http://www.slate.com/id/2273580/ (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!