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, December 16, 2010

...on Control Freak Boyfriends and Various Holiday Cheer

http://www.slate.com/id/2277398/ (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.

36 comments:

  1. I am liking you better this week! ;) That said Merry Christmas (Thats right Christmas)! Hope all is grins and giggles this holiday! Love MommyLady!

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  2. Now, really, Captain. Mr. Cratchit only worked for Mr. Scrooge for EIGHT years, at least according to the version of "Scrooge" that we watched last night. So this boss is even WORSE than Mr. Scrooge. One must wonder whether the employee is an illegal alien (minimum wage HAS gone up in the past several years) and whether those "charitable contributions" are actually going to a duly registered charity.

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  3. asking for a "friend"December 16, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    #1 - have the guy take a lie detector test and ask him if's he's controlling. lol

    #2 - do the infamous cake-smashing! :).

    #3 - call immigration! :).

    #4 - "Quis quorat?"

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  4. Ahoy, mommylady! You are, of course, more than welcome to say "Christmas" and invoke Christ, or Hanukkah Harry, or anyone and everyone you'd like. All *is* grins and giggles. Here's hoping the same for you and yours! :-)

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  5. Ahoy and greetings, CoolOne! Was it only *eight* years?! Oh my! And here I was feeling sorry for Bob Cratchit! Holy smokes, that guy barely had a beef then, if that was the case! And Tiny Tim?! Bah!

    Yeah, as for our LW, either the starting amount of money was out-of-this-world phenomenal, or, the skill is one that's not very in demand. At all. Or maybe it's an area where there or no jobs? Otherwise, I sure can't imagine why the patience? But, regardless, something has to done. Feeling one must pay for the boss's kid's braces (charity indeed!) is just wrong.

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  6. Ahoy, asking for a "friend"! How are you?!

    As for your first proposal, I don't know if he knows! I often wonder about people like that--do they really know what they're doing, or do they think it's not only okay, but their right to act that way? As if their SO is their property or something? Ugh!

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  7. Smaggy. You're awesome. I want to have your babies. If only we could do it without, you know, the whole guy/guy thing. Not my gig. Cheers!

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  8. That is very true. If a controlling person doesn't think he's controlling and falls down after long hikes in the woods when his family have abandoned him on purpose so that they can voluntarily contribute the life insurance payout to their mandatory donation fund, then will Mumsy finally have a properly functioning guest room available for a week by Christmas?

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  9. Good Cheers, Mr Smag!

    Do these people ever say to themselves, 'what if this goes on?' (To be charitable, maybe they're trying to say it by writing to Prudie, and having a couple of hundred strangers yell the answer at them. Wonder if they read that stuff?)

    LW1, if this goes on, he'll ask for a yearly refresher lie detector. Together with the GPS bracelet and cavity search, you'd be better off in Levinworth. Seriously.

    LW2, just while your mind is running in these channels, do some research about worst case medevac scenarios. "Dad, when they have to pull you out of Yosemite, the average cost is $7000. We'll get a cheaper rate in Machu Pichu, but the Ambu-flight back to the US is a killer.
    Just sayin'."

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  10. LW3, what can this job be, that people are willing to be extorted for the privilege of working there? I know, truly, how irrational a family business can be, whether it's Joe's Hardware or Walmart (And Don't Get Me Started on Walmart employees getting by on foodstamps while working unpaid extra hours. Sheesh.) Either way, good luck with that.
    Can't really add to Smag's sage words here, or on LW4 either.
    Have a fine weekend, all (if you get such a thing...)

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  11. Thank you for that response to LW#4. The kid's letter just bugged for some reason, and you nailed it.

    For other? I just hope that LW#1 somehow makes her way to your advice and heeds it. I had a similar situation eons ago and didn't listen to my gut. It was an incredibly costly error on many levels.

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  12. Oh, I see how it is, Schuyler. How many times have I asked you to have your babies with me? And yet, you always turn me down! Now, finally, I've gotten over you, have finally moved on, amd actively trying, weekly, to get Mermaid to the Lagoon to make MermaSmag babies with me, and so only *now* do you come 'round?! You men are all the same! Mean! Hrumph! ;-)

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  13. Nice compilation, hrumpole! I have to admit that, without the benefit of coffee on my first read through, I missed the connections! I read it and said, "What?!" But now I see clearly your elegant and efficient plot. Although, I have to admit, on second reading, I thought you were going to ask the age-old question of, 'if a controlling guy falls during a long hike in the woods, will anyone hear his screams?'. ;-)

    Much good cheer, hrumpole!

