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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

...on a Cat Woman, a Princess, a Jewess, and a Reasonable Writer

Original Prudie Questions Can Be Found Here.

Hey hidey-hoy, Shippers!  How in the hell are ya on this fine-fine Prudie Day?  Are you finishing classes maybe?   Taking that one last test, or turning in that last term paper?  Or, maybe work is winding down before taking time off for the holidays?  Or all of the above?  Whatever your situation, I wish you a happy and wonderful next few weeks (and yes, that includes Christmas, but it also includes Hanukkah , Kwanzaa, Festivus, Winter Solstice, and even “Sunday the 25th”, a purely secular day for some).  Regardless of how you spend the holidays, my sincere wishes for a wonderful time for you all!  :-)  Except for maybe a LW or two, who truly don’t deserve it!  To that end, let’s get crackin’ on these letters, shall we?

LW#1:  Dear Prudie, I’m in my 30s, have met the man of my dreams and am ready to marry and start a family.  The problem?  I have a cat and my beau is deathly allergic.  My cat is eight-years-old and I feel super-guilty about trying to figure out how to best place him in a loving home.  My rigid, judgmental, asshole friends are basically accusing me of the equivalent of abandoning a child, and, too, my cat is starting to develop behavioral problems because I spend so much time away from home at my boyfriend’s house.  What can I do to assuage this guilty feeling?  Signed, Broken Hearted in Belleview

Dear Broken.  First off, tell your friends to shove their judgmental attitudes up their own (or each other’s) asses.  Either, a) they’re jealous old bitties from whom you’d do well to extricate yourself, or, b) you’re reading too much into what they’re saying due to your feelings of guilt.  Either way, Prudie’s suggestion of enlisting them to help you place the cat in a loving home is right on target and will tell you a lot about their motives in tearing you down and criticizing you.  Too, though, if you do need judgment, and want it from me, you’ve got it:  if you’re spending so much time away from home that your cat is developing behavioral problems as a result, you’re already way past being a shitty owner to your cat.  Finding a loving new home for a beloved animal due to changing life situations is not a crime, and sometimes it’s just the way life works when you wear big girl panties.  However, frequently leaving a cat for what’s obviously several days at a time without love or care?  That’s just shitty.  How you or your friends could possibly think that’s better than placing your cat in a loving home is beyond me.  You want to feel guilty about something, feel guilty about that.  And then fix it.  Pronto!

LW#2:  Dear Prudie, I have a wonderful husband who loves me dearly.  He spontaneously gives me presents, shows me great affection, sends flowers for no reason at all, gives tender, loving words, etc.   But, when it comes to planning for big events like birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc., he’s pretty terrible--to the point of barely making an effort at all to spend money on me.  I, on the other hand, get him thoughtful and appropriately-awesome gifts for those days.  Every time.  How can I tell him that it feels like a personal attack on me, our love, the very foundation of our relationship and our family’s future that he doesn’t pay special attention to me on those days and that I’m planning a major crying jag complete with holiday-ruining door-slamming (and other tirades) if he doesn’t come through in a big way this Christmas?  Signed, (Already) Buying Tissue in Birmingham

Dear Otherwise Great Husband’s Wife.  So, let me get this straight.  He loves you dearly, is loving and affectionate and generous, but, he blows it all by not planning ahead for and getting you gifts on big days?  Is that right?  I’m not meaning to trivialize your complaint, I just want to make sure that I understand the issue.  No, look, I’m being a little heavy-handed, but, you have to realize that you’re falling victim to “princess syndrome” (PS).  PS dictates that, not only should your husband be the most awesome man ever, he should also be able to magically predict your desires without hints or clues from you, know you so well that he just “knows” what you want, and then deliver it in such grand style that you feel you’re the only woman on Earth.  And, truth is, I can understand that desire.  Hell, I’d like that, too!  But, fact is, that’s not how things work most of the time in the real world.  I know that you think that you do great by him, but, you know what?  I bet if he gave in to PS, he’d be wondering why you can’t do things a different way for him!  And the shame is that you both think you’re doing well for the other!  He thinks he’s being awesome by showing you how much he loves you all year long.  You think you’re being awesome by buying him big ticket items that he may or may not need or want, but, by golly, I guarantee you he’ll pretend he loves them because, well, you guys (or at least you) aren’t communicating!  Prudie’s right.  You need to be proactive and quit pretending that if you leave a hint or help your husband give you what you want that the effort he then makes and the gift he then buys will be somehow tainted or of less value.  That line of thinking is best left to Disney movies and fantasy.

