Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! It’s final exam week here in The Lagoon. I’ve just completed one, and am now gearing up for another. Crazy days, indeed! But, far be it for me to miss a day at the dock! I hope that December is treating you all well--better than our poor Letter Writers, that’s for sure! And, speaking of those poor sods, let’s get crackin’ on their letters, shall we?
LW#1: Dear Prudie, I’m a high school senior who’s just discovered that Mr. A., my favorite teacher at my all-girls private school, is having sex with one of my closest friends and fellow student, Ms. Bee. We’ve known Mr. A. forever and he’s helped us through all sorts of rough times (divorcing parents, deaths of family members, etc.). I think of him as a father figure, yet, what he’s doing is so wrong on so many levels! What’s worse is that Ms. Bee wants to use me as cover so that she can spend the night with Ms. A. in a motel! I’m not sure what to do? Do I tell someone? I’m afraid of losing this friendship if I do the wrong thing. Signed, I’m Only Sixteen
Dear Sixteen. You had me at “all-girls private school”... Huh? What? Oh, your letter! Listen, there are so many problems with this letter that I don’t know where to start, but, let’s prioritize, okay? First off, and most importantly, no, you do not, under any circumstances, provide cover for this tryst. Tell your friend that, while what she does with her own time is her business, what you do with your time is yours. And lying for her is something that, a) you won’t do, and, b) not something a true friend would ever ask of you in the first place! If she’s adult and grown up enough to be having sex with a teacher, she’s adult and grown up enough to figure out for herself how to do it without involving her friends. Next on the priority list, though, is the throwing around of words and phrases by other advice columnists like “sexual predator”, “conquests”, “stalking of victims”, etc. Let’s get this straight. Based on what you’ve said, your friend is a victim only of bad judgment and of a poor taste in her fuck buddies. Her idiot teacher is an adult, yes, and technically breaking the law, yes, but it doesn’t sound, at all, like he’s victimizing her. Further, if the gender roles were reversed, I doubt there’d be so much moral outrage. Your friend is making a bad decision (she’s Ms.Bee-havin’...ba-dum-dum!), but, it’s not one that’s particularly uncommon at her age (sex with inappropriate people). And it’s certainly not one that has to (or even should) lead to arrests, jail time, court cases, trauma, late-life suicide, counseling, etc. It should end when your friend realizes she’s dating a 45 year old man (and all of the crap that that type of relationship implies)! And you need to stop with the “he’s having sex with her” bull. Try “they’re having sex.” It’s a lot more honest. And accurate. I’d advise telling your friend that you will not help her, and, too, that you want to hear no more about this unless it ever becomes a situation where she does become the victim of any form of abuse. Tell her that you don’t want to harm your friendship, but that you can’t be complicit in her geriatric love connection (you can say that un-ironically, I cannot, since, you know, I’m of the “geriatric” age that your teacher is). Good luck!
LW#2: Dear Prudie, my husband and I recently lost an infant child to SIDS. We’re understandably devastated, as is our family. We’re planning to spend Christmas with my in-laws, but, I just don’t have the heart or energy to buy a bunch of presents. So, to solve this, I want to spend time to buy our one niece something nice, and then, for our adult relatives, I want to purchase gift cards. My MIL, god bless her, is appalled by this idea, and, because she wants to “help us in our grief” (and, because I suspect she’s grieving, too) has instructed all of our in-laws to send us a Christmas list in order to “ease the effort of our gift-buying”. Prudie, I get nauseous even at the thought of doing that shopping. My MIL thinks she’s doing the right thing, but, she’s killing me. What can I do? Signed, Hurting and Being “Helped” Too Much
Dear Hurting. I’d send a note to your MIL that says, “Thank you, Mom, but I don’t have the energy to buy presents this year, and, no, I don’t want anyone’s help to do so. I want to fucking buy gift cards. Is that so fucking difficult?! It’s what I’m going to do, too. I’m sorry that it offends you, but, frankly, it fucking offends me that it offends you! Get the goddam fuck over yourself! Thank you, and God Bless you in this most wonderful time of the year. Love, Your Loving Daughter-in-Law.” You can take out the cussing if you want, but, the sentiment is clear, yeah? You’re the gift-giver. You want to give gift cards. Give them. They’ll be appreciated by those who are worth your time, and, for those who aren’t? Who cares?
LW#3: Dear Prudie, for the last many years I’ve included my daughter’s financially destitute best friend and her poor-ass, beggar, barely literate family in our Christmas celebration. They’ve been very gracious, well-behaved, and almost engaging on this day every year (and, truthfully, intelligence and affluence is often over rated in our dog-eat-dog society and it’s important to demonstrate graciousness from time to time, don’t you agree, Prudie?). Sadly, as my family has grown (my son is now married and has a child, and my daughter is engaged), I don’t have room for this family of vagabonds. There’s just no longer any room at the table. I feel, um, guilty that I won’t be able to
Dear Pretentious Prick Asshole. Congratulations on the growth of your blood family. May the blood that binds you all continue to be a source of great pride for you and yours. No, you have no moral obligation to anyone, least of all, people upon whom you so obviously look down your nose. So, you know, free yourself of guilt and continue encouraging your blood family to grow. Me personally? There’s only one thing that gets someone uninvited from my table, and that’s rude assholery. And that occurs in equal proportion among my blood family and non-blood family. Matter of fact, I find the idea of family to be defined as those who I identify with as family, not those whose DNA indicates a biological accident of similarity. But that’s me. I have a feeling that this family whom you’ve been gracing with your benevolence will be just fine this year without you. May you be equally as well off. And may you live long, and prosper.
(Update! 12/11/2010: Longtime reader JayJay had this to say to LW#3, and, it was so powerful that I felt in needed to be included right here. Sometimes, you just have to recognize a good smackdown when you see it.
From JayJay to LW#3: You suck. Congratulations, you win the Shitty McShittypants award of the year. I hope your tree catches on fire. I hope you choke on your turkey. I hope your presents are actually gift-wrapped dogshit. I hope you drink too much eggnog and throw up.
All I have to say bout that? Amen, JayJay. And to all, a good night.)
LW#4: Dear Prudie. I like to contribute money to my grand-niece’s college fund for Christmas every year. I have three other grand neice’s/nephews by my sister’s other children, but, they have never acknowledged a single gift from me (from weddings to births to holidays). I would like to continue gifting just the one, appreciative niece’s daughter in this way, but, my sister manages the kids’ college funds, so, she’ll know if I don’t start putting some toward each child. Is there a kind way to give to only the family to which I’m close? Signed, My Sister Has Only One Good Kid
Dear Gift-Giver. Of course you can give to whomever you want, whatever you want. The issue here is not the gifts, however, but rather, your relationship with your sister and how you fear it may suffer. I’d discuss this with her! Why not? Explain to her why you feel the way you do! Too, I’d recognize that the children are not at fault for their parents’ sins. That’s not to say that you should give them gifts, but, perhaps you could consider putting aside money for each child that you, yourself, manage. Attempt to get to know the children on their own terms (ignoring their relation to their rude parents). Some may share your interests? If, as they grow, you see that they’re demonstrating the ability to move past their parents’ rudeness and, too, if you feel they could benefit from your largess, by all means, give them the money you’ve saved. If you do not see that it’d help, go to Europe with it! On you! Win-win! Good luck!
Well, Shippers, that about does it! I’ve got to get back to schoolwork, but, before I do, let me wish for you a wonderful and happy day and weekend, and, fair winds and following seas to you all! And Cornish game hens for your plates this weekend. They’re yummy!