From a Submariner's Perspective is a weekly column, written in response to the letters sent in to advice columnist "Prudie" at Each week, The Submariner responds to the letter writers in a way that 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 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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

...on Overbearing Moms, Sister-Brides, Jobs, and Dr. Husbands (11/24/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Ahoy, and happy Prudurkey Day, Shippers! How in the hell are ya? I hope that all’s well and that you’re either enjoying the day off, relaxing and planning your upcoming few days, or, that you’re at work, but relaxing and planning your upcoming few days, none-the-less! I’ll be flying tonight (yes, the ill-advised national day of “please pat me down on the busiest flying day of the year”). Oh well. Here’s hoping I don’t end up starring in a Tom Hanks film about being trapped in an airport. Wish me luck! Anyway, enough of my prattling. We’ve got letters! So, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, my mom in the very definition of a clingy parent. You know the type, the ones who won’t let their kids do anything, ever, for fear of that one-in-a-bazillion, hypothetical happenstance? For example, I grew up with a limp, so, not only were sports out of the question for me (under my mom’s iron-fisted rule), but field trips, gym classes, dance, etc., were also right out! By the time I realized how sheltered I’d been and how paralyzing my mom was to my personal growth, I was in college and just barely able to break free. At any rate, this isn’t about me. It’s about my brother. He’s 22, has a slight speech impediment, and is socially awkward. As such, my mom has home schooled him since middle school and he now does nothing but half-heartedly attend community college and sit at home playing video games. My dad is useless in helping, having given up long ago. It’s painful to see my brother missing out on life! What can I do? Signed, I Escaped the Warden

Dear Escapee. Congratulations on your hard-earned emancipation. Did you learn nothing from it? Are you kidding me that you want to “help” your brother away from your “helping” mom? Perhaps you might want to keep on helping yourself into no longer needing to, well, “help” anyone else. That right there might set the kind of example that would cause your brother to spontaneously say, “Wow! Sis sure is living the good life. How can I get me some of that?” Then, when he asks you how, you can say, simply, “Quit counting on mom to do everything for you, dumbass. You know, as in, be a functional adult.” By that point, he might be able to hear you and ask follow-up questions. But it’s him who has to decide that. It’s him who has to get to that point. Not you, little Miss “Helpful” Sister.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’m scheduled to be in my sister’s wedding as the best man. She has insisted that I shave my beard for the ceremony. I have a nice, full beard, Prudie. I don’t want to shave it! It takes a long time grow! Should I shave it anyway, to keep the peace, or, should I not and risk losing my spot in the wedding party? Signed, I Think I May Be A Spineless PussyBoy, But I’m Not Sure

Dear, Don’t Think That You’re A Pussy Boy, Embrace The Fact That You Are A Pussy. First off, is this your sister’s wedding, or, you know, the couples’? Second, since the fuck when does the bride get to dictate what the groomsmen do?! If your “good friend”, the groom, asks you to shave your beard, you can consider it on those terms (personally, I’d tell him that wherever you go, so goes your beard, but, then again, I’m not a pussy like you and the groom), but, your sister asking? By even considering her request as in any way valid, you’re buying into the insane notion that this is her day. Too, you’re a guest at their wedding, not the hired fucking help (whom would never be asked to shave, would they? And, if they were, how inappropriate would you find that shit? “Excuse me, Mr. Caterer’s Helper, we like you and all, but, we’ll be requiring you to shave your beard. Here’s a Bic.” Yeah, right.). Just sayin’.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I was promised a promotion at work, sent to training for the position, and have really been looking forward to it! After my last round of training, I returned to work only to be introduced to the new hire--not as a backfill for my old job, but for the position I’d been promised! Prudie, I was gracious with this person, but, I could feel tears welling up, so, I left the building and began to cry. And then sob. My supervisor saw me in that state and now I’m mortified about returning to work. I’m so embarrassed. How can I ever face my supervisor after he saw me like that? Signed, Cry Baby

