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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

...on Anal, Pregnant, Divorced Dinner Partiers!

http://www.slate.com/id/2280953/ (01/13/2011) <---Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found There

Hey hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I hope that wherever you are you’re happy, healthy and warm (not necessarily in that order, depending on just how cold it is where you are, but, certainly all of those wishes in some order). I was traveling yesterday, so am late to the Lagoon, but I’m sure that my incredibly capable, witty and gorgeous Diving Buddy has kept you well-entertained? Did she cook for you? If no, that’s your loss, as there’s nothing in this world that she can’t prepare given even a meager stick, an aluminum pie pan, a paper clip, and a fire! Mmm-mmm! Anyhoo, I’m back, and, even though I can’t cook, and I’m not nearly as enchanting as my Diving Buddy, I hope these answers will serve as a nice addition to your visit. So, that said, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudence, I began dating a man last summer and we’ve gotten very serious. He’s the greatest man that ever entered into a relationship with anyone, ever, and I’m the luckiest person alive! The only snag is that now, after many months, he’s told me that he really enjoys anal sex. To the point that it’s a make-or-break requirement for the relationship! We’ve tried a couple of times, but I could never get comfortable. What should I do? Just go for it and see if I can learn to deal with it, or, tell him that I’ll never enjoy it as much as he does and have it end the relationship? Signed, I Like My Friends To Come Through The Front Door

Dear Back Door Lover Hater. You answer is simple. Your “great” catch of a man has explained how important anal sex is to his happiness in a relationship. You’ve simply got to decide if he’s worth it. That’s it. Period. Provided he’s not an evil, manipulative asshole (other than over this issue), it’s honestly as simple as that. That may sound like I’m encouraging you to bite the bullet and give him the anal sex he desires. I’m not. I’m asking you to pull out a set of scales and weigh the pros and cons. Honestly weigh them. Fact is, you may come to enjoy anal sex, but, you may also come to resent the hell out of it, with each session feeling more and more like a defeat at his hands rather than like the wonderful, mutual, consensual and enjoyable act it should be. Seems to me that anyone, after so many months, who places a requirement like that on a relationship, isn’t worth it. But, that’s just me. At the same time, he’s made his position exceptionally clear, which is sort of honorable in its own way. You’ve got to make your decision and you’re the only one who can do it. If you do want to give it a try, one would hope such a “great” catch as your boyfriend supposedly is would understand your reservations and try to accommodate them by attempting to make you feel loved and comfortable and that you’re in a safe and trustworthy place. If he can’t manage that? Then your scales are broken if you choose him regarding any ultimatum he gives.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, I’m in my mid-20s, pregnant, and happily engaged. My future MIL is thrilled with the news of our upcoming nuptials and the future family member. So much so, in fact, that she’s offered, as a gift, to pay off my considerable student loans. My future husband supports this idea as it would take significant financial strain off of us as we head into the future. My future SILs, two women in their 40s and childless, are not so excited, however. One even accused me of getting pregnant for the financial gain! I would love to accept the money, Prudie, but don’t want to ruin what I hope will be a good and lengthy relationship with my future SILs. What should I do? Signed, Between a Financial Rock and a Family Member Hard Place

Dear Stuck. This is a nasty situation, and one that you should not be having to handle, nor even involved in, actually. This one is for your future husband to handle between his sisters and their mother. One can understand, for example, if you’d just met your husband three months ago, got pregnant, engaged and moved-in together in that time span, how the sisters might be concerned about a significant outlay of what they see as part of their future inheritance--and to an essentially-unknown person! That’s just raw human nature, frankly, and actually understandable on a base level (if not at all savory). What’s not human nature, however, is the sister actually saying anything about it, since, a) it’s not her money to give, and, b) it’s none of her fucking business! What this whole situation for you is is a harbinger. Heed it.  But, too, what’s said is said, and there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. I would suggest that your future-husband take the following steps. Step 1, talk to the mother and sisters, together, about the concerns. Step 2, have the gift be to him, not to you, for him to use as he sees fit. You should not accept the gift from the future MIL as you don't need to be in debt to her in any way.  Step 3, agree that if no other similar gifts have ever been given to the other sisters, that you and your husband will accept an amount of inheritance less than the others by the amount of the gift now, or, that the mother should give equal-valued gifts to the sisters. If the sisters have any issues after that? You have no future relationship with them anyway, and should ignore them from here on out until they can act like adults. I realize this seems a very pragmatic and sterile way to handle this issue, which is, essentially, your future MIL’s, and only your future MIL’s business to handle. But, alas, family drama is as family drama does. Such is life. Good luck!

