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 23, 2010

...on Potentially-Gay Sons In Skirts and Not-So-Potential Asshole Husbands-in-Law

http://www.slate.com/id/2277578/ (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 grĂ¢ce, 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!

27 comments:

  1. asking for a "friend"December 23, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Happy Festivus Smag! seems like your perfect holiday!

    #1 be care w/ those Red Ryder BB guns or U will put your eye out! haha re: feminine gifts 4 guys, I want these: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-world/2010/12/02/world-s-biggest-pants-unveiled-see-the-xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxl-underwear-115875-22755461/


    #2 here's how to deal w/ him - play trivia pursuit w/ know-it-all but stack the deck, i.e., memorize answers to the questions U will get and give him all the hard ones; periodically ask him how many points he has; haha; :).

    #3 I did like Prudie's line about STDs; reminds me of an old joke: what can I expect out of relationship w/ so and so? answer: something U can never get rid of; haha;

    #4 would five years be too long 2 ask? :). awesome answer!

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  2. #1 needs to tread a fine line. Remember the story about the boy who asked Mom, "What's sex?" She and her husband gave him a 2 hour long lecture, complete with pictures, about the Birds and the Bees. When they were done, he said, "That's fine, but I still don't know what to put on this form under 'sex'."

    Find out WHY he says he wants to be a girl, and go from there.

    #3 reminds me of when I dumped a boyfriend for his infidelity, and his mother got angry at HIM for "causing" me to leave (according to the guy's brother.) You are correct. If the family really knows her, they'll have a good inkling of what happened.

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  3. You are in grand form today.

    If one wanted to be irreverent, one could predict the 5-year-old's true nature depending on who happens to be his favourite figure skater. In alphabetical order, say, just off the top of my head, a different significance could be attached to his favouring Jeffrey Buttle, Patrick Chan, Kim Yu-Na, Carolina Kostner, Stephane Lambiel, Evan Lysacek, Joannie Rochette, Tomas Verner or Johnny Weir.

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  4. Superb, as usual, Smag! "God Bless us, everyone!" And to all a good night.

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  5. Merry Festivus, Cap'n!

    My two cents this week is for LW2.

    Whoever hosts these get-togethers has some cards to play, especially if they are the senior generation, as la Prude suggests; you married into this bunch, so you don't hold a good hand.

    That said, especially if you can enlist either your husband or some other marry-ins, you might still be able to enjoy yourself. Some play this as a drinking game, others as a small bingo game: pick some things you know the guy is going to do, and bet on which he'll do first.
    Will he insult his mother-in-law, his wife, or somebody else?
    Will he rag on Obama, Palin, Pelosi, Coulter, ... first?
    Will he call someone a moron, an idiot, a halfwit, or something else?
    Will he brag about his travels to the East, or his university education, or his new car first?

    The point is, people like this are not paying any attention to those about them, so you could count points with your partner right under his nose. Don't put it in writing, and it's all good.

    Glad Yule, Y'all!

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  6. Sooo... whatever happened to Merry Christmas?!?

    *quickly ducking behind yellow submarine!* ;^D

    Dear Smagsta Clause, I bid you...
    !!! MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!

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  7. Christmas isn't till tomorrow. The "holy days" currently being celebrated would be Advent, if you're Christian.

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  8. Ahoy there, Captain! And a big kiss under the mistletoe for my Diving Buddy! :*

    Mermaid made a visit to the Lagoon, but sort of pooped out halfway through answering anyone's questions this week. There was simply too much joy to be found in the world this week to anchor myself to these dead weights! As always, I am humbled by your fortitude and marvel with gratitude that our poor beleaguered LWs can always lay their troubles 'cross your broad shoulders ~ until you drop them with a roundhouse snark kick to the face!

    The only halfway interesting situation was the first, of course, and I believe you and I think similarly about the boy wearing the skirt ~ my first reaction to the suggestion that the boy might be teased for wearing a skirt to the playground was ~ I wouldn't advise even my daughter to be wearing a skirt to a playground! Children need to be taught what attire is appropriate, and 5 is old enough to learn that pants or shorts are more appropriate for running and playing where one's underoos might be seen!

    You know, my mother wouldn't allow me to wear a skirt or dress or shorts (only long pants) outside the house after I was in about 3rd grade ~ she wouldn't buy them for me, said it wasn't "safe" for a girl to wear anything but pants. Now, granted, that's an extreme reaction and one I wouldn't advise here (or anywhere, frankly) but you can see how that theory could similarly be parlayed out to work for these parents until the boy grows past this stage of wanting to wear things like this in public ~ or until he's old enough to recognize on his own that he's going to receive comments, and know how to handle them, if he does. I'd deflect a lot of requests to wear the skirt like I would for a daughter ~ "oh it's too cold today" or "that's awfully fancy, we should save it for when we dress up to go to grandma's for dinner" and thereby limit the situations that might give rise to comments and ridicule. So, I would make the situation more about whether it's appropriate to wear a skirt that day, or for that occasion, as opposed to making it about whether it's appropriate for the boy to be wearing a skirt that day.