Dear So, What, Again, Is Your Problem? I’m not sure what your issue is? If everything is as you claim, you’ve been wronged here! Now, I would caution you that it’s likely that you’re still going to be promoted, too (why on Earth would you have been sent to that training?), or, that the new person was actually hired to backfill behind you and you were just incorrectly introduced, but, that possibility aside, what have you done wrong or in an embarrassing fashion? Everything you did sounds like it was super-professional? Are you intimating that you don’t think it’s professional to cry? Well, it might not be, you know, in the office while throwing things around and screaming. But to quietly and graciously leave the building and then cry in the parking lot and to just happen to be seen by your boss? Such is life. Nothing unprofessional about that! At all. As a matter of fact, it was quite the professional way to handle the situation! As such, I’d compose myself, as Prudie suggests, and just ask the boss what’s up with the new hire (of course, I’d make sure that you know exactly what position s/he was hired into first--I still suspect you don’t have all of the facts).

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I’m finishing med school and my husband is doing his residency. He’s currently doing a women’s health rotation and is acting extremely unprofessional! He and a friend went out for coffee recently and he spied a recent patient of his. He pointed out the woman, told the friend he’d done a pap smear on her, and that she was “very tight.” I’ve also heard my husband make other immature comments about women patients to his friend. I’ve told him that I find his behavior deplorable, and, while I don’t want to jeopardize his career, I wonder if I have an ethical duty to report him to his supervisor? Signed, Bride of Frankenstein

Dear Ethically-challenged Wife. Professionally, your husband is a walking HIPAA violation and will get himself thrown out of the program if he keeps it up. As for telling, you only have second-hand information, so, it’d be tough for you to prove anything and you don’t need that mess. The woman at the coffee shop (or anyone within earshot who heard and then said something to her--I would have), though? She could have cost the hospital tens of thousands of dollars in fines, could have cost your husband the same, and, both could have been liable for civil penalties, too! Personally, though? What the fuck are you still doing with this Neanderthal? You think he’s not comparing notes on your relative tightness with his buddy, or, what, perhaps you think you’re exempt from his objectification and dehumanization of women? Cling to that belief, kay? Whatever lets you live with this asshole, right?

Well, Shippers, that about does it! Happy Thanksgiving to you all! May it be happy and relaxing! And, may your big turkey, or small turkey, or, even your Cornish game hens, be succulent and juicy and full of flavor. Fair winds and following seas, Shippers!

†Please note that the term "pussy" is not, in any way, meant to invoke any meaning other than "spinelessness" on the part of one person toward another, regardless of gender.  Any other connotation you take from this word is purely your own.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

...on Lies, Family and Cheating Times Two (11/11/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie and Veterinarian’s Day?! I’ll be honest, I’ve never known exactly why we celebrate vets over, say, celebrating all physicians. It’s a tough job, regardless of what type of doctor you become, and it takes a lot of schooling either way. So why vets, specifically? We did start as an agrarian society, so, maybe that’s it, since animals were so valued for food and labor? Whatever the reason, it’s a great thing because I don’t have to work today! So, anytime there’s a Veterinarian’s Day, I’m all for it (even if it does seem unfair to other physicians). With that, let’s get crackin’ on the letters, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie. All of my life, I’ve lied. Little lies, big lies, it didn’t matter. Anything to get my way. And, it’s been a great ride! But, recently, I lied to my husband about spending a huge wad of cash on myself that we totally couldn’t afford, and, since I’m somewhat suspiciously-pregnant (we travel a lot for work and hardly ever see each other), when he found out about the cash, not only was he angry about what I’d spent on myself while lying about it, he became concerned about whether or not he’s the father of our child! Prudie, what lie can I tell him to get him to fall back in line? This is killing me! Help! Signed, Live to Lie, Lie to Live

