up. Who knows what this man actually did, though? What if he was falsely accused and just trying to make it in an honest living now? I'm not saying that's true, but, how/where are you getting your info?  Gossip?  Reliable sources?  Whatever it was, provided you aren’t paying him for anything illegal (you aren’t, are you?), you are just a human being doing the best you can to get by. Further, if you have no indication that he’s currently running the sex trade out of your room (have you checked for cameras), you may be helping a man rehabilitate himself and become a productive member of society with a second chance (no promises there, but, it is possible). And, like it or not, that’s not entirely unworthy, either.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, with the birth of our third child, my husband and I decided that I should become a stay-at-home mom. It makes good financial and logical sense. The problem? Now that this change has occurred, my SIL (my husband’s sister) has started dropping off her kids in the evening for child care prior to heading for work. Her husband picks them up a couple of hours later when he gets off work. The SIL has started making noises about not signing up her kids for daycare this summer. I don’t get paid for this care, Prudie, nor do I expect to be, but, I am starting to feel like I’m being taken for granted. What should I do?! Signed, Not My Sister’s Nanny!

Dear Nanny, You need to talk to your husband and tell him that this won’t work. I don’t mean that you can’t talk to your SIL yourself, and explain to her that you’re happy to watch her kids every once in awhile, but that you cannot do it on a daily, or even a frequent, basis. But, your husband has to be in support, and, I have a sneaky suspicion that this was all actually his idea! He probably offered up your services because, you know, you’re now a “stay at home mom”, so, “of course you’ll have time!” If that’s true, he’s an idiot. Of the Tenth Order. Why don’t you have him care for all five kids for two weeks while you go on vacation? He’ll be singing his happy ass a different tune then, I guarantee it! So, ideally, you’ve got to get his support lined up and you two need to speak with his sister. With him in the lead and without any snide-ass rolling of his eyes. And if you sense even the slightest bit of resistance from him, you need to kick him in the nuts and just talk to the SIL yourself. But know that it’s your husband who should be supporting you in this. I wish you luck as this sounds deeper than just watching your in-laws’ kids.

****
Well, Shippers, that about does it for me! I’m looking forward (soon) to watching some episodes of “Connections” on YouTube! Do you guys remember that show?! Some believe it should be academically-required material for all kids. I say that holds for adults, too! :-) Here’s hoping that I have the time to curl up with a nice hot cup of coffee and watch all of them soon! Good cheer, Shippers! Fair Winds and Following Seas to you all!

22 comments:

  1. P.S. For the record, even though I hate myself for saying this, I *really* want to know what LW#2's friend meant by saying he had to pull over the car?! Was it to stop from crashing (which is obviously what was implied), or, was it because, due to the hand down his pants, he *had* to pull over the car? The LW can't remember either way!

    I hate myself for asking that, but, there it is. I couldn't stand leaving it out there, just hanging like that! At least I didn't put it in the body of my column! ;-)

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  2. I thought he "had" to to get away from those Roman hands and Russian fingers.

    Incidentally, I TOLD my daughter not to write in after the wedd ... Oh, wait. This was RECENTLY. Must be someone else's kids.

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  3. I used to be a stay at home mom and it is not fun when people just expect you to have all the time in the world to take care of their buisness. I once agreed to watch a friends youngest for two weeks, the baby was going to turn two then and day care would be cheaper. Soon other favors were needed "since I was home any way". I WANTED to catch FBD! Smiles Smaggie!

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  4. You nailed it on LW#1. I'm known more than my fair share of people like that in my life, and they always heavily play the victim. They are toxic.

    I emphasize with her sister who lashed out because I know exactly how it is. I've done the same thing to one toxic individual, even though the issue that caused it was minor and forgettable. It really was just a "last straw" situation, and this person complained to other friends how my response was disproportionate - ignoring the years of abuse flung my way.

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  5. Ahoy, CoolOne! I'd never heard that about the Romans and Russians! I like it! :-) Sorry to hear about your daughter. I hope things are better now?!

