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.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

...on Heathens, Idiots, Pearls, and Bikinis (5/12/2011) <---Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey Hidey-ho, Shippers! How in the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? I hope that you’re happy, healthy, well-fed, well-coffeed, and, that those around you (be they family, friends and/or co-workers) are decent, supportive, non-insane, genuinely nice individuals. Apparently, none of those wishes are guaranteed in this life, so, I hope them doubly for you all! Every day. :-) Especially the well-coffeed part! Speaking of, I was recently given some Vietnamese instant coffee. I thought to myself, “Instant coffee? Ewww!” But it is actually really nice! And robust! And quite fully zoomied, too! :-) It won’t keep me totally away from my various K-Cups, but, it’s a really nice treat and worth the effort to get, in my humble opinion. Anyway, my coffee habits aside, let’s get crackin’, shall we?

LW#1: Dear Prudie, I come from a family and tradition of staunch Christianity. Recently, I find that I’ve lost my faith. I’m quite at peace with the personal spiritual ramifications of where I now find myself, but, I’m worried about how my family, friends, and, worst of all, my wife will feel and react. I still attend church and have not shared my quandary with anyone else, but, it seems quite dishonest to not do so. I’m scared of losing everything if I do share this information (and I’m pretty sure I will if I do), but, even worse, I’m afraid that not telling my wife is even more dishonest (and thus wrong) than the pain it’ll cause us both if I do tell her. What should I do? Signed, Morally Confused

Dear Fellow Atheist. Don’t worry! Surely you know from your years of indoctrination that morality is a Christian-only characteristic and that those who have no faith can’t possibly have any morals. Ergo, you can now treat people as horribly as you’d like with no worry about the ramifications because, you know, only good Christian people treat other people with honor, dignity and/or respect. As such, lying to people about your deepest inner feelings about God is something that you can now do without concern. Matter of fact, if you ever become president, you can use this same tactic while justifying all manner of Hell on Earth. And what’s good enough for a former president, surely, is good enough for you, a newly faithless Heathen, right? Right!

Perhaps you’ve noticed I’m being a bit shitty about this? Yes, I am. I won’t go into why, but, perhaps the paragraph above, even though it’s sanctimonious, will be a clue. The Bible said something (in Psalms, Isaiah, and Proverbs at least) about having to lay in the bed one makes for one's self (although, holy shit, Mother Mary and Joseph, just make sure the fuck that there are no men in that bed with you, ‘cause, you know, apparently, that’s even more wrong than killing several tens of thousands of people based on "bad intelligence" and shit). Here’s the bottom line: if you will lose your family and friends by simply explaining that you’ve lost your faith (while stressing, of course, that in every other way, and in every other action, you’re the same man they've always known and loved), then they’re not worth the spittle that spews from their maws as they busy themselves with condemning you.

LW#2: Dear Prudie, My husband and I have a 5- and 3-year-old. We let them play in the street because they’re very well-behaved and follow our rules. We specifically bought a house in a cul-de-sac so that we could do this very thing. One of our coffee-addled, crazy-driving neighbors almost hit our 3-year-old the other day and her husband had the nerve to blame it on us! He even threatened to call child services to report our "poor parenting"! How can I prove to him that he’s wrong? Signed, Good Mother Who Purposefully Lives on a Freakin’ Cul-de-Sac For Heaven’s Sake

Dear Dumbass Idiot. I know, I know, you’ve probably read on The Fray that you can leave infants and young children alone for quite awhile and that it’s okay. Fact is, though, it’s not. You’re an unbelievably rude dumbass who’s basically stealing free childcare by foisting the care and safety of your children onto other, more responsible adults. All of the justification about maturity of kids, rules, who was right and who was wrong, and even who was talking on the phone instead of piloting their military vehicle-sized truck won’t mean a damn thing when your 3-year-old is run the fuck over and dead. You need to get your tubes tied, your husband needs a vasectomy, and he then still needs to wear condoms during sex, just in case, and you both need to learn what a back yard is for and when to use it. And, no, I’m not even kidding.