Dear Lying Liar. You do understand the irony here, right? That I’m somehow supposed to take your letter at face value, even though you’ve admitted right up front that you’re a compulsive liar? Well, that incongruity aside, I’ll answer you as if I believe you, kay? Kay. First off, you’re not nearly as clever as you think you are. You need to come to terms with that right now. I know, I know, you lie all the time and you’re great at it. Well, news flash, Sister, fully two-thirds of those lies are so bad and outrageous that everyone not only knows that you’re lying, they just roll their eyes behind your back. Those people who hang around you because they have to? They enjoy cataloging the ridiculousness of your tales. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of your whoppers have even become part of the group meme. Those people who genuinely like you, but aren’t usually put in harm’s way due to your dishonesty? They’re okay with you because they like you, but, don’t think for a second that they’re fooled. They’re not. They put up with you. The worse category, though, is family and close friends. The ones you most need, yet most hurt with your dishonesty. Thing is, they know you’re a heinous lying idiot, too. But, either by blood or by choice (ignorant at the time of making that choice or no), they know you’re a liar, too. Yep, your husband as well. The problem is that he thinks he knows when you’re lying, so he’s always imagined himself as safe. But then, when you lie about something that he sees as mundane as going out for the day, and he later, innocently finds out that that, too, was a lie?! Hell yes he’s going to start to question the very foundation of your marriage! Of course he is. And you? You’re more interested in regaining his trust than in fixing yourself. That’s bad. Because it’s just going to cause you lie more. You need to get a counselor and some help. And as for the baby being your husband’s? Yeah. Right. You need to come to terms with that mess, too.

LW#2: Dear Prudie. My teenage daughter was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. This explains so many things and has really helped us as a family. The problem is that, in light of this diagnosis, we want to have a quiet, small Thanksgiving. In the past, we’ve hosted the whole family here in our house. My sister’s kids are heinous brats who are more demon spawn than they are children. My sister is a flaming bitch and it’s never a fun time because my sister’s family’s behavior stresses out the whole family and causes my daughter to act out in terrible ways. Well, I’ve announced that we can’t host Thanksgiving this year (though I didn’t say why), and so my mother wants to take over that role. Well, I don’t want that, Prudie! Whine! Whine! I want my sister to step up and host! I mean, that’s only fair! Not that we’ll be going, as I say, but still, my mom can’t handle the hosting duties! And, too, what do I say to my family about why we’re not attending? I reckoned that I’d lie and say that we’re leaving town, although, it’s a small town and they might see us. What do you think? Signed, I Totally Hate My Sister (and her bratty kids, but mine are angels, by the way)!

Dear Hater. Okay, first off, let’s review problem #1. You are neither your mother’s nor your sister’s keeper. And, if you’re removing yourself from the festivities this year (for obvious and valid reasons), you get no say over how they celebrate Thanksgiving, or, over who hosts it. You got that, Master Sergeant Type-A, Controlling Personality Person?! So, get the fuck right on over yourself on that one. And do it now, Soldier. You have absolutely no ground to stand on there, and all you’re doing is creating drama, which, in light of your second question, seems completely and totally in sync with your personality. What do you tell your family about why you aren’t attending? Hmmmm. Let’s see... Well, you can make your daughter feel triply-ashamed of her diagnosis by hiding it and lying to family about it, all while letting her know that that’s what you’re doing, you know, for her sake (yeah, right). That sounds good, eh? No? Hmmm, okay, then, let’s see, you could, I don’t know, grow the fuck up, be a parent and an adult, and explain that this year you’ve promised a family get-together with just you four, and, in light of your daughter’s diagnosis, you’ll be altering how your attend all future family functions, too. You can explain that it’s nothing personal, and that you’re so happy to know now what’ up with your daughter because you’ll know better now how to prevent her from melting down at these events in the future (and let’s face it, that’s what’s been happening--this isn’t all about your sister’s kids. At all.). But let me warn you of something: this is not your diagnosis. You don’t get to wear it as some sort of fucked up badge of honor. Your daughter is the one who’s been forced to endure these get-togethers and who’s obviously acted out in ways that have brought a great deal of shitty-ness over the years. She’s the one who’s been basically screaming that she’s uncomfortable, begging for help. This isn’t a time to punish the rest of the family for your feelings of guilt. It’s a time for you and your family to learn about how to better interact with your daughter, but, without dictating anything to anyone else. This is a time for inner-reflection, not outer-dictation. Got me?

