Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 13 1999 3:30 AM

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.

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Dear Prudence,

I am a bit confused by your answer to "Anon,"who was seeking advice about a gentleman preceding a lady into a public place. When exiting a building it is very easy for a gent to both precede the lady and hold the door for her because outside doors swing out. However, when entering a building, the outward swinging door makes both holding and preceding an awkward maneuver--at least in my experience. Is there a technique to gracefully precede a lady and hold the door for her that I am unaware of? Thanks.

--Awkward in St. Paul, Minn.

Dear Awk,

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Prudie is having trouble following the movement of all these doors. Prudie is not even sure there is a universal protocol for the way doors swing. To be perfectly candid, Prudie does not really care, finding this bit of politesse rather inconsequential. Just do what feels comfortable.

--Prudie, permissively

Dear Prudence,

As a counselor, I take issue with your response to "Confused in the Big City."I find your evaluation that she is wonderfully clear-eyed about her situation way off base. While shifting to a position of no sex may well be a good starting point and help restore some needed self-esteem, if she continues to think that the problem is with the men she is attracted to then she will never get to the root of things.

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Sooner or later she's going to have to investigate the "whys" within herself for her attraction to them. What will eventually arise is a confrontation of her own availability for intimacy, which she never has to examine as long as these men are "unavailable." They are not the problem, just symptoms.

Sincerely,

-- J. David Forbes, M.D.

Standardsville, Va.

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Dear Dr. J.,

Prudie thanks you for expanding on her answer, as she is always deferential to physicians.

--Prudie, humbly

Dear Pru,

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Although we've lived in a new apartment for over four months now, my parents-in-law have failed to visit, even for a quick look-see (despite a welcome mat that is always unfurled for them). Several weeks ago, we were informed that they were going to eat dinner at a restaurant ACROSS THE STREET from our apartment. When we invited them to come over for a quick post-dinner visit, they begged off.

Quite often, my parents-in-law invite us to their abode and expect us to make the trip. In light of their unwillingness to extend themselves, is it appropriate to just stop going?

Thanks,

--HRUMPH

Dear HRUM,

There is some little missing piece here. Your relationship is apparently good enough for the beloved's parents to invite you both to their house, but they are unwilling to come to yours--and a new place they've never seen, yet.

Prudie is wrinkling her forehead wondering what's the deal. You (or your spouse, their offspring) might flat out ask what is their aversion to being visitors. You might even add that you are developing hurt feelings about this. If the answer is evasive, or a nonstarter ... such as "Well, we're just happier having you come over here," Prudie hopes you will respond with the following: "We have decided that we're going to alternate visits. Seems like it's your turn to pay us a call." If they still won't cross your threshold, you have a problem that likely will be the forerunner to estrangement. Prudie thinks you'll survive.

--Prudie, wonderingly

Dear Prudie,

Love your column and the advice; never tried the white wine remedy for removing a red wine spill (hmmm ... perhaps an instance of throwing good after bad?). But the one antidote I will swear by is club soda. Twice in the last 15 months friends have spilled a glass of red wine on my light tan carpet, and both times I accessed an unopened bottle of club soda (any brand will do) and several towels. Voilà! Wine gone, no stain. Guaranteed to work. If I could bottle it myself and sell it I'd be a millionaire, but since it's already on the market, the advice is free.

--Lorri A.

Dear Lor,

But of course. Why didn't Prudie think of that? Club soda is the wonder cure for stains but perhaps most effectively at the time of the calamity. Our last friend, with the Persian rug, was alas trying for a remedy days after the spill. If you do decide to bottle club soda as "Lorri's Super Stain Remover," Prudie will not breathe a word.

--Prudie, spotlessly