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  14. Cantahamster, they may be asking that question in writing to Prudie, but, you're right, one must certainly wonder! I wonder it weekly! :-) And, interestingly, sometimes the answer to the question is that it's no big deal. A hearty "so what" is in order. But, more often than not, one would hope the answer to the question would open the eyes of the LW? Seems not to have worked so far. Ah well, if they did ask it, we'd have a lot less weekly fun, eh? ;-)

    Good cheer, Cantahamster!

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  15. Ahoy, Amanda. Letter #4 bugged me, too. Of course, I try to bang out this column really quickly on Thursday morning so that it's topical, but, with more time (to think of a response, but, too, to write more, volume-wise), I'd be more nuanced and complete in my responses (which likely wouldn't do well for my snarky persona!).

    For example, in this case, I would question the parents in this letter, asking them what's up? Does this kid have a history of being a selfish little snit, or, upon questioning, would I sense that the parents are the selfish shits, just putting up with the LW long enough to shuffle him/her off to college and an independent life, and, as the letter intimates, not being able to wash their hands of him/her quickly enough?

    To me, if I were take it at completely face value, the letter sounds like it was written by someone who was adopted and whose adoptive parents had "buyer's remorse" on Day #1, but who felt they had an "obligation to get him/her through school and into the real world." Of course, we can't take it *completely* at face value. At least not without follow-up questions.

    So, in the end, to me, gut reaction, the letter sounded self-centered. It didn't mention anything about the motivations of others. So, my immediate reaction was that the LW is a self-involved twit. But, upon reflection, I can see how, at age 22 or 23, if my parents suddenly quit welcoming me home, I'd be a little put off, too! And, likely much more selfish in my description than I would be now, at a much older age. So, it definitely needs some follow-up, but, on the surface, yeah, I agree. S/he needed a slap down. I'm just repeating myself now, aren't I? :-)

    Much good cheer, Amanda! :-)

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  16. Hrumpole, that makes twice in 5 minutes you've made lol. Good thing it's Saturday!

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  17. Ahoy Captain Snark, oops I mean Smag!

    I like your response to LW1 -- the perception that the victim is gradually being erased in an abusive relationship is so true. Unfortunately, even the mentally strongest among us are prey to being brainwashed and conditioned ... I hope she follows your (and Prudie's advice) and gets out of this situation before life long trauma sets in....

    I wonder if the grown up kid who gets on his/her parents nerves after a few days does so because of avoiding contributing to household tasks that are of course increased during the visit, oh, and also complaining all the time about one thing or another? It happens....

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  18. PS: I'm also wondering why LW2 wants her poor dad (and mom?) to go on a hiking trip in a third world country? Hiking is already bad enough for most of us older folks whether we're thin or fat (bad knees and hips etc).

    Even if the father had stuck to his diet it would be insane to get someone who had a heart attack to go hiking anywhere, you know there is not much medical help in the US wilderness either...

    So there's something very fishy here... and since the father is a doctor, maybe he knows something his family doesn't and decided to leave this world with a full tummy? Or maybe he decided to gain back his weight so he won't be harassed to go hiking by his nitwit kids?

    Could it be he figured that he would rather die than go hiking? Also, heart disease makes you depressed, not just because of psychological factors but there is something about it that physiologically causes depression... (though if my kids tried to manipulate me into say hiking in the Andes, I'd probably be depressed myself!)

    And then there the very possibility that due to the disability caused by heart disease and diabetes, he feels worthless because he obviously in a member of a family that values only people who can perform physically?

    Ask any disabled person, they'll tell you than worse than the disability is the fear of becoming useless to other people --this daughter/son and perhaps his whole family seems to fit the profile of people who'd make this feeling worse....

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  19. Ahoy, Kati! :-) How are you? How are your holidays going? I hope that all's well and that you're having a wonderful day and week!