LW#3: Dear Prudie. I’m 24, married and have a baby. I’m very lucky in that my mom and I are very close, and she watches the baby while my husband and I work. Recently, I suggested that this year I could host Thanksgiving. My mom responded by saying that the family likes “good” food, and that I’m “not ready” to host. As you can imagine, I was devastated! I’m thinking of not attending Thanksgiving, but, I don’t want to give up all of this great free child care. What can I do? Signed, I Can So Host Thanksgiving!

Dear Betty Crock. Look, I don’t know how close you and your mom really are, but, I have a feeling that there are a few things at work here. First, do you say you two are super-close because, that way, you don’t feel like you have to pay for the child care (and I don’t mean pay in cash, necessarily, but, you know, with gratitude, hosting dinner on occasion, showing appreciation in a very real and substantial way for all that your mother is doing, which, by the way, is a HUGE fucking deal!)? Or, do you say it because, as far as you know, you really are super-close and this thing really threw you for a loop? Regardless of your answer, it’s clear that your mom is upset about something. My suggestion is that you haven’t been showing her the gratitude she deserves for taking on this task (is she running errands for you, too? Cleaning? Etc.). Even if she says she doesn’t mind it, which may well be true, she would surely appreciate the occasional offer of a day spa or even just breakfast out with you, or something? So, for you to offer, just out of the blue, to usurp her role as family matriarch, all while charging her with child care, may just seem like too much for her. I’m not saying that you’re actually doing any of that! I’m just saying that surely you can see how she might take it that way, yes? And finally, if you really are close, and if none of what I’ve said is true, why can’t you just talk to her about it as she obviously just blurted out something off the cuff that came out sounding really wrong, but that was, in fact, not at all what she meant? I don’t know the truth here. That’s up to you to find, but, my guess is that your mother’s words didn’t come entirely without motivation. She’s been stewing on something. Your job, as the representative of half of the close relationship that you and your mom purportedly share, is to find out what. Good luck!

LW#4: Dear Prudie. Last year, my boss had an affair. He ended up leaving the company in order to try to patch up his marriage. It was a dark time for us here in the office as the new boss was terrible. Well, after several months, the original boss came back, and, though stressful due to work, things have been better than ever and camaraderie has grown exponentially as a result of getting past the Dark Ages! Well, last week, my co-workers threw me a bridal shower. Our boss stood to give a toast and, without thinking, I blurted out, “Hey there, Mister Cheater Man, I don’t want any martial advice from you, of all people! Got it?!” This led to a great deal of laughter and cat-calling from the staff and we all had a good laugh. Including the boss. But, Prudie, I feel terrible! I so didn’t mean to say what I said. It just came out! And now I don’t know if I should apologize, further opening the wound, or just let it go? I feel terrible! What should I do? Signed, Missy Big Mouth

Dear In Vino Veritas. I think that, in order to make it up to him, you should have sex with him. That’s really the only way to even the card. No! Just kidding! The truth of the matter is that you blew this one. Big time. And you need to humbly go to him and ask to speak privately (albeit in a room that has clear line of sight to the rest of the office so everyone can see that you’re not under his desk!). Then, apologize. Tell him that you’re so sorry. That what you said was wildly inappropriate, none of your business, exceptionally out of line, and beyond the fucking pale and that it’s a credit to his leadership that you and your officemates felt comfortable enough to act like total social idiots around one another. Then, you need to hope like fuck that you never find yourself in his shoes where some upstart little tart decides to air your dirty laundry for the whole staff. Idiot.