LW#3:  Dear Prudie.  I’m Jewish.  My husband is not.  His family is not.  But I am!  I just had a little boy who I’m raising Jewish.   My in-laws are great, supportive, but simple, uneducated people.  They’ve traveled at great expense to my son’s bris and though they don’t know any Jews, have tried to be understanding of my culture and my religion.  I am traveling to see them over Hanukah and they would like to give my son presents.  I’ve directed them to wrap the presents in Hanukah paper because my son is Jewish and Christmas paper will stain his soul.  They claim that Christmas is a secular holiday and that receiving Christmas presents from them won’t permanently scar my son or exclude him from Heaven and God’s grace.  How can I help them respect my wishes.  Signed, Jewess in Jersey

Dear Jersey.  I’m going to try to be as tactful as possible.  I, too, worry for your son’s soul.  But my worry isn’t due to Christmas paper or other exposure to Heathen activity.  It’s due to his mother’s selfish, self-interested, elitist snobbery.  Listen, I don’t know if you know this, but, there are other religions, other cultures, other traditions in this world outside of your own.  And your son will be exposed to them.  And you can make that exposure so vile and nasty that you drive him away from you and your own culture and tradtions, or, you can recognize that you married a non-Jew.  That you chose to break with Jewish tradition in doing so, and that you are at fault if you think that you can now go back on that and make everything in your son's life be about you and your ways.  Whether you let your husband touch the child or not with his goy hands, he is the child's father, and his family is your son's family.  Didn’t you realize your husband was a non-Jew when you married?  What, did you just not give a shit because you reckoned that, like his weak, wimpy ass, his entire family would just bow to you and your desires?  You know what?  Call it Hanukah, call it Christmas, call in Solstice, I don’t care.  One thing I’m pretty sure of is that it’s supposed to be a time of grace and giving and tolerance.  Maybe you should ponder that part of your tradition, eh?

LW#4:  Dear Prudie.  My sister and I would like to visit our childhood home.  We have many great memories of the place and would love to see the house, the yard, the rooms.  Unfortunately, our family no longer lives there and I don’t know how to go about asking the current owners if it’s okay if we come for a visit.  I know that my own parents would be quite derisive and object whole-heartedly to anyone making such a request of them regarding their house!  What should I do?  Signed, Homesick in Harrisburg

Dear Homesick.  Simply write a letter to the current owners.  Explain what you’ve explained here.  Offer proof of your identity--perhaps a picture or two of you and your sister in front of the house?  Unless the current owners are as horrible as your parents sound (and let’s hope not!), they will happily have you into their home, or, if they’re unable to do so (and there are certainly valid reasons why they couldn’t), they’ll at least write back explaining their sincere regrets.  Either way, it’s a very modest request and the worst you can receive is a no.  Good luck, and happy memories!

Well, Shippers, that about does it!  May your week be filled with fun, happiness, double burgers and fries!  And, too, may we all meet here again next week for more of that magical Prudie fun.  ‘Til then, fair winds and following seas to you all!  Cheers!


  1. Beautifully done!

    Though I do wonder about the boyfriend and what he actually feels for LW #1, since he hasn't availed himself of modern medicine enough to help her spend more time with her cat, or at least help her find a loving home for it.

    I'm allergic to many things. A few deathly allergic. And I carry an epi-pen in case i run across one of those things, and utilize benadryl and other anti-histamines in advance of going somewhere that I know an allergen is definitely waiting. This doesn't require an immense expense or level of genius to achieve. It simply requires that one, I don't know, plan ahead. And if the BF really loves this woman, and wants to marry and spend the rest of his life with her, shouldn't he be wanting to assist with the transition however he can?

    And if he really is that allergic, I'm dying to hear from the LW that she enters his home, strips to the skin into a plastic bag, walks on a plastic sheet to the bathroom and showers thoroughly, then puts on clothing that is fresh from the dry cleaner's bag before even greeting him. (All the while, he's hiding in the bedroom until she's cleared up the plastic and wiped down the area with bleach wipes and then scrubber her hands again, setting the plastic bags outside the door.) Because otherwise, we aren't talking about a deathly allergy.

