Crushed

Crushed

Crushed

Advice on manners and morals.
Sept. 21 2000 11:30 PM

Crushed

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

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Dear Prudence,
I am 35 and have been married for two years. Several months ago I came down with a terrible crush on a person I've never met and whom doesn't know I exist. I've mentioned this to my psychologist, who says it's normal and nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, it's making me miserable, and I can't seem to get over it. I feel as if I'm having some kind of affair—even if it's completely onesided. I can't bring myself to talk to my spouse about it, even though he's probably figured it out by now. Our marriage is OK but not very exciting. How can I get my self out of this mess? I feel like pond scum.

—Sincerely,
 Wretched

Dear Wretch,
When you say you have a crush on someone you've never met, you mean like Brad Pitt—a movie someone—or a stranger on a bus? To the extent that people always have fantasies, Prudie agrees with your therapist. Your crush, sort of an imaginary friend for grown-ups, is not without meaning, however. Perhaps he provides you with something your husband doesn't ... maybe an area worth exploring. Perhaps this dream lover enables you to stay in the marriage, à la Walter Mitty. Perhaps the guilt of the fantasy compels you to be a good wife. Do take these things up with your psychologist, along with your boredom with your husband. With improved understanding and some adjustments, you will likely be able to spice things up. Do remember that wishes are not deeds, so it wouldn't be so terrible if, in your mind's eye, your spouse became your dreamboat's twin brother in certain situations. Without wishing to put the kibosh on a good fantasy, if your pretend-lover is of the movie star variety, Prudie hears tell that these men have problems and shortcomings, just like everyone else.

—Prudie, dreamily

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Dear Prudence,
My husband has a very sick male friend. He is quite elderly, 78. The man's wife is considerably younger, 61. My husband is 58. The problem is the lady is fairly good looking, and my husband seems to visit there quite a bit without me, and he also calls to check on how his friend is doing about three times a week. Perhaps I should not worry about this, but my husband usually does not come home for lunch; however I am finding out that he does go over to check on his friend at lunchtime. Please advise if you think I should be suspicious.

—Thank you,
L.

Dear L.,
Assuming your letter is on the level (and Prudie has only a tiny doubt), you would not be considered a suspicious shrew to imagine that your husband may be consoling the younger wife with more than supportive words. One assumes, even though the two men are friends, that the wife and perhaps a caretaker, or children, can manage the situation without what sounds like five weekday visits and three weekly phone calls.

It would not be wise to play j'accuse, but you might ask your husband some rather obvious questions ... such as who is there to help the Mrs. look after the old gent and is he medicated so that he's asleep during lunchtime? You might also offer to accompany your spouse on his mercy visits, and after a while suggest that the frequency of the house calls is excessive.

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—Prudie, proactively

Prudence,
One most certainly can get pregnant through clothes—maybe not through two layers of bathing suits (which are typically two layers themselves)—but cotton underwear is a cinch. It breathes, remember. How? Through the pores between fibers. Hard-boiled eggs can pass through a sieve, if the holes are 4 inches square in size. And it is the small and clever sperm, not the large immobile egg, that moves here. Underwear is not a condom. You are wrong—not on the facts here, necessarily, but by encouraging anything less than safe sex.

—JB (Md.)

Dear J,
Prudie can see from your e-mail address that you are a physician at a first-rate medical institution. Were it not for this, she would dismiss your views as a crock. Of course anything is possible, and perhaps, somewhere, there is a kid who is named Fruit of the Loom. (Prudie doesn't know what's going on in your kitchen, but hers has no sieve with 4-inch square holes, but that is a side issue.) We do agree about two things however: Safe sex is desirable, and underwear is not a condom. What you report is a long shot, pardon the expression, but Prudie is always happy to offer as much information as possible.

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—Prudie, appreciatively

Hi, Prudie,
My question is sort of weird. I was wondering if you could help me out with this problem. I have a 13-year-old friend. I have no idea how much she weighs, but I can assure you she weighs less than 90 pounds. She is 5 foot 1 inch. Well, she is EXTREMELY skinny. It's not that she doesn't eat, but she will not eat anything that has an ounce of fat in it. She will absolutely not even consider it. This started about two months ago, and she looks very weak and sick. Every time someone mentions this she gets very mad. She has also gotten really cranky and snappy. She always talks about how she loved eating the good foods (like chocolate ice cream, cookies, chips, etc.) but that she can't eat them anymore because they have fat in them. I was wondering if you could tell me the name of this eating disorder, and what can I do to help her?

—Anonymous

Dear An,
Your friend definitely has an eating disorder, and it is called anorexia—or bulimia if she makes herself throw up. A professional advises Prudie that your friend is the perfect age for onset. You shouldn't get hysterical about this yet, because it sounds like it's recent. Her parents, however, should certainly be alerted to the dangers. Perhaps there's a school nurse you can go to about this who could then carry the ball. If not, tell your friend's mother of your concerns and hope your friend gets the help she needs. For your own information, and also to share with your chums, some fat is necessary for good health and development.

—Prudie, supportively