Stalling for Time

Stalling for Time

Stalling for Time

Advice on manners and morals.
June 3 1999 9:13 PM

Stalling for Time

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

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Dear Prudence,

When behind the wheel of a car, I would never consider parking in a spot designated for a fellow driver with disabilities, as I don't belong to this group. However, when shopping or recreating and in need of a public restroom, I always opt for the bathroom stall designed for my fellow citizens with disabilities. (They are uniformly more spacious, better stocked, and I like the handrails.) I have yet to emerge from such a spot to find someone more deserving of such amenities cooling their heels (so to speak), and since my caffeine intake is too high, these pit stops are more or less regular events. Am I being callous and insensitive, or appropriately opportunistic?

--Doubting

Dear Doubt,

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Funny you should bring this up. Prudie does exactly the same thing, preferring, as you do, the larger space, along with the private mirror and sink. Like you, Prudie has never seen a disabled person waiting, though that would not be the end of the world. Considering the length of time one may park vs. the time needed in the restroom, the issues are clearly different. Prudie often sees women take the handicapped stall simply because it becomes available first. (Prudie is hardly ever in the men's room ... unless, of course, it is an individual bathroom, and the girls' room is taken.)

--Prudie, practically

Dear Prudie,

I am surrounded by exercise nuts, both in my family and at work. Almost everybody I know is either coming from or going to the gym. I am a size 10, feel fit, and make it my business to walk wherever I can--sometimes skipping the elevator or the escalator.

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Could it be that I should be engaging in a more formal kind of exercise? My health is good, by the by.

--Black Sheep

Dear Black,

This must be Prudie's week for identifying with her correspondents, for she could not agree with you more. Too many people are too involved with lats and pecs and excessive sweating. The important thing is just to move ... somehow, somewhere. Prudie's philosophy is the same as the very wise Carol Leifer's: "No pain, no pain."

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--Prudie, cautiously

 Dear Prudence,

A longtime friend is getting married to a guy of whom I am not a big fan. This is my friend's second marriage, but at her fiance's insistence, she is once again having a full-blown formal affair--including all the gift registries. I do not want to get them a gift (or at least an expensive one). I gave my friend a very special and expensive gift for her first marriage, and I know the first time around she received every gift one might give to a newly married couple. What is my obligation here? Am I letting my feelings for her fiance influence me too much?

--TH

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Dear T,

Prudie's instinct tells her your feelings are less about her fiance and more about your finances. And this is all right. Prudie's rule for the serially married may be roughly stated as One Knock-Your-Eyes-Out Gift Per Bride Per Lifetime. There are people, by the way, who feel that two full-dress blowouts is pushing it a little. Of course you must crash through with something, but it can be both modest and in good taste. And for your own tranquility, when you write the card have your ladyfriend in mind, not the groom, so that your warmer feelings will be read between the lines.

--Prudie, festively

Dear Prudence,

My daughter's March wedding was beautiful. The reception was lovely, too, and when the time came for my daughter to toss her bouquet, all the single women gathered. So did the children at the wedding, my four nieces. They range in age from 10 to 13, but the 10-year-old is an especially energetic child--and tall for her age, too. So, before the toss, I dashed over to whisper in her ear that there were older ladies right behind her and to take care not to trip them. One of those ladies was my daughter's new mother-in-law, who is my age, which is to say, not old ... just not agile enough in high heels to compete with an athletic little girl who may not know her own strength. My niece did indeed catch the bouquet, and no one was hurt. My question is this: Should children not old enough to date, much less marry, be included in the bouquet toss? I don't think wild horses could have kept those girls away, but I'm wondering if this is a new custom.

--Bride's Mom

Dear Bride's,

The catch-the-bouquet custom is meant as symbolic fun. No one really thinks the catcher is destined to become the next bride. And certainly no one expects an injury to result, meaning, of course, that decorum should be maintained at all times.

--Prudie, traditionally

Dear Prudence,

You and your correspondent "To D or Not To D" should both read the recently published Silicone Spills, by Mary White Stewart. Anyone with a bit of scientific or legal knowledge of implants (whether silicone or saline) would never dream of having them. Factual knowledge is important in making any decision, especially one like this.

--PG

Dear P,

Ah, yes, the old conundrum of dueling scientific findings. Without wishing to become Amazon.Prudie, you and any other interested parties might wish to read the authoritative book Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, by Marcia Angell.

--Prudie, informationally