LW#3: Dear Prudie, I’m 17, heavy (5’-3” and a size 10), and really self-conscious about it. Summer’s coming and there are lots of parties centered around swimming and the requisite wearing of bathing suits. In the past, I’ve tried to attend the parties in street clothes and skip the swimming. Unfortunately, that tactic gets me teased and goaded. One time I acquiesced and borrowed a horribly-fitting bathing suit. I was teased even more. I don’t want to miss out on these parties, but, I don’t want to wear a bathing suit in front of everyone because I'm so fat. What can I do? Signed, Reluctant Swimmer

Dear Reluctant. First of all, your friends know why you aren’t swimming. You aren’t fooling them. You need to know and accept that fact up front. As such, as I see it, you have three choices: don’t attend the parties (and likely regret it now and later), attend the parties but be teased about not swimming (wherein you may still have a good time, but, but, I know, that kinda sucks--but, if the teasers get too out of hand, you can just leave), or, go out, find a bathing suit that fits you and is complimentary (at size 10, there are plenty to choose from!) and that you feel good in (or at least that you feel okay in--I realize that you may not feel “good” in any of them, but trust me, you’ll look wonderful in several of them, as size 10 is not nearly as big as you think it is--at all!), keeping in mind that you don’t have to buy a bikini-style suit if you’re not comfortable with that (there are all types of suits, as Prudie says). One of the things that’s almost impossible for you to understand at your age (and plenty of us never learn it!) is that confidence is extremely attractive, and that ignoring the bullies will shut them up (most of them, anyway--the ones it doesn’t are assholes, and that’s just part of life). Whatever you choose, though, you’ll be okay. You look far better than you think you do, and, in years to come, when you look back at pictures of you now, you'll say to yourself, "What in the world world was I thinking when I found myself to be fat?!" Things do get better in time. But, hey, why not go bathing suit shopping with a trusted friend or family member! At least give it a shot. You never know! :-)

LW#4: Dear Prudie, my mother-in-law recently gave me a beautiful pearl necklace and earrings. I love the necklace and wear it almost daily. The earrings, on the other hand, while made with gorgeous, expensive, valuable pearls, are horribly dated and simply un-wearable in today’s fashion world. Can I get them re-set without incurring my easily-slighted MIL’s ire? Signed, Between Pearls and a Swine

Dear Lucky. Aside from Prudie’s wise counsel (she suggested you buy another set of earrings to wear with this necklace), I suggest that you employ your husband, with or without his knowledge, into fixing this touchy situation. You need to make sure he knows how much, a) you love the necklace (and make sure he notes how often you wear it), and b) that you’d love to wear the earrings, too, but that they’re a bit too dressy for everyday use (not that they’re “out of date” or “unstylish”). You could even drop a casual, “Well, short of having them re-set, which wouldn’t be fair to your mom, maybe I can find a set that’d match--it’s just a shame because I love them so much and love that the pearls came from your mom!” Note that none of that is untrue!  You drop these hints when he’s going on about Christmas or birthday present ideas, and, unless he’s an idiot, don’t worry, he’ll do the rest. And, if you’re savvy about it, all will work out swimmingly and everyone will be happy! Either way, much good luck!

Well, Shippers, that’s it! I know I was in a foul and quick mood today (at least with the first two letters), but, that’s how these things work sometimes. At least I didn’t suggest that anyone jump on their boss’s desk and pee on it while singing ‘Take This Job and Shove It!” I’m saving that one for an epic bridge-burning resignation for someone super-close to retirement. Until next week, then, fair winds and following seas, Shippers!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

...on *Professional* Strength Viagra!!! (5/05/11) <--- Original Prudie Letters Can Be Found There

Hey Hidey-ho, Shippers! How the hell are ya on this fine, fine Prudie Day? Spring is in the air, flowers are blooming, Spanish moss is hanging from the trees, swaying in the cool breeze (have you ever reached up, grabbed a piece and actually felt it?), and Prudie is writing her annual Mother’s Day Bonanza! What could be better? As a bonus, and hopefully this isn’t too much information, I got some spam today for “Viagra Professional” (I think it even had one of those copyright symbols, which, of course, means it’s official and that you should definitely go out and buy it and put it into your body!). I don’t need Viagra (thankfully, and, you know, knock on wood), and the warning it gives on its TV commercials already scares the hell out of me, “If you experience an erection for over four hours, consult a physician, do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200” (yeah, no shit, Sherlock!), so, you must know that a spam ad for “Viagra Professional” not only scared me stiff, it made me wonder what warnings for that product there might be?! “If your penis exceeds three times its normal erect length, call 9-1-1”? I request your ideas for warnings in the comment section, below. But, that bit of housekeeping out of the way, let’s get to the letters, shall we?! They’re why we’re here, after all!

