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, May 5, 2011

...on *Professional* Strength Viagra!!!

http://www.slate.com/id/2293047/ (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.

23 comments:

  1. I was notified today that I have a new message in a speed-dating site. And here I didn't even know I was available! I'll have to ask the hubby if there's something he forgot to tell me, like we got divorced and I forgot.

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  2. Smaggie!! How good to see you again. We have missed you. Yes, I have always wanted to touch Spanish moss. Haven't cuz it looks crusty and dry. No Viagra, "knock on wood" is that intentional. Mother's Day....hmmmmmmmm these letters make me think more of Mommy Dearest Day. As always loved your responses.

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  3. Ahoy, my Captain!

    Welcome back to the Lagoon! The sun seemed to shine a little brighter this morning ~ it wasn't my imagination ~ but rather You, Home. :)

    "Knock wood"? "scared stiff"? Oh, bah-ruther! Your attempts to outpun the Prudester have left me limp. ;)

    Excellent advice all around, as usual, Smagsicle (esp. #2 ~ I agree there's a LOT more going on there than she lets on) but do you think LW4's friend asked for a mother's day gift? The letter mentioned that she told the LW that she (the friend) wouldn't be expecting more than cards from her own kids and that the LW SHOULDN'T get her a gift. But the LW wants to give her one anyway. I took the friend's answer to be in response to the LW's question "So, what are you doing with your kids for Mother's Day?" and the LW said "Oh, I'd like to get you something" and the LW said, "Oh you don't have to do that." Do you sense some manipulation here?

    How weird you mention Spanish Moss! I saw some for the very first time recently when I was on vacation ~ until then, I'd only seen it in the movies. It's a lot drier than I would have imagined! Now I can cross this off my bucket list ~ so next up ~ an alligator! (I've never seen one, but I heard they come in through the doggie door to make themselves ham and eggs every morning. It's true, go look it up.)

    Congratulations on completing another semester! Your Mermaid is awfully proud of you! :)

    It's good to have you back, Diving Buddy! See you on the other side of the Lagoon...

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  4. See what happens, CoolOne?! One second all is fine and good and the next you're on a speed dating site with a boner half a mile long. And, for a woman to have that, damn! ;-)

    Glad to be back, MommyLady! And, as for the puns, I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not they were intentional. ;-)

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  5. MM! Thank you for the wonderful welcome! I have found Spanish moss to be less dry than it looks, but certainly plenty dry overall. At least when it's still in-tree, and not after having fallen.

    As for alligators, I have to say that, having grown up in FL, those tiny little things that come in through cat/dog doors are nothing mroe than a nuisance. It's the 15 footers that *can't* fit through the doggie doors that you have to worry about! They can eat your soul just by looking at you. :-)

    As for you thoughts on the father's GF, you're right! I misread this, "she's told me she's not expecting anything more than cards on Mother's Day." I took that to have been directed at the LW, as sort of payback. But, I see now that it was actually the LW saying that, about what the GF expected from her own children. So the LW is wanting to get her a gift. Good catch, and I appreciate you keeping me straight (just like Viagra)! ;-)

    Good cheer, All!

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  6. Bit of trivia -- spanish moss is neither spanish nor moss. Actually, it's related to pineapple.

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  7. Oh, Happy Day! SmagBoy's back! The Fray wasn't interesting at all without you. Please, never go away again.

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  8. Viagra Professional. Holy crap.

    I am going out on a limb and stating for the record that this product is intended for me. Like you, Smagmeister I have no need for Viagra, but I am a consumate professional, and should I need a little boost I would immediately consult my physician and get me some V-Pro. Damn right.

    Welcome back, Smaggie!

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  9. LW2 seems to glide right on past the "downs" in her "up and down" relationship with her daughter, doesn't she? Who knows what went on there? Certainly she isn't saying anything!

    It certainly reminds me of my own situation....the straw, the camel and the peace and quiet when all the shouting was done.

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  10. Ahoy, HillWalker! OMG, have you ever seen 'Frisky Dingo'? It's a wonderfully irreverent show. A precursor to 'Archer', if you're a fan. One of my favorite quotes by one of my favorite characters in there is by Wendell, when he says, "Yep, ol' Wendell's dragged the ol' pineapple through quite a few ladies!" Or something like that. I realize that's basically off-topic, but, your Spanish moss explanation took me there, and I do love me some 'Frisky Dingo'! Good cheer! :-)

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  11. Ahoy, Catseye! I can't promise I won't go away again (school starts back up again at the end of the month), but, I'll try! I'm glad that you enjoyed the post! Much good cheer to you! :-)

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  12. Going out on a limb, indeed, Schuyler! ;-) Man, people here are using both hand, just stroking pun after pun into the pot! ;-)

    Glad to be back, kind Sir! Glad to see you here, too! All is right with the world. :-)

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  13. I'm with ya, Messy. She knows what went on. Maybe not *this* time, but, she knows. Sometimes, as you intimate, it's an accumulation of things and perhaps the thing that finally does it seems rather insignificant comparitively. But, such is life, and, you know, past that point, no amount of pretty handmade books is going to change things. :-(

    Much good cheer to you, Messy! :-)

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  14. Ahoy, Captain Smags--great to see you here.

