Just for laffs, I sometimes read the Dear Prudence advice column on msn.com’s Slate and usually think I can give better advice than that dried up old prune does. Case in point, here’s some recent real letters followed by my own answers…
I am a single woman about to turn 30, and my children’s father cheated on me five years ago and gave me herpes simplex. I have read up on it completely, and I am well informed about my STD, but what I would love to know is: When is the proper time to tell someone that I have this STD when dating? Should I tell them when first meeting, or wait until they get to know the “real me” and we are going to get intimate, or what? I know there is no third option of “not tell at all” because I pride myself on being honest and letting a man know what he is getting into. If you could please help me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.
– Perfect Timing
First, I admire your strength. Your life has obviously been completely ruined by your ex- and it is a testament to your courage that you’re even dating despite the fact most people wouldn’t touch you with a ten foot pole being as diseased as you are. So hats off for letting yourself be vulnerable and not going for the simple solution – investing in a really good vibrator instead.
There are many approaches to breaking the bad news, here are a few suggestions:
1. As soon as he tells you about his STD. Not before! If he doesn’t tell you, assume not only does he have one but must be hiding something – so deserves whatever he gets.
2. When a date gets close enough to the goods to notice the sores. Unless you feel like making up an elaborate and convincing lie, this might be a golden opportunity to tell him the truth about your STD.
3. Somewhere between saying, “Let’s do it without a condom” and “Would you like a cigarette now?”
4. The next morning. Precede it by saying something like, “Oh jeez, I knew there was something I wanted to tell you last night. I just remembered what it was!”
5. When your date develops symptoms of his own, but before he goes to the doctor to find out what the hell is going on. If you wait until after he is diagnosed, he’ll probably resent you. However, if you tell him before the doctor confirms what you already know then he’ll probably appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.
6. Once you get him to marry you. This works even better if you should “accidentally” become pregnant. If you get pregnant and he then marries you, you’ve bought yourself some time. In that case, within the next nine months would be best. However, if the right moment doesn’t come along then you must tell him after the baby is born. You must do it before the kid turns eighteen.
7. Don’t tell at all. Yeah, yeah… I read your letter. You pride yourself on being honest. Believe me, you’ll get over it. And the best part is… it becomes easier every time you lie. That’s the honest truth.
(For the record, Prudence suggested, “the best time to impart your news would be when you both know you’re interested in pursuing the relationship, and it seems likely that the following date might be the time for… Whatever.” Yeah, thanks Prudie… That should be a fun date. Whatever? More like… whatever!)
I’m a youngish guy who dates frequently, and I’ve come to discover something disturbing over the course of my last several dates – namely, that I’m too weird for all the normal women I meet and too normal for all the weird women I meet. What on earth do I do?
– Stuck in the Middle
I’ll tell you what you do. You become very bitter and die alone. Have a nice life.
I have an ethical dilemma that has plagued me for years but has recently become acute. Ten years ago I adopted a cute kitten and now I own a cat I hate. Over the years she has proven to be unbearably needy, a trait I find repellent. Her faults are myriad: a screaming meow that awakens me in the early hours of the morning, an apparent inability to learn the basics of litter-box usage or basic grooming, a tendency to drool when receiving her scant portion of affection, as well as colitis, arthritis, and dandruff. I know these things aren’t her fault, but they do make me avoid (neglect) her. And now that I have a baby on the way, I have even less patience for her. Yet the thought of her in a cage at the SPCA, possibly to be abandoned by new owners (in the unlikely event that someone actually took her), leaves me contorted with guilt. Prudie, can you offer me advice – or perhaps absolution?
– Imprudent Adopter
I’ll get right to the point – Do you live near a river? Do you own a burlap sack? If the answers are yes, the solution is right in front of you! If not, I assume you can drive. Ever play softball? If the answers are yes, take your cat for a little ride on the open highway late at night. Get up to about 55mph, roll down the window and release the pitch. Throwing a cat out a car window is much like throwing a softball, with one small exception: The softball usually doesn’t scream when you throw it. Don’t worry about the cat. No matter how they are dropped or thrown, cats always land on their feet. Believe you me, I’ve done enough research of my own to know this is true.
As an aside, what I found most disturbing about your letter wasn’t the cat but your complaints: She is needy. Her screaming in the early morning hours wakes you up. Her inability to learn the basics of litter-box usage or basic grooming, and a tendency to drool. These traits have caused you to hate and neglect your cat – and now you have a baby on the way?
I hate to tell you this, but this baby is going to be like a big hairless cat on steroids. So, to avoid answering your next letter – “Dear Prudence, how do I get rid of a needy baby?” – I’ll simply give you the answer now. Get an abortion as soon as possible.
And then stick with houseplants or goldfish until you grow the fuck up.
If the married man you’re dating promises he is not seeing anyone else, can you trust him?
Sure, why not? If he promises he’s not seeing anyone else, you can trust him completely.
Ironically, that’s the same answer I gave to a letter written last week. The one written by the man’s wife.
My wonderful daughter will be 17 this fall. She is a good student and a gifted athlete. She is a beautiful girl, although in her words “not a Barbie doll type or a girlie girl.” She loves makeup and jewelry and enjoys the admiring stares she receives from boys. She also seems to think she is “bi.” We have talked about this, but I’m confused about the subject. The big question is: Should I allow her to have girls sleep over if I suspect that she is attracted to one of them? I am a 53-year-old woman with a fairly open mind, but this is a little over my head. Thank you.
– Questioning Mother
Your letter is so hot! In Prudence’s answer to you, she noted, “‘Fooling around’ is now definitely a happening thing with girls – bordering on a fad – and it seems to go beyond what we used to call ‘experimenting.’”
I can’t say I disagree with Prudie there and I’ve never been one to knock a fad so I’m not about to start now. Especially if that fad involves two naked chicks getting it on. Lord knows, this world would be a better place if only we had more fads like that.
But, if you’re not sure if it’s even happening behind your daughter’s closed bedroom door, before you say anything to her I’d suggest hiding a video camera in the room the next time there’s a sleepover. Then you’ll have some proof. Did I mention how hot I thought your letter was?
Well, I’d give you some more advice but something just popped up that I really really have to take care of. Since you’re a 53-year-old woman with a fairly open mind, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
I think I’ve missed my calling. I should have been an advice columnist. I fully expect a job offer from The Slate as soon as Prudie passes away. In other words, from the looks of it, I expect that offer any day now.