A Viagra Honeymoon

A Viagra Honeymoon

A Viagra Honeymoon

Advice on manners and morals.
April 27 2000 11:30 PM

A Viagra Honeymoon

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

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Dear Prudence,

I am engaged to a young man (we're both 23), and we have never consummated our relationship. I am becoming mildly concerned because my fiance has confided that he is not being "moral," he just has real trouble getting in position, if you receive my drift, to participate in "the act." He says at first he thought he just had a low sex drive, then he faced reality and figured out he was impotent. I don't want to break it off just because of this. He is a wonderful person, and we get along very well. Can you suggest a useful way to deal with this problem?

—Blushing and Maybe Celibate Bride

Dear Blush,

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First of all, do know that you are by no means alone. For whatever reason, Prudie has been hearing from other young people who are dealing with the willy-nilly problem. And since Prudie does not practice medicine, probably the smartest thing she could do would be to recommend guidance from someone who does. A Harvard endocrinologist has just written an authoritative book for lay people (no pun intended) that will help you tackle the problem. This highly credentialed and well-recognized doc is Richard F. Spark, and the book is Sexual Health for Men. There is much information in it, and many remedies are suggested. Your young man will most likely wind up being treated by a doctor, and you will live happily ever after.

—Prudie, optimistically

Dear Prudence,

I'm writing to you about something I've noticed in a few of your columns, most recently the March 30 edition. You refer to gay men as "nature's bachelors." I hate to gripe about such a small thing, especially when you seem to be so fair-minded and refreshingly gay-positive. But there's just something about that term that rankles. I think my problem with the term is that we're not nature's bachelors, we are, unfortunately, society's bachelors. If I could, I'd marry my partner right now. Perhaps you could find a different charming euphemism.

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Thanks for a wonderful column.

—David S.

Dear Dave,

You obviously do not respond to the phrase the way Prudie does. To her, it is suggestive of the belief that gay people are born that way ... that homosexuality is hard-wired rather than chosen or developed. Your interpretation is rather literal, highlighting the fact that marriage is not now legal between same-sex people. "Nature's bachelors," to Prudie, points up the inborn factor, with the important word being "nature." For you, the word "bachelor" stands out. A small interpretive disagreement among friends, no?

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—Prudie, interpretively

Dearest Prudence,

My, my, I had no idea you were in the divorce promotion business. Seems like dangerous territory to me, hon, and inconsistent with the advice you gave another writer in the same column to the granny whom you told to stay out of her thirtysomething's childbearing decisions. What's more, you based your bold advice on your incorrect belief that divorce is better for children. As one who has studied the studies, I know you are entirely wrong on this point. Smarty-pants here (yes, Prudie, I am LOTS smarter than you) advises you to suggest that people in marriages with children seek counseling and that they make such major decisions with the help of a knowledgeable professional. From here on, I designate you Miss IMprudence.

—Sincerely,

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Former Fan

Dear Form,

You have made a fallacious comparison between advising divorce and telling a would-be grandmother to resist telling her married kids to have a baby. As for scientific and sociological studies, there are always reputable authorities on either, any, and both sides of the same question. In the end, the "rules" must be adapted to individual situations. Counseling, of course, is often a good idea, but trust Prudie ... when a woman is convinced her marriage is over, it's over. And of course you know that the fashion changes in terms of which approach is "correct." Just as an example, there was a time when wapping children was an acceptable practice; now you can get thrown in the slammer if a hairbrush connects with a kid's behind.

—Prudie, correctively

Dear Prudence,

(Obligatory Beatles reference here.) I have been thinking about the practice of saying "God bless you" after someone sneezes. First, it seems odd that this religious—and largely superstitious tradition—has survived, like a vestigial organ in this largely humanistic world of ours. Second, people almost invariably feel obliged to say, "Thank you," in response. I have seen people get quite upset when no one offered them a "Bless you" after a sneeze. Why is this tradition so ingrained in us, and will it long survive?

—Yours in hayfever,

Matt in New York City

Dear Mat,

Prudie thinks you are so cute to imagine that she knows arcana such as this. The best she can do is posit that ages ago, people thought a sneeze—being such an involuntary action—was a sign that the sneezer might be in mortal peril ... hence, "Bless you." And as we know, some superstitions just hang on and become entrenched. A good guess would be that "God bless you" by now is a habit and the equivalent of saying, "Have a nice day" to a sneezer.

A perfectly lovely story about superstitions in general is told about Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist and Nobelist who worked on the atomic bomb. A visitor to his country house noticed a horseshoe hanging on the wall and remarked, "Can it be that you, of all people, believe it will bring you luck?" To which Bohr replied, "Of course not, but I understand it brings you luck whether you believe or not."

—Prudie, wonderingly

P.S.: Many readers mention the song about Prudence. It does not, alas, have anything to do with your adviser. Prudie has met the Beatles, however. (For the record, Prudie did not know Lincoln.)