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:
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.
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
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
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