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.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

...on Crazy Exes, Crazy Bank Mistakes (or not), and Crazy Crazies! (12/30/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine post-Christmas, post-Solstice, post-Hanukah day? Did you have a wonderful day(s)? How is everything? I hope that you’re all wonderfully well, sipping coffee (perhaps a medium Columbian roast, freshly ground from a local shop?), or tea (some English Breakfast?), or, your own favorite beverage prepared in your own favorite way (like, maybe a float concocted of homemade ice cream!), and, that you’re enjoying the wonderful day! In that state of being, new letters are like the cream in the coffee or the sauce on the ice cream, eh? :-) So, without further ado, let’s get crackin’ on ‘em, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie. I was married to my ex-wife for seven years. Right about the time that the infamous itch kicked in, she made the decision to quit having sex with me. She said that she was doing this due to my indecision about starting a family. Prudie, fact is, I wasn’t sure of a lot of things regarding our relationship, but, what I was sure of, even if it was just a whisper in my soul, was that I didn’t want to have kids in that situation. Well, things deteriorated and we divorced. Now, two years later, I’m engaged to be married to my newly-pregnant girlfriend. Strange thing is, I’m thrilled about this pregnancy and can’t wait to be a father! Unfortunately, because my ex-wife and I have many friends in common, she found out about the pregnancy and called me in a livid rage, blaming me for the demise of our marriage and saying that I should have told her personally about the pregnancy! I disagree. Was I insensitive not to tell her? Is she right to be angry with me because I'm happy about my impending fatherhood? Signed, (I Have A Working) Dick

Dear Daddy Dicky. Okay, news flash, you really are the reason (or at least half of the reason) for your former marriage’s collapse. And, while that sucks balls to think in those terms (because you sound like a decent-enough fellow and probably don’t like to think that you caused anyone any pain), it’s just a fact. Fact is that your ex loved you (ostensibly), wanted to have kids with you (assuredly), thought you were the bomb-diggity-bomb with the magic sperm, and, the cat’s meow! But, regardless of the reason, it wasn’t working for you. So much so that, after having been married to a woman for seven years, you didn’t want to have kids and didn't know if you ever would. Things just didn’t work out, Dude. And that happens sometimes.  You both need to come to terms with that fact. And, unless you and your ex-wife were still very good friends (speaking frequently, getting coffee, etc.), which, you specifically said was not the case, then you most certainly should not have told her anything about your fiancée’s pregnancy! It’s absolutely, 100% none of her business! And your response when she called? It should have been, “Martha, I’m sorry that you feel that way.” Click. Shitake! As for your question, there’s no agreeing or not agreeing with your ex in this, Dick, as she’s your ex. And whoever's "right" or "wrong" is completely irrelevant.  At this point, you guys are just two people pissing on each other. Be the bigger person and politely hang up next time. Plus, your non-ex, the one who’s carrying a baby the two of you created? Yeah, there’s where your focus should be. Just sayin’.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my very generous friend sent me a $1,000 cashier’s check to cover travel expenses for a cross-country trip to see her. She then made and paid for non-refundable plane reservations. I’m in debt, work at a minimum wage job and live on a shoestring. When I deposited the check that she sent, it bounced because it was unsigned. As this was during bill-paying time, it racked up ruinous overdraft fees for me in a nasty cascading effect the likes of which have never been seen short of a domino toppling event attended entirely by crack addicts. I had to take out a loan just to cover my living expenses! I obviously can’t travel now, and my friend, believe it or not, demands that I pay back not only the original check, but the plane fare, too! I’m understandably bitter about this! What can I do? Signed, Banks are Mysterious, Like, Impossibly So

Dear Lying Liar and Who Lies. You are a liar. Or, if not, you’re a Class 4, Grade A Idiot. I’m not sure which, but, it doesn’t really matter because the result is the same. Here, let’s do the math. If this was a normal month and you were paying bills and had enough in your account to cover those bills, those checks wouldn’t have bounced, right? Right! And, if they had bounced, that would have been on you, right? And then, when you had to take out a loan to live on, you wouldn’t have been mad at anyone but yourself, right? Now, let’s get to your friend’s mysterious, unsigned, bouncing cashier’s check that apparently up and caused all of this mayhem? Um, no. If you deposited a check that didn’t meet your bank’s requirements for deposit, they’re not going to charge you for it. They’re going to simply not credit your account. And, since we’re on the topic, the bank cashier is the one who “signs” cashier’s checks, not the person who buys it--that’s why it’s called a “cashier’s” check. These checks either get credited to your account or they don’t. The only way it’d not be credited is if your friend cancelled it. What happened, I suspect, was that (for some reason) you were writing checks against that $1,000 check before it had cleared. And when those checks hit, you overdrew your account. And you were charged for that mistake over and over due to your own idiocy. I hate to get all math professor on your ass, but, I’m pretty sure you know exactly happened here, just as well as I do. And, news flash, so does your probably now ex-friend. As for paying her back, that’s on you, but, as for your bitterness? Have a look in the mirror. There’s the person who deserves that nastiness, not your friend.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, my business partner (and very good friend) unexpectedly lost her father two years ago. His death has been devastating on her. Since then, she’s gone off radar two or three times a year, sometimes breaking down completely and becoming entirely unable to function. Prudie, I’ve tried to be personally supportive and as good a friend as I can be. I’ve tried to carry the business during these increasingly difficult and lengthy grief breakdowns. But, Prudie, I can’t keep on doing it! The holidays are especially bad because it’s the anniversary of his death and she’s already pre-declared her inability to get any work done. At what point is it okay to tell her that she’s hurting our business and testing our friendship? Signed, Torn Between Duty and Friendship

