Bris Giving

Bris Giving

Bris Giving

Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 18 2000 3:30 AM

Bris Giving

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

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Dear Prudence,

My two best friends recently celebrated the birth of their first child, and I'm his godfather. They don't have a lot of money, and I've helped them out in hard times before. They would like to have the child circumcised but can't afford it. Would it be appropriate to offer this as a sort of "baby gift"? And how should I go about "presenting" this gift?

—Sincerely,

Earnest Godfather

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Dear Earn,

If your friends are Jewish, ask around for a mohel and then organize a bris. You can host a little party at their place, bringing the treats—and the mohel. If your pals are Christian, tell them the visit to the obstetrician or the urologist is on you. To be graceful, say you know this is an unusual baby gift, but a useful one. And Prudie does not want any mail debating the merits of circumcision.

—Prudie, traditionally

Hello, Prudie,

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I have a situation: At work a very attractive married woman has been giving me mixed messages for quite some time. People in my department even thought we had a "thing" going. She has confided in me about her marriage and even her sex life. As a result, I have allowed myself (a single male) to become infatuated. But lately, she has been spending time with a married man in her own department, and I actually feel jealous! Do you have any advice other than that I need a good kick in the head? I know there is no future with this woman, but why do I feel this way?

—Should Know Better

Dear Should,

You feel as you do because this female Casanova is arranging things that way. You are already becoming jealous of a woman with whom you have not had intimacies and who is married! This situation is dangerous, daring, and self-destructive ... which you already have figured out. Prudie does not know what you were told about her marriage or her sex life, but she will lay you odds, forgive the pun, that you were not told of a solid, wonderful marriage with great, healthy sex.

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Prudie has said it before, and she will say it again: Borrowed husbands—or wives—are more trouble than they're worth. Wean yourself away from your interest in her by any means at your disposal. Look for someone who is available. Paint your kitchen. Go bowling. This woman is obviously a flirt and a tease who is looking to get into trouble. Don't let it be with you.

—Prudie, sternly

Dear Mrs. Prudie,

I'm a sophomore at a Presbyterian school. I've been a student there for a year, and some of the students and I have gotten to know each other well.

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Recently I admitted to some of my closer friends that I'm a lesbian. Not only did they tell everyone in the school, but I also think the teachers know but aren't saying anything to me. I'm pretty sure this is making no one want to hang out with me. The students at this school are the only people I know around here, and so far I haven't been able to meet anyone else. Would it be OK for me to confront people about this, and if so, how should I do it? I just want to fit in, that's all I want.

—Lonely Teen-Ager

Dear Lone,

Prudie is sure you are not the only Presbyterian lesbian around, and she hopes you find some others soon. In any case, there are a number of possibilities open to you, and you are not limited to one. The girls who were your close friends and then broke it off with you—after telling the world—do not sound first rate, but maybe it's a teen thing. You might approach the one you (formerly) liked best and ask her what the big deal is? That is, if she liked you before, how does your sexual instinct change things? You might also go to the school's guidance counselor or nurse and relate your feelings. Prudie has heard about gaydar, so perhaps you can scope out some other gay and lesbian students and start a club. If there really aren't any—quite a statistical long shot—please try to meet people outside your school and hang in there with trying to make friends inside. It is a great pity that young people, or any people, make a decision about someone's acceptability based on how they're wired. Prudie promises you, however, that two years may seem like a long time, but before you know it you will be in the larger world, and your sexual persona will not be the burden it seems like now. You are really fine and normal. It's the others who have to shape up.

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—Prudie, warmly

Dear Prudence,

I have a problem I hope you can help me with. I can't tolerate being touched by people (strangers as well as family and friends). I am very friendly, and I like most people; I just can't deal with physical contact. When people touch or hug me, no matter how hard I try not to, I tend to back up or pull away. I feel overwhelmed with fear. The problem is that then people become offended. I have had strangers yell at me, "Don't pull away! All I did was touch you." Family members, especially my parents, feel that since they are family it should be OK, and I get lectures about it. I try to explain it's not them, just that I don't like being touched. Can you help me figure out something I can say? People seem to want me to explain why it bothers me, and that is very personal. I am getting professional help.

—Please, Do Not Touch

Dear Please,

Since you are getting professional help, Prudie will just supply you with something to say. For intimates, try a fairly straightforward approach: "I have this 'thing' about touching, for which I'm getting help." For others, maybe, "It's not you, but I'm not a touchy-feely kind of person." It is too bad, as it is for the young woman who wrote the previous letter, that many people can't respect a difference or a preference. Prudie wishes you well.

—Prudie, understandingly