  2. Ahoy, Libby, and greetings! :-)

    You're right, of course, but only in principle. We've no indication that the BF knows a thing about cats or any pets. He may have grown up in a very sheltered-from-allergens home. And, if the LW (as I suspect) is all, "Oh, no, Honey, I'm fine with coming over here and Kitty is just fine to be left alone for ten days straight. I just put out a bunch of food and water, and cats are very independent", then he may very well *not* know the difference. I'm not saying he doesn't, just saying that it's possible that he doesn't. And, given his condition, perhaps more possible than in someone without allergies.

    Too, it's the LW's responsibility to take care of her cat. And she's failing. And not in the guilt for wanting to find it a good home, either. She's failing in the part where she's not providing it a good home right now! So, I give her no latitude in that. That's not on her BF, that's on her.

    Now, if she comes back and says that her BF is a douche who won't go to her place period, won't entertain the idea of meds, etc., then we can discuss him, but, even still, responsibility for the cat falls to her. It's just that, if he is a douche, we'd tell her to leave him rather than give up her cat! ;-)

    Much good cheer to you, Libby. :-)

  3. Oh, Smag, I didn't in any way mean to imply that the LW is somehow devoid of responsibility in this matter!

    I do love your giving him the benefit of the doubt. I don't know anyone with allergies who has managed to live their whole lives free of visiting someone with the pet they are allergic to, or exposure to information about said pet (especially when it is one of the top two pet choices in this country), but I'll join in the speculation that somehow he really is that ignorant. I would still say that if he were truly interested in her for a lifetime, and truly cared, he would have taken some time to educate himself, at least enough to ask how he can help with the relocating of the pet.

    Perhaps he has, and the LW is just total ass-hattery in motion. I wouldn't discount that. But if she really does feel that he is "the one" and he has been supportive, I question why she'd need to write to Prudie

  4. Oh, and much good cheer to you, and a very merry Festivus!

  5. Okay, in thinking about this, I decided I wasn't really being clear on what my objection is.

    The LW says "we're in LOOOOVE" but is demonstrating that she's feeling uncertain of that because what her friends say about the path she's chosen makes her question that decision.

    It strikes me that if they were really in love, and he had taken the steps that worked for them both to support her in figuring this out, she wouldn't have a moment's doubt in her mind when her friends come back at her with "you're an awful person." Instead she'd look at them like they were batshit crazy and ask if they'd prefer to help her drown the cat?

    Also, she wouldn't have been spending time neglecting the cat, because he would have been supporting her in taking the best care of it possible while they were dating. And she wouldn't be feeling this niggling doubt in the form of guilt over all of this, because it would be something they were facing/dealing with together, as a couple, building that life together.

    My issue is with the LW. I believe that she is building castles in the clouds right now about how perfect this man is for her, while ignoring what is happening in front of her. If she would stop and think about it critically for a minute, she'd realize that either a) he truly is that allergic, and she should have been looking for a new home for the cat for a while now, or b) he may not be on that same page with her, and she should really be questioning her priorities and how she chooses to honor that 8 year commitment with the cat by effectively abandoning it for the bf before she realized that maybe, just maybe, she should be thinking about what to do with the cat long-term.

  6. Okay, I have to say that I agree on all counts. Hell, if you throw in a few naughty words and colloquialisms, we'd have a fitting answer for the column right there. And, truth is, that's part of what I was trying to say--that she's not really looking at the situation very well. That her focus is skewed. You've just boiled it down to the essence, though, and done away with the distractions! So, much kudos. :-)

  7. Thanks, Smag! I thought you did a fine job, also. I just am having a really hard time with people (especially over on Slate) who seem to think that those of us advocating the BF try something to mitigate the allergies are just too dense to understand that what works for us might not work for someone else.

  8. Hello. I have been skipping the FB page lately and did not realize you were back on The Fly! Yea. Could not agree more with the Jewish mom. Seems like her and the "neglected" wife just want to complain about something. Merry Christmas and a Snarky New Year.

  9. Bravo as always, Smag! Great to see you on The Fly again. Are you back every week or just now and again?

  10. Ahoy, MommyLady! Merry Christmas and a Snarky New Year to you, too! And, as always (you knew this was coming, right?), much good cheer to you and yours! :-)

  11. Ahoy, Jackal! Great to see you, too! How in the hell are ya?! :-) I have just finished my graduate degree (finally), so, I plan on being here again every week. Just started back up last week after about seven months off. I really missed it, so, I'm happy to be back. What about your posts? Might you start up again sometime?