Dear Torn. This is a tough spot to be in, and I certainly don’t envy you. You’ve got to talk to your friend as a friend, not as a business partner, and tell her that she needs professional help. That her grief is affecting her to a point that is well beyond what is healthy, and that you’re concerned for her mental wellbeing. Telling people who are emotionally compromised that they need to just “buck the fuck up” isn’t going to do anyone any good. And while we can all e-guess at her diagnosis, it’s clear at this point that she needs professional help to get at the cause of her symptoms. My e-opinion (as a certified e-doctor) is that this goes way beyond her father’s death. I e-believe that his passing was only the catalyst to this current state of being--one that had been brewing for quite some time. As for the professional side of things, instead of saying to her that she’s not pulling her weight, how about talking to her about bringing on someone part time until she gets back on her feet? Tell her that you think it’s best because you want her to be able to focus on her health, but, make sure that this isn’t a move on your part to squeeze her out of the business that she co-founded with you! If it is, you need to be honest and tell her that you want to move on professionally. Of course, if this is the case, be ready to lose her personally, too.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I’m a junior in college who has a boyfriend who says we’re in a very mature and wonderful relationship (we’ve been together for five years), and that he’s the bestest guy ever for me because he knows what’s best for us both. My problem? I really want to travel the world and study abroad, but, my boyfriend says that I shouldn’t. He says that it’d cost me too much money and that I should wait until we can afford to do it together. But Prudie, the desire to travel and see the world is part of my very essence and I feel as if I don’t go soon, I’ll burst. What can I do? Signed, I Have No Clue At All Why The Caged Bird Sings

Dear Birdie. Let me explain to you what’s going on. Your boyfriend is scared he’s going to lose you. And so he’s manipulating you into staying (consciously or no). And, fact is, he’s not ever going to be interested in travel the way you are. He’ll stand for two minutes in front of the Eiffel Tower and say, “Yep. Seen it. Let’s go home.” That’s assuming you can even get him to take one trip with you. You two don’t have a mature relationship. You don’t know what that is. And that's okay!  I don’t mean that in a mean way! I’m sure that you two are very nice people, but, what you have is a relationship in which two people who should be enjoying the greatest and most carefree times of their lives are talking about finances and the future when both members aren't ready for that (perhaps neither are!). Further, the relationshiop is one in which the interests and priorities of the participants are vastly divergent. Listen, almost every single old, crusty, long-in-the-tooth (but wise) person you talk to about this (save for his parents, and certain Republicans who think that all other countries are run by pansies and/or communists) will tell you the exact same thing. Go! Go have the time of your life! Travel! Write! Paint! Learn the language, experience the world, see the sites and experience the love. Live, Birdie! You don’t get this chance often, and if your boyfriend would hold you back when you have such a chance, he’s either a well-meaning, but ignorant youngman, or, he’s willfully caging you.  But out of fear, not love. You have to figure out if you want to be with someone who could be and/or do either. Plus, you already know what you want. So, go! And when you do, don’t be constantly calling and texting and chatting with him. Live in the moment and experience the life where you are! Promise a call or e-mail per week or something but otherwise, live! If, when you return (if you return), you two still click, great! You'll have something wonderful to share.  But, if you don’t, wouldn’t it be better to find out now rather than in seven years (re: LW#1)? Good luck! And enjoy Paris! It’s beautiful every time of year!

