Mail Bag

Mail Bag

Mail Bag

Advice on manners and morals.
Sept. 28 2000 11:30 PM

Mail Bag

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

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Note: A few letters elicited a flood of responses. Following is a representative sampling wherein readers elaborated on Prudie's advice, put her in her place, and offered suggestions. There is also a dash of "Can you top this?"

Dear Prudence,
Regarding "Feeling Trapped," the woman is lying about having called the cops or lying about the physical abuse or she didn't explain to the cops about the physical abuse. If he hits her, all she has to do is call the police and have him arrested for assault. Next she gets a restraining order then a divorce. I lived in New York state for 22 years and still spend significant time there. If the police aren't willing to help, then she needs to call the state attorney general's office. Domestic violence is a crime in New York. Also tell her to call one of the many domestic abuse hotlines. The number is in the first 10 pages of the phonebook. Unless she is willing to take the first step, she isn't really willing to leave.

—B.R.

Dear Prudie,
Your advice to "Feeling Trapped" is good for anyone who doesn't live in a community property state. In Nevada, for example, were she to buy another house, he could move right in because she is making the payments with community property (her salary). Similarly, if she rents, she's also trapped. Furthermore, if she sells the house—even though it's in her name, and even if he had given her a quit claim deed giving up any interest—he is still most likely entitled to money from the sale, as well as being entitled to live in whatever residence she uses her salary to pay for in the future!

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Her only options are to 1) kill herself; 2) kill him; or 3) use every last dollar she can borrow to hire an attorney to get a divorce and an order entitling her to exclusive possession of the marital residence. She should know, however, that her salary and any assets she can't prove were hers before marriage will be ordered sold to pay her attorney's fees, his attorney's fees, and temporary support of him in his new residence until there is a trial to actually obtain the divorce. But she shouldn't feel bad. I'm a woman and a lawyer and I couldn't prevent its happening to me.

—Definitely Trapped in Las Vegas

Dear Prudence,
This is simply a comment on the letter written by "Worried Shy Guy." This individual wrote to tell you that a woman at work had been touching his biceps. I was just wondering if you would have given the same response to a woman who said that a man at work touched her breasts. Would you tell that woman to respond, "My husband likes them, too?" I don't think so.

—Bern

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(You are right. Prudie erred.)

Sorry, Prudie,
I've got "Newlyweds in New York" beat. When I married my husband eight years ago, his mother gave us a box of cereal as a wedding gift! I'm not joking, and I've got plenty of witnesses. This was not a gag gift or some family tradition—she's just nuts.

—K&K

Prudie,
One of your readers said they'd received a check that bounced for a wedding gift. I have a friend who received an hourglass with a note, "This is how long I give your marriage." That's got to be worse.

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—S.

Dear Pru,
I think the couple who were stiffed with a check that bounced should write a note. It should say: "Please send $60."

—Laughing in Maine

Dear Prudie,
You've got oodles of sense, but you missed the gate this time. You seem to think that the lady who complains of new male friends falling in love with her is delusional or is picking the wrong men. Don't you believe in "
it"? Some women, conventionally beautiful or not, are just flypaper for men. I've noticed this all my life, the more poignantly because whatever it is, I have the opposite. All my life people have had a tendency (though there are many exceptions) to hate or fear me on sight ... and men, starting with my father, who've generally treated me (again with exceptions) with a spitting contempt that would astonish you. I've been advised that I'm "too independent" or other such nonsense. "Helen of Troy" is not to be envied. Her life is no more problem-free than the lives of immensely rich people are problem-free. Anne Boleyn had it, and it was the death of her. Everybody's life has problems, and at least I have my sanity, my one good man, and my few good friends. I wish "Helen" luck with her insoluble problem.

—Not It

Good work, gang.

—Prudie, appreciatively