Prudie's All Bark, No Bite

Prudie's All Bark, No Bite

Prudie's All Bark, No Bite

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 16 2000 11:30 PM

Prudie's All Bark, No Bite

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

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Prudie,
Your comment about the solution of loading up the owner's answering machine with barking was idiotic. That action was socially unreasonable and arguably illegal. Having been in the situation before, I know there are several more neighborly ways of handling it. If it truly remains a problem, one should call the local animal control officials or the police instead of resorting to juvenile behavior.

—Jim M.

Dear Jim,
Prudie didn't recommend the answering machine solution, she just liked it. Sometimes Prudie is too open about her feelings. However, the retribution gods got involved in this one. There was a flood of mail to rival the unfortunate handicapped toilet stall episode. Prudie is now quite fatigued from all the barking-dog mail. A few readers were supportive, a few more called Prudie a dog's mother, and a whole boatload were outraged. There were also many suggestions ... ranging from playing Yoko Ono at top volume back at the offending neighbors to inviting the annoyed parties to be Christian about it and understand that dogs are God's children, too. There is certainly much to be said—on the side of the neighbor, the owner ... and the dog. Prudie, however, is not going to say it.

—Prudie, abstainingly

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Dear Prudence,
I solved the barking dog issue with my neighbors, but cripes (!) now their cats are all over my yard and garage. They kill the birds, among other things. The cats' owners are uppity snobs who refuse to do anything. (P.S.: It took a call to the police and filing charges after three months of animal control complaints to get their dogs to shut up at night.) What's a girl to do?

—Joan

Dear Jo,
Not a chance. Prudie is not discussing animals again. Ever. See above.

—Prudie, resolutely

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Dear Prudence,
The day-care teacher did not specify M.D. Many doctors do, indeed, dig up bones! Have you ever heard of the letters Ph. D.?? Have a nice day.

—George J.H.

Dear George,
Prudie apparently has a large number of readers with doctorates, because your letter was one of dozens pointing this out. Maybe the doctor in the letter was not a physician, but Prudie still thinks students playing with human bones is a "lesson" to be saved until high school ... if then.

—Prudie, boneheadedly

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Dear Prudence,
Before I unload my own little cavalcade of quandary, I must thank you for the many amusing and enlightening responses I've read since discovering your column. Hope you can now help me. I am currently in a relationship that defies the word "wonderful." I'm madly in love, he's wonderful, we're happy. I don't hesitate to call him my soul mate. The problem is he is in the military, and I am a pacifist. While he regularly expresses displeasure with this institution, I believe that his dedication is deep. Am I sacrificing my convictions by continuing this relationship? Although I cannot imagine ending it, I am concerned that I may be chucking my very strong opinions, and this prospect greatly disturbs me.

—Puzzled Pacifist

Dear Puzz,
It is Prudie's belief that the personal trumps the political, and what you describe as a gem of a guy is not in the Mafia, he is in the armed forces of his country. Try to reorganize your thinking to emphasize the defensive and public service aspects of his career. The profession of soldier has an honorable and ancient history. It is fine (if not Utopian) to wish for peaceful approaches all around, but that is not the way life works. As for philosophically differing with the beloved, think Mary Matelin and James Carville. By all means stick to your opinions, and stick with your soul mate.

—Prudie, prioritizingly

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Dear Prudence,
You were wrong, wrong, wrong in your answer to Shell-Shocked in Virginia. The woman who is suffering the abuse is a victim in this situation, not a masochist. And your assertion that her behavior means she is "desperate for male company" is nothing short of idiotic. Telling this woman's friends to refuse to see her when her abuser is around is playing right into a textbook domestic violence tactic: isolation. By isolating victims from their existing support systems, abusers can further their goals of power and control in the relationship. Perhaps this woman's fiends should arm themselves with information that might help her leave this ogre. There are volunteer organizations in most communities that can offer some real advice to this woman and to her friends. Domestic violence shelters often have outreach programs that will offer advice to anyone. There are even hotlines for people in need of anonymous help.

—Shell-Shocked by Your Response to Shell-Shocked

Dear Shell,
Prudie was not reading between the lines, as you were. She will try to be more discerning in the face-value department. You are clearly familiar with and knowledgeable about this subject, making your letter undoubtedly useful to many people.

—Prudie, gratefully