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 fiancĂ©e’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!


  1. *giggles* Shitake! Oh, my that was great! *wipes away tears* Oh Smag, I needed that! :D Awesome advice as always, with plenty of snark. I especially liked your response to LW1.

  2. Excellent advice to #4, and the others aren't bad, either. But I still favor the hostile takeover for #3.

  3. Oh, you were so close on LW1. You saw the vital point, that his concern and concentration is on how his ex is taking the pregnancy rather than on Ms Much More Adventurous Sexually Fiancee (and how long will *that* last a year from now, one wonders?), and just didn't quite cross the last T.

    I don't care particularly for the ex, but anyone with half a brain would realize that crowing to all the friends in common about how overjoyed he is after he'd whined to them for seven years about how he just wasn't ready to be a parent would almost inevitably come across as a smear, especially when reported to the ex by the sorts of friends such a person would have. Given the canniness of the letter and the way he took in the Prudecutor, I'd guess it's deliberate.

    I'm a little confused about L4. How long ago was it that the Prudecutor and the vast majority of commentators told a LW who had gotten into an MFA program only suddenly to have a conflicting opportunity to make a big career jump in what had only been marking time for her to dump her dreams of a lifetime and settlem for the lucrative career with an annual week of seeing plays, despite her husband's willingness to go abroad with her? Yet this LW, who is simply a few years younger (yet who might have been with her boyfriend longer than the previous LW had known her husband), is being told DTMFA in all but the phrase when that's above and beyond what she's asking? As for the letter itself, I call an incomplete. Does she just vaguely want to study abroad when for all we know she not only doesn't have a program lined up but might very well not be able to get in (yet so many people are talking about her "opportunity")? Can the boyfriend come up with a credible plan which would get them both abroad in a timely manner, or is he just the controlling jerk that people have called him assuming facts not in evidence? My overall impression of him is slightly unfavourable, but I think it would be easier to get Reasonable Doubt defending him than Preponderance of the Evidence attacking him.

  4. Lurker here. I thought I'd mention that, according to the comments, LW2 apparently wrote in to Dear Prudence to add that the first overdraft wasn't caused by writing checks against the "windfall" but was a $1.25 overdraft because of a subtraction error that started the whole lovely cascade of overdraft charges. She also added that she and Friend had made up again by the time the letter went to print. (Went to pixel?)

    And several commenters apparently HAVE had the experience of banks charging them large fees because of depositing a check that bounced. It's a bank, it's going to charge fees any chance it gets. :-)

    Still seems like a weird and confusing situation, but I don't think LW2 was scamming her friend.


    Re: LW1. Maybe it's bad of me, but my first thought was this. LW1: I'm betting this new GF is quite a bit younger than you, right? And probably a fair bit less secure, financially? And she just happens to agree with you on everything and is sexually adventurous, to boot? And, oh, look, she just SO HAPPENED to get pregnant 7 months after she met you?

    LW1, dude. Not only are you emotionally dense enough to not realize that your ex was going to be devastated by the news of your new squeeze's pregnancy, but you're also apparently dense enough not to realize you've been just been landed... hook, line, and sinker.

    Like I said, maybe it's bad of me that this was my first thought. And, of course, I could be totally wrong. But man, that pregnant after 7 months thing really jumped out at me.

    Then again, LW apparently thought the most important attribute of his new GF is that she's sexually adventurous. So if GF really is mostly looking for a meal ticket... maybe they deserve each other. Too bad for the kid in that case, though.

  5. Ahoy, Corey! You like the "shitake" exclamation?! Are you a fellow fan of KG and JB?! If you are, you're in good company. Along with me, rumor has it that my Diving Buddy here in the Lagoon, Mermaid, is the most ardent fan ever of the boys, and that she, too, has the power to kill a man (or yak) from over 200 yards away with nothing, no gun, nothing, but mother-fucking mind bullets...but only, you know, if they talk bad about her crush on KG and JB. Just sayin'. ;-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

  6. CoolOne, it takes a special person to employ the mighty hotstile takeover in the situation of LW#3. And though I talk a good game, I'm really a softy underneath my hard, crusty, exterior shell. ;-)

    Much good cheer to you! :-)

  7. Ahoy, hrumpole. You make a great point, one that I failed completely to address, and that's that that our LW better not be counting sexual adventurousness for much, as that sort of thing may or may not last another month or two! Plus, while I agree that sexual compatibility is vitally important, is it the ultimate concern? If it is for our LW, I would suggest that being married is not the ideal state of living for him. However, for all we know, the ex may have been a lights-must-be-out, missionary-only, three-thrusts-and-you'd-better-be-done type of gal? Calling an ex like she did, after *two years*, indicates at least some significant issues.