    I thought Prudie's advice that the boy should be talked to beforehand about the possible reaction he might get was terrible. I really don't see how you can have a conversation with your child about the possible reactions he might get without pointing out how *different* something like that makes them, and without in some way making the kid feel bad about how *different* he is. And I believe at 5 years old, he already does know that other boys don't wear skirts, and he just doesn't care. I think reactions should be handled on a case by case basis, instead of foreshadowing negativity. That's why I say ~ you can't control his wanting to wear the skirt, and you can't control other people's reactions, but you CAN control the situations you allow your son to be in while wearing the skirt.

    (to be continued)

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  9. Part Deux ~ (shall we go again, Captain?)

    LW#4 ~ I've probably actually had similar situations come up like this quite a bit ~ whenever anyone I know and care about gets married, I stitch them a custom commemorative wedding sampler, with the couple's names, their wedding date, etc., all beautifully framed, made special just for them. They're always well received and treasured when I give them ~ but with the divorce rate being what it is, we can estimate that at least half of my samplers are probably in someone's basement! This never bothered me one whit ~ the time and the love that I put into it, that they saw when they received it, and the pleasure it gave them, was more than worth it, and I never gave a thought to what happened to them after the couple sadly split. However, one day I was at a girlfriend's (I actually think it was moving out day) and she'd had my sampler hanging in her entryway and we happened to be standing there next to the empty nail where it had once been and I asked her sort of sheepishly "ooh, what are you going to do with the sampler now?" and the look on my face made it clear that I wouldn't want to have to look at that either if I was splitting up with my ex! But she said "Oh, I've packed it away and I want to give it to (oldest daughter) when she gets married ~ it's a family heirloom!" So I thought that was lovely! And I also think that the LW did not give from her heart in the first place, or she wouldn't want to take it back now.

    I'm deckin' your halls and jinglin' your balls, Captain! ;) Merry Christmas to you and yours ~ and see you on the other side of the Lagoon! :*

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  10. Excellent stuff, asking for a "friend". :-) You know, I went to that site that you prescribed. And, while I'm all for playing dress-up and even sneaking a bit of a peak at some panties, that was a bit scary! Just sayin'. ;-)

    Good Christmas Cheer, asking! :-)

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  11. Ahoy, CoolOne. Absolutely! And, great story about the ex and his mom. :-)

    Much good holiday cheer. :-)

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  12. Ahoy, hrumpole. What about Elvis Stojko? ;-)

    Much good cheer and happy holidays! :-)

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  13. Ahoy, catseye! Even Tiny Tim, barely as big as a turkey. :-)

    Much good holiday cheer! ;-)

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  14. Ahoy, Cantahamster! And Merry Festivus for the rest of us! :-) Yes, I guess I'll drink to that!

    Save a dance for me 'round the aluminum Festivus Pole as you and yours celebrate the miracle of Festivus! :-)

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  15. Ahoy, 'Roo! :-) Merry Christmas to you, too! :-)

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  16. Greetings, Anonymous. Happy Advent! Or Christmas (today actually is), or, you know, happy holidays! Much good cheer. :-)

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  17. Hey there, MM. :-) I'm all for you wearing *no* skirt! Although, the half shell top is always nice--you know, for formal occasions. ;-)

    I think yours is a wonderful gift idea for newlyweds. And hopefully no one, regardless of eventual marital status, would be able to throw out your handiwork! Unless a marriage is so short-lived as to have gained no special memories at all, a gift like that should never be cast off (even then it shouldn't!). But, I won't judge anyone else. I'll just say that's how I'd be. ;-)

    Much good cheer, MM, and happy holidays and merry Christmas! :-*

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  18. I'm baaaaaack

    (OR AM I??? ominous peal of thunder)

    For the last month or so, I've been moving into the apt, furniture shopping and assembly included, and this week was prepping for Christmas dinner, stacked tubs and boxes and all. I still need to buy shelves/bookcases. Lots and lots of them. It's the artist's curse: we can't throw ANYTHING away that could be used as reference material.

    Roo, you thought of Smagsta Claus first, arrgh. But I can't complain, having been awol for so long. Let's see if I've lost any of what touch I may have had:

    LW1: SNL did a faabulous fake ad a number of years ago, for "Gaydol," I think it was called. It was for the parents of children exhibiting Fabulous characteristics. Little boys came up to their dads to show off their fabulousness, and of course the dads reacted by tossing down handfuls of Gaydol. I liked that fake ad. At least Mom and Dad don't seem like they need any.

    I hate skirts, dresses, accessories and other feminine trappings, so the boy can have mine!


    LW2: I don't know why these letter writers aren't pitching these ideas to reality show producers, or better yet, game show producers. Let him prove his know-it-all-ness to those guys. Or one where the menfolk challenge him to duels and such. But woe to them all if he DOES win!