    Does anybody know what the medical attention you'd seek after four hours of painful stiffness would consist of?? Naughty nurses get your rocks off? or is there another pill that's the antidote, perhaps in a complementary burnt orange color? I've wondered this for years.

    "Doctor, Doctor, gimme a shot,
    I got a bad case of lovin, not!"

    Sometimes I just kill myself.

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  15. Oh, yeah, about the letters.
    Glaring hole in Letter 1: "She adores her grandsons and is very loving toward them."
    Number one, on what planet does that include doing things around them, that if the kids pick those things up, they're going to be _extremely_ unpopular with the other adults in their lives. As in, none of the other moms will let their kids play with them.
    Give me a break.
    Number two, it constitutes primo leverage for LW1. She adores them, she wants to see them, she cleans up her act, no exceptions. How hard is that?

    LW2 doesn't seem to have had a mother, herself. Mine always told me that if people don't want to play with you, it's their loss, but leave 'em alone. 'Too busy' could be a polite lie, or the God's honest truth (as this sounds like) but that's none of your business.
    I wouldn't even commend a last letter asking what's the matter, because whiny neediness may very well be what's the matter, and that letter is just more of it.
    Cut back to simple card for b'day, December holiday, and maybe one or two notes in between. "Hope you're doing well--love you!" is enough, or it isn't, but your hands are much cleaner, then.

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  16. LW3, Listen to Smaggie!!
    You're in the middle, like it or not, but you don't have to force these people to spend time together. Your wife is wrong about the inevitability of trouble with a MIL, but you're the one who'd better get counseling about setting some boundaries that let you keep your sanity.

    LW4,
    Your friend's an idiot.
    Separate the issues!
    Yes, you can give Dad's GF a gift, though doing it this weekend might be a little fraught. But hey, if she watches your children regularly out of the goodness of her heart, you should already be treating her to lunch/spa days/whatever she'd like, because that's very sweet of her.
    And/or, share the 7yo's art projects--cut up finger paintings, glue them on note cards, couldn't be more charming.

    Not that you'd ever rub your own mother's nose in it, right? She gets a generic card: "Hope you're doing well, love you!" over and OUT. None of her business what you do for anybody else, who happens to mesh better with your life.

    Cheers to all--

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  17. YOU ARE BACK!!!! OH I AM SO HAPPY!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR A FANTASTIC COLUMN:-)))

    XXX

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  18. Ahoy, Cantahamster! Outstanding thoughts on one and all, but, I especially love your take on #4! "Not that you'd ever rub your own mother's nose in it, right? She gets a generic card..." Perfection!

    Thank you for an always great take! :-) Much good cheer! :-)

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  19. Okay, all, I SWEAR that I didn't write the entry from "Anonymous", above. Honest! :-)

    Anonymous, you are most welcome--thank you, too. :-)

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  20. I think that the Viagra Professional is so powerful, your member could single-handedly storm a terrorist compound and kill everyone in it without injury to itself.

    And that's the account that *I* am going with.


    Welcome back, Walt Smagsney World!

    This week's DP letters are, alas, boring. Sometimes I forget to read them! The chat sessions are more fun, I'm finding. Except when filled with too many replies about previous advice-seekers. So, thank you, Smagmagorical One, for adding 11 different herbs and spices to them.

    LW1 - Blackmail is AWESOME! "Shape up or no visits." See? Even my suggestion is boring

    LW2 - Mom raised us 4 youngins pretty much the same (yeah, yeah, the "pretty much" is the key! WHooooOOOOOOoooo!) My oldest sister... she's complained to me somewhat about our mom being "so demanding" and such, but that's not really Mom. It's a "3 out of 4 kids agree" kind of thing. Yeah, we're not getting the daughter's side of the story, but she could also be the sort who's super-annoyed by handmade gifts, or something.

    But enough grasping at straws

    LW3: Dammit, I was having fun picturing the Missus as a (literally!) smoking-hot, winged succubus with an echo-ey voice and... um, red eyes and stuff. And who shops at Walmart and other wretched hives of scum and villainy.

    I mean, your movie idea is more Oscar-worthy, but mine will rake in the bucks in summer!


    LW4: I don't even see her dilemma. I've given gifts to people I barely know before, because for whatever reason, they happened to "inspire" me to at the time. None of them were illustrated children's books about their lives, but they were sudden, random gifts. I know, backstory there would help, but the moral is: give a gift if you wanna.

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  21. When the ads say "to avoid injury, if you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours . . ." I always wonder, injury to who?

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