Well, that’s it, Shippers! Here’s hoping that 2010 was a wonderful, incredible year. And that 2011 will be even better. Times two! See you all on the other side, and, fair winds and following seas to ya all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

...on Potentially-Gay Sons In Skirts and Not-So-Potential Asshole Husbands-in-Law (12/23/2010) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! And happy holidays to you all! No, I will not qualify that salutation--it’s all-inclusive, which means it’s not, in any way, exclusive. Got me? ‘Cause, you know, I don’t want to have to pull out the snark stick on any of my Shippers! But, if I hear one more “what happened to Merry Christmas, Smag?”, I think I might just have to open up that can! Don’t think I won't pull this car over right now and do it! The joy of the holidays, eh? Brings out the best in us all! ;-) Anyhoo, we’ve got letters for Christmas Eve's Eve! Woo-hoo! So let’s get crackin’ on ‘em, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I have a wonderful five-year-old son. He’s incredibly bright, artistic and thoughtful. Recently, though, my wife and I have developed a concern. Prudie, our son sometimes likes to dress up as a girl with his mother’s clothes and jewelry. And, fact is, that would be fine, but, now he’s asked Santa for a skirt of his own. And not just any skirt, but an absolutely fabulous one. Of his own! And Prudie, I’ll be honest, my wife and I don’t know how to handle it. We want him to be who he is, we really do, but, we also know that he’ll eventually want to wear the skirt outside the house. And that’s something we just can’t abide. Yet, we know he’ll be heartbroken if Santa doesn’t bring him a skirt. What can we do? Signed, We Love Our Cross-dressing Gay Son

Dear Meet the Gleekers. While I certainly understand and appreciate your concern, I want you to recognize that the gift and teaching your son where it’s appropriate to be used is a dynamic that exists with most any gift you might give. If you bought him a Red Ryder BB Gun, for example, would you have a problem telling him that he most certainly may not, ever, shoot it indoors? Nor at other kids? Nope. You wouldn’t even flinch. And what about the warnings of shooting his eye out?  So, it’s not the gift that’s at issue here, or when and where it’s to be used. It’s just you. And I’m not trying to be mean here! I just want you to recognize the dynamic that’s actually at work. You and your wife need to simply be parents and explain to your son in age-appropriate terms the reactions he might get, and why. Just like you would with the BB gun. And you two need to be comfortable enough with the subject and with how to explain it so that he understands that he is always safe with you. It's a tough line to walk, and I don't envy you, but, the worst thing you can do is have this talk be about any sort of shame or about anything to do with you or your wife! Do some research, solicit some help about what to say and how to say it, and then, embrace whatever may come. This may be a phase. It may not. But he is your son, regardless.  And denying him a skirt won't change who he is any more than giving him one would.  So, fuck what other people think and engage your son and be part of his strength and security in the world.  And, if it were me in your shoes and he was my wonderfully brilliant son? I’d buy him some costume jewelry, fabulous elbow-length dinner gloves, and a boa, too.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my sister-in-law just married the biggest asshole in the Western Hemisphere. He is an arrogant, rude, know-it-all, and, he seems to not only enjoy, but revel in talking down to all of us (the whole rest of my sister-in-law and husband’s family). Prudie, I’m afraid that someone’s going to punch him! Is it appropriate for one of us to have a talk with my SIL about the family shunning her new husband? My SIL is so sweet, and this is such a shame, but, assholes are as assholes do. Signed, We’ve Had It Up To Our Butts With This Asshole

Dear New Member of the “We’ve All Got One” Club. Count yourself lucky she just recently married the asshole and that you haven’t had to deal with him before now! No, I know, my gloating is not helpful. I’m sorry. Truthfully, I think the appropriateness of having a talk with your SIL or her husband is determined by your family members individually. Just because you’re fed up doesn’t mean that anyone else is (they might just be agreeing with you to keep you from being an asshole!). Then again, you all might be fed up with this guy! Regardless, don’t say a word to your SIL unless dealing with the inevitable shit storm and its after effects will be less uncomfortable for everyone than the SIL’s husband's status quo (and you might already be there). I agree that, at some point, someone might have to say to your SIL, “Jill, I’m sorry, but Jack isn’t welcome here.” Be very, very careful about deciding that you’re at that point, though. The decision to go there should be unanimous within the family, and unforced by anyone. And, too, recognize that very little good will come of it. Sometimes, it’s better to let a boar be a boar and enjoy the schadenfreude, than it is to lower oneself to the boar’s level.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I recently broke up with a long-term boyfriend due to his serial infidelity. With the holidays coming up, I want to make sure that his family knows that I didn’t break up with him over some stupid argument, and that, in fact, it was because he is a cheating bastard. And, I want them to side with me! I love each and every one of them like they were my long-lost family, Prudie. Honest! Why, we’re even friends on FaceBook. If that isn’t proof-positive, I don’t know what is! Isn’t there a way that I can let them all know that I’m not the bad guy here? Or should I just quietly disappear? Signed, Broken Hearted, But Not At Fault

Dear Thinking Too Hard About This. You need to check your motives here, Missy/Mister. If you really, truly like certain members of this family, why are you “disappearing” from their lives? I’m not suggesting that you take a casserole over for Christmas dinner, but, my guess is that you’re only “close” to them around the holidays because you visited them with your boyfriend. If your relationship really was close with some of them, they’d know already exactly what went on, and why. And you’d know that they know. But, fact is, what’s really at work here is that it chaps your ass to think that your ex might be telling stories about you and that these folks, with their dickeys and shiny white shoes, drinking eggnog out of moose head-shaped cups and laughing, might actually believe him. Listen, I’m going to give you some advice here that I know that you won’t follow, but, it’s what I do. Ready? Fuck him! Fuck them! Get on with your life! Holy shit, Woman/Dude! Listen, the people that matter already know what went on. Those who don’t matter? Well, they don’t matter. And this guy's family?  They don't matter.  And here’s another thing, just in case you didn’t notice: you broke up with him. Time to quit letting him rent so much damned space in your head! You’re better off without him and his indiscriminate penis.