Well, Shippers, that’s about it! Happy Vet’s Day (I still don’t get that, but, hey, whatever. Like I said, a day off is a day off!). May you have fair winds, following seas, and may the sunshine lightly kiss your backside, wherever you may roam. ‘Til next week, Shippers...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

...on Addicted, Mean, Smelly Family (11/04/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey ho, Shippers! How in the heck are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? Are you enjoying the crisp fall weather? The cheese poppers? The bacon-wrapped water chestnuts-and-shrimp hors d'oeuvres? With dipping sauce?! Oh my, what a grand time of year this is! I get all tingly inside just thinking about it! And you know what else I get all tingly over? Prudie letters! HA! You guys thought I was going to say something naughty about Mermaid, didn’t ya? ;-) Fooled you (although...)! So, with that, let’s get crackin’ on these letters, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie. My mom is an addict. Has been all of my life. When I was ten years old, she and her boyfriend physically attacked me. After reporting this fact to a teacher, I was removed from their care and sent to live with my dad. My whole family shamed and guilted me for turning in my mom and I still carry that with me. Later my mom’s addiction became so extreme that my half brother was taken from her. He was going to be placed in foster care if I didn’t take him in, so, I did. My wife and I raised him with no financial help from my mother. Recently, my grandparents (who’ve been a great help in my life) asked if I would contribute to my mom’s care. They said that $75 per month would do. Prudie, I’ll bet her cigarette habit costs that! I suggested to them that they get her on disability, but they will never quit enabling her, or telling me about it. I’m a social worker and don’t make a lot of money, yet I feel extremely guilty for letting down my grandparents. What should I do? Signed, Ungrateful Grandson?

Dear Run, Run Like The Wind. You say you’re a social worker, so, I’m sure that you see this type of sick shit all the time. But perhaps it’s harder to recognize when you’re in the middle of it? Look, we don’t have a choice regarding to whom we’re born. We don’t ask to be born to them, and, as a result, we owe them nothing. Quite the opposite, actually. When a person decides to have a child, however, they do, sure as fuck, owe that child. They are obligated to that child by virtue of their choice to have it (as opposed to the alternatives when one becomes pregnant, like abortion or adoption). But squirting a child from one’s loins does not an obligation from that child to that parent make. What does engender a form of obligation, at least in my humble opinion, is love, respect, care, support and peace from a nurturing parent. Your mother has given you none of that. Further, you’ve enabled her enough already (raising your half brother, letting yourself be guilted by asshole family on her behalf, etc.). So you actually now owe her less than nothing. She’s indebted to you so far already that she can’t possibly pay you back (not that she's even going to try, but still). Your grandparents are another matter, though. Their shitty-ness and evil is far more insidious. With your mom, you know what you get. An irresponsible shit stain. Your grandparents, though, are evil-enabling guilt mongers masquerading as caring people. The fact that you, as a ten-year-old, had to hear one bit of a negative word from anyone over protecting yourself (at ten years old, did I mention that?) tells me everything I need to know about them. You are not obligated to family due to DNA. Blood is thicker than water? Bullshit. Prove it, mother fuckers! When they give more of a shit about you (a productive member of society who’s been taking care of his mother’s messes long enough) than they do about their own failure, they’re nothing to you but an albatross around your soul. Shed the albatross, Brother, and breathe the clean, guilt-free air that you’ve earned. And you have earned it. I’d suggest moving far, far away to truly realize fulfillment in this endeavor. And perhaps you should have some counseling, Counselor.

LW#2: Dear Prudie. Every year, my husband and I spend Thanksgiving with his family at his cousin’s house. Every year, the cousin and wife make snide comments about a close family member of mine (a man active in local politics) and even intimate that my professional success is due to this man’s influence. Because we’re in their house, I’ve always politely bitten my tongue. Afterwards, I’ve asked my husband to please speak to his cousin about this, but, my husband’s afraid it’d upset everyone and insists that the only way I’ll earn their respect is if I speak up myself. I don’t give a flying shit about their respect, Prudie, but, I also don’t want to listen to their shit anymore. What can I say to them, in their own home, that will be acceptable and not ostracize me from the rest of the family? Signed, Fed With Shit Burgers Rather Than Turkey