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (more thunder)


    LW3: I thought that's what Facebook was FOR? She/He/It makes one of those pages that you can only "Like," and eventually she/he/it can claim 45,359 followers of the "HesaCheatingBastardImNottheBadGuy" page. Unless that name is already taken. Do some searches and use the Help system. Come on, I can't do everything for you!

    OR CAN I?? (lightning)


    LW4: being the artsy fartsy type, sometimes I make things for people. BUT - when I make something because of random inspiration, it's very difficult for me to even contemplate selling, let alone giving away. If I make something as a gift or to be sold, though, my brain says, "Do not form any attachments to this." And it works! Sometimes to the point where I wouldn't even want it back.

    So bitch has gotta let go. Or if it was a fabulous man, bastard has gotta let go. Trouble with friendships going away is, unless you're the in-your-face confrontational type, they never get the full story, or vice versa. Sad, but we can't all be my mother, who seems to still be friends with everyone she's ever been friends with!

    (movie lightning/thunder combo!)

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  19. Mermaid, your friend had a great attitude. Too many people want so much to "punish" the ex, that they don't seem to care that this is their chirdren's PARENT.

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  20. SB1, I omitted Elvis Stojko because I could not conceive of his being the favourite figure skater of a small boy who wants to wear a skirt.

    Ms Mermaid, I ought to refer people to you. I don't know how many times I have told someone who has just made an egregious error to reinforce the lesson learned by embroidering it on a sampler. Noone ever has. It's certainly a charmingly appropriate idea on your friend's part. I was always rather given to writing out calendars of selected quotations, generally running from one birthday of the recipient to the next. That did tend to lead to a foreseeable history.

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  21. Oh Captain Smag, I'm behind on the Christmas wishes and Hannukah wishes and the winter solstice ones,but there's yet time to wish you and all the Flysters a happy new year!

    (but how could it be 2011? What happened while I was taking just a wee bit of a nap?)

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  22. Ahoy, herdThinner! Wow, excellent special effects! Oscar-worth stuff, that! :-) My apologies for being out of touch this week, All. I'm traveling for the holidays and 'net access has been spotty. Here's hoping all will setting down just in time for tomorrow's post-Christmas Prudie Day. :-)

    Welcome back, herdThinner! It's good to see you! And, of course, much good cheer to you and your'n. ;-)

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  23. Ahoy, hrumpole. As for Elvis Stojko, I knew, of course, why you hadn't included him in your metrics. He's like some sort of overactive testosterone factory. On testosterone supplements. :-)

    I hope that you're having a wonderful holiday. Much good cheer! :-)

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  24. Ahoy, Kati! I have to admit to a bit of Rip VanWinkle-ism myself! I can't believe 2011 is as near as it is, either. But, there it is. And, I guess, given the choice, we may as well toast it in with English Breakfast tea and scones, eh? Or cake! With Nutella in the middle! Yay! :-)

    Anyway, happy new year to you, and to All! And much good cheer! :-)

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  25. Mmmm... Nutella...

    hrumpole, we'd make quite a team, you and I. Once, I embroidered a pair of throw pillows for the client chairs in my Lady Boss's office. (I shan't debate with you today the merits of that particular title, if you don't mind, except to explain that I used it to differentiate her in conversation from my other boss, my male boss, whom I always referred to simply, and with great affection, as "Sir".)

    Lady Boss, having practiced family law for many years, had distilled down a pair of responses which she instructed her clients to commit to memory and use when dealing from now on with their soon-to-be-ex. These responses were magic incantations, and had the power to forestall any further inquiry, avoid any debate, and smack down any wheedling. After hearing her similarly instruct every client about these phrases for several years, I knew I had the perfect gift idea. So, I designed and then charmingly (if I do say so myself) cross-stitched a matching pair of throw pillows in lovely shades of pink, rose, wine and ivy and moss green, with a border of blowsy roses on the vine (heavy on the thorns, of course) embellished with imported Austrian beads, with a beautifully elaborate extreme chancery cursive italic script, with the phrases:

    WHY DO YOU ASK? and

    I'M SORRY YOU FEEL THAT WAY.

    My boss loved them! If I had the time to stitch my own two pillows, they would say:

    TAKE NO THOUGHT OF THE MORROW, FOR SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF and

    THINGS TURN OUT BEST FOR PEOPLE WHO MAKE THE BEST OF THE WAY THINGS TURN OUT

    or in the alternative

    SAY WHAT YOU LIKE, BUT SUCH THINGS DO HAPPEN ~ NOT OFTEN, BUT THEY DO HAPPEN.

    What would yours be? If I could stitch two pillows for you, what would they say?

    Dang you, Diving Buddy, now you've got me craving English Breakfast tea, of all things! Hmmm...I wonder if I have a good scone recipe somewhere... ;)

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  26. Perhaps, "Could be worse" and "Friday's coming." Or if you prefer something more serious, "Life would BE more fair if people would ACT more fairly," and, "This too will pass."

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