    Okay, I have to ask, what gave you the impression that the kid might not be contributing to household tasks? I don't disagree with you--I got the same impression--but, I've been having a problem explaining *why* I got that impression. What about the letter caused us both to react that way?

    I really did get the impression that this kid has just shown up and sort of exploded their stuff all over the newly small house of his/her parents. But, why did I get that impression? I honestly can't say. It was a gut reaction. Can you say, Kati?

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  20. Yes, Smag, I could say why, but I'd better not!

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  21. PS: Happy Winter Solstice celebrations -- whatever they might be!

    Good cheers to you and your loved ones... :-)

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  22. Ahoy, Kati! Happy Winter Solstice celebrations to you and yours, too! :-)

    Please know that my query about the young LW was not meant as a trap for you! I feel the same way about Sarah Palin. I have a visceral reaction of dislike for her, but, it's not easy for me to be cogent and specific when trying to explain why. It's more than failure to complete a single term as governor of Alaska (a state with a population and budget smaller than most mid-sized cities in the rest of the country). It's more than apparent willful ignorance about how the world works beyond what the Republican base wants to hear. But what is it? The best I can do is that she seems to motivate a bigotry, a holier-than-thou kind of mentality, that is particularly troublesome and alarming to me. But, as you can imagine, it'd be very easy to be hypocritical in leveling that sort of claim! I mean, who am I to make such a claim, thus alienating so many?

    So, I wonder the same with this LW. What is it that so bugs me? What makes me think the LW assumes that the parents should instantly and without warning alter their very way of life for the LW's amusement? I can't say. But I feel it just as specifically as I do my dislike of Palin. I just wish that I could better articulate it, but, it just seemed to me that the LW dropped in, no warning, and expected to be waited on hand and foot and complained like a spoiled when every demand wasn't met. But why did I get that impression?

    Much good cheer, Kati! :-)

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  23. Oops, I didn't compare the LW to Palin, I would get into even more trouble if I did (I'm talking about the possibility of the next generation reading this post --gasp "mom, how could you!".

    In addition to all the things you said about Palin, I suspect her main motive for quitting was to make money. She is making it by the shovelfull... I mean 100,000$ or more per speech? Where does all this money come from anyway?

    I also heard from "reliable sources" that now just about all Alaskan hate Palin, among other things for quitting on them...

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  24. I know I'm a little late to the party here, but to answer your question to Kati, Smag, I've gotta say there's one little bit of this letter that really spells it out: "I don't have a room". I hear this complaint from college-aged students and recent college graduates regularly. It is always said in a petulant shocked voice. "How dare they?" is what is implied. How dare they spend 20+ years consistently putting my needs before theirs and then have the audacity to consider altering their lives to the inconvenience of me. It's that one line right there that does it.

    Think about it, no one in the whole world would expect your friends to ensure they have a room for you. You wouldn't expect it of your siblings, your aunts and uncles... But your parents? You can be 25 and think it perfectly reasonable to complain that your parents no longer have a room just for you.

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  25. I should add that one college graduate said that his mother "screwed" him by moving to a different city.

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  26. Ah, Kati! Now I understand. Yes, no need willfully antagonize the youngsters. :-)

    As for Palin, she is what she is. And, truth is, I don't blame her one bit for making money. I just don't want the ever-deepening division in our country to be encouraged for a buck, or for political gain. And especially not both! That combination may be at the heart of my distaste for the woman. She's very good at that. Oh well.

    Much good cheer, Kati! :-)

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  27. Ahoy, Robin! No, you're not late at all! You may have provided the key, actually! :-)

    I think that you've certainly put your finger on *something* (at least a good discussion point!) with the "I don't have a room" statement. While I can certaily understand adult offspring desiring a place in their parents' home, a welcome feeling, a feeling of always belonging, that place and feeling doesn't (or shouldn't) require a specific room. The economy has been tough on most all of us. I can certaily understand a couople close to retirement, seeing their investments hit hard by the economy, downsizing. Our LW doesn't seem to recognize (or acknowledge) that possibility. Good catch!

    Too, the LW throws in the "vacation home" factoid as if to say that, had they not gotten the vacation home, they could have afforded a room for the LW! Ah-ha! Now we're cooking with gas!

