Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gimme a real problem, folks: 30 September 2010

I think most of these folks don't have problems worthy of Prudence, so I've ginned them up a bit. One exception, for the first letter, which is a real problem, I think. So see my alternate answer below:

Dear Prudie,

When my brother and I were children, our parents were friends with another married couple, "Bob" and "Helen." Bob and Helen were frequent guests, and the two couples often traveled together. In my early teens, my family moved across the country, and Bob and Helen disappeared from our lives. Years passed. Last month, my parents were killed in a car accident. At the funeral, I was approached by an older couple who identified themselves as Bob and Helen. They asked if my brother and I would have dinner with them before they left. At the end of the meal, Helen revealed that she and Bob were swingers, and my parents had been their partners! She went on to say they'd had a falling out, and my parents had moved us across the country and cut off contact. She said they felt very parental toward us and wanted to be involved in our lives. My brother and I babbled something and fled. They contacted me a few days later, and I politely told them neither one of us wants further contact. Bob got very hateful and said that my parents had filmed several "sessions" of the four of them, and if my brother and I didn't turn over the footage, we'd regret it. Bob has since been hounding my brother and me by phone and mail, threatening to let anyone who will listen know of our parents' history with them unless we comply. Is this a matter for the police, or would they laugh us out the door? The prospect of cleaning out my parents' home has gotten even bleaker, as I fear what every old VHS tape may hold. Then there's the larger issue, which is trying to fathom how my parents lived this life for so many years. Help, please!

—Too Much Information

Dear Too Much,

I think this couple wants to renew the "friendship". Assuming one of your siblings is underage, have sibling engage in some email exchanges to set up a "date". Then sic the cops on these pedophiles.


Dear Prudence:

My hand was injured and I cannot shake hands without it causing me great pain. Recently I declined to shake the hand of a man (I'm a woman) and was accused of being an Islamo-fascist. This church in Florida has issued a fatwa, and I write from a safe house. What should I do?

Signed: Keep Your Hands to Yourself


Dear Prudence:

My father is retiring after more than 60 years in the same business; for more than 30 of those years, my husband and I have worked with him. Our annual holiday party is going to be a roast and a farewell. Many of the employees have worked with my father for decades, and everyone's excited about the party.

The problem is that my sister, who's not in the business and lives out of town, is bringing her boyfriend, who will be celebrating his "birthday weekend," a term she's made up since his birthday falls during that weekend, or whatever. Lord knows people never celebrate their birthday on the weekend closest to the actual day.

Anyway, she wants to have this grand occasion acknowledged at the party. She has requested that all invitations give equal prominence to both events. She wants me to fly in his 100 bestest friends from around the country for the party, on the company dime. She wants me to have a majestic stairway installed, with two flights, one on the left, one on the right, down which our father and her boyfriend will each descend in a synchronized fashion. She wants me to hire a 20-piece orchestra and to commission a special birthday concerto for the event. She wants the cake to be a giant hollow one, out of which our father will pop to announce his birthday wishes for the BF.

Signed: Christmas Yes, Hannuka Yes, Kwanzaa Yes, New Year's Yes, Retirement Yes, Birthday N-O NO


Dear Prudence,

I earn an honest day's pay at a burger joint. The pay isn't great, and the work can be tough, but I enjoy working with people, and the employee discount is great for a French fry fiend like me. The problem is that my husband works for an advertising agency, and ever since Mad Men came out, my friends and colleagues assume he's an alcoholic manslut. What should I do when they ask me what my husband does for a living?

Signed: Mad at Mad Men


My oldest and closest friend is 50 years old and would find it almost impossible to find a new job if he became unemployed. He is the sole breadwinner for his wife, five children, and handicapped brother. His job requires a new certification which he has attempted to obtain three times already and failed, solely due to an absurd requirement that he complete a course on flower arranging (he works as a steamfitter). He's asked me if I could take the course in his place, which would allow him to keep his job. I have reservations about this fraud. What should I do?

Signed: Green fingers

Advice Illustrated, 30 September 2010 "Death to cupcakes"

I feel fortunate to have been out of the country during the cupcake fad. But I do love cupcakes. Sigh.

The originals are HERE.