LW#1: Dear Prudie, my mom is a rude, racist bitch from whom I’d love to have an excuse to keep my sons. She’s mean to me, she presses all of my buttons, and I am neither clever enough, nor snarky enough to deal with it, Prudie. And, fact is, I shouldn’t have to! I am this close to telling her that she can’t see her grandsons anymore if she keeps being so mean to me! Of course, I’ll couch it all in language about how I’m worried about how the boys will turn out (you know, because she’s such a powerful influence over them, while my husband and I are such weak, ineffectual ones). In truth, it’s very easy to remind the boys of correct manners after they visit her, but I need every tool I can get to deal with her bitchery. How can I accomplish this so that it looks like it’s her fault, which it so is? Signed, ‘Fraidy Cat Needing Leverage

Dear Wimpy. You are a wimp. How do you deal with your racist, foul-mouthed, mean mother? Well, first, by keeping your sons out of this. This is between you two. You and your mom. If you’re worried that you mom has more influence over your boys than you do, then, trust me, she does. But that’s not her fault. Fact is, you need to grow a sack of balls (don’t worry, they don’t have to be attached to you, and you don’t even have to touch them) and then beat her over the head with them! I’ve never, not even once in my life, met a racist idiot whose arguments and loud obnoxious behavior can’t be made to look foolish by simply walking away. You report that “she likes to have loud, racist arguments” with you. Okay, I know this is crazy, but, it sounds to me like you’re engaged in the arguments, too, as, otherwise, your mom would be having "loud, racist monologues." Quietly saying, “Mother, I’m not going to empower your discrimination,” and then leaving, is the proper solution. Her racist views are hers, and, hey, more power to her, but you are in no way required to be party to them. One day, when the boys aren’t around, call or speak with her and tell her that you will no longer engage in those conversations. That if she utters one word, you will simply leave. And then, do so. Not in a huff. Not angrily. Not making a scene. Simply collect your boys and leave. The angrier and louder she gets, the quieter and calmer you become (as you’re leaving). I assure you that if you stick to this, live by it, she’ll knock off the nastiness in short order. You can’t change her views, but you can keep yourself from being exposed to and victimized by them. As for your boys, what better model of how to handle nasty, racist, foul-mouthed people than that? Good luck!

LW#2: Dear Prudie, my daughter seems to have all but completely eliminated me from her life. As background, she’s in her early 30s, has a very strenuous job, and, is working toward a doctoral degree. Also, we are both broke, so we decided to suspend gift-giving in lieu of simply exchanging letters or calls during the holidays. I immediately broke this pact and have spent hours and days making her hand-crafted, extremely personal and touching gifts that only someone with a great deal of free time and love could make. In return, she’s not only not acknowledged receipt of the un-agreed-upon gifts of love and labor, she claims to have not even opened them (when I can get her on the phone to complain to her, that is). I have no clue what I could have possibly done to deserve such rude treatment, Prudie, and, too, I don’t know why she can’t be bothered to send me anything on Christmas or my birthday. She doesn’t even call! What should I do about my daughter being so rude? Signed, Shunned Parent

Dear Parent. So, what have you not told us? Don’t act like you’ve been forthcoming with all of the dirt. You should know that we know better than that. People who’ve happily gotten along all their lives don’t just cut off other people for no reason, so, you’re not telling us something. I’m not saying she’s in the right, but, there’s more to the story that you’re not sharing, and, if she was totally and obviously in the wrong, you’d have told us. So, what is it? Are you the racist prick from the letter above? Do you try to convince her that a Nigerian lawyer has a ton of money waiting for you in escrow if you can just pay him another $4,000 for administrative fees and that you need her help to do so? Are you smothering her at the busiest time of her entire life with volumes of handmade gifts that she can’t possibly reciprocate, and therefore crushing her under a mountain of guilt and self-loathing? If so, shame on you! Or, in an entirely other direction, perhaps she’s about to earn her Ph.D. and now just thinks she’s better than you, or embarrassed by you and your “cheap-present-making, homey” ways? That happens sometimes. People realize their dreams and feel as if they’ve ascended to a higher plane than others. If so, shame on her! Whatever is at fault here, though, there is something going on besides her being too busy. Prudie is right on. You need to let her know in a very short communiqué that, a) you miss her and want to talk to her, b) you know that something’s going on, but that you don’t know what (if, in fact, you don’t, which, I kinda doubt), and, c) tell her that if it’s something you can fix (that should be fixed), you will fix it (like, ahem, not crushing her with incredible hand-made gifts when she has no hope of reciprocating, you know, right after you’ve agreed to no gifts). If it’s not, you just want her to know that you’re there for her and that you’re proud of her. And then, you’ve got to do your best to let her go and take care of yourself. If you haven’t been a total and complete idiot to her, and/or, if she is a halfway decent person (she may not be), things will mend. In time. Good luck!

