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!


  1. Am I the only who thinks LW3's real problem is much less how she looks in a bathing suit than a Certain Person who has been instilling in her for her whole life that she's Fat Fat FAT? She could go on the Bathing Suit Version of What Not to Wear and get $5,000 worth of swimwear personally selected by Ms London Herself, and it would do her less good than getting away from, could it be... SATAN - sorry, MOMMY?

  2. Alas, Mr. Morally Confused--what you really need is to be an Episcopalian. We don't give a plugged nickel for what you believe. Queen Elizabeth I, in an effort to end several decades of bloodshed, said something very wise about 'no windows in men's souls.'
    Just think--a whole denomination of happy Christian people whose Belief, in the terms you're talking about, tends toward quantum indeterminacy at best; and we don't consider it hypocrisy. It's just the way it is--you lead a Godly, righteous, and sober life whether There's Anybody Up There or not; it's pleasant, and its good for you. Or, someday, you may receive the gift of faith.

    God-for-the-sake-of-argument gave you a very nice brain, almost certainly not intending that you use it to believe stupid things.

    Do you love your wife? Is 'not crushing her life' as valuable to you as the abstract ideal of honesty? You wouldn't say, "Honey, that dress makes you look like a cow," just because it was true, would you?

    Try ascribing Faithfulness more to the walk you walk, and less to what's drifting around in your head. If you have to keep a journal in which you write "Man, Pastor Smith said the stupidest thing today!", do so, but keep it to yourself.

    Or not. It would just be a shame to set fire to your whole life out of some overly rigid ideas about what Real Faith would entail.

    I might add, the Episcopalian stance endears us to neither the Christians nor the aggressive non-Christians, but we have a lot of fun.
    And for me, "As If" is a faith position of integrity.

  3. Greetings All! I know that there were a couple of comments here before blogspot apparently ate them--along with erasing all posts for over a day! :-( I'm really sorry about that. Seems that everyone on blogspot was hit by the glitch and that site-wide there were issues. Please know that I did not delete any comments, nor would I ever! My apologies for the lost work. :-(

  4. I know, right? Mine was awesome!

    About how LW1 really needs to be an Episcopalian, because we don't really care what you Believe. (Elizabeth the first, in order to let go of several decades of bloodshed, said something really smart about 'no windows in men's souls.')

    You can live a Godly, righteous, and sober life on an 'as if' basis, when it comes right down to it. Ritual, study, and fellowship are very sustaining while we wait for 'belief' to come back, or come along in the first place.

    A religion that requires you to park your good sense at the door (i.e., the Adam rode a dinosaur sects) should be looked at with suspicion. Any particular tenet How It Really Is, as regards God, is not deserving of our loyalty, because We Just Don't Know;
    but what a faithful walk looks like, including not blowing up your marriage, --that we have some idea about. You don't have to say everything you think; but if the compulsion to do so is strong, get thee to an Episcopal priest, who may even help you see the humor in the situation, and not take yourself so dam' seriously.
    Or not. Do what you want.

  5. Greetings Captain! My comment wasn't swallowed up, I'm just way way behind though I have dabbled in various frays on Slate and come up with even more nonsense than usual as I am recovering from back surgery.

    That damned surgeon refused to fit me with a pair of wings -- damn and triple damn! It would have solved all my problems but I guess there's some sort of law against it.

    Probably in Leviticus --and it seems that Evangelical preachers quote more from Leviticus than from the New Testament... Ex: "thou shall sacrifice a turtle dove to god every Saturday" "A man shall not lay with another man" [not enough room in the sleeping bag but somehow two women can share] "If you find a moldy spot in your tent thou shall burn the tent down" and of course "thou shall not flit about with your wings as if you were a bird because you might get the ax (for real) next Saturday anfd become a burnt offering, and/or believe yourself to be an angel or gasp actually become one!

    I suspect it is this last prohibition that caused our ex-Christian to become and ex....

    By the way I really liked your replies, particularly to the ex-Christian dude. Perhaps if he were to share his newfound lack of faith, he might find out his whole family feels the same but didn't dare tell him?