LW#3: Dear Prudie: My parents divorced when I was young and so I grew up living with my mother. My father remarried to a heinous, evil, conniving, jealous bitch of a woman. She made it known over the years that I was not only unwelcome in her home, but that I was a nuisance when there (they lived on another coast and I visited over the summer, etc.). Well, after high school, my father agreed to pay for my college education. Things were all set, but then my step mother called one day and said that my father had had a heart attack and that his dying wish was to see me, but that she wasn’t going to allow it.  This turned out to be a complete lie.  After that, I broke ties with that side of the family and have lived over a decade without hearing from them. Recently, my step sister and father have tried to make contact, but I’m very uncomfortable with the idea. Should I tell my father what his wife did? Should I explain myself? Signed, Shunned

Dear Shunned Daughter. You were very young at the time and so probably hadn’t learned to stand up for yourself, which perhaps explains why you didn't say something then. But you’re a full-grown adult now. You’ve got an easy decision to make. Do you want a relationship with your father or not? And, know that you don’t have to make a permanent decision! You can say to yourself, “I think I want a trial period to see if he’s worth it.” You’re allowed! If you decide yes, then you’ve got to, a) tell your father exactly what happened, and, b) tell him that he chose his wife over you back then, that you’re sure that he knew and knows what type of woman she is, and that, now that you’re an adult, you will hold him responsible for being one, too. Explain that you won’t play his wife's games, that you won’t enter into any more family drama, and that you won’t be manipulated by his wife in any way. Tell him that if he wants a relationship with you, it’ll be one that first proves that you’re not chattel to be discarded every time his wife comes up with some new story about you. Finally, tell him that the kind of threat your step mother made was more serious than you ever care to deal with again, that it wasn’t just jealous, it was mean, manipulative and shitty, and that if he doesn’t address it with her now and in the future, you won’t ever be in her presence again. And mean it.  Those should be the only conditions under which you're willing to try.

LW#4: Dear Prudie, my husband and I throw parties and dinners pretty frequently and mostly really enjoy the experience. One couple that we often invite is sort of an exception. They’re wonderful people, but, they don’t know when to go home, often staying hours past other guests, and sometimes even past midnight! What can we do? Does etiquette allow for kicking them out? What’s most strange is that the wife of this couple is an etiquette maven and gets very bent out of shape when breaches occur. How to handle this? Signed, (Mostly) Happy Partiers

Dear Hostess, you’ve got to let your expectations be known upfront, in the invitations to your parties. You can even use the suffix “-ish” after the quitting time, if you want to remain a little flexible, but, list the end time, no matter what. If your friends stay later than you want, simply say, “Jack and Jill, we’ve had a wonderful time, but, we’ve got a busy day tomorrow and need to wrap things up. We look forward to seeing you soon.” Do not, under any circumstances, explain what’s busy about your tomorrow. If Jill sees this as a social faux pas, so be it. Because you’ve made your intentions clear on your invitation, no one will give a shit what Jill thinks about it. And, if she does make too much of a big deal about it, one wonders what could be so great about having Jack and Jill over in the first place? As a caveat, however, I suspect that Jack and Jill might just feel really comfortable with you, and feel that their relationship with you is closer and more special than with other party goers, and they may believe that you actually enjoy the after-party alone time with them as much as they enjoy spending time with you. By being clear in your invitations, and then gentle but direct in your request that the party end, you allow them a graceful out and get your wish, too. Here’s hoping!

****
Well, Shippers, that’s it from this side of the Lagoon. I smell some lovely cooking from the other side, though, and, mistaken or not, I think that I actually hear someone watching an NCIS marathon over there?! Well, Shippers, sorry to be rude, but, NCIS means that this party’s over! I’m heading over to the other side! Fair winds and following seas, Shippers!