LW#3: Dear Prudie, Several years ago, at an office party, I boinked a smokin’ hot but emotionally unstable (and most probably drunk-at-the-time) colleague, and she got pregnant. You have to understand, though, Prudie, that I’m such a mama’s boy that getting to boink anyone was a treat for me! After she got pregnant, my colleague made me marry her, told me that I can’t talk to my mommy, is rude to my mommy, and, every time my mommy comes to visit, my wife is mean to her. Too, she’s refused counseling. I have a doctor who’s willing to see all three of us (my mother, my wife and I), but my wife refuses to go. What can I do? Signed, Torn Between Two Loves

Okay, I’m of two minds about your letter. On the one hand, it seems entirely possible that you hooked up with a succubus and that she is the embodiment of pure evil and will eventually suck your soul from your still-living body. On the other hand, you didn’t give a single solid example of your wife’s nuttery other than she’s “tempestuous” and that you two enjoy a “rocky but great” relationship. The generalized stuff about your wife not liking you talking with your mother is a non-starter as I imagine it’s happening when you two are in bed for the night, or perhaps while eating dinner. On the other, your mom really could be stirring the pot. And when you say things like, “my wife hates my mom for no good reason”, I sort of think, “Hmmm, I’m not sure I buy that.” You don’t strike me as a reliable narrator. Either you were dumb enough (or led by your loins enough) to enter into a relationship with a permanently PMSing she-squatch, or, you’re being duped by your mom. Or both. Either way, doesn’t bode well on your credibility. As for how to fix it, you’ve got to go borrow that sack I suggested for LW#1, attach it, tell your wife in no uncertain terms that, a) you are allowed to talk to your mom on the telephone (at reasonable, non-family function times, and, too, not so loud as to disrupt the rest of the house, just to prove you have someone to talk to), and that, b) you will see your mom on occasion. But, too, you’d better keep your antenna piqued for subversive language and actions from your mom that might be manipulating you. I suspect it’s a little of both, and, frankly, the weak link in this equation is you. I’m guessing you married your mom and are now trying to juggle the joy and drama of such an arrangement. Just wait until that “gorgeous” daughter of yours comes of age. Seriously, Dude.

LW#4: Dear Prudie. Is it appropriate for me to get something for Mother’s Day for my father’s girlfriend? Yaddah-yaddah-yaddah, lots of irrelevant background about my relationship with my mean mother and justification for getting a gift for my dad’s wonderful girlfriend and not my mother, yaddah-yaddah-yaddah. I don’t know what to do because my friend says it’s a sign of disrespect to my mom if I do get the gift. Signed, Conflicted

Dear Dumbass. You’re an adult. You can buy gifts for whomever you please. Tell your friend it’s a “thank-you” gift rather than a Mother’s Day gift if you want. Or, just recognize that it’s none of your friend’s business what you buy and for whom you buy it. However, and this is sort of important, I wouldn’t be getting a “mother’s day” gift for my dad’s girlfriend, no matter how great she was. That’s an awful lot of pressure to put on dad, you know? If you speak with him and he’s fine with that, okay. But, otherwise, especially because she was so gauche as to ask for a Mother’s Day gift for doing things for you, when, clearly she’s not your mom or step-mom, which could certainly be a manipulative ploy to get your dad to make her your step-mom, I’d buy the gift and give it to her the day before Mother’s Day, with a card that expresses thanks and gratitude, but that contains nothing specifically about moms. That’s what I’d do. And you did ask.

Okay, Shippers, that does it! I’m so glad to finally be through with the spring semester! Only two more semesters to go! Yay! I hope today’s letters find you happy and healthy and that the sun is shining on you, inside and out (well, not literally on your insides, as, you know, that’d be gross). Good cheer, fair winds, and following seas to you all, Shippers. Always.