Bathing Suit vs. Birthday Suit

Bathing Suit vs. Birthday Suit

Bathing Suit vs. Birthday Suit

Advice on manners and morals.
May 7 1999 3:38 AM

Bathing Suit vs. Birthday Suit

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

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Dear Prudie,

Here's the scoop. Our female boss (she's in her 40s like the 15 guys and gals who work for her) is installing a new, rather large hot tub at her and her husband's secluded home. All 15 of us have been invited to a picnic/hot tub grand opening party, to use her words. She said, "Of course, nobody will be wearing suits, so don't bother bringing them." We feel pressured to attend and partake in the nude socializing in and outside the tub. Some of us are completely comfortable, others are less sure. Your thoughts?

--Wondering

Dear Won,

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Do not naked into that hot tub go. Your boss must have oatmeal cookies for brains as well as a complete lack of judgment.

It sounds to Prudie as though you are not the only one feeling uncomfortable with the birthday-suit event. Luckily, you have options.You and the crew from the office can all agree to bring suits--and so inform Nature Girl. If you're not all in agreement, which may be the case because you say, "Some of us are completely comfortable," then you can decline ... either with an explanation or without one. If you totally chicken out about stating your reservations, there is always the 24-hour flu.

Prudie assures you there is no need to feel "pressured." There can be no retaliation for employees who choose not to socialize in the altogether with their co-workers. As Prudie's aunt used to say, "The very idea."

--Prudie, resolutely

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Dear Prudie,

My girlfriend is perfect, but ... Ah, it's always the big but. What's my big but? Fun, smart, beautiful, but my girlfriend just won't give me any space. If we don't spend seven evenings a week together, if we don't talk on the phone each day during work, if I want to spend any time alone, my girlfriend pouts and gets angry, or cries.

We have talked about this over and over again (and almost broke up over it several times), and she is getting better, but ... I put my foot down and insisted that there are just times I need to be by myself, and while she accepts that in principle, I often feel on my guard, as she often gets extremely upset with little provocation if I don't give her enough attention.

Can this hostile dependency be cured? Can I, should I, even, expect her to change? I hate the idea that I love her "except for this one thing I want to change," but really, she is absolutely wonderful. Except that too much of a good thing is still too much.

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--Sated and Then Stuffed

Dear Sate,

It is interesting that you write Prudie that your inamorata is demanding and wants to spend every minute together--which is not what you want--but that she is "absolutely wonderful." This is like saying the soufflé is the most delicious one ever, save for the ground glass mixed in.

Lovers are not reform schools and you will not get your "perfect ... but" girlfriend to change this aspect of her personality. This leaves you two choices. You can accept her possessiveness and kiss time to yourself goodby, or ring off now and preserve some autonomy. If you choose the first option, Prudie predicts your hostility will build until you wind up choosing the latter. This woman's demands suggest an underlying jealousy and immaturity that time will most likely aggravate. It's your call.

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--Prudie, honestly

Dear Prudie,

I have a very close friend (we were in junior high together in 1984) who seems to have just dropped out of society. He doesn't look for work, having been let go from his last job. He rarely washes, smokes and drinks too much (amongst other similar vices), and spends the time he's not watching infomercials until 4 a.m., pining over a girl who broke up with him long ago. He's living off unemployment, and that's going to run out soon.Oh, did I mention? He's living on my couch.

To his credit, he's not hard to live with. He cleans up after himself, gives me my space, and doesn't eat too much of my food, and when he does he eventually replaces it. Plus, he's great company. We've got very similar sense of humor and we have great conversations.

I guess what kills me is that he's a talented, smart, able guy and he's just tossing it away without a care. He doesn't hit me up for money, but I'm a little worried with the government funds ending in a month. I've tried hints from subtle to overt that I don't really approve of what he's doing, but I don't want to kick him out. Any advice?

--Friend in Need

Dear Fren,

And you are a friend, indeed. You are also clearly conflicted. Your roommate is an unemployed, unmotivated, slovenly vidiot who smokes and drinks while being fixated on a long gone girlfriend. He is also depressed. You find him, however, a good-humored chap who's a great conversationalist, as well as someone who replenishes the groceries.When you say he is "tossing it away without a care," you are telling Prudie you would give anything to redo this guy's thinking. But alas, you can't. We each get a life to make of it what we will ... and this is what he's doing with his.

You say you don't want to kick him out and also mention that his unemployment benefits are soon to end. Be prepared for this sad fellow to become your ward if you don't insist he get some mental health help and leave your nest to make a life.

--Prudie, realistically

Dear Prudence,

I'm an 18-year-old student majoring in psychology. I like psych but don't love it. What I really want to be is a singer, but my parents are against it. I know I'll never be as happy as a psychologist as I would be as a singer. I have the talent but not the moral support. I have been tempted many times to run away from home because my parents are unsupportive of my ambition. I'm embarrassed because I can't stand up for myself.

--Carpe Diem

Dear Carp,

Prudie, too, is for seizing the diem, so give your dream a try and go for it. You are only 18, after all, which gives you a few years to play with.

Prudie is taking you at your word that you have talent -- though sometimes even that isn't enough to achieve your goal. But forget your parents' opposition and trust your instinct. Whether you make it or not as a singer, you will not have to look back and regret that you never tried. And P.S.: It is not considered "running away from home" when one is 18. That is the age, after all, when people go to college or into the military.

If good fortune strikes, send Prudie a CD.

--Prudie, melodically

Dear Prudie,

I think I hate my job. I must hate my job because I dread getting up every weekday morning. I have used all my personal days and my sick days, which is making me feel trapped and frantic. What should I do?

--Freaked

Dear Freak,

You've used up all your sick days? Well, you could always call in Dead. Then you should quit. Prudie can imagine nothing more sad-making than to loathe one's job. Use an employment agency, the want ads, friends, anything, but find a more satisfying way to keep body and soul together.

--Prudie, gainfully