    Any other thoughts/ideas, All?

    Much good cheer, Robin, and happy holidays! :-)

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  28. Having (or making) room is wholly different from having A room. Both my foster sons know that my home is always open to them - they can have the pull-out couch in the room with the dogs or the couch in the living room (sans dogs). Neither of them seems to think that I should keep a room just for them but most of their friends seem to think so. One said that his mother built an add-on so that she could keep his room for him. Well, bully for her but even if I could afford it, I don't think I'd do it.

    This letter, like so many others, reeks of entitlement. Maybe I'm misreading it but that's what it sounds like. The 'rents are there to provide. Sure, you don't suddenly stop being a mom when your kid hits some magical age or income but what you provide certainly changes (as it does throughout their childhood). Hopefully you continue to provide a "home" for them to come to but the rules change when they no longer live there.

    Maybe this kid's parents are getting off on having some privacy for the first time in 20+ years and they want to have sex on the kitchen floor. Maybe they just don't want to feel they're being taken advantage of. Maybe the LW just needs to learn the new rules.

    And you're quite right about the vacation home. I'd forgotten about that little tidbit. Clearly the parents thoughtlessly and needlessly put their own needs and wants before the LW's (presumably) fully functioning ass.

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  29. Ahoy, my Captain!

    My goodness, how could I not show up after an invitation like that ~ be still, my beating heart! I bellyflopped ashore quicker than a grunion under a full moon at the idea of a school of MermaSmag babies swimming around... oh heavens, Darling ~ you DID know mermaids lay dozens of eggs, didn't you? Though the upside for you is ~ mermaspawn don't need to wear diapers, and we'll always have a full house during the holidays... :) And speaking of which...

    I'm one of the folk who don't really understand why everyone piled on the LW4 and assumed he/she (although I read female) was a poor houseguest, or felt otherwise "entitled". I'm also more than a little aghast at the number of people who said it's perfectly natural for parents to want a life after their kids were grown ~ that may not include their kids any more. :s I have a hard time understanding that way of thinking, Smag, as I would always want a guest room in my Home...

    I don't mean to throw a wrench in the works, but LW4 has appeared on the inline comment section of Dear Prudence, and has given further details of her (and it is a her) situation.

    The "I don't have a room" likely comes from the fact that she explains that now when she's there, she's bunking in with a sibling. I don't know if there's more than one sibling, so it could be a situation where her brothers and sisters all got a room when the parents moved to the new house, and she didn't. That by itself wouldn't be much maybe, but if you add to it the vibe she's getting, that she's not wanted after a couple of days (as opposed to her siblings, who still get to live there presumably as long as they want) I can see why that would be very hurtful, and make her feel like she's being excluded. Another wrinkle is that she's pretty sure there has been some infidelity on dad's part, that her mom knows about, but that they've worked past... which accounts for the tension in the house.

    My guess is that she's one of these really *perceptive* people (notice how she seems to know what's going on with everyone, even though she doesn't live there) whose presence tends to be invasive after a while ~ maybe she's a little bit in everyone's business when she's home, because she's gone a lot and wants to keep from feeling like an outsider...?

    At any rate, I appreciate you opening up the dialogue about this almost unanimous feeling about this letter writer that I seemed to have missed ~ I didn't feel entitlement, I felt pain at being excluded ~ and it's so interesting to read other people's take on it. So thank you, Captain! Now... for another letter...

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  30. Diving Buddy, I'm sure you and I could go on all day and night ~ as we've been known to do ~ on the subject of LW#1. I don't mean to beat the old nag, but I'm really not taking her very seriously, not as seriously as you seem to have. I have a surprising lack of sympathy for her. Although I love and admire your protective instinct for LW#1, this truly seems like exactly the kind of offhand comments a man would make almost in jest to a woman he didn't trust enough to marry, but enjoys sleeping with, to put her off the marriage question she keeps prying him with. It's just not ringing true to me, for many reasons.