30 comments:

  1. asking for a "friend"January 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

    1) thou shall not bugger!!! :).

    2) take all the money and put it on the bed and then roll around in it and send pix to the jealous ones; :).

    3) tell them they reap what they sow! :).

    have a good NCIS marathon!

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  2. Ahoy, Captain!

    My goodness, what has come over you this morning, Smag? You make me sound like a veritable MacGyver in the galley! And here I was, just minding my own business, whipping up a little croquembouche for breakfast... ;)

    Yes, with bacon! Of course!

    You are the only person who has pointed out what I've been too hesitant to bring up ~ the *somewhat shady* circumstances of the first LW. Anyone else notice there's a 20+ age gap between the LW and her boyfriend? Okay, I know, I know, *meow* When she says she's in her mid 20s and her boyfriend (excuse me, fiance) is in his mid 40s, I'll bet they're 22 and 47, respectively. So, everyone thinks they're all set and all of a sudden, this little chippie shows up, hooks the brother, and mom is ready to pay off her *considerable student loans*? I don't know, Smag ~ something smells fishy to Mermaid!

    Your advice to have the gift be to the brother was spot on. The mother may have the best of intentions but I wouldn't want to have *but I paid off your student loans* hanging over my head for the rest of my life. Nuh uh.

    Something else that wasn't mentioned ~ I don't know what the LW's family is like, but this situation is exactly like one of those Victorian gothic novels where the heroine who is all alone in the world marries into a wealthy family with older sisters and she goes to stay with them until the birth of the baby, and she never leaves the house again...bwahahaha. On a more realistic note, they sound like the type of family that has the means at their disposal to take the child from her someday, if things don't work out between her and her husband. And, given this family, I have some doubts they will... I'd proceed with caution if I were her. Just saying.

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  3. As for LW#3 ~ well, I almost don't even know what to say to that! Why is there such a disconnect between the daughter and her father? Is he not allowed to use the phone? Or the internet? Why does all communication seem to go through the wife or the stepdaughter? When the stepmother lied, and the lie was found out, why didn't the daughter call her father right away? She had college tuition riding on this!!! I can't believe she just cut her dad off like that ~ and I can't believe her dad just let her do it! If my child suddenly dropped out of my life, just as they were about to go off to college THAT I'D OFFERED TO PAY FOR ~ I sure as heck would try to find out what happened! Unless, maybe he was a little *relieved* he wouldn't have to now...?

    Sure, I blame the stepmother for being a stupid, mean, jealous bitch ~ but brush that aside and I can't hold her responsible for anything after that. The problem is not the stepmother ~ it is the father who let it all happen. The father that didn't try and see his daughter more than once every other year when she was growing up. And the father that didn't try and contact his daughter after she dropped out of his life FOR TEN YEARS!!!

    Sorry for shouting, Sweetie. :(

    Why do bitchy women always seem to marry weak men that aid and abet their bitchery? That's a question for the ages...

    Actually, would you like to know what I've been planning for dinner tonight? It's a bit of a splurge, because I feel a bit celebratory about some things today. I was going to make Steak Vaquero, which is a seasoned grilled ribeye steak, topped with ~ get this ~ a cheese enchilada, smothered in homemade enchilada sauce. And more melted cheese. I know, right? :D I like to serve this with warm flour tortillas on the side, and I thought I'd try my hand at homemade for the first time tonight! I found a good recipe, and there's someone special I'd like to make them for, very Soon ~ so wish me luck! :)

    I hope you had a wonderful trip, although I missed you dreadfully! I did try to keep everyone entertained in your absence, Diving Buddy, the best way Mermaid knows how. I didn't think of COOKING for everyone, though. ;)

    See you on the other side, Captain Smagtastic! :*

    (NCIS? Isn't that the show with that poor hideously deformed creature with the man-hands? No not Mark Harmon, the other one, the one with the unibrow...) :P

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  4. Would that LW#2's future SIL have writtin instead! You could have admonished her that "her" future inheritance is not hers at all, and could even now be willed to the preservation of the Australian Dung Beetle, and there'd be little she could do about that. She could sue the estate, of course, but that wouldn't provide any guaranty of future fortunes. Moreover, the LW's prospective MIL could have the bulk of her funds currently invested in the next Intel to go belly-up. You could even have advised the sister to encourage her mother to enjoy the fruits of her (or her late family members') labors and to plan to die with barely enough left to bury her.