And, as a special P.S., if you really like a family member of a boyfriend, as in, you know, think they’re all great and wonderful and awesome, and if the two of you share a great relationship that is separate and real, a breakup from your boyfriend won’t prevent future contact with that person. Just sayin’ you need to realize who these people really are, and to analyze why you’re still worried about them.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. I had a friend of several years who totally and completely and without cause, without rhyme or reason or even so much as a final toodle-do, just quit talking to me. She just got “too busy”, quit calling me (or returning my many calls), and seems to have even forgotten my e-mail address! This is inexplicable, Prudie. I’m an excellent friend! So excellent, in fact, that, you know, just for example, a few years ago, I handmade for her an outstanding Christmas gift that I bet she’s now keeping in a box in her basement. Yes, okay, fine, I admit it, I solicited a mutual friend to surreptitiously ask her about the gift, where it was, what her plans are for it, if it’s properly willed back to me in case of her death, and, you know, several other details too mundane to go into here. And, since it is such a great gift, I would like to ask for it back. But, you know, only if she doesn’t value it anymore (as I don’t want to be mean, as I am a great person, as I mentioned). But, you know, since if it’s just in a basement, collecting dust? What do you think? Signed, I Really Am a Good Friend. Honest!

Dear Protesteth Way The Fucketh Too Much. Are you serious right now? There’s really no way that you’re serious. Is there? Jerry fucking Garcia And The Five Horsemen of the Apocolypse on a popsicle stick! You are serious! Listen here, Assmuch, you need serious and real professional help. You are the kind of asshole that embarrasses asshole clubs. You are the kind that makes even long-term members of Unapologetic Assholes Anonymous shudder with the heebie jeebies due to your assholeness. You make the new husband from LW#2 look like the Patron Saint of Compassion! Listen, you say the friendship ended “inexplicably”? I say that it’s obvious as fuck why it ended, and that you asking for your macaroni self portrait to be returned won’t change a single thing about that. So, why not.  It’d be just another story (in what I'm certain is a long line of them) for your newly-fortunate ex-friend to remember as to why she is, in fact, your ex-friend.

Well, Shippers, that about does it! I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and many happy returns. I know that, for some of you, Christmas Day is the coup de grâce, but that, for others, the holidays run well into even late January (and maybe even early February?). I wish you all the happiest of seasons, regardless of their beginning or end, and, much love, happiness, and, of course, as much snark as you could ever desire. Fair winds and following seas to you all, Shippers!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...on Control Freak Boyfriends and Various Holiday Cheer (12/16/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine winter Prudie Day? Are you enjoying the snow? The sleet? Or, perhaps you have balmy weather and bikinis? Regardless, in whatever latitude you find yourself, may your day and week be lovely. And, may your various celebrations during this time of year be joyous, however it is that they manifest themselves! And with that convoluted thought, I contend that it’s time to celebrate a new batch of letters with, well, responses! So, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, my boyfriend wants me to take a lie detector test prior to asking me to marry him. He caught me in a couple of white lies early in our relationship (regarding things that happened prior to my meeting him), and has since said that if he can’t trust me in those things, he can’t trust me enough to marry me. He’s a great guy, Prudie, and, obviously I’d like to marry him, but, is this kind of request normal? Or, is it a sign of overall problems in our relationship? Signed, No Lie Detector for Me--Probably

Dear Abuse Victim. I am normally very snarky and flip with my answers. I can’t be in this case. You are being abused. You are being manipulated. You are in a destructive, oppressive, soul-crushing relationship that will only get worse with time, until, finally, one day, you will have been completely erased. The fact that you’re even questioning the sanity of the “request” of this asshole you call a boyfriend is proof of that, even if you can’t see it. Please leave him. Please get out of the relationship today. This moment. Your jackass, abusive boyfriend will be angry. Or, he’ll cry--it just depends on what best pushes your buttons. Regardless of how he does it, though, if you turn to leave, he’ll plead with you. He’ll attempt to manipulate you. He’ll claim that he’ll get better. Or, he’ll say that you have nowhere to go, that you’re nothing without him. He’ll promise you anything to keep you, up to, and likely including, offering to marry you. I can’t stress this enough: do not fall for it! You are a victim and in the middle of a highly destructive relationship. I realize that you can’t see that right now. You’re likely wondering, “Why in the hell is SmagBoy using such strong language? It’s not that bad.” Listen to me. It is that bad. You need help. Please, for the love of all that is living, enlist any true friends and/or family that he hasn’t already managed to alienate you from and get out today. Right now. Every moment that you hesitate is a moment that he sinks his claws deeper into you and one more piece of your soul that gets locked away. I implore you to leave him. It doesn’t matter if you have holiday plans. They’re nothing compared to the danger you’re in. You can make new plans! He may call you names, curse you to his friends. So what. Even if you can’t see why, please trust me in how important this is. And then, after you get out, as soon as you can, you need to find counseling. This is vital. You must figure out what was happening, how it happened, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again. Good luck, and, please hear me on this--trust me, I don’t break character for nothing.

