Ms. Anthropic

Ms. Anthropic

Ms. Anthropic

Advice on manners and morals.
May 18 2000 11:30 PM

Ms. Anthropic

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

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Dearest Prudie,

Not important on a scale of 1 to 10, but what is your opinion of politically correct forms of address? I am talking specifically about "Ms." I am in my 30s, and all my friends (female) are into it—and get huffy if it is not adhered to. (Being called "Miss" or "Mrs." can send them through the roof.) Am I wrong not to care?

—Thanks,

Waiting To Hear

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Dear Wait,

What a thoughtful personette you are. (Only kidding.) Prudie has gotten used to the "Ms." business but has no attachment to it. Actually, Prudie prefers to be called "Mrs." She has earned the title, if you follow. Also, when the word "Ms." is spoken, it sounds like the person talking was raised on a plantation.

—Prudie, classically

Dear Prudence,

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I am a wreck from guilt. Although I have ended it, I was in an inappropriate affair for four years. I'm sure you can read between the lines. Although I am now living my life in a way I can be proud of, I so regret my actions of the past. I can't seem to get beyond this. Any thoughts?

—Anguished and Sometimes Sleepless in Seattle

Dear Ang,

Prudie, too, has had a fling or two that would have been better unflung, but as the great acting coach Stella Adler said, "Don't go back, go on." To relive mistakes is pointless. The thing to do is have a talk with yourself and say, "Self, what was to be learned here?" Since you obviously have analyzed and acknowledged the situation, give yourself absolution ... and vow in the future to make good choices. To quote yet another dead, smart lady (Dorothy Parker), "It's not the tragedies of life that defeat you, it's the messes." You have essentially cleaned up yours, so onward, dear. And consider your hard-earned lesson just part of the ticket for being on this Earth.

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—Prudie, forgivingly

Dear Prudence,

Help! I am in such turmoil. I went out with Jeff for 10 years and finally had to go my own way because he had a major drinking problem. I recently met John, online, and we have been dating for three months. Meanwhile, I can't seem to let go of Jeff—who I am still attracted to even though I know that relationship is going nowhere. He refuses to get help for his problem and tells me that no one is going to change him. In other words, I must take him the way he is—which I will not do. I feel so stuck. I want to move on but can't seem to let go. Do you have any suggestions?

—No Name, Please

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Dear No,

Actually, Prudie has several suggestions. The first is to practice saying, "Bye, bye, Jeff," and mean it. His telling you that "no one is going to change him" is a close cousin to that other remark, "No woman is going to tell me what to do."

The good news is that you have decided that a partner with "a major drinking problem" won't do. A good emotional trick for you to rely on when you are feeling weak re Jeff is to replay in your mind's eye all the drunken behavior, irresponsibility, and personality changes you have lived through. Also, imagine him 20 years down the road. Then he will not be just a drunk, but an old drunk. Think of the heartache, not the bedroom, whenever Jeff comes to mind.

You say you've been dating your new friend for three months. Prudie assumes this is actual dating, as opposed to virtual/online. Give yourself a chance with this person. And if it's not him, keep looking. It will not enhance your life to be tied to a guy who, habitually, is accidentally horizontal. And do remember that some women are flypaper for drunks ... and try your damnedest not to be one of them. It makes for an unnecessarily difficult life.

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—Prudie, supportively

Dear Prudie,

My husband of one and a half years and I are invited to the wedding of his high-school friend. My husband has known the groom for about 20 years. We are both looking forward to the event. Here is our problem: The groom's parents are very strict Catholics. While my husband and I were brought up Catholic, we are not terribly devout. In fact, this is my second marriage. (I chose not to try for an annulment, because I think the whole idea is ridiculous.) We, in fact, were married by a judge. When the groom's father found out, he proceeded to give my husband a lecture about living in sin—no congratulations or best wishes. My husband was totally taken aback. So now we are faced with having to see this man at the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. If he says anything, what can we say to let him know it's none of his business?

—Religiously Yours

Dear Re,

Prudie doubts that the opinionated, if not bigoted, old goat will say anything, but should that happen, you or your spouse should be prepared to say, "I do not recall asking your opinion" ... then beat a retreat to the sweet table. It would be useful, as well, to come up with a saying of a saint, or Jesus, along the lines of, "My, my, we're judgmental, aren't we?" Perhaps that "first stone" business? In any case, Prudie thinks you should not be the ones to be uncomfortable when someone else's poor behavior is evidenced. Aggressive and domineering "believers" give Prudie a pain.

—Prudie, huffily