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  6. mommylady, I don't think that FBD would suit you at all, but, I can say that I hope that you had help in fending off those who made assumptions of your time. And am sorry to hear it. I'm glad that it seems that all has resolved itself, yes? Much good cheer to you! :-)

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  7. Ahoy and weolcome, Anonymous! Agreed, sometimes those last straws, in perspective, seem extremely tiny. And that's a shame, really, but, for those people who've put up with the whole bale of hay that came before, that straw can be (and is) epic. I feel your pain. Believe me. Much good cheer to you! :-)

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  8. My wonder for LW2 is if the friend is acting cool and distant because he LIKED the hand down his pants? Maybe let it go a little further than it should have while the car was pulled over? Because honestly, only confusion and extreme guilt explains to me why the LW was left at a bus stop barely aware of reality. Either way, the "friend" deserves a swift kick to the junk for being an asshat that can't deal.

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  9. Greetings, my Captain!

    Goodness gracious! I was quite surprised to read your comment to LW#3 ~ that perhaps her landlord is just a regular fella just tryin' to get by, and that by paying her rent, she might even be *helping a man rehabilitate himself* which is *not entirely unworthy*. Compassionate and understanding and not a bit of snark to be found!

    If I didn't know better, I'd say a little bit of Mermaid is rubbing off on you! (I've certainly been rubbing hard enough for that to be so. I'm just saying.)

    Let me just ask you something, Dearest ~ how difficult would it be for a man to put his hands down your pants while you are driving? Exactly. I think the *friend* is a big ol' liar liar pants on fire and the doped-up friend was just probably trying to extinguish the flame!

    How did you find out about my crush on James Burke? He means nothing to me, Smag, I swear! ;)

    Good cheer to YOU, Diving Buddy! :*

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  10. asking for a "friend"October 14, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    LW #1 - U don't know me like I do! :).

    LW #2 - Where do people get these good types of anesthesia? I never get enuff when I get dental work or surgery - always wake up halfway during and know exactly what's going on! :).

    LW #3 - It's the end of the month and I'm low on rent. Is there anything I can do 2 get by? Oops, wrong forum; :).

    LW #4 - give the kids booze or keep them outside 4 a bit in cold; that will change arrangements quickly! :).

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  11. ...and is coming up briefly for air from mass-producing Halloween objects d'art for a coworker to say:

    LW1 - I don't have a "blowup" temper, but I regret that I've often been impatient with certain people and cut their questions short with emphatic NO's, when that the answer be.

    As for whose fault THAT is: Mine. MineMineMineMineMineMineMine!

    One of my sisters does, alas, remind me of LW1. She is the Drama Queen that teaches other Queens their Drama.

    "stinkin' thinkin' " - heh. Well done, AA! And of course you, Smagnificant One.

    LW2 - DAY-um. Once I'm awake from anesthesia, I'm *awake.* I've been unfocused before, but hardly amnesiac.

    I can't help but offer some defense for the driver:
    --If, like me, he were completely unaware that anesthesia can affect people THAT way, how would he know it was the isoflurane talking and not LW2 just being... um, uninhibited?
    --If he was *really* pawing at the driver, the driver could've panicked and kicked him out, still in a panic, to avoid getting into an accident. I dunno if I could've kept driving under those circumstances, either (but cannot see myself kicking a gal to the curb, either)

    That's all I got.

    LW3 - Smagtasmic, sorry, I'd probably break the lease. I just can't feel the love for your reply on that one.

    LW4 - ah, yes, the parenting problems that come along and help me with my insomnia!

    Alas, I must hold my breath and drop under once again to finish my Halloweeny chores. And if you think I'm making stuff for my coworkers because they're my coworker/friends who don't make drug-induced homosexual advances at me and I love them for it, belay the thought! It's because one of them paid for 25 pumpkin heads, and I must finish!

    This is what she ordered:
    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679723695#!/photo.php?fbid=10150094883388696&set=a.10150092500328696.311153.679723695

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  12. Ahoy, Captain!
    I have my usual 2little, 2late, 2cents.

    For LW4,
    First, Very Key: start with the husband.
    Does he think this is the way Families Should Work? Does he wrangle the kids regularly, especially the extra ones? Got to be on the same page, whether you refuse to do this altogether, or just try and right the scales somewhat.