LW#2: Dear Prudie. For years, my dad ate poorly, didn’t exercise, lazed about, contracted diabetes (though didn’t know it), and, as a result, became extremely overweight, had a heart attack, and nearly died. For about a year after that, he was better and took care of himself. But, since then, he’s gone back to his old ways and is eating everything in sight and, well, obviously, gaining weight. Further, my sister and I suspect that he hasn’t been to his cardiologist in over a year. Whenever anyone brings up any of this, my father goes into a screaming fit of pique. My mother has given up. To add to my concern, we’re planning a Christmas trip to a third world country where we’ll do lots of hiking. We’re all worried that my dad will become ill and require medical care, but that, given the location, there won’t be adequate care and he’ll die. What can we do? Signed, Worried Daughter

Dear Daughter. Here’s one of life’s toughest lessons: you can’t control anyone but yourself. You can ask, you can plead, but, in the end, you can’t be your father’s hands or his mouth. And, if you’ve talked to him about your concerns and he can’t or won’t change, there’s nothing you can do to change him. But, remember what thing I said that you can control? Yourself. So, if taking this trip worries you, if it seems as if it's the worst possible idea in the history of ideas, you can simply choose not to go. I wouldn’t want to come to associate the holidays with the vivid memories of the terrible death of a beloved family member, either. I mean, hell, what if there are canibals there and they eat his dead, cake-laden flesh?!  I wish I had more for you, but, some life lessons truly are that simple. Or maybe I’m just off my game after the first letter? Nah. Regardless, good luck to you and your family. May your father see the error of his ways before it’s too late and may you have together many more holidays to come.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie, I’ve worked for the same, privately-owned company for ten years. I’ve never gotten a single raise.  Yet, each year, we’re asked to donate more and more of our salary to a company-approved charity. Further, we’ve recently been asked to contribute more to our health insurance costs, and, frankly, I just won’t have the money to contribute more to health insurance and keep up with the Joneses regarding charitable donations. What should I do? Signed, Charitably Uncomfortable

Dear Bob Cratchit. You surely do have some patience! Holy smokes! Listen, you’ve got to do only what you can do. And, if your disposable income has decreased by X percent due to healthcare payments that have increased by X percent, you can, with an unburdened heart and free conscience, contribute that much less to the company’s charity. As a matter of fact, on the donation form, you could even enter what you would have contributed, then, a minus sign with the X percent after. Title that minus section “healthcare increases”. Then, enter the final sum. If questioned, you can say, and quite righteously, “Listen, Mr. Scrooge, I’ve worked here for ten years without a single raise. My less-expensive healthcare benefits and your stone cold companionship were my only comforts. Not even any coal for heat! Now that I have to pay more for healthcare, with no raise, in ten years (did I mention), I have no choice but to reduce my charitable donations.” Personally? I’d look for another job. But I’m not patient like you.  At all.

LW#4:  Dear Prudie, after I graduated from college and moved to a nearby city for a great job, my parents downsized by buying a smaller house. Now, when I come home for holidays, there’s no room for me! The longer I stay, the crankier they get, to the point where I don’t feel welcome in their home anymore! I get the distinct feeling that they’re over being parents and want me out of their lives. What can I do? Signed, No Longer Wanted

Dear Butt-hurt Bunkmate. Listen, amazingly, once one reaches adulthood, one typically learns to ask before just showing up at the homes of other people.  Interestingly, this rule even counts for family. I have a great relationship with my parents, but I would never just invite myself to their place, on my own schedule, pretend that I own the place, and expect them to cater to me. Of course, I’m a fully-functioning adult, not a diva who thinks the world revolves around him/her, so, you know, there’s that. And, truth is, I’m not talking about anything fancy here. All you need do is call your folks a few weeks in advance and say, “Hey, Mom, Pops, I was thinking of coming home for Christmas. I’d love to see you! What are your plans? Do you have some free time? Could I crash at your place, or is a hotel better? Is there a good or bad time? I was thinking from the 22nd to the 26th?” Something like that. My folks have plenty of room at their homes, but, what if they’d already invited someone, thinking that I wasn’t going to be in town? You know, as in, gasp, made other plans?!  Sort of like real, live, functioning adults who have lives outside of being my parents? It’d be awfully presumptuous of me, also a real, live fully-functioning adult, to assume that they’d drop everything and all of their plans to cater to my “great job”-having ass, don't'cha think? And, as such, ipso Eggo-Pocono, it’s awfully presumptuous of your fully-functioning adult ass to presume same of your folks. Grow up! And merry fucking holidays. Ho-ho-ho.