    Most people, when they write to Prudie, try and convince us that the other person is bad/wrong and they are good/right. Some are more subtle than others, some aren't consciously aware they are doing it, but it's human nature to do this, to get us on their side. So, when this LW doesn't tell us things like "he's so controlling, he checks my email, calls me 20 times a day... " nothing ~ I get a little suspicious. It just seems completely odd (and cunning) to me to start out with "my boyfriend says he won't marry me unless I take a polygraph..." because that immediately puts people up in arms and on the defensive ~ *how dare he?!* and puts them on the LW's side in the position. But ask yourself how the question came up. Do you really think this guy went to her and said "I'd really like to marry you, but I won't do it unless you take a polygraph test first..." No! It didn't happen like that! This sounds like she went to him, and asked him if he was ever going to put a ring on it (it's been 2 years after all, and she's getting antsy) and he snortingly said (in a jokey kind of way, serious enough but not so mean he'd never get any booty again from her) "Huh! I ain't marrying you until you take a polygraph!" and she has now taken this semi-flip semi-serious answer and literalized it into "my boyfriend says he won't marry me unless I take a polygraph" which is technically and literally true (and sounds REAL GOOD when you use it to bitch to your girlfriends about him) but it doesn't reflect the true dynamic of what's going on with them as a couple.

    I don't know ~ I'm just not buying it that if this guy is as extreme as her words make him out to be ~ she doesn't see it. This just feels too "Diner" for me to take seriously, like when Steve Guttenberg made his girlfriend pass a test by answering questions on football knowledge before he'd marry her. And no I'm not going to tell you what happens except that it's frickin hilarious and you'll just have to watch it. ;)

    See you on the other side of the Lagoon, mon amor. You bring the Leon Russell, and 'neath the light of the full moon, the three of us, we'll make us some MermaSmag babies fo sho... ;*

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  31. Ahoy, Robin! I think that this is a great point:

    Sure, you don't suddenly stop being a mom when your kid hits some magical age or income but what you provide certainly changes (as it does throughout their childhood). Hopefully you continue to provide a "home" for them to come to but the rules change when they no longer live there.

    Bravo! :-) Much good cheer to you, and the happiest of holiday seasons.

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  32. Ahoy, MM! Yay for you hearing the Submariner's mating call (even if part of me saying that, and, truthfully it was only a little of the reason, honest (!), was that I was trying to make Schuyler jealous!)! As for multiple eggs, that just sounds to me like there's going to have to be more fertilization! Hot damn and bring on the Gatorade! :-P

    Mermaid, while I absolutely understand your sentiment regarding LW#4 (and genuinely admire your selfless and ever-present defense of the downtrodden) I'm not sure that the clarifications the LW provided helps her cause? You said:

    ...she explains that now when she's there, she's bunking in with a sibling...

    And, you also mentioned something about the father's infidelity?

    Isn't it just as accurate to say that the sibling is bunking with her? I mean, if the siblings are all out of the house, then, she's no more bunking with a sibling than the sibling is bunking with her. And, if the siblings *aren't* yet out of the house, but will be at some point, then, there *will* be a functional guest room soon. As such, ergo Eggo Pocono, it seems to me that our LW's being even *more* foot stompy super entitle-rific. If the sibling(s) no longer live there, but have "claimed" the one guest room by, I don't know, putting up Flock of Seagull posters and sticking gum under the desk, then I say this is between the siblings and that the parents should reasonably be held blameless here. After all, they really *are* providing a guest room, no matter how you slice it. Does our LW want the parents to maintain a separate guest room for each sibling after they move out?

    Further, the father's infidelity, regardless of how empathic the inclusion of that fact makes our LW, has nothing to do with the original situation/concern of the letter, unless, of course, the parents are providing a room for the affairee? And, further, it’s absolutely *none* of her business. Sounds like the LW is trying to add details after the fact to sway her readership, in much the same way you believe LW#1 to be doing! Sort of like, "but, wait, there's more, they used to beat me with bamboo and they made me use only used tea bags to make my tea with, and, and, and, they even bought me a *used* car for my first car!"

    But, all kidding aside, how do you reconcile the inclusion of the "vacation home" detail? Please know that I'm not arguing with you. I fully respect and appreciate that it really could be the parents actively being clueless (or worse) and that the LW's concerns are completely valid. As I mentioned earlier in inviting discussion on the matter, I'm certainly not dismissing that idea! It's just that, especially now that I know that there *is* a guest room (albeit populated beyond the LW's taste), I'm even more suspicious or the LW’s motives. Does she feel pushed out above and beyond the other siblings? As if she's less favored? Why is that? It sounds more like sibling rivalry to me than parental favoritism.