    Second, what's the reciprocity story? If you said, "Hey, Fran, Beau and I need to do some shopping Saturday, can I bring the kids over at eleven, till three?" would she say, "Great!"
    Somehow, from the fact that you're writing this, I doubt it; but maybe she could be taught.

    You could work up to date nights, and weekends, IF the kids are all comfortable together, and IF the parenting styles mesh adequately. It's a nice arrangement, but not if you feel used.

    So brainstorm with your husband: what could his sister do to make your life easier? What would she--and her husband--be willing to do?

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  13. Oh yeah, and Vivisected--did y'all see her re-letter in Prudie's comments? Doesn't improve the story very much! Although she does claim she's a happily married, productive member of society. Okey doke.

    ((Here's the nub of her re-letter:
    "In regards to my "anger issues," I was referencing fights that occured when I was a teenager, as were all the other participants. I have not had a conflict with this sister, or any other sibling, in over 10 years. I had counted this particular sister as one of my closest friends prior to this incident. And the sum total of my outburst this time was me angrily saying to her, "I have just had a really awful day, ruined by the choices of others." Honestly. That was it."

    Ruined by the Choices of Others--Wowser, Stinkin Thinkin in a nutshell.

    Anyhow--Don't talk about changing, don't promise to try to change, just change. Leave the mad sister alone, for a healthy while, like another decade.
    And for heaven's sake, don't come near anybody with one of those "I'm sorry if you were hurt" apologies. It's not up to you if this sister ever accepts an apology, but it would probably be true to say, "I am sorry for everything I did that hurt you. In some cases, I didn't know it hurt, and I'm sorry for that blindness. In some cases, I was aware that it hurt, and was too selfish to care enough not to do it. That's my fault."

    I know, that's extremely hard to do. Do it with a good therapist, because it will probably make you mad, just thinking about it. It will bring up a lot of "Well, look what THEY did to ruin my weekend. Well, look what SHE did, rejecting my apology. Why am _I_ always the bad guy???????"
    It's your work to do, if you want to grow old with a family.

    Okay, enough running the world for one night!
    Fair winds, all.

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  14. Did y'all catch 'Vivesected's second whine in Prudie's comments?

    " I had counted this particular sister as one of my closest friends prior to this incident. And the sum total of my outburst this time was me angrily saying to her, "I have just had a really awful day, ruined by the choices of others." Honestly. That was it. "

    Leave the mad sister alone, for a healthy while, like another decade.
    And for heaven's sake, don't come near anybody with one of those "I'm sorry if you were hurt" apologies. It's not up to you if this sister ever accepts an apology, but it would probably be true to say, "I am sorry for everything I did that hurt you. In some cases, I didn't know it hurt, and I'm sorry for that blindness. In some cases, I was aware that it hurt, and was too selfish to care enough not to do it. That's my fault."

    I know, that's extremely hard to do. Do it with a good therapist, because it will probably make you mad, just thinking about it. It will bring up a lot of "Well, look what THEY did to ruin my weekend. Well, look what SHE did, rejecting my apology. Why am _I_ always the bad guy???????"
    It's your work to do, if you want to grow old with a family.

    Okay, enough running the world for one night!
    Fair winds, all.

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  15. Ahoy, Corey! Check the very first comment in the comment section here! I agree with you 100%! I think it's possible that there's more to it than our LW knows. I think MM's idea is right on the money. Our LW's "friend" is a pretty suspicious character!

    And, anytime anyone uses the words "junk" and "asshat" in a post, I get all misty-eyed, so, thank you for that! :-)

    Much good cheeer! :-)

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  16. Ahoy there, Diving Buddy! Long time no see! How are you? How's the water?! You look, mah-velous, of course! :-)

    As for this, regarding LW#3's landlord, "Compassionate and understanding and not a bit of snark to be found", I have to say that, though I took it easy on our LW (he/she is clearly the sensitive type!), I don't have much love for the landlord. At all. My offering of alternatives for his soul was only in the hopes of assuaging the fears of our LW. As for anything that you'd like to rub on me, though, I'm definitely sitting her paying attention. Do go on! ;-)

    As for James Burke, that was just serendipity, but, is that a cool show or what?! I know, right?! :-)

    Good cheer to you, Diving Buddy! Cheers! :-)

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  17. Ahoy, afa'f'! Excellent summation and replies, as always! :-) As for your thoughts on anesthesia, I'm the same way. Not that I'd know regarding dental work, but, in other types of work done over the year, I've had similar experiences to yours. Your solution to #4 is priceless. And yes, would likely work like a charm!