Letter 1 is from the child of recently deceased parents. A couple that was once friends with the parents attended the funeral, and explained that they and parents swang (swinged? swung?) together way back when. They want into the lives of LW and siblings, and won't take no for an answer, and are now threatening to tell all. Prudie says to get a lawyer to send a cease and desist order, and be ready for legal action. And not to worry about real friends of the family, who will be equally repulsed by this couple.
I say: ugh. I also say: hitman. I also say: why give the pseudonym "Bob" if you're not going to follow up with "Carol"?

We have already commented on the video letter. It's blah anyway.

Letter 2 is from a woman who works with her husband in the family firm. Dad's having a retirement party, and younger sister planned to cross the country to attend, along with BF, whose birthday is the same weekend. Sister wants the BF's bday to be acknowledged at the retirement bash. LW doesn't think it's appropriate. Sister threw a hissy fit and is now boycotting the festivities. Prudie says that sister is a whining baby, but to give in to make sure she comes, for dad's sake.
I say: yes, she's being a baby, but Prudie is doing a lot of interpreting here (sister jealous of LW worming her way into the family business???), and a cupcake and a round of "Happy Birthday to You" would not have taken too much precious time or attention from daddykins. Certainly the fact that most of the people present don't know the birthday boy doesn't stop people from celebrating at Chuck E. Cheese's.

(There are so many of these. Pretty creepy. See them HERE.)
Letter 3 is from a man whose wife has taken a low-stress job at a fastfood place. His coworkers' spouses are all professionals, so he's embarrassed by his déclassée wife. Prudie says to show pride and support and get over his embarrassement. But because he says she can't hold down a job because she fights authority, maybe she needs help from a head doctor.
I say: you're a snob. Why not just pretend you're a widower? Much easier.

Letter 4 is from a guy (why not?) whose oldest and dearest friend wants to pay him to take a language class in his place so friend can get the credit needed for friend's university degree. Prudie says: just say "nein".
I say: tell friend that when he signed up for the degree, he knew what he was getting into.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dear Prudence, 23 Sept 2010, All-in-one

Dear Prudence,

I was what they call an early bloomer, and have been cursed with some of the biggest knockers you've ever seen. Ever since I had my first child and started breast feeding, they've only gotten bigger. I'd like to change to bottle feeding, but the little tyke refuses to take anything from the bottle, and even refuses most solid food. I want to have breast reduction surgery as soon as the baby is weaned (in approximately 4 years, I think), but it's an expensive procedure.

After a spate of unemployment that coincided with the first months of our son's life, my husband has found a well-paid but demanding job. I'd like him to work fewer hours so he can spend more time with our son, in particular picking up toys. You can't imagine how my back ends up killing me after bending over and straightening up with these lolos weighing me down.

In order for him to be able to work fewer hours, and for me to save up for my surgery, I've decided to take a part-time teaching position. A public school is out of the question, because I have a police record from my teen years when I moonlighted as a security guard in an amusement park. One day I finally had enough of the drunken patrons making lewd comments about my girls, and I ended up using my nightstick in a manner not recommended by the manufacturer. I got off with a suspended sentence, but I will never be able to work in a public school.

In the end, the only place I can use my teaching degree is at the private school in town where I myself was a student. Alas, the place is full of bad memories for me, for I was cruelly taunted by m 7th-grade teacher, who made the most impertinent and inappropriate remarks about my precocious rack. Far worse than those memories is the fact that this woman is still teaching, and I will see her every day.

So, Dear Prudence, can you please tell me: where can I get a 58-EEE sports bra with good support and a bit of compression?


Back-to-work Moommy

Dear Prudence, 23 Sept 2010, One-by-one: Balls are better than boobs

Sometimes it seems that balls are better than boobs.

The letters and answers are HERE.
Letter 1 is from a future teacher looking for work in her hometown. She has discovered that the teacher who cruelly bullied her when she was a child is still teaching in the school where she hopes to get a job. Should she denounce this evil woman? Prudence says to get her own reputation established, get tenure, and get the goods on creepy teacher.
I say: Whatever. Don't feel this one, and I'm not sure how real this bullying was. But Prudie's advice is good enough.

The video letter is from a hot young woman wearing a tight security officer uniform with lots of leather who is wondering how to deal with the catcalls and propositions from the drunken louts that frequent the amusement park she works at. Prudie gives some strategies that fall short of using her nightstick.
I say: What's this crap about "moonlighting"? To moonlight you need a day job. This is your job, dear, so make the most of it. With that out of the way, I can't believe this establishment approves of its female clients being abused like this, so I don't know why you shouldn't crack down hard on them (like by kicking them out). When you get fired, you can get a nice settlement after filing a sexual harassment case against your employer.

