Advice on manners and morals.
June 20 1998 3:30 AM

Drawing upon her rich experience of life, Prudence (Prudie to her friends) responds to questions about manners, personal relations, politics, and other subjects. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. Queries should not exceed 200 words in length. Please indicate how you wish your letter to be signed, preferably including your location.

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Dear Prudie,

I don't know what I am going to do. Maybe move to Fiji. I am only 20, but I know my life is over. My boyfriend, the same one I've had all through high school and two years of college, just dumped me. I know I am the laughingstock of the whole campus and that no man will look at me because "Jim" didn't want me.

I am considering changing schools and telling new friends that my boyfriend was killed in a car wreck. That way they won't feel sorry for me. Can you think of a better excuse for why one would be boyfriendless?

--Frantic in Arizona

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Dear Fran,

You are being Molière than thou--far more dramatic than the situation warrants. There is no stigma to being cut loose from a relationship. It happens all the time.

Prudie strongly recommends that you not bop out of your college or change your friends. Your romance, after all, was not as important to your colleagues as it was to you. If you feel you must say something, state that you mutually decided to explore a wider world. And a small PS: Some people choose to be "boyfriendless."

--Prudie, encouragingly

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Dear Prudie,

My wedding is set for August. I have a friend I used to work with, and we still keep in touch. He invited me to his wedding, though I was unable to attend.

I'm not sure whether to invite him to mine. I think he perceives our friendship as being stronger than it is. Normally, I simply wouldn't invite him and would explain that it was a small ceremony (which it is). But I am inviting other former co-workers whom he knows.

So, do you think I am obligated to invite him? If I don't, how should I handle it, given that we'll see each other around?

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While I'm not writing you from the United States, that's where I normally am, so sign me ...

--Uninviting in Washington, D.C.

Dear Uninvite,

Prudie understands that you're in a bind: your wishes vs. his feelings. If yours were to have been a large wedding, which it is not, Prudie would advise you to invite him. A mercy invitation, if you will.

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Prudie also, however, believes that one should not be maneuvered into invitations--particularly to one's wedding. Meaningful occasions are not meant to be tit for tat. That way, you're liable to get your tat caught in a wringer. And Prudie sees no need to explain yourself to him.

Of course, after the fact, you could say the invitation was ex post fucto--lost in the mail. Only kidding, Prudie does not endorse falsehoods. And mazel ton (tons of luck).

--Prudie, matrimonially

Dear Prudence,

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Re your views on needle exchanges: It's fine if the government wants to give out clean needles to intravenous drug users to reduce the spread of AIDS, but I would then expect a full refund on my tax return for my share of the cost, because that's not why I pay taxes. It's bad enough that I have to pay more in federal taxes alone than my mother even grossed--and I'm far from making six figures! When I'm able to save for a decent house, put aside money for my future children's education, ensure my retirement funds, and buy the gadgets I want, then maybe I'll consider putting aside a dime for some miscreant fool whose need for attention drove him to illicit drug use. Until then, how dare anyone force me to be generous.

--Sincerely,Bruce TerryStamford, Conn.

Dear Bruce,

Putting aside the fact that you sound like you have a heart the size of a navy bean, Prudie must point out that the cost of needle exchange is hugely less than the care of AIDS patients.

We do not pay taxes for any one reason, nor do we have veto power over particular expenditures. It would, of course, be an impossibility to get the citizenry to agree on expenditures. Pacifists would object to defense budgets, childless people would balk at school taxes, et, needless to say, cetera. This is where elected representatives come in, and over them we do have veto power.

--Prudie, realistically