    As for LW#1, I agree entirely. Unfortunately, with limited blog-writing time, as you know, I just went with my gut and initial reaction. But, you could be entirely correct. This LW *definitely* needs hrumpole's cross examination if ever any of them needed it! Wanna be flies on the wall together as hrumpole does his thing?

    Much good cheer and MermaSmag dreams to you, Diving Buddy! And the wonderful-est of holidays, too! :-)

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  33. My goodness, Smag! I feel a bit attacked here, Dear! All I was doing was providing some more details from our purported LW ~ and I made it pretty clear I think the LW is a large part of the problem ~ just not for being a sloppy or entitled houseguest, as so many others have speculated.

    In the inline comments, the LW said she was bunking in with a sibling ~ the impression being that the sibling (of which there is at least one) had been provided a room, and the LW had not, so when she came home to stay she had to bunk in with the sibling. So, the room is always *the siblings* room, and she's clearly *a guest* and after 2 days everyone is making noise like they want her to be on her way ~ she said she's feeling "shoved out of the family" ~ that's a pretty strong statement, Smag.

    Hon, did you not read my comment? Because your second paragraph seems to go off a little ranty on me there ~ and as I said, I clearly think the LW is probably a little invasive and nosey and in everyone's business ~ maybe a little clingy because she feels "out of the loop". Which is my way of saying, as you did, that it's none of her beeswax what's going on with her parents ~ and it's only mentioned by me to *explain* the tension in the house ~ that has, again, nothing to do with her being a sloppy houseguest.

    I have no idea why the LW calls it a "vacation home" unless that's what the LW's parents called it before they bought it, so don't shoot the messenger on this one, okay? Maybe it was meant to be a vacation home (a small 2 bedroom, just room for them and a guest) and now has turned into their primary residence (just room for them and one kid they have left in school).

    I am curious about your statements, however ~ "Does she feel pushed out above and beyond the other siblings? As if she's less favored? Why is that? It sounds more like sibling rivalry to me than parental favoritism." Good grief, Diving Buddy! Don't you know that most sibling rivalry is CAUSED by either real or perceived parental favoritism? Why are you giving the parents an almost complete pass in this? If your child came to you and said she felt like she was being shoved out of the family, wouldn't you feel any personal responsibility in that, no matter the actual reason for her feeling that way?

    This letter sounded to me like someone crying out for help, wondering why her formerly loving parents were now cold and distant to her, and seemed to want to push her out of the family. To eveyone else, it sounded like a spoiled, entitled child who was upset that she wasn't still being catered to. I'm intrigued at how far apart on the spectrum we are on this one. :)

    I can't wait for Christmas either! I love surprises, don't you? I have 2 beautifully wrapped presents in particular that I'm just dying to open, but I promised I wouldn't yet! :)

    I wish the happiest of holidays for you, too! May you be surrounded by Love and your stocking filled with tiny presents! See you on the other side of the Lagoon, Captain! :*

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  34. Ack! MM, even if there ends up being no other cogent point in this post (which is entirely possible, given my track record of late), please know that my previous posts were not meant as an attack or rant on or against you! I have the utmost respect for you and your take on these issues. If anything, this LW rubbed me the wrong way (for reasons that I can't entirely articulate), and, in my typical snarky way, I may have expressed that fact far too nastily. But, please know that it was just me being me and snarking at the LW, not me going for your jugular!

    Actually, truth is, I really *do* see what you mean about sibling rivalry! I hadn't thought of it like that, about what causes it, and, I am always happy to be educated. And, too, I agree that if my own kiddo came to me and said that she felt shoved out of the family, I'd definitely feel personally responsible for getting to the bottom of it (unless, of course, I’d been trying to make her feel that way--and if that was the case, shame on me!). So, if the LW has talked to her parents, and, if she hasn't gotten a straight answer, then, yes, I will vote for a stiff spanking for her parents. And, no, not the good kind of spanking, either! I'm certainly willing to acknowledge that this issue *could* certainly be on the parents (primarily, anyway).