Letter 2 is from a woman who wears a bra, whereas her business partner should but doesn't. Prudie says to tell her to wear a bra.
I say: I can't be bothered.

Letter 3 is from a mommy whose unemployed husband has found a great job with lousy hours. This means he no longer sees his baby boy in the evening. This makes mommy unhappy and baby "hysterical". Prudie says, rightly, that it's mommy who's hysterical, and that it's time to grow up. Daddy can't change the hours worked in his firm, at least not now. And why can't he see the baby in the morning, if, as mommy says, staff arrive at 10am?
I say: Hell yeah! You are one crazy mommy. A 16-month-old gets "hysterical" because he doesn't see his daddy enough? Maybe he's just sick of his crazy high-strung mommy. I do sympathize with the problem of those who arrive early and leave early appearing to be goldbricking in the eyes of those who arrive later. But guess what: the ribbing works both ways? When he arrives at 8am and his colleagues roll in at 10am, he should just say: "Glad you decided to join us today!" or "You need to get a new alarm clock, dude!" or "Sorry, I made that coffee when I got in at 8, so you'll probably want to make some fresh".

Letter 4 is from a mommy whose child's friend often stays over. Friend is a picky eater and refuses what she's given for dinner. Prudie says to give her a gentle lesson about manners, and to find something she "can" eat, like milk toast.
I say: When she refuses what's on the table, say "I'm so sorry you don't care for this. I'm afraid I'll have to take you home for your dinner." Or call the brat's mom and say she'll have to cart over something her offspring will eat.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dear Prudence, 16 September 2010, One-by-one: Please read your stupid letters before hitting SEND

The letters and answers from the Prudester are HERE.

Letter 1 is from a mother whose daughter is about to marry a creepy dude who rubs his crotch against LW, plays with himself (maybe), and does not engage in the sexual behavior her daughter is accustomed to. Prude says it's time to speak up in a supportive way, so as to avoid pushing her daughter into the arms of the creep.
I say: duh.

The video letter is from a guy whose partner hums and talks to herself. It's driving him crazy. Prudie says to bring it up with her, but don't count on the behavior changing.
I say: get an iPod.

Letter 2 is from a woman who was bullied as a child, and reacted by finding someone even more vulnerable to bully. She's found the victim on Facebook. Is it right for her to apologize? Prudie says, yes, but don't expect acknowledgement or forgiveness. And rolls some log or Emily Bazelon's series on bullying.
I say: yes, but without the log-rolling.

Letter 3 is from a woman whose unemployed B-i-L is about to sell his Caribbean timeshare. He has invited them to join him there for a last fling, and they "discussed" LW and hubby paying for food and drink during the stay. Now B-i-L also expects them to PAY FOR HIS TRANSPORTATION FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE TIMESHARE!!!!!! Something is fishy here. Evil B-i-L is exploiting a vulnerable woman. Help! Prudie says to go suck on it, bitch.
I say: No, it's "biatch".

Letter 4 is from a woman whose therapist never spells her name right. Yes, this is a problem. And the bigger problem is that after spending hundreds of bucks, she doesn't know how to deal with this. Prudie says just that.
I say: easy solution is to change your name to something easier to spell.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Prudence, 9 Sept 2010, One-by-one: Guilty, guilty, guilty

The letters are HERE.

This week we have one very real very sad problem, and a bunch of imaginary ones. And two WONDERFUL MEN. And a grave imbalance in fortune. Life's not fair, that's for sure.

Letter 1 is from a woman about to get married (to a WONDERFUL MAN). She'd received lots of stuff via showers, and her parents and inlaws have been very generous too. Now her fiancé's ex-lover, a wealthy older woman, has offered them 50K as a college fund for their future children. Letter Writer is a bit uncomfortable. Prudie says she's right to be uncomfortable, and to refuse the gift.

I say: IT'S 50,000 DOLLLLARRRRSSS. Who cares if there are imaginary virtual hypothetical strings attached? Gifts for college funds are hardly unusual or particularly restrictive. Prudie's very generous in giving away your money. It might be different if you disliked this woman, or felt threatened or jealous, but you don't.