Well, Shippers, that does it for this episode of “As the Smag Turns”. Tune in next week when we’ll hear our hero exclaim, “Oy! Who drank all of the damn eggnog! Bastard ingrate bastardly bastards!” Ah, the holidays... Good cheer, Shippers, and fair winds and following seas to you all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

...on Sexy Time with Teacher, SIDS, Family Christmas and More! (12/09/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! It’s final exam week here in The Lagoon. I’ve just completed one, and am now gearing up for another. Crazy days, indeed! But, far be it for me to miss a day at the dock! I hope that December is treating you all well--better than our poor Letter Writers, that’s for sure! And, speaking of those poor sods, let’s get crackin’ on their letters, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I’m a high school senior who’s just discovered that Mr. A., my favorite teacher at my all-girls private school, is having sex with one of my closest friends and fellow student, Ms. Bee. We’ve known Mr. A. forever and he’s helped us through all sorts of rough times (divorcing parents, deaths of family members, etc.). I think of him as a father figure, yet, what he’s doing is so wrong on so many levels! What’s worse is that Ms. Bee wants to use me as cover so that she can spend the night with Ms. A. in a motel! I’m not sure what to do? Do I tell someone? I’m afraid of losing this friendship if I do the wrong thing. Signed, I’m Only Sixteen

Dear Sixteen. You had me at “all-girls private school”... Huh? What? Oh, your letter! Listen, there are so many problems with this letter that I don’t know where to start, but, let’s prioritize, okay? First off, and most importantly, no, you do not, under any circumstances, provide cover for this tryst. Tell your friend that, while what she does with her own time is her business, what you do with your time is yours. And lying for her is something that, a) you won’t do, and, b) not something a true friend would ever ask of you in the first place! If she’s adult and grown up enough to be having sex with a teacher, she’s adult and grown up enough to figure out for herself how to do it without involving her friends. Next on the priority list, though, is the throwing around of words and phrases by other advice columnists like “sexual predator”, “conquests”, “stalking of victims”, etc. Let’s get this straight. Based on what you’ve said, your friend is a victim only of bad judgment and of a poor taste in her fuck buddies. Her idiot teacher is an adult, yes, and technically breaking the law, yes, but it doesn’t sound, at all, like he’s victimizing her. Further, if the gender roles were reversed, I doubt there’d be so much moral outrage. Your friend is making a bad decision (she’s Ms.Bee-havin’!), but, it’s not one that’s particularly uncommon at her age (sex with inappropriate people). And it’s certainly not one that has to (or even should) lead to arrests, jail time, court cases, trauma, late-life suicide, counseling, etc. It should end when your friend realizes she’s dating a 45 year old man (and all of the crap that that type of relationship implies)! And you need to stop with the “he’s having sex with her” bull. Try “they’re having sex.” It’s a lot more honest. And accurate. I’d advise telling your friend that you will not help her, and, too, that you want to hear no more about this unless it ever becomes a situation where she does become the victim of any form of abuse. Tell her that you don’t want to harm your friendship, but that you can’t be complicit in her geriatric love connection (you can say that un-ironically, I cannot, since, you know, I’m of the “geriatric” age that your teacher is). Good luck!

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my husband and I recently lost an infant child to SIDS. We’re understandably devastated, as is our family. We’re planning to spend Christmas with my in-laws, but, I just don’t have the heart or energy to buy a bunch of presents. So, to solve this, I want to spend time to buy our one niece something nice, and then, for our adult relatives, I want to purchase gift cards. My MIL, god bless her, is appalled by this idea, and, because she wants to “help us in our grief” (and, because I suspect she’s grieving, too) has instructed all of our in-laws to send us a Christmas list in order to “ease the effort of our gift-buying”. Prudie, I get nauseous even at the thought of doing that shopping. My MIL thinks she’s doing the right thing, but, she’s killing me. What can I do? Signed, Hurting and Being “Helped” Too Much

Dear Hurting. I’d send a note to your MIL that says, “Thank you, Mom, but I don’t have the energy to buy presents this year, and, no, I don’t want anyone’s help to do so. I want to fucking buy gift cards. Is that so fucking difficult?! It’s what I’m going to do, too. I’m sorry that it offends you, but, frankly, it fucking offends me that it offends you! Get the goddam fuck over yourself! Thank you, and God Bless you in this most wonderful time of the year. Love, Your Loving Daughter-in-Law.” You can take out the cussing if you want, but, the sentiment is clear, yeah? You’re the gift-giver. You want to give gift cards. Give them. They’ll be appreciated by those who are worth your time, and, for those who aren’t? Who cares?

