Into the Fray

Into the Fray

Into the Fray

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 14 2000 3:30 AM

Into the Fray

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

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Dearest Prudie,

I will put my personal problems aside (they are not really earthshaking) to ask a question pertaining to you: Do you ever visit the " Dear Prudence Fray"? I have struck up some e-friendships there and find it very spirited. There are times, granted, when there are heated disagreements and some actual unpleasant posts, but it is kind of like an online club for me. The Prudie Fray seems to have faithful and oft-returning participants. So do you go there or not?

--Not Frayed at the Edges

Dear Not,

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Prudie looked in out of curiosity and stayed just long enough to see herself called a man, a moron, boring, self-righteous, vapid, and out of her mind. There were compliments, as well, but to be truthful: Who has time? Prudie is up to her escape key in everyone's problems. And for some reason, there are odd conversations going on in there, both to do with answered questions and everything else. Glad you like it, though. We at Slate are happy to provide activities.

--Prudie, busily

Dear Prudie,

My sister is making a BIG mistake, and I don't know how to approach her without seeming envious--which I am not. She is dating the dullest guy. He can't carry on a conversation, is remarkably bland, and is rather cold. I would say he is "ordinary," except for the fact that, thanks to his stock portfolio, he is extremely rich. He just built a mansion like no one in this town has ever seen. I think the money and the house are what keep my sister interested. I know that if this thing progresses to marriage it won't work or last. How do you warn a sister against being blinded by filthy lucre?

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--Elaine

Dear E.,

Prudie will take you at your word that jealousy is not part of the equation. You know, of course, that it takes a villa to be beguiled. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) You should assume that your sister is aware that her consort is conversationally challenged, chilly, and personality-free. Those things are hard to miss. It could be that for your sister material goodies trump the relational aspects. If asked, however, do feel free to mention that the best thing you can see about Prince Charming is that he seems very tall when he stands on his money.

--Prudie, realistically

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Dear Prudence,

I've been perusing your responses to penned concerns about the annoyances caused by "telemarketers," or telephone service/sales representatives (TSRs as they are called in their world). I'd be obliged if you would consider my thoughts on the matter.

Telemarketer was one of the many employment masks I wore as I worked my way through college. I agree with you that those calls can be annoying, even infuriating, but they are made by people who work hard in order to pay the bills. With that in mind, here's some free advice for the disconcerted recipients, which comes from TSR guidelines: Telemarketers are told they must hear the recipient say "No" three times before surrendering the call. So, if uninterested in the TSR's call, simply say, "No thank you" three times.

--Hopefully Helpfully Yours

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Dear Hope,

Your advice has a rather Wizard of Oz feel to it with the say-no-three-times business, but it's good to know a little trick of the trade. Alas, given that we're dealing with telephones, what the TSR might hear before three "no thank yous" is the sound of the phone being returned to the cradle.

--Prudie, sympathetically

Dear Prudence,

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I love your column and think, for the most part, that you offer sound advice, but it's obvious from your answer to "Sid" that you've neither been pregnant nor ever had to herd small children. The pregnant parking spots are not the first time a store or mall has cleverly catered to a niche market, and it won't be the last. If Sid is so terribly jealous of a marketing ploy not aimed directly between his two beady eyes, then perhaps he ought to shop elsewhere.

--Maternal in Michigan

Dear Mat,

No need for name-calling, dear, but your point is well taken. As for your surmise that Prudie has never been pregnant or had to herd small children, the psychic hotline failed you on that one. There were, in fact, three children ... and they were once small. The wild card is that Prudie never took all of them shopping at the same time.

--Prudie, parentally