    Alas, it was the one to be profiting from the woman's good fortune who instead asked for advice. Not much to admonish there, except to remind her that as this is a gift, she will not actually owe the woman anything. This may be a way to ensure access to the future granchild, or it may just be beneficence on her part to ensure that said child not grow up in a home where money is unduly scarce. Hopefully, all parties involved (which does not include the benefactor's daughters) will view this gift as the unconditional act of kindness it purports to be.

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  5. Ahoy, asking for a "friend"! I love the picture advice! Say, maybe she could send a copy to us, too, you know just for being supportive? ;-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  6. Mermaid, I'd wondered about the age disparity, as well. Unless she pursued an advanced degree while working full time, I agree the LW's probably pretty young, early to mid-twenties. Given that ALL the sisters are in their 40s, I'd also say probably that the husband to be is, as well, but that's not a given. He could be the baby brother, the child born out of "celebrating menopause" a little to early. (Then again, he could also be the older brother.) It's even possible he's the half-brother by a 2nd, less wealthy husband than the father of the sisters, which might explain a bit toward their over-zealousness in guarding their family fortune.

    Or not.

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  7. Ahoy, Diving Buddy! Mmmm, bacon! ;-)

    Yepper, we agree on LW#1. As for LW#3, I agree with you, too. I wasn't clear enough about it, you're correct, but this is an issue with the dad. I did advise her to say some very specific things to her dad, including that she'll hold *him* responsible to her from now on, without allowing for the step-mom as an excuse. And, you nailed it when you asked why weak men seek out and marry bitch-tendency women (or, just as likely, it's the women who seek enabling men?). But, yes, no excuse for the dad. He failed in his duties. He was the adult, he was the father, and he failed. Period.

    As for the Steak Vaquero, not only will I wish you good luck, but, I'll request that, you know, if you don't mind, you send me a portion or two, packed neatly with dry ice! OMG, that sounds INCREDIBLE! :-)

    Now, finally, and sadly, I have to challenge you to a smackdown, MM, as I can only assume by "poor hideously deformed creature with the man-hands? No not Mark Harmon, the other one, the one with the unibrow..." that you're speaking of Cote de Pablo, the incredibly talented, gorgeous, mostly-regular-sized-hands-having actress who carries that excellent show! That is glove-slapping-the-face talk, Sister. But, if you'll agree to send some of the Steak Vaquero, perhaps we could call it even? ;-)

    Much good cheer, Diving Buddy! :-*

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  8. Ahoy and good cheer, CoolOne! I agree with you about LW#1. And yes, I would have laid the smackdown on the sister had she written in (I hope I made that clear!), but, I'm with MM in that, even if this gift is purportedly strings-free, there's far too much potential for nastiness here. And "considerable student loans" speaks to me as in the tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars. Too much for a gift to a non-family member to accept, in my book, anyway. Well, let me clarify: too much for *me* to accept. But, as I can only offer advice from my perspective... Truth is, I thought Prudie was wrong in suggesting she take it. Too many potential problems. I believe that my solution is the more elegant of the two if the money is to be taken.

    Regardless, though, I certainly recognize and honor your points! :-)

    Much good cheer, CoolOne! :-)

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  9. Cool One ~ about the age of the brother ~ the letter is a bit confusedly written, but it says:

    "My fiance has two older sisters, and all three of them are in their 40s and childless."

    So all three of them, brother and two sisters, are in their 40s, and the two sisters are older than him. And guessing how the LW wants to hedge things, I'm guessing they're on the faaaar end of their 40s. :)

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  10. ***Cote de Pablo, the incredibly talented, gorgeous...actress who carries that excellent show!***

    *snort!* Yeah! She carries it in her great big man-hands!

    oo burn! :*8>--{

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  11. Smag, I'm disagreeing with you on the student loan thing. It's meant as a gift to HER, not her fiance, and it has a specific purpose. If you're all squicked out by the amount, rest assured, the future MIL is not. It's a gift. Prego-girl can take it graciously and tell the sister to go (insert something really nasty here).