LW#3: Dear Prudie, for the last many years I’ve included my daughter’s financially destitute best friend and her poor-ass, beggar, barely literate family in our Christmas celebration. They’ve been very gracious, well-behaved, and almost engaging on this day every year (and, truthfully, intelligence and affluence is often over rated in our dog-eat-dog society and it’s important to demonstrate graciousness from time to time, don’t you agree, Prudie?). Sadly, as my family has grown (my son is now married and has a child, and my daughter is engaged), I don’t have room for this family of vagabonds. There’s just no longer any room at the table. I feel, um, guilty that I won’t be able to brag to my true friends about helping the poor people this year invite them this year, as they have nowhere else to go, but, I can’t just magically shrink my real family. Do I have a moral obligation to host these people, despite a lack of seats at my table? Signed, Happy Homemaker

Dear Pretentious Prick Asshole. Congratulations on the growth of your blood family. May the blood that binds you all continue to be a source of great pride for you and yours. No, you have no moral obligation to anyone, least of all, people upon whom you so obviously look down your nose. So, you know, free yourself of guilt and continue encouraging your blood family to grow. Me personally? There’s only one thing that gets someone uninvited from my table, and that’s rude assholery. And that occurs in equal proportion among my blood family and non-blood family. Matter of fact, I find the idea of family to be defined as those who I identify with as family, not those whose DNA indicates a biological accident of similarity. But that’s me. I have a feeling that this family whom you’ve been gracing with your benevolence will be just fine this year without you. May you be equally as well off. And may you live long, and prosper.

(Update!  12/11/2010:  Longtime reader JayJay had this to say to LW#3, and, it was so powerful that I felt in needed to be included right here.  Sometimes, you just have to recognize a good smackdown when you see it.

From JayJay to LW#3:  You suck. Congratulations, you win the Shitty McShittypants award of the year. I hope your tree catches on fire. I hope you choke on your turkey. I hope your presents are actually gift-wrapped dogshit. I hope you drink too much eggnog and throw up.

All I have to say bout that?  Amen, JayJay.  And to all, a good night.)

LW#4: Dear Prudie. I like to contribute money to my grand-niece’s college fund for Christmas every year. I have three other grand neice’s/nephews by my sister’s other children, but, they have never acknowledged a single gift from me (from weddings to births to holidays). I would like to continue gifting just the one, appreciative niece’s daughter in this way, but, my sister manages the kids’ college funds, so, she’ll know if I don’t start putting some toward each child. Is there a kind way to give to only the family to which I’m close? Signed, My Sister Has Only One Good Kid

Dear Gift-Giver. Of course you can give to whomever you want, whatever you want. The issue here is not the gifts, however, but rather, your relationship with your sister and how you fear it may suffer. I’d discuss this with her! Why not? Explain to her why you feel the way you do! Too, I’d recognize that the children are not at fault for their parents’ sins. That’s not to say that you should give them gifts, but, perhaps you could consider putting aside money for each child that you, yourself, manage. Attempt to get to know the children on their own terms (ignoring their relation to their rude parents). Some may share your interests? If, as they grow, you see that they’re demonstrating the ability to move past their parents’ rudeness and, too, if you feel they could benefit from your largess, by all means, give them the money you’ve saved. If you do not see that it’d help, go to Europe with it! On you! Win-win! Good luck!

Well, Shippers, that about does it! I’ve got to get back to schoolwork, but, before I do, let me wish for you a wonderful and happy day and weekend, and, fair winds and following seas to you all! And Cornish game hens for your plates this weekend. They’re yummy!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

...on Fetishes, Wreckages, Christmases and Vegas Trips (12/02/2010) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho-ho-ho, Shippers! And happy December to you all! How are you on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I’ll admit that I’m pretty run-down with a stuffy head and even some nausea, so, if I’m off my game today, please cut me some slack (or not--I don’t usually cut any slack for the LWs!). May those of you transitioning to new things this week/month/new year have the best transition ever. I know that December/January is a time for that sort of thing and my support and good wishes go out to you all! That said, though, and before I get too sappy, we have letters, eh? Well then, let’s get crackin’!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, My husband has some sexual fetish desires that I can’t “deal with”. What I mean is, they aren’t my thing and I’ll be damned if I want to try them! It’s my right not to, isn’t it?! He’s proposed visiting a dominatrix to occasionally scratch his itch. And I’m actually considering allowing it. He’s been to a therapist to try to get past this fetish and he can’t. I don’t believe he’ll have intercourse with the dominatrix, but, at the same time, I don’t want another woman being intimate with my husband. What should I do? Let him, or don’t? Signed, Passively Conflicted

Dear Conflicted. What are you conflicted about? I mean, in the end? Let’s look at the facts, shall we? Your husband is apparently being honest with you. He’s asking for permission to go to a professional, not for sex, but for a fetish release. If you desire, I’m sure you can go talk to this woman and ensure that she’s actually a dominatrix and not his office secretary dressed up in latex. You could ask to have explained to you how things will go. And, ultimately, you can decide if you can live with it or not. If you can’t, though, be upfront and honest with your husband and leave him. On good terms. Respectfully. Sexual incompatibility between two people who can’t (in his case) or won’t (in yours) try to meet in the middle is probably a deal breaker because of all that it leads to. Try to work it out, try to understand, try to be comfortable with things, but, most of all, be honest. Honesty is working so far with you two, and, if it means going separate ways or having him visit a pro on occasion, that’s a hell of a lot better than being miserable, yes?