    Your point about crowing, however, is not one that I can get behind. I see your point, and do understand the sentiment, but, after two years of being single, announcing pending nuptuals and a pregnancy, to me, anyway, does not amount to crowing.

    As for LW#4, I can't speak for anyone else, but, I would always advise following one's dreams if it can be done without complete and total financial and personal ruin. I don't recall responding a few weeks ago, but, I remember the letter, and I would have advised that she go. Mainly because the boss's offer was that she had a good "chance" of getting into management. It was most assuredly *not* concrete (at least as presented in the letter). Plus, if I recall, she had spousal support and it's something she desperately wanted (even if she couldn't admit it to herself). And, even if she chose not to go, I would have advised that she make the time to be involved in local theater or in her local college's Literature program, because it's clear that she needed that outlet.

    Much good cheer to you, hrumpole! :-)

  8. Ahoy, Bethany! Wow, please don't lurk anymore! We need all the commenters we can get, and yours are great points! :-)

    First off, regarding the Over-drafted LW, if a $1.25 subtraction error caused the issue, why was she writing to Prudence? It was clearly the LW's fault! Well, okay, let me rephrase. Why was she writing to Prudence with a lie about the cashier's check bouncing? That was a clear attempt to put blame on the friend and to shift all culpability from herself. And it was an obvious lie, so, I'm not sure what to trust about the letter and the follow-up comments?

    As for banks charging fees for bounced checks, well, of course they do! I agree completely! :-) Apparently (based on comments I got in The Fray) I should have been super clear in my answer when I said that banks don't charge fees, as I was talking specifically about a returned legitimate cashier's check that was supposedly missing the signature of the check buyer (which, as I pointed out, is bull pucky). The scenario was so preposterous that I was being sarcastic. Banks don't charge bounce fees for legitimate cashier's checks, because legitimate cashier's checks don't bounce! Further, since the issuing bank's "cashier" signs the check, I was calling bull shit on our LW. I just didn't do a very good job of making my point. :-(

    As for her scamming her friend, though, I didn't get that vibe, either. I just thought she was a liar or an idiot. Turns out she was at least a little bit of both. :-)

    As for LW#1, I think you may be right on every single count! And, most of all, I agree that our LW and his new squeeze deserve each other, regardless. It does sound a bit like he's been snookered, but, hell, if it makes him happy, and if it's good for her (his new GF), more power to them. They'll reap what they sew.

    However, that doesn't mitigate the fact that the ex shouldn't have called our LW! It's been two years! She really, really, really needs to have moved on emotionally. What I mean is, to be healthy, she's *got* to get over this! This is even worse than being debilitated by mourning a father's death for two years. And calling the ex to bitch him out for not coming to her and telling her himself?! That's stalkerish, crazyville to me. After two years of not speaking? Two years divorced? With no kids to cause them to be seeing each other in awkward weekend handoffs where they try to be civil?

    So, I agree with your points, but, I can't give the ex any credit. She needs to check herself, too. IMHO, anyway. :-)

    Much good cheer to you, Bethany! :-)

  9. As for the crowing, please factor in that these were the same friends to whom he was whining for seven years that he just didn't KNOW if he were really, really, REALLY, like, entirely, you know, PREPARED for everything that would it would MEAN to have a real, live, honest-to-goodness BABY. Maybe gushing would have been a better word than crowing. And it's entirely understable. He gushed to the Prudecutor, and I don't mind him gushing all that much in the abstract. But what must also be factored in is how the FIC to whom he gushed painted the matter when reporting back to the ex. After all, what sort of person stays friends with both halves of a divorced couple when one half is petty enough to withhold sex and the other values sexual adventurousness above all else? A drama lover who would have been sure to exaggerate gushing until, the way the ex heard it, he was crowing as loudly as if he'd just invented the alarm clock (I came so close to typing "clock" without the L that it couldn't have been a mistake if I had).

    If this had happened to you, my guess is that, after giving one or two FICs the good news (which you would do without gushing or crowing), you would have realized that they were certain to pass it on to the ex, whose first reaction probably would be rather bitter. Your being a kind and considerate person, I could see you writing your ex a note to prepare her for the FICs mentioning you, wishing her the happiest and most fulfilling of futures, and, given your kindness and generosity, perhaps even apologizing for prolonging her suffering in the marriage and taking on yourself all the blame for the split, however little you really thought you deserved it. You might decide against the last if you thought she'd use it to stir up trouble or drama among your friends, but you'd do it properly if you did it.

    As for L4 and the previous chat question, there was a strong majority telling the earlier LW to stay despite her supportive husband and the clarity on what she would be doing. I like the way you caught this LW's essence.