    Much good cheer to you! :-)

  12. My problem with Prudie's response to LW1 is that it reinforces this ridiculous notion that a woman's ultimate goal is to be a wife and mother, and therefore must work backwards from that goal to find some man, any man, who is willing to marry and reproduce with her, without any consideration of a more holistic picture of the life she wants to lead. Oh no - your fertile years are ticking away - you'd better seal the deal with this one, even though it means making a sacrifice that "breaks your heart."

    See, I've noticed this trend among women around my age (early 40s): they are leaving their husbands - not because of abuse, infidelity, etc., but because they are simply unhappy. Why? Because in their race to grab that brass ring called marriage, they've given away too much of what was important to themselves rather than find someone truly compatible to be their PARTNER in life. People say "life is too short." I say life is too damn long to live every day of it without the things that bring you joy. Love is part of that, of course, but it is just one aspect of the many factors that add up to a happy life, and ultimately it's not up to another person to make you happy.

    For me, personally, I can't imagine a life without animals. My cats are a constant source of laughter and joy. They are the ultimate masters of slapstick comedy. It's like having all the best Three Stooges movies playing in a constant loop. So on a first date - long before I fell so in looooooove - if a guy said he was allergic, I'd pass. He might be a great guy - but for the life I want to live, he's not great for me, and I'm not great for him either. Same with the LW from several months ago whose BF was a picky eater. The issue isn't he needs to change, the issue is that if sharing good food is one of your passions (it's one of mine), then date someone who shares that passion rather than dating someone who is - again - a perfectly good person, but not right for you. They don't have to have EVERYTHING in common with you, but the important things - the things that bring you joy - should be there. Remember, this is a WHOLE LIFE in front of you. Do you want to live without your passions or do you want a partner that shares them?

    It wasn't until a year ago that I met the man I want to marry, and yes, he loves animals, good food, good wine, doesn't resent the many hours I spend doing community theater. And remember, I'm in my early 40s, so that may mean I never have kids because I waited this long. But would it have been better for me to have settled for a bad fit and become a divorced parent (or a very unhappy married one) because I'd given away too much of myself?

    Maybe for this LW, pets aren't that big a deal, and that's fine. But if it is, and she's giving it up just for a ring, I think that's a bad bargain - especially for him. Can you imagine that fight - "I gave up my CAT for you so you damn well better do the dishes, jerk!"

    Anyway, sorry so long. I just felt a bit of a rant coming on.


  13. Bazinga, I agree with so much of what you've said here! I don't think the LW should necessarily be giving up her cat. But if she really thinks this is right for her, and if he really has shown that in other ways he's willing to compromise, work to help her find joy, support her decisions that bring her joy, etc. Then sure, give up the cat to a good home, marry and be happy. But don't question the decision if the rest of that is true. Like the occasional LW who writes in that their SO doesn't give them the right *type* of gift at the right *time*. (Thinking of the lady this week, and the woman from a while ago who was grumpy she never got flowers.)

  14. Ahoy, Bazinga! Excellent points, one and all. And, truth is, I think that's right in line with what Libby was saying, and, too, what I was saying. I love that you honed in on how much she looooooooves him! Yet, consider all of the conflict. Even if it's all her own doing (which I think it is), that's likely due to exactly what you're saying, being way too accommodating due to some desires about "the ring" rather than being at peace with herself. And, hey, who knows?

    But, for me, as I tend to do, I wanted to advocate for the most helpless entity. In this case, I felt like it was the cat. She acts like the decision to find a good home for him/her is an agonizing decision, yet she's providing a shitty home while agonizing? That's just unacceptable. Good points, one and all! :-)

    Much good cheer! :-)

  15. I have a friend allergic to animal dander, who is the non-custodial parent of a child who lives on a farm. When the child comes for visits, my friend washes all the clothes in the kid's suitcase, and is otherwise rather miserable physically when the kid is there. But it's worth it to be with the child.

    However, actually living with the animal(s) the kid is around every day would be an entirely different issue. You can't live a normal life if you are Epipenning yourself 3 or 4 times a week.

    I'm not saying the other comments about the allergic boyfriend may not be dead-on, but his allergy may be legitimate. I can barely breathe around live Christmas trees, and if exposed to a lot of them, even get nosebleeds. This doesn't mean I won't visit someone who has one, but I certainly wouldn't want one in my living room, either.

  16. Anonymous, I agree, and as I said, if he is legitimately deathly allergic, then all my points are moot.