Video Letter is from a woman whose husband (a WONDERFUL MAN) kisses his mommy on the lips. She's disgusted and dreads her M-i-L kissing her unborn imaginary virtual hypothetical kids on the lips. Prudie says it's just their way of showing affection, so lay off the criticism.

I say: Get a problem, honey. (My photo search led me to this Cary Tennis letter.)

Letter 2 is from a woman whose coworker disrespects her by tossing paperwork on her desk rather than putting it in the inbox. She's made light of it, joked, hinted, etc., but he won't change his behavior. Prudie says to stop hinting and start telling.

I say: Yes, follow Prudie's advice if you want, although this is not much of a problem. I might not even bother giving him a talking too. Just ignore anything that's not in your inbox. Or maybe pick up the paperwork right away, and toss it in your wastepaper basket, saying: this is my inbox, this is my desk, this is my wastepaper basket. Learn the difference, chump. Or just shaft the guy with a letter opener. I hate this guy.

Letter 3 is from a struggling grad student barely making ends meet. Her sister is in the same shape, and their mother, with few marketable skills and no saving, has just been laid off. How can she help? Prudie gives all sorts of useful advice.

I say I have nothing to say. Except maybe see if the old lady in Letter 1 is into girl-on-girl action.

Letter 4 is very much like a call to the Savage Lovecast. That one was from a young man who uses ED medication. Should he tell his partner? Prudie's letter is from a young woman who discovered by snooping that her BF of two years is using ED medication. What should she do? Prudie says to confront him in a supportive way.

I say: MYOB. If you're getting it good, that's all you need to know. He'll tell you when he's ready. Erections are very delicate things: they come at the most inopportune times, but can sometimes disappear when you most need them. Don't mess with this guy's head.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dear Prudence, 02 Sept 2010, All-in-one

Dear Prudence,

I'm writing because I am torn. I am married to the most perfectest man in the world, a small-town sheriff who lost his wife when their ginger son was but the least little speck of a baby. I've raised the little feller as if he were my own, and I wholeheartedly agreed with my husband's desire to father no more children when we married, a decision made concrete with his vasectomy (a decision which, BTW, has made my own contraceptive life so much easier).

Nowadays, with the little rapscallion heading off to serve our country at an Army base in Greenland, and my biological clepsydra plip plopping away, I find myself thinking back to my former beau. We were a perfect couple, on paper, but for some reason it never worked out. It may have had something to do with him raping me now and then, but a few abortions later, at least I know from that unfortunate incident that he is fertile (and so am I).

I'm writing to you despite the fact that someone close to me is a noted advice columnist. Unfortunately, she's my husband's ex-mother-in-law, who still blames my husband nearly twenty years after the death of her daughter. She refuses to talk to any of us, and when I contacted her for advice about my plip plopping, claimed that it would be a violation of professional ethics for a professional Agony Aunt to give advice to a family member.

So Prudie, please tell me, is that really true, or is she just being a hateful old bitch as usual?


In a DIL Pickle

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September 9, one-by-one: Rivers of mooning

Read the originals HERE.

Letter 1 is from a woman who married a guy with kids who made clear (by a vasectomy, notably) that he wasn't having any more. She was cool with that until she began to feel the creeping approach of barrenness. It's kind of late to start over, isn't it? Prudie says yes, it is.
I say: Yes it is, so stop mooning. But I do wish Prudie had called LW1 on the fact that it's only because she feels she is almost out of time to breed that she's feeling this way. Get the help dealing with your feelings that Prudie suggests, and stop mooning over your soon-to-be useless ovaries.

Video letter is from a guy who is in love with a wonderful woman but who can't help mooning over another woman who is wonderful and theoretically should be wonderful with him, but isn't. Prudie says something.
I say: Stop mooning.

Letter 2 is from a student who has discovered that a recent graduate's thesis is plagiarized from an obscure work by an expert in their field. Should she tattle? Prudie says yes.
I say: duh.

Letter 3 is from a professional woman whose daughter, new to the profession, asked her for advice on a work project. LW's friend says that was "cheating". Prudie says it wasn't (probably).
I say: who gives a fuck? This is work, not college, not sport. You just need to get the job done. Stop mooning about it, mom.

Letter 4 is from a woman who lost her husband at a young age. Now her inlaws are being horrid to her. Prudie says to get a mediator involved to try to avoid cutting off her children from their grandparents.
I say: Yes, but if you do need to cut them off, do it, and don't moon over it. They are nasty people and you need love and support, not bile and venom.