Prudie Makes a Booty Call

Prudie Makes a Booty Call

Prudie Makes a Booty Call

Advice on manners and morals.
May 3 2001 11:30 PM

Prudie Makes a Booty Call

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Prudie,
I have a question that is sort of embarrassing to "ask around the office" about. It has to do with the use of a particular slang word. The word is "booty." I have heard this word used by people I do not think mean to be intentionally vulgar, as it has been heard on TV and in songs going back at least 20 to 25 years. For quite some time I assumed this meant "posterior," based on its usage. Lately, an acquaintance has been using it to mean "vagina," and now I'm wondering if I have misunderstood the meaning. Sure, there is the term "booty call" that refers to an impersonal sexual encounter, but I assumed that it was not specific. Can you please help clarify the usage of "booty"? If it refers to female genitalia, I intend to immediately remove it from my vocabulary. If it is "rear-end," I would like to know that, too.

—LKB

Dear L,
While Prudie is not the William Safire of Slate, she tried to rustle up an answer because, like you, she has wondered about this word. Of course, just as "gay" formerly meant jovial, "booty" was a little knit sock for an infant. It's an age thing. According to Andy Ihnatko, Prudie's favorite go-to guy, here is what we need to know: "The origins of 'booty' go as follows: 1) treasure or valuables, as in pirate booty; 2) those bits of your body that prove most valuable on the dance floor while trying to attract some Hai Karate-wearing gold-chain-sportin' hair-featherin' lothario; 3) the classic anthem of "Shake Your Booty," which caused people to link the term straight to the backside. These days, 'booty' is more of a zone than a specific part." So the, ahem, bottom line is that booty is in the eye of the beholder.

—Prudie, alternatively

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Dear Prudence,
I have a big dilemma. For the last year, I have been dating a great guy off and on. The first time we broke up, he told me something just didn't feel right. Three weeks later, our relationship was almost where it had been before, and ever since then we've been off and on, with the occasional big fights followed by breathing room. Recently, he told me that I was "almost The One, but not quite." To complicate matters, I've met someone really terrific I'd like to start seeing. What is the easiest way to solve this?

—Stumped

Dear Stump,
Tell the great guy (not the really terrific someone) that he is your almost steady boyfriend—but not quite. Then by all means explore a relationship with the new person. Prudie is wary of these on-again, off-again romances. Some people thrive on the big blowup/then kiss-and-make-up routine, but the underpinnings of such a dynamic are neurotic. This is entirely a personal preference, but if someone told Prudie she was "almost the one, but not quite," there would be skid marks from the speed of her departure.

—Prudie, decidedly

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Hi Prudie,

Just one of many notes you'll probably get about the
family from Mexico. A factor in play here is cultural. At the risk of sounding condescending, which I certainly do not intend, let me point out that the notion of family ties and how they can be leveraged is somewhat different in other cultures. (The word "nepotism," after all, comes from the Latin for "nephew.") It's quite possible that the recently immigrated family feels it's a family obligation that they be supported. Ditto for the kid thing. My limited experience of family life in Mexico is that they're happy enough to let young kids run wild (by our standards) until bam!—all of a sudden, as teens, they're expected to act like adults. Somewhat in contrast to our culture (ha ha). None of which means, of course, that this all has to be accepted. Hey, ¡bienvenidos a los EEUU! But it might at least partly explain why there seems to be such a difference in interpretation of what's going on.

—Mike P.

Dear Mike,

Oy, Prudie is loco from the mail about the new arrivals ... but she does thank you, one and all, for the heads-up on cultural differences. Do bear in mind, however, that the Mexican sister who's been here a while has adopted our way of life and made the adjustment, so it's not unreasonable to expect, or hope, that the new family will also want to assimilate once the differences are made clear. This is not too far off the mark of foreigners coming here and learning to speak English.

Prudie, adaptively

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Dear Prudie,

What do you think makes great marriages work? I know a couple who is divorcing after 34 years together, and it kind of startled me and made me think. I'm 22 and hope to be married in the next five years or so, but I worry about divorce in my future. It's something I really hope never to go through. So what makes a marriage successful? How do people know if they've met the right person so that they never get divorced?

Thanks,

—Wedding Belle

Dear Wed,

Wouldn't you rather know the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin? Only kidding. Of course there are no real "answers" to your questions. If there were, Prudie would be sending them off for a buck apiece, in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, thereby joining her boss, Mr. Gates, on the Rich List. To offer some food for thought, however, Prudie would first suggest ... thought. Try to look ahead by evaluating the beloved's character and responses. Do they mesh (or not) with your own? Make an effort to keep in mind the lasting values as opposed to, say, pyrotechnics in the bedroom, drop-dead good looks, or a platinum MasterCard. And take proper note of serious problems such as dishonesty, an uncontrollable temper, and alcohol or drug abuse. Women are not reform schools. We cannot "fix" whatever is wrong. (To be fair, the same is true for men as well.) Initiate discussions about important issues involved in making a life together: goals, career, fidelity, children; do not wander into marriage thinking such things will "work themselves out." Bear in mind that little annoyances do not recede with time; they just become bigger annoyances. Try to gauge if the person is someone who will wear well and grow. Perhaps the most important qualities are kindness and affection. Oh yes, and then there's dumb luck. Full disclosure: Prudie has more than one divorce decree in a drawer, so she speaks from experience and observation, not from success right out of the gate. And should divorce become the best way to repair a life, it is not the end of the world or a red flag of failure. It can be, rather, a correction and a second chance. Prudie wishes you all the best when you make your choice.

—Prudie, matrimonially