Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
April 18 2002 1:24 PM

I Love My Podiatric Elevation Apparatus

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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Dear Prudence,

I have always referred to large, overstuffed seats with no backs (commonly used as footrests these days) as "ottomans," and I'm sure I'm not alone on this. At a party the other day, I was chided by a friend (who is not Turkish) for using "ottoman" to refer to such a piece of furniture. He said that he had learned from a friend of his (who
is Turkish) that the use of "ottoman" to describe a piece of furniture on which one rests one's feet was insulting. Now I don't buy this, but I have been wrong in the past. I have not been able to find any information on the etymology of the word "ottoman" that is useful. Is it ethnically insensitive of me to call an ottoman an ottoman? And what implications does this have for afghan blankets?

—Overstuffed and Underinformed

Dear Over,

Prudie is soooo tired of all the nonsense propagated by the PC nudniks. An ottoman is an ottoman, my friend, and ever was it thus. (Ditto for the afghan.) One of the sillier examples that comes to mind has to do with the ball teams known as the Indians and the Braves. They are being "encouraged" to change their names. This thinking is but a short hop from trying to change the name of Indiana. Once things are christened, that should be it. The names of things ought not be subject to change depending on politics ... sexual, national, or ethnic.   

—Prudie, nominally

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Dear Prudence,

A casual friend of mine (a golf buddy) always acted sort of strange when riding in the same golf cart. He would make jovial, quasi-sexual references to me, and since I've never associated with gay guys, I assumed he was just going "over the top" with the jokes.  I hadn't played golf with him for quite some time, and at our last round of golf, he made it VERY clear he was not joking around. I still like the guy, he's quite a character, and I don't have a problem handling his unwanted advances. My problem is, do I need to advise his wife of this type of behavior?

—Socially Inept

Dear Sosh,

My God, whatever for?! Chances are she already knows ... and if not, why would you want to be the one to tell her that her spouse may not have declared his major? Think, man. You do not need to be The Enlightener. It would serve no purpose. Prudie does have a compliment for you, though. She thinks it admirable that you are secure enough not to have a problem with this chap's overtures. A lot of men couldn't deal with it.

—Prudie, assuredly

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Dear Prudence,

I will try and make this as quick as I can. I am currently in a relationship with a really great guy. We are both still married but separated from our spouses. His soon-to-be ex is really evil. She dangles their daughter in front of his face like a piece of meat when she wants him to jump through hoops for her. It really makes me very angry. I know I want to be with him the rest of my life. He is a really great father and loves his daughter with all his heart. One day I want to have a child with this man, and I sometimes wonder if he will love my child as much as he loves his first. So my two questions are 1) how do I deal with this evil witch for the rest of my life?; and 2) do you think he will love our child when we have one as much as he loves his first? Thank you for your time.

—Confused in NYC

Dear Con,

Ah, yes, dealing with the ex ... let's call her Andromeda, since she's clearly a strain. How good an actress are you? It would be Prudie's advice to always be cordial to her, unless she becomes out and out hostile ... in which case you should shower her with indifference. Because the child already seems like the bird in their badminton game, try to genuinely feel kindly toward the little girl. In that way, your husband will know you are friend, not foe, should you ever need to "suggest" that the mother's request for a $600 snowsuit is a little out of line. As for your second question, try to bag your competitive feelings re old family versus new family. It usually holds that a good father is a good father; and a man's affection for a child is often influenced by how he feels about the child's mother. Ergo ... it's a pretty good bet that any child you may have with this man will be as dear to him as the one he already has.

—Prudie, positively

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Dear Prudence,

I am in a difficult situation. I have been in a relationship for over three years now. I believe I am truly in love with this person. We have discussed marriage and have agreed that the wedding will be in the spring of next year. We have been living together for about two years now and have a child on the way. My difficulty has to do with his drinking. I guess he is what you would call an alcoholic. It never bothered me before, but ever since I found out I was pregnant, it has torn us practically apart. I hate to give up what we have over alcohol, but he doesn't seem to want to give up the alcohol, either. What should I do?

—Worried

Dear Wor,

Alcoholism is cumulative. Its destructiveness intensifies with time. It is an axiom of the on-the-wagon crowd that alcohol is a problem if someone close to the drinker says it's a problem. Your intended seems to be in denial. His disinclination to give up the booze may be out of fear that he can't. The thing for you to understand is that you can't make him get sober because you ask or threaten. What you can do is invite him to give AA a try if he wishes to continue his life with you. (They have a wonderful track record of success.) No amount of crying or begging will get him to see things your way. He must want to clean up his act. If he chooses not to, you should plan to make a separate life for yourself and the child on the way. By making this decision sooner rather than later, you will save yourself years of grief and lost time.

—Prudie, honestly