    And I suppose that, whatever the real situation, one can make a case for her going. If they're both twits, the relationship could use the test. If she's too good for him, she'll finally see so. And if he's too good for her, good riddance.

  10. Ahoy there Captain! All the albatros/ses (sp?)are flying in formation to welcome you and your crew to 2011! (which will be exactly 800 years from the date of the Battle of Bouvines...oh how time flies say the birds who know about such things)

    Actually 2010 was a bit of a bummer (a really bad bit of a bummer!)(daughter chronic illnesses and ensuing frequent crises, and my own health putting a damper on what I can do to help). But there was also a fair amount of fun and laughter and good news with my other daughter. So I try to follow my mother's policy: no matter how bad things get you've got to make sure you have a good laugh at least 3 times a day!

    Good advice as usual. I particularly liked your response to the LW birdie stuck in a cage....

    I didn't read the supposed response by the "friend" to the gal who got an unsigned cashier check and the bank that accepted it... Hard to phatom since my impression is that those checks are signed by a bank, and as Mermaid points out in the fray, banks can easily check with each other on that. I don't believe you can actually put a stop payment on a cashier's check because cashier's checks are paid for in advance, though perhaps the friend's bank did because she was overdrawn, and perhaps banks now can do this even though they couldn't in the recent past?

    However, the whole letter did look like a poster case for AARP constant warnings! You know, us oldsters still believe in fairy tales and some of us have actually fallen for that Nigerian prince who promised to share his wealth with us if only...

    Banks fees are not what they used to be. If you're overdraw by a penny, the new thing for banks is to charge you at least $10 for each day you don't make it up. So before you find out you're even overdrawn you're probably 30$ in the hole, and no way to fix it till the next social security check, and if that check is 10 days away the bank will take 100$ out of it when the funds are automatically deposited (even though they're not supposed to with SS money but they sure do anyway). This practice is getting so common that my Credit Union actually advertizes: "we only charge you once for an overdraft."

    On top of this it's easy to make a mistake with automatic withdrawals to pay utilities, etc. And then, for a poor person to suddenly have a thousand $ in the bank it's hard to resist going just once to the 5PM 6$ all you can eat buffet..... (or more wisely go the dentist which is not covered by Medicare). I mean who in their right mind would doubt the validity of a cashier's check --I never did before reading this letter!

  11. Ahoy & Happy New Year. I'm late to the party this week 'cause I didn't think we were going to have a new Prudie Day last week (swore I read that somewhere?!)

    Glad to see you in good form as usual Captain, a strong finish for the old year!! You know, that whole cashier's check thing just bugs the heck out of me. Kati made the best points so far as to the deal w/ all the overdraft fees. But I can NOT get past the part that the cashiers check (signed, unsigned, bouncy or what) caused any of the issue. Like you pointed out, that check was nothing the LW expected, so if she was paying her bills like normal, the cashiers check should have had no impact. I totally took away from that that the LW was using that money for her bills, and not for the intended purpose of the trip.

    Kati..yes you can put a stop on a cashiers check. Even if the check was cashed. It will be pulled out of the recepients (or depositors) account until an investigation is complete. Same goes for a money order. That's why they all have long numbers for tracking them.

    To summarize..I'm with ya Captain on that one - something screwy was going on there.

    I didn't read the Fray, so I may be repeating something here, but as for LW1 - how come no one has speculated that the original couple was very young when married, and yes it was for 7 years of HER life HE took away (I'm having problem w/ that avenue of think). Say they were 19 or 20 when married, and he just hadn't matured to the place where he felt ready to be a dad. His decision to not start a family was a good one then. Not everyone is ready for parenthood 60 seconds after saying "I do". When I was 21 I didn't want kids, and due to my youngness didn't really see into the future to know I would. Everyone is coming down on him for wasting 7 years of her life, how come she has no responsibility in this? Maybe now at 30 he's mature enough and feels ready to be a dad. There's too many facts we don't have, to condem the guy. As for assuming his 7 month relationship is doomed...why? I know someone who met a woman, proposed 3 weeks later, and then 3 more weeks later we were all at the wedding. Then 9 months later the cutest little baby girl was born. 20 years later they are still happily married (it's not me..but my dad). Like my dad told me, "when you know it's the right one, you just know!"

    Yes, I agree that the EX-wife would feel a sting from the news (and who knows how it was delivered to her). But as pointed out - 2 years POST divorce, no contact, not really her business to worry about.

    The other LW's didn't get my feathers ruffled, so no comment on them.

    Well, that's my 2cents (it's probably not really worth .02). I hope the new year has started off well for everyone here in the lagoon! Here's hoping for another year of crazy Prudie letters :)