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my crazy, temperamental mother-in-law, who’s been in 20 automobile accidents (the vast majority of which were her fault) likes to come by and pick up my two year old daughter and take her places. I’m a non-confrontational person, so, I try to be okay with this, but, every time my MIL has my daughter, I’m out of my mind with worry. My MIL’s own two daughters won’t let her drive their kids anymore, yet, when I try to express my fears, my MIL flies off the handle. What can I do? Signed, Scared Mama

Dear Scared. Your daughter is helpless. You are not. You are charged with your daughter’s care. Therefore, if something happens to your daughter in your MIL’s care, it’s on you. Period. See this: I hope that wasn’t your daughter. I hate that it was anyone’s daughter. How do you imagine that mother feels? I can’t even fathom it. If that doesn’t scare you straight nothing will, but, as a second point, one that ought to light the fires of your belly into a full-blown volcano, why isn’t your husband helping control his mom? If he’s deployed or his job has him otherwise out of town, that’s one thing. But, unless he’s deceased, he can still talk to her. He can still affect the situation. You shouldn’t have to face this alone. And, like with the letter above, honesty is the best policy. Be firm and honest with you MIL and say that your child will no longer drive with her. Anywhere. They can spend time, just not in a car. As for your MIL still driving after 20 accidents?! I think there’s more to this story than you are sharing with us. Will it paint you in an even worse light, like, does this woman have no license? Wake up, Mama, and start doing your job.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, Christmas is in full swing in our office and I’ve noticed over the past several years that the celebration has gotten more and more religious. And while I’m fine with personal expressions of faith, I don’t like Christianity bombarding me in all of common areas of the office during this season. Last year, my boss asked me why I didn’t attend the tree lighting and I said it’s because I’m not a Christian. Her response was that I could hang a menorah on the tree! I’d rather have more secular celebrations of Christmas, Prudie. How can I fix this? Signed, Not a Christian

Dear Scrooge. Okay, I’m just kidding with the Scrooge thing. To me, the solution is simple. If you have tried being honest with your supervisors and management (Have you? As in, really? I’m not talking about hinting, I’m talking about, have you and others sat down with them and stated that you’re offended?) and you’ve gotten no response, I suggest erecting a Festivus pole, complete with performance of the “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”. You need to insist on this. Further, you need to celebrate at least two Pagan rituals. An office bonfire with pairing for celebratory sex is a great one! This ritual rings in the coming spring and the desired crop fertility--plus it’s fun! The youngest male should also be made to hunt a buck and kill it with his bare hands. Finally, you’ll want to celebrate as Jack Skellington would, with reenactments of scenes from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”. And finally, light some incense. You guys are going to need it! Seriously, though, if your honest concerns, professionally-expressed to your supervisors, don’t do the trick, I see nothing wrong with introducing these alternative takes, in full or in part. Merry meet and Blessed Be!

LW#4: Dear Prudie, I married earlier this year. My husband’s family wants to take us all to Las Vegas to celebrate Christmas. My husband and I are horrified by this idea and don’t want to go. But, since we spent Thanksgiving with my family (we all live in the same town), we feel sort of obligated to go along. What should we do? Signed, Obviously Too Young To Be Married

Dear Too Young. You may have noticed a trend with my posts today. I suggest having your husband be honest with your in-laws and explain that the two of you don’t want to go to Vegas for Christmas (presuming your husband really doesn’t want to go?). You’re not obligated to go and having spent Thanksgiving with your family no more obligates you to go with his family to Sin City than it obligates you to spend Christmas with anyone! Fact is, since you live in the same town, I’m not sure why you didn’t split Thanksgiving time, but, that’s just me being Captain Hindsight. I hope that you remember the lesson for next year, though? As for what to do, as Prudie suggested, making sure to spend time with your in-laws upon their return is what’s important here. That and honesty. You can’t be faulted for either. Good luck!

Well, Shippers, that about does it! Holy smokes, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a theme run through all of my answers like that. But sometimes, just growing up and putting on your big boy/girl panties is all that a problem calls for. And in these cases, that seems the perfect solution. May your week be wonderful and bright and your weekend full of fruitful endeavors. Good cheer!