    If she REALLY doesn't want to put her hands on that check, she can also arrange for MIL to just transfer the funds directly to the bank that holds the loan. Problem solved.

    As to the future SIL - I never got the "you're spending my inheritance" thing. Doesn't she have a job? How is she living now? How greedy IS the silly bitch? Hasn't she considered that there's more than enough money to go around?

    Questions for the ages.

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  12. Ahoy, Messy! I am normally of the same mind as you on this. Take the gift! That's almost always my sentiment. Be it from a friend or from a relative, etc. If the offerer can afford it, and graciously wants to give it, take it. But, in this case, I where not everyone is on the same footing (family versus non-family), where the money can used as a leverage regarding how a child is raised, where so many icky potentials exist, I think my solution is more elegant. It still gets the results that you suggest (payment of the loan), but, it does so in a way to where all participants of the exchange are on equal footing.

    Yes, though, you're correct in asking your questions for the ages! :-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  13. Ahoy Captain! Glad you made it back! And yes, Mermaid, please pretty please send me a couple of portions of that scrumptuous meal (one for my partner, but I might not give it to him....).

    I too tend to disagree with the way you look at the student loan. In all cases I am aware of this has been done, it has always been paid directly to the holder of the loan, not to the debtor.... So the point is moot about the son figuring out how he wants to use the dough.

    As for the will, the future MIL can promise anything but also can write anything she wants on her will. If she doesn't have a will, her estate will be shared equally between her three kids.

    I suspect the pregnant bride to be had no idea that her MIL to be was going to offer to pay off her student loans, so I don't think she schemed to get her to do it.... She's probably working and her husband and child will benefit from her work which will have benefitted from her college and or her grad school education. So the MIL will benefit as well because her grandkid and perhaps future grandkids will not have to live in poverty.....

    There is no mention in the letter that the future sisters in law and the future husband also have unpaid student loans? This would mean that their mother was able to pay for the the whole cost of their college education so they didn't have to take loans. Now that the LW is going to becomee part of the family and even produce more members, wouldn't it be logical for the MIL to pay off her student loans and allow her son and grandkid to have as comfortable a life as her other children?

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  14. Smaggy, I hate to disagree with you, but I will anyway. LW#1 commented further on the front page comments yesterday. She and B/F were casual f/buddies since August. He told her then that he enjoyed anal. They became exclusive in December. He's told her recently (I'm guessing very shortly after they became exclusive, because it hasn't been that long that they've been exclusive) that anal is part of what he needs in a fully satisfying relationship. There is nothing asshaty about this line of communication, that I can see.
    It would be like me explaining to my boyfriend early on that I enjoy oral. And then making it clear that I couldn't be happy in a relationship with no oral. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it sounds to me like the LW just wants someone to say something magical to her that will undo her mental hang-ups, or make her realize that her prince charming who hates anal will one day come along, if she just waits.
    I don't think she needs a smack-down, and I do think you are right that what she has to do is a serious pro/cons list for this relationship so she can make her decision, but I'm not buying any smack-down on the B/F for this situation.

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  15. Mermaid, I think bitchy women go for men who don't stand up for themselves (or their children) for the same reason that abusive men go for mousy women with no self esteem. They're the only ones who will let them get away with it.

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  16. I thought both Prudie and the commenters were being rather hard on LW2's future-SiL.

    I mean, yes, she could be a total jerk. And yes, suggesting out loud to LW's face that LW got pregnant for financial gain isn't kosher, assuming that's what actually happened and LW didn't just hear about it secondhand. (THINKING it, on the other hand, is almost inevitable under the circumstances.)

    But at the same time, we're talking about Mom giving what's almost certainly tens of thousands of dollars to someone who isn't even a part of the family yet. Unless Mom is, has, or intends to make comparable size gifts to her other children, giving THAT MUCH money to the GF of one sibling and not giving anything to the others is a recipe for resentment right there.

    I mean, YES, it's Mom's money. YES, she can do whatever she wants with it. But I think it would take a saint to be totally complacent while one sibling (and not even the sibling, but the GF of the sibling) gets enormous financial gifts from Mom and the others get nothing.