  6. Yay, Cantahamster! I'm so glad that you re-posted. I was mulling over what you'd said in your original post (before blogspot erased everyone's posts) and I really wanted to respond. :-( I appreciate you representing a more accepting, less judgmental take than my own--the LW deserves that and I felt kind of bad that I didn't provide it.

    I have to say that I'm especially interested in your description of the Episcopalian dogma of not caring what someone believes, but rather what their actions are, here on Earth. I'm sorry, but, I've never heard of such a wonderful, sane and reasonable interpretation! Be careful, though, if word gets out, you guys may be shunned from other Christians! :-) No, I'm kidding about the shunning--see, I really am a bastard about this.

    But, I really do appreciate your take here, and genuinely do appreciate you offering an alternative to me nastiness on the subject. I recognize that I'm not very nice about it and your ballast of nicenessa and patience is sincerely appreciated. :-)

  7. Ahoy, Kati! I'm sorry to hear that the doctor didn't follow your guidelines for surgery. I hope that you recover wonderfully, however, even sans wings.

    I've been told that Leviticus was superseded by Jesus' grace, Kati. So, apparently, only scripturally-encouraged discrimination written *after* Jesus's ascension can be used in attempting to point out hypocrisy. Pretty tricky, if you ask me! :-)

    Have a wonderful day, Kati. And much good cheer to you and yours! :-)

  8. Hi Mr. Smags,

    I hasten to mention that these are my personal takes on these matters, but with significant local experience behind them;
    I wouldn't like to sound like Episcopalians are any great bugs for orthopraxy, any more than we are for orthodoxy: 'justification by works' is not our line.

    As for shunning by other Christians, we get it aplenty from both sides!! Evangelicals find us theologically thin, I think, and of course too liberal about women and gays; also suspiciously Romish with our candles, robes, and liturgical calendar. Catholics have been heard to call us AngloHeritics, which I rather like...

    What I claim with pride, if comparison be not too odious, is that we tend to shun Magical Thinking. I consider it a scandalous heresy to think that, for instance, there's anything inherently efficacious about holy water, or fasting before receiving Communion; and I think Biblical literalism is somewhere between ludicrously and pathetically barking up the wrong tree, though I try to be careful who I say it to.

    So I have sympathy for many of the pans of religion, as both honest and justified; but as in the Woody Allen joke about the man who thinks he's a chicken, I need the eggs.

    Good cheer to you!

  9. Smaggy, Leviticus comes to mind because I once listened to one of those popular TV evangelical preacher and made a mark on a piece of paper each time he mentioned something from the Old Testament and each time he mentioned the words of the New Testament. Leviticus won by a mile! I keep hearing so called Christians refer to Leviticus all the time, not by name but when they call gays "an abomination" --actually it's a translation that has been interpreted and reinterpreted --so perhaps the original was: "a man should not lie with another man in a tent with a moldy spot because mold is an abomination", or a nuissance, or something unpleasant...

  10. Hey Smaggy! I just peeked in here and saw you were back! WOW did you ever give it to the first two letter writers! I did not really "get" your anger re: the first one. Did the guy really come off like such a dick to you? I mean, yes, sort of a dick, but more of a chinese dick, IMHO. Not that I've ever actually SEEN a chinese dick before, mind you.

    I truly did super appreciate your slamming of the dumbass mother on the cul-de-sac. Screw her, is what I say, and I hope the neighbors do call DCF. The sad thing is, there really ARE follks who leave their kids out unprotected. And they suck And their poor kids. My SIL even has a neighbor who just drops her kids off to play in her yard in the mornings because she leaves for work before the bus comes!!! It is so frustrating for me because I want to tell them off but my SIL is a pushover who allows it. "It's only 15 minutes so I suppose its okay...". But then she complains about it because some days, you know, she actually has other plans and leaves earlier or brings her kids and then she worries about those other two playing in her yard.....

    Augh. So your response was sort of cathartic for me!!!

    Anyway, I hope you end up reading this as I know it is two or three weeks after the fact! I'll keep checking now I know you are around!

    take care, Bella