I enjoy your column (a lot) and therefore won't feign grievous injury about your reply to "Overstuffed." But on the issue of name "permanence," I have to disagree. When white males choose to "christen" things without regard to how offensive their christenings may be, I think it's perfectly reasonable for the insulted parties to make their voices heard. For a long time, it was perfectly acceptable (in nearly every American social stratum) to refer to people of my race as "niggers." Thankfully, that christening hasn't stuck. It was nothing less than the full-throated assertions of my ancestors that transformed that particular word into one of the most reviled in the English language. So … although I DO agree that PC nudnikism can be a royal pain, I can't deny the merit of this issue.
Prefer Nudnik to N----r
P.S.: I will concede that I hadn't really considered the ottoman issue, despite numerous references to the Ottoman Empire in history classes. However, upon reflection, "footrest" saves a syllable AND an argument. (At least until the Footrestian contingent reads your column.)
You and many Prudie people wrote to make this point. Prudie's answer was perhaps more strident than it needed to be, and on the question of once it's named, it's named, the readers who wrote were correct, and Prudie was not.
I recently hurt my neck and went to a see a chiropractor. I have been seeing him every day for a week, and I think I am falling for him. I am 21; he is 26 and single. I don't know how to go about showing my interest in him without making it awkward. I can tell that he is interested, so how do I show him that I am interested without crossing the line?
—Pain in the Neck
Not wishing to enter into a jihad with devotees and practitioners of chiropractic, Prudie will not dwell on the fact that chiropractors aren't MDs. Not knowing the standards for chiropractors, she will simply say that medical doctors' rules may or may not apply. For example, in the medical world, a psychiatrist-patient romance is verboten while other specialties are less strict. Prudie's own in-house physician, Dr. Pussycat, says that even without formal strictures against romantic relationships with patients, a good rule of thumb is that doctors do not treat members of their own families or people they are close to. So ... if you feel your bone-cracker is twinkling back at you, you might ask if he'd be up for a dinner date ... and then you could tell him that if he has professional concerns, you would be happy to take his recommendation for an equally good person for your neck.
My ex-husband will not stop smoking in front of our children. Our youngest daughter has asthma and can't stand to be around smoke. I've tried to talk to him about smoking around the children, but he denies doing it. My children tell me otherwise ... plus, I can smell the smoke on their clothes. What should I do?
What a swine. One kid is wheezing, and he can't abstain during what Prudie assumes to be visits to his house. Your opening salvo should be to have the child's pediatrician call him to explain that cigarette smoke is a danger to the child's pulmonary function and he is endangering the youngster's health. If he rides over that, your next step would be to go back to court on a post-decretal motion asking the judge to order him not to smoke during visitation or to alter the place and circumstances of the visits.
I have a friend, a good friend, that I have always been curious about, let's say, on a more personal level. He has never made any advances toward me, and I doubt that he's ever seriously thought of me in a sexual way. My dilemma is whether or not he would be open to the suggestion. Being the take-charge girl that I am, making the first move normally wouldn't bother me. But with this guy, given our history, I have a sudden case of bashfulness. Should I swallow my pride and ask him out, at the risk of rejection, heartbreak, or alienation? Or is letting it go the name of this game?
—Ambivalent in Florida
Forgive the lack of originality here, but Prudie's bottom line on this one is "nothing ventured, nothing gained." For peace of mind, these kinds of questions need to be answered. You cannot drag around with a guy, as his pal, all the while wondering if the two of you might make beautiful music together ... of the classical kind. The fact that he has never made any advances toward you, however, is not without meaning. We can hope that what it means is shyness. Good luck.
Prudie liked this bonus follow-up letter to "Just Don't Get It," who wondered how to respond to his friend's painting, the meaning of which eluded him:
I am a devoted fan and wanted to share two other "compliments" one can give an actor after a performance. I am a retired actor and have heard them all. This one was told to me by Milton Berle, who said to Jack Carter after his act in Las Vegas, "Jack, you've never been better!" An English director told Burgess Meredith after seeing his Hamlet ... "Burgess, you should do Lear!" Both actors were delighted with the comments, I'm told.