    There are two factors I wonder about from the letter. Notice that there's two older sisters, and then the BF as the youngest? I wonder if Mom and Dad kept trying until they got THE BOY! who was then favored over his sisters? Dunno. Could be completely off-base, but the fact that Mom even thinks giving so generously to one sibling and not the others is appropriate makes me wonder she's ALWAYS given BF favored treatment, and thus this situation is tapping into old, and frankly justified, resentments.

    Given LW's comments about how Mom "is over the moon about becoming a grandmother" I'm also willing to bet there's a whole, "Why didn't you girls give me a grandbaby? Daughters are supposed to make grandbabies! Now your brother has finally given me a grandbaby and so HE'S the most important one now because of the GRANDBABY!" thing going on here. If the SiLs have always felt pressured/judged by Mom for failure to produce offspring, then rewarding their brother's new squeeze to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for conceiving is, again, playing into old and long-running family resentments.

    Now, arguably none of this is LWs fault. But if she's planning on staying in this family in the long run, she needs to be aware of what sorts of family dramas she's being used as a pawn in.

    I think your advice is excellent: to make it very clear that LW only wants the gift if it represents an equitable financial distribution among the three siblings. I mean, yes, as I said before, it's Mom's money and she can do what she wants with it. But treating some of her children much better than others is a shabby thing to do. Totally aside from future relationships with SiLs, do you really want to be a part of something shabby, LW?

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  17. I just spent about three hours writing the letter from the polite sister back at the Fray. While I would enjoy seeing Ms Messy tell the Seething Sister where to go, I don't think I'm terribly crazy about LW2. She strikes me as the gloss-over type. Notice how her style smudges over that the pregnancy came before the engagement and that the baby's father/her fiance is old enough to be her father. (If only the fiance could turn out to have a long-lost child about as old as LW2; was there not once a situation comedy starring someone like Jimmy Stewart with two boys about 8-10 years old and the younger boy was the older boy's uncle?) But this letter is a great improvement on, say, what might have been the original Freecreditreport.com scenario ("If I'd gone to freecreditreport.com, I'd be a happy bachelor with a dog and a yard.").

    I don't think LW2 has been scheming or conniving, but shall decline to join the group considering her a heroine in potential distress. Bravo for noting the conspicuous absence of the fiance from the discussion.

    One could certainly see one of the sisters expressing concern to her brother. I'd hate to be one of the sisters and have to admit afterwards, "Well, yes, I knew it was quacking and waddling, but I didn't think it was my place to call it Donald." For all we know, maybe the polite sister has done exactly that. I really want to hear from the polite sister.

    I am tempted to predict that, before the fifth anniversary of my death, Ms Mermaid will marry someone younger than her son, but I shall refrain from such a prediction because it would turn out just like Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and I should not want to influence anyone either to fall in with or to contradict anything I foresee.

    There are so many possibilities with this situation. But I do strongly suspect that the Rude Sister has been a big Rule Follower all her life. Or just possibly she once got pregnant but marriage wasn't an option and for some reason to do with keeping up appearances she reluctantly terminated. It doesn't justify, but it explains.

    And speaking of keeping up appearances, I had better go to bed now before I go to L4 and write the letter from Richard Bucket.

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  18. Smagtasmic!


    LW1 - when I read Prudie's headline, I was afraid it was going to be about oral. I'm not crazy about even standard sex, but even the mere passing thought of oral gives me the shudders, so my reaction to the LW's back door dilemma was, "Meh." I'd probably be like Joan Rivers about it. Still seems a mite unsanitary to me, though.

    LW2 - this family sounds way too familiar. Not the LW's situation, but the whole thing about money and how certain family members "are" about it. It's just... nah, too familiar. Any anecdotes would take way too long.

    BUT - I don't get the sense from the letter that future MIL would try any emotional blackmail stuff later, like try to influence how the kid is raised, etc. She could just be like my rich sister, who enjoys randomly showering people with expensive gifts, no strings attached.

    LW3 - yikes. Just yikes


    LW4 - ALL RIGHT, I ADMIT IT!! I USED TO BE THE THING THAT WOULDN'T LEAVE! IT WAS ME, OKAY?? HAPPY NOW??