Dear Doormat. First and foremost, I have to take extreme exception to your husband’s behavior. It’d be one thing if you were instigating this treatment. I mean, even if you were hinting about your politician family member, or asking for their comments in any way, I can see hubby wanting to stay out of it, but, if what you say is true, and I have no reason to doubt you, then he’s a jack wad, wimp-assed, pussy boy who doesn’t deserve a wife with a successful family and career of her own. He deserves someone who actually deserves to be shit upon (which, hint: ain’t you). So, what to do? Personally? I suggest having dinner with friends or other family, as far away from Hubby’s family as possible. Or with pretty much anyone who doesn’t treat you like shit. If either you or your husband are afraid that that would cause a rift between you and his family, then you’re giving them far too much power in your lives. It’s one thing to sacrifice time, resources and effort to those who reciprocate with love, respect, care, support and peace, but to provide consideration to assholes? The only thing that does is encourage their shitty-ness. And we should not encourage shitty-ness. Listen, you deserve better. And I’m not just talking about the way your husband’s family treats you, either.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I have a beautiful, talented, gifted daughter who has a good job and many friends. But she doesn’t use soap when she bathes, Prudie. And she almost never shampoos her hair (maybe only once or twice per month)--she says she doesn’t want to strip away the body’s natural oils. Prudie, all of this is fine, but, the result is that she sometimes smells bad. I mean, like, bad bad. I’ve never had a problem with expressing my opinions to my children, but, I’m afraid of the extreme insult that my commenting on her hygiene would cause my daughter. Can you help? Signed, Stinky Girl’s Mom

Dear Mistaken. You mentioned several things about your daughter’s habits that you believe are leading to her odor, but, none of what you mention necessarily should lead to odor. Plenty of people don’t use soap. At all. But they don’t stink. Know why? They shower every day (sometimes twice), keep their hair short and/or use warm, nearly hot water to rinse it (daily), and, use powder and/or deodorant in and around their areas of odor concern. Oh, yeah--they also know how to wipe their asses. It sounds to me like your extremely gifted and popular daughter might be struggling with a deep funk (see what I did there? The pun? I meant “depression”, you know, in case you missed that, but used the word “funk” because of its dual meaning...what?), or, perhaps works in a place that smells so bad that her olfactory nerves have been affected. Maybe the friends you mention are smelly because they don’t wipe their asses, and your daughter wants to fit in? Lift your arms and smell your pits. Do you smell anything unpleasant? Even slightly? Then imagine what her pits must smell like to her?! If her state of funk is in any way frequent, you owe it to her to be very direct about your observations and concerns (especially if the smell is coming from her back side, which she may not be as able to notice). You don’t have to be rude like me, but, you do need to say something. Prudie’s suggestions were top notch, but, a minimum. Personally, I’d say, “Honey, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you smell pretty ripe. Did you forget to wipe? I mean, seriously. You smell a little bit like ass.” But that’s just me. On a good day.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I have a leadership position at the University for which I work. There’s one problem, though. When we do training or orientation, there’s a great deal of “cheering and chanting”. I find it to be rather proletarian, but I do try to participate. The problem is that I always fail miserably. If I try to cheer, I look and feel like an idiot. If I stand in the back, I’m seen as the group naysayer. How can I go through this stupid and ridiculous custom without letting on that I really am the group naysayer? Signed, So The Group Naysayer

Dear Person Who Only Thinks S/He’s a Leader. You’re not a leader. Nor are you in a leadership position of any significant weight. A leader would change “stupid and ridiculous” activities to make them intelligent and appropriate. So, first off, you need to quit taking yourself so seriously. No one else does. Believe me. Secondly, you need to know that you’re not seen as the group naysayer. If you’re considered at all, you’re seen as aloof and inappropriately entitled. Just so you now, there’s a significant difference. As such, you need to learn to do two simple things: smile (legitimately) and clap. You needn’t smile at the activity itself. Hell, smile at how ridiculous everyone looks, if that’s what you feel. But, by simply smiling and clapping (a social construct meant to demonstrate appreciation, but one that’s so easily faked a robot with a mouse brain can learn it), you will be right in the middle with the rest of us (the majority, in fact) who find this type of exercise uncomfortable, but relatively innocuous in the grand scheme of life. Oh, and when you become a leader for real? Why not change the training/orientation program. Kay? Kay.

Well, Shippers, that about does it for me. Lots of work (school and professional), so, I need to get to it. May you have the wonderfulest of wonderful weeks. Fair winds and following seas!