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Advice on manners and morals.
June 6 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 Queries should not exceed 200 words in length. Please indicate how you wish your letter to be signed, preferably including your location.


Dear Prudie,

Does working at Slate allow you to be critical of parent company Microsoft?

Journalistically, your answer almost has to be "yes," but I've noticed an underlying love for all things rendered unto Gates. What is your opinion of the antitrust suit?

If you're pro-MS you're a sell out, and if you're anti-MS you'll prove us skeptics wrong.


Don't you hate how that forced decision-making works? Kinda like Windows.

--Monopolistically yours,Mr. Free Parking

Dear Mr.,

Of course Prudie is allowed to be critical of the parent company--should she ever find something of which to be critical. As for the antitrust matter, Prudie is always in favor of trust.


--Prudie, Microsoftly

Dear Prudie,

I have started dating a guy with wonderful qualities and think he has real possibilities for the long haul. There is only one glitch. (Isn't there always?)

He is almost pathologically cheap when it comes to eating out. To make this less of an issue, I have taken to cooking dinner for us at my place or drumming up "occasions" for dinner to be my treat.


I am starting to wonder, however, about his choice of restaurants leaning heavily to pizzerias and joints specializing in burgers. What do you think of all this?

We are both in our mid-20s and have good jobs.

--No Four-Star Florence

Dear No Four,


Prudie knows the type. You've allied yourself with the kind of man who will always opt for the Road Kill Cafe.

There are many ways to approach this. You can try to get to the bottom of his aversion to better restaurants. (Perhaps he was traumatized at Le Cirque 2000?) You can laugh it off if he is in all other ways wonderful. You can let him know you would love a slight modification of this particular behavior.

But bear in mind that women are not reform schools. There is an old saying, "A woman hooks up with a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man hooks up with a woman expecting she won't change, and she does."

Prudie thinks, overall, that if this is the young lad's only negative, you should learn to roll with the punches (or burgers, in your case) and hope that his maturing will ameliorate your problem.

--Prudie, gustatorially

Dear Prudie,

Now that I am moving in with my significant other, I don't know what to do with the mementos (mostly notes) of a torrid affair I had after the current significant other and I became involved but before we were very serious. I don't want her to find about the affair. I also don't want to get rid of the notes yet. What to do?

--Anywhere in Europe

Dear Any,

Prudie thinks you are wise not to stash the mash notes in your sock drawer. Discovery would not be healthy for your current relationship. Since you don't wish to discard the sizzlers, you have the option of storing them in a safety deposit box. If there is a large quantity of billets-doux, then a storage bin at an appropriate facility would do. A friend is also an option, but Prudie thinks not a great one ... too much room for errors of different kinds. Prudie once housed the jewelry of a divorcing friend and was very uncomfortable.

--Prudie, secretively


Harking back to your letter from the man whose wife insisted on writing notes rather than talking, you wrote, "Dear I, Prudie will pass up the chance to point out what would be seen by some as your good fortune. A more common question might surely be 'How can I get her to stop talking?' "

Oh, dear. While claiming to "pass up the chance," you take it. Is that polite?

--Mike, inquiringly

Dear Mike,

Prudie does not think the quote you mention is polite or impolite, but simply a journalistic conceit to state the obvious. Actually, it was a quip pro quo--a retort Prudie could not resist. (And she definitely didn't mean to sound like a traitor to her gender.)

--Prudie, politely