    Back then my reason for lingering, such as it was, was due a reluctance to return to my own life, which was dull by comparison. Now I'm so busy with pretty much everything in my life, that I can't be bothered with a social life unless a family member drags me into some activity.

    Anyway, The Lingerers could linger for a similar reason: they don't perceive their life back home as interesting enough to return to.

    Or they just like hanging with those peeps, a lot.

    I got nothin' else here.

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  19. Ahoy, Kati! And greetings! :-) Oh, I understand how the loan would be paid! It would go directly to loaning agency. But, regardless, it would be a gift to the LW. If the gift is given from the future MIL to the son/fiancé for *him* to bestow up his future wife, then the gift is kept "within the family" and the LW isn't directly beholden to the future MIL, but, also, the sisters would have considerably less leverage to bitch since the gift was given to the son, not the not-as-of-yet DIL/LW. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. And that's fine! :-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  20. Ahoy, Libby! Where've you been of late?! We've missed you here in the Lagoon. :-) Given the new information that you provide, I agree with you 100%. I was going only on the information in the letter, and, from that information only, it seemed as if they'd been together since May and only now, in the last few weeks, did he bring up this "make or break" rule. Only as such would I give him any snark. So, given the new info, and Libby's admonishment, I'll withdraw my BF criticism provided the new info is true. My advice to the LW, however, still stands. :-)

    Much good cheer, Libby! :-)

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  21. Bethany, I agree with you that it's totally fair for the future SIL to question the LW (within the confines of her own mind). But, not out loud! The fact is, regardless of how angry she was (and even regardless of righteous she felt in her anger), in the end, it is her mother's money to give as her mother sees fit. As I advised, were I the LW, I wouldn't take it as offered, but, that doesn't mean that the MIL doesn't have the right to give it. And SIL, no matter how rightfully angry she may have felt, should have not verbalized the feeling--especially to the LW, and in such a way! But, as I say, I do understand her questons/concerns. :-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

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  22. Greetings, hrumpole! Excellent analysis. I reckoned that you would be able to find a parallel between this letter and one of Jane Austen's novels. Surely there are some?!

    I'll have to go find your writings from the polite sister on The Fray to see your additional take on the situation.

    As for MM marrying someone half her age, I think that, for mermaids, that's almost a foregone conclusion and they're immortal, and far past judging based on age, gender or religious preference. ;-)

    Much good cheer, hrumpole! :-)

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  23. Ahoy, herdThinner! I believe that if you're not into oral to the point of revulsion, you should not be made to perform oral! Of course, I believe the same of any supposedly mutual and consensual act between two caring adults.

    As for your take on LW#4, I worried that I, too, may have been the bad guest at times! :-) Sometimes it's just fun to be with people! It's a shame that, in this case, the LW doesn't feel the same about the late-staying couple, but, I have a feeling that they'll come to miss them when they begin departing with the other guests. Perhaps, anyway. ;-)

    Much good cheer, and, no good oral wishes for you! ;-)

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  24. I did nearly point out that the best case scenario for LW2 regarding the age difference would be Emma Woodhouse, whose eventual husband George Knightley was sixteen when she was born.

    The letter from the polite sister was a little fantasy that just completely snowballed. But I liked devising an individual secret that each of the four major participants doesn't know. The polite sister may well know all, or nearly all.

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  25. Dearest Smag,

    I've been able to catch up on a few missed epistles, and am SO glad to be reading your wisdom once again. I was specifically going to agree with your advice to LW2, and how I wouldn't want to be beholden to MY MIL fer nuthin.

    Then I read your commenters here, and my thoughts went two directions:

    1. Wouldn't this all be a little easier if people would be more specific in their original letters (or P's 'editors' would include more detail)? So much of the speculation on these boards is because we don't have the info we need. How MUCH money is the loan? How much do you make? What is the estimated size of the estate? How old/what genders are everybody? Seems like a little specificity wouldn't kill the LWs.

    2. What if YOU were an older widow whose wise decisions netted you 300,000 a year. Your house is paid off, you have no real debt, and you have a kind, generous soul. You have three children, all of whom you tried to give the best of everything as they grew. Fun vacations, toys, great clothes. The girls just ate this stuff up, but your son was quite happy with less. Maybe much less. He would get a new computer or game system, and he was pretty much done. The girls, however, loved to go shopping with you, and that's what you did. Through the years, you know that you've spent exponentially as much money on your daughters than on your easily contented son.

