Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 8 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,

My wife and I have been married 11 years. Everything about our relationship is great, except for one very minor problem: We sleep in a king-size bed, and I feel we both might sleep better in two double beds. (I would for sure.) I am thinking of a setup like the one in I Love Lucy, where they slept in the same bedroom but in separate beds. We both move around a lot in our sleep, and I really don't like it when a toenail pokes me somewhere unpleasant just as I am drifting off. I hesitate to bring it up with my wife, because I don't want to hurt her feelings and have her think I don't want to be near her, and I don't want friends and family to think we are even weirder than they already believe we are (married 11 years, no kids). I would appreciate any suggestions.

--FSR in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Dear F,

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Prudie can relate, having been socked a time or two by the beloved when he's dead to the world. A good night's sleep, however, should be your paramount concern, and not everyone is a neat sleeper.

A single bed is no barometer of a relationship. Prudie suggests you tell your wife (and not friends and family) that you are as crazy about her as ever but think two beds might improve sleep for both of you. And don't forget to point out that "visiting" can certainly spice up the nighttime situation.

--Prudie, conjugally

Dear Prudence,

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I wake up in the middle of the night with a terrible thought that leaves me so ashamed I feel I should be sent to the moral equivalent of a re-education camp. For a long time I've wondered why the president, who once promised to tell us the whole truth about l'affaire Lewinsky, is so silent while his staff is active at the meanest level in riling a sizable portion of the public with stonewalling tactics. Truly, I believe the country is in the best of hands, but how do I rid myself of these impure thoughts?

--Ashamed and Embarrassed

Dear Ash,

If you are a Catholic, you confess. If you are a Democrat, you simply hope the president comes to terms with his heat-seeking missile.

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As to why President Clinton promised an explanation that seems not to be forthcoming, this is apparently the strategy he thinks best for self-protection. If silence is golden, it is also sometimes the best way to maintain decorum. And really, dear Ash, what would you care to hear him say? Prudie thinks this might be one union we do not need to hear the state of. And regarding the stonewalling staff, just think of them as the collective Bad Cop. As for feeling ashamed and embarrassed, you have much of the country for company. Try to get a good night's sleep.

--Prudie, somnolently

Dear Prudie,

Hi! This is my first time writing to you. I am Chinese-Indonesian and work in an embassy in Jakarta. I need your advice.

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I have been telling lies to a guy, basically because I want him to think highly of me. It's not that I lack confidence or that I feel I'm not bright--I speak five languages. I've been lying because I had this bitterness toward a former boyfriend, who made me feel nothing about me was good enough.

The point is, I think this new guy has fallen for me, and I want to be truthful. I think he ought to know, not because I have fallen for him as well, but simply to do the right thing. What do you think?

--Jakarta

Dear Jak,

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we fib to act out against old boyfriends. Prudie suggests you tell this new chap you made up a bunch of stuff for a dumb reason and want to set the record straight. Make just a short explanation. He may or may not flee, but Prudie agrees with you that doing the right thing, for its own sake, has value.

--Prudie, honestly

Dear Prudence,

Are you the Prudy Crowther who graduated from Bryn Mawr in '68? I am Mary O'Hara, Chris Kane's aunt. Is it proper to ask such a question via e-mail?

--Yours, Mary O'Hara

Dear MO'H,

I am not Prudy Crowther, though I wish I had gone to Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr girls being so polite and smart. And yes, your query is perfectly proper for e-mail. (You should see some of the questions sent in.)

It just dawned on Prudie that she should perhaps say Bryn Mawr "women" instead of "girls," which is, alas, a hint that Slate's Prudie was a little before the class of '68.

--Prudie, collegially