    Good cheer! :-)

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  18. Ahoy, herdThinner of craftiness! You honor us with your presence and wisdom! Alas, I can't check your link from here at work, but, I will absolutely have a peek later. :-)

    To me, this is the gist of the letter (and your excellent response): ...but [I] cannot see myself kicking a gal to the curb, either. That's it for me. I mean, if this is something that's never happened before, or been hinted at before, if they've hung out before and had a good relationship, it would be obvious to anyone but an insensitive jerk that this was not only not normal behavior, but potentially dangerous behavior! If it's that the friend is a jerk, fine, our LW learned something about the man, but, otherwise, I just think that there's more to the story from one side or the other. Who knows?

    Good luck with your order! I hope that you're having great fun and thoroughly enjoying the holiday! :-)

    Good cheer! :-)

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  19. Ahoy, Cantahamster! Yes! You nailed it right here, "Very Key: start with the husband"! I mean, to me, unless the wife pretty much begged the SIL to look after her kids, the husband is somewhat complicit in this. I realize that it's possible that he's not, but, I've seen it go the other way just too many times to believe that it's likely. Here's hoping our LW gets some help soon.

    See, that was my point about Vivisected! She can't even put on a SHOW of being normal. That's how fucked up she is! HER day was ruined by the Choices of Others?! OMG! Because, of course, it's always about HER, HER, HER! Oh well. I hope that she's taking much abuse in that forum. I can't follow it. Too much scrolling and trying to find topics once the comments start coming in fast and heavy. What a shame, too, because I would liked to go toe-to-toe with her. Espeically over her handle! OMFG Helicopter! What a be-ee-ee-eee-ahtch!

    Good cheer, Cantahamster! And no worries on running the world! There's room enough for all of us! :-)

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  20. Can't really add anything to this week's letters, though I will say that I have had the kind of anesthesia where you are responsive but can't remember anything, and it IS plausible that someone would act out of character afterwards. While it's not quite on par with junk-groping, after a procedure I had last year, I repeatedly (and for no apparent reason) asked my boyfriend if the hospital gown made my boobs look big! And I can't remember that or an entire conversation I had with the doctor afterwards, let alone anything about the procedure. That's why they tell you not to do things like cook for the rest of the day (because you might burn the house down by forgetting something).

    I would think it would be fairly obvious to another person that this is the result of being under the influence, and any "friend" who would kick you to the curb in that state needs to be set straight (no pun intended) one way or another. Something fishy going on here, for sure.

    Have a good weekend, all!

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  21. Ahoy there Captain!
    Ah those seafaring insights! Can't find any better advice.

    I too was grossed out by the name "vivisected" --- by itself it's a "blame others" name.

    In my age group we have individuals who not only don't remember what they did after a procedure (in this case a colonoscopy --what fun!) but don't even remember having had one. They are amazed when they ask their doc if they are not due for one and are told they just got it last week.....

    So yes I'm on the side of the poor bloke (sorry for the Brit English but I'm reading an English mystery right now) who got left by the side of the road. You're quite right Smaggy that if it had been a woman the driver might have found her advances funny or maybe even had been tempted to taken advantage of her condition...

    And then there's also the dark possibility that none of this happened and that the so called friend is actually a nasty piece of work who invented the whole story? I mean, haven't whole books been written with thiner plots that that?

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  22. Ahoy, Smaggy! Great answers as usual!

    As to Vivesected's response to her letter - saying that the fights were when she was a teenager doesn't mean they weren't a big deal, or a problem. I once tried to hit my brother with a chair when we were both teenagers. I'm fairly certain we both still remember that. Just sayin'. :)

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