    And, too, I did recognize that you were allotting some of the problem onto the LW herself. I really did get that, and I really did hear you. It's just, well, Smag + Coffee + Snark = Mr. Meanie Pants (sometimes). So, I do apologize for any sent or perceived nastiness. Maybe I need to try decaf?

    Can you forgive me? I'll shoot a mean shark with a torpedo if you want? Or at least ping him with some SONAR? Just say the word! :-)

    Good cheer, Diving Buddy! :-)

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  35. Don't you dare, Smag! I love that Mean Shark! :) (Or would that be a Snark Shark?) I'll admit, he's not quite as cool as a Land Shark, but the way you harness and ride him so expertly gives Mermaid a weekly thrill nonetheless. ;) Or maybe it's just the sight of you in a Speedo...

    ...and please stop shouting, Dearest! I've told you, when writing it's acceptable form to use sonar and radar, not SONAR and RADAR! :P :P :P At ease, Captain!

    It's just that ~ I'm totally projecting into this situation ~ and this is exactly the kind of thing my own *family* would have pulled on me. My mother did in fact up and sell our childhood home without even a word to us kids, and moved away without telling us where she was going, and I haven't heard from her since ~ and I lived 3 blocks away from her at the time. Parents can be harsh!

    I can see this all unfolding me like some Nightmare LifeSaver Sweet Storybook... (remember those?) I can totally see if she and my stepdad were together, once I was out of the house, and my brother was out, they would have bought a smaller house, and had my sister there to finish out her junior-senior years of high school.

    And the thing is, when I wrote to the advice columnist about it, I wouldn't have told her he was my stepdad, because I wouldnt' want to feel any more alienated ~ so we don't acknowledge things like that. So the dynamic in the house would have been my mother and stepdad and their daughter, my half-sister. My brother and I have the same father ~ we were always the outsiders to this little threesome, and after we moved out, it would become even more pronounced. And I can totally see that if I came to visit, they wouldn't allow me to sleep on the couch (it would mess it up, and flatten the cushions) but tell me that I would have to bunk in with sis if I wanted to stay (because frankly, even the living room floor would have inconvenienced those two). And I can totally see my sis not being happy about it (we've never gotten along) and I can totally see her telling me I'd have to sleep on the floor if I wanted to stay. And I could totally see my parents backing that, because "it's her room, she can do what she wants." And I can totally see, if I didn't have the money for a hotel, and I really wanted to be with my family and not alone for the holidays, putting up with this and pretending it doesn't bother me, just so I can have some semblance of family, and somewhere to go.

    And I can totally see being totally hurt about all this, and feeling like I'm totally being shoved out of the family. :(

    And I'm totally not (okay enough now) saying that's what's going on here ~ I'm just saying I'm just one random sampling, and if something like this could happen to me, in fact something similar did happen to me, I don't see why it's not just as likely it's happening to the LW ~ at least as likely as her being a slopppy, entitled houseguest. That's all I'm saying, and all I have been saying ~ the instant and almost unanimous leap to one side of the spectrum (that this was all caused by the LW being bad, sloppy, ungrateful, entitled) was surprising, and a little disturbing, to me. Because I was none of those things ~ and it still happened to me.

    You never need apologize to me, Diving Buddy ~ I Know it's all in good fun. :)

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  36. Oh, hey now! I never apologized! I simply acknowledged your awesomeness and the fact that your take on the LW *may* have *some* valid points. ;-)

    As for your perspective, there's a significant difference between your situation and the LW's! Or at least your take on it. Which says volumes about you... Do you see how many times you mention your mom and step dad's motivation, their perspective, who *they* are? As people? See how deftly you outline the relationship between you and your brother, and the one between the two of you and your step sister? And how that dynamic worked? That type of insight takes someone who's wise enough and pays attention enough to recognize situations that exist outside of her own self. Our LW, at least in what I've read, hasn't yet done that, Diving Buddy. l0(

    See, no apologies here! ;-) But, for what it's worth, I really do get what you're saying. And I really do understand how it's entirely possible for what happened to you to be happening to our LW. I just think that you're far cooler than she is! :-)

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