    Then your son tells you that he's engaged to a young woman and a grandbaby is on the way. You are thrilled for all of you. Your generous heart instantly begins to look for a way to express itself. During a casual conversation, home ownership comes up, and you learn that your son will not be able to afford a home just now, as his wife-to-be is trying to finish nursing school, and his salary as a high-school teacher wasn't enough to handle a mortgage as well as...(ahem)other things. After some prying you learn that your future DIL has $55,000 in school loans.

    If you thought about it, you might use the justification of having spent SO much more on your daughters through their lives than you spent on this son, who never took a dime after graduating college. If you thought about it, you might say "It's my money, I'll do as I please!" If you thought about it, you might have made some sort of similar gesture to your daughters. But you didn't think of it. You simply saw a need that you could fill without it hurting you one bit. So you do.

    =

    I guess I'm just saying that if I had lots of money and anyone I cared about needed some, I would give it to them. It would make me HAPPY to give it to them.
    (This is likely why I don't have lots of money.)

    Seems sad to live in a world where pure motives are rarely considered.

    My buck-an-a-quarter.

    AZ

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  26. "The polite sister may well know all, or nearly all." -hrumpole

    I love this perspective, hrumpole! ;-)

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  27. Ahoy, skoorbza! Welcome back! Holy smokes, we've missed you! Welcome, welcome, welcome!

    As for your thoughts, does it surprise you that I agree with you, 110%? I totally agree that, at the core of this issue, the gift-giver has every right to give as she sees fit. No doubt, whatsoever. And, too, that, in an ideal world, the SIL would have gone to the gift-offering MIL and questioned her, rather than accusing the LW of being a money-grubbing, leg-spreading slore (credit to hrumpole for that word).

    So, had the LW in this case been the MIL, and had *she* written in with the situation you outline, I would have suggested that the gift-giving MIL speak with the sister and let her know, in no uncertain terms, that the SIL is being a selfish little bitch and that she (the LW) was going to do whatever in fuck she wanted with *her* money, so help her god, and, if SIL kept it up, she might be seeing less and less of said money and benefits from it!

    Too, on another tack, had the SIL written in with concerns of "some little sleeze stealing *her* money", I would have advised that she speak with the gift-giving MIL about her concerns. But that she might want to check her greed meter!

    As it is, though, we have the LW we have. In her shoes, not yet even a part of the family, I advised what I think is the most equitable and elegant solution for family-peace (although the future SIL may be one of those people who can never allow peace). It is not, however, a solution that I wish was necessary. I much prefer your desired world where pure motives are actually considered and where there are no assholes in! :-)

    Much good cheer, skoorbza! And welcome back!

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  28. Hmm. Has it occurred to anyone that the sister went after the LW BECAUSE she knows that if she whined to Mommy, Mommy would tell her to pound sand? Perhaps this sister has been riding the gravy train for so long that all she sees in her future SIL is competition.

    I stand by my previous answer and add this. No child has a right to expect that their parents will give them money. A lot of elder abuse has to do with money, and it's an old, old story that some children will take the opportunity (and the power of attorney) to strip their parents bank accounts because "it's only fair.

    My grandmother did this to her mother, leaving a very elderly lady with nothing, alone in a house and losing her memory. It was my mother who arranged for nursing visits, Meals on Wheels and later a nursing home. Now I'll grant you that my gran is both barking mad and mean as a snake, but in this instance, she was acting as many have.

    I know I'm an exception, but I never accepted money from my parents, nor did I ask for any. That's why we work and save for ourselves. The Boy's parents plan on dying broke as well, and I say they should go for it. THEY were the ones that earned their money, and THEY are the ones that should have fun with it.

    What are we saving for, anyway?

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  29. Ahoy Smaggy! I've gotten crazy-busy with my offline life, and haven't had the time to come visit the lagoon. All good crazy-busy, just crazy busy. I was, however, glad to see things rolling along about as usual when I was able to stop back in.

    Cheers!

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