Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
July 11 2002 2:37 PM

When Eggheads Fall for Hard Hats


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Dear Prudence,

The love of my life and I have a problem. I am currently a junior at a small, private liberal-arts college, studying international politics, economics, and English. My boyfriend is a very intelligent ... construction worker. This seems to be more of a problem for him than it is for me. I don't care because I know that he is very intelligent, but he is bothered by my education-induced responses to daily life (i.e., analyzing movie plots, using unnecessarily big words and/or concepts on small things ... like, "Don't disenfranchise me by confiscating the last piece of pizza, OK?"). I personally believe he feels threatened and insecure, but telling him I think he's smart doesn't seem to help. He has never dated a "smart" girl before, and he tells me he loves my intelligence and doesn't want me to change particularly; it's just the idiosyncratic byproducts that get to him after awhile. We love each other very much, and there are plenty of things we have in common ... higher education just isn't one of them. How might we overcome this problem for now and the future (aside from me feigning mediocrity around him)?




Dear Smart,

Your example about the pizza speaks volumes. A really smart girl wouldn't need to use the words "disenfranchise" and "confiscating" when asking her boyfriend not to eat the last slice of pizza. Perhaps before the stop at the pizza parlor you digested a dictionary? It is not a sign of mediocrity, by the way, to use plain and direct language. Perhaps you can program yourself to use the big words and deconstruct movies with your classmates. Prudie gets the idea that perhaps you are a little impressed with your small, private liberal-arts college and your studies in international politics, economics, and English. Prudie's only advice to you about this problem would be to bag the "idiosyncratic byproducts" and just be a girl. Be yourself.

—Prudie, naturally


A friend of mine asked me to be her maid of honor, and I accepted. Now I'm having second thoughts and do not want to be her maid of honor because I have come to realize that she isn't the friend I thought she was. How do I tell her without hurting her feelings and totally pissing her off? We also work together, so I want to be able to at least get along enough to avoid friction in the office. I wouldn't mind serving in the wedding at some other menial job, like guest-book watcher. And do I have to tell her to her face? I HATE confrontation and would rather send her a card or e-mail. 




Dear Bum,

You've already accepted, kiddo, so it looks like you'll have to be a big phony for the day. It is unfortunate that you found out whatever it is you found out, but your discovery that she has two faces comes too late to do you any good. And for whatever it's worth, she felt you were the closest girlfriend she had ... hence the invitation to be maid of honor, not guest-book watcher. The good news, if you take Prudie's advice, is you no longer have to worry about whether to e-mail her or back out face-to-face, hurting her feelings, pissing her off, or having a frosty situation at your mutual place of work. Prudie hopes you catch the bouquet.

—Prudie, unambiguously

Dear Prudence,

I am an aspiring writer. I am currently working on my first novel. In one of the chapters, the main character loses her virginity. I'm very descriptive when describing what takes place. The problem is that my husband, whom I adore and respect, is a minister. He feels that as a Christian, I shouldn't be so descriptive. I wouldn't do any thing to embarrass my husband or myself. I personally don't feel uncomfortable using the language that I use. I feel if I'm going to be good at what I do, I have to be honest and free to write whatever I choose. His comments have taken the wind out of my sails. Plus, I know in other chapters there definitely will be more descriptiveness. What shall I do?

—Preacher's Wife


Dear Preach,

Ah yes, the old problem of descriptive Christians. The upside for the good reverend is that you are "aspiring" ... as opposed to sitting on an advance. So, for the time being, tell him his parishioners are not in danger of being scandalized by the minister's wife. And perhaps if you don't share your manuscript as it's taking shape, you will spare yourself—and him—the drama of the descriptions. And from one scrivener to another, good luck.

—Prudie, industriously

Dear Prudie,

A penny for your thoughts. Over the past few decades, it seems that "tip jars" have become ubiquitous at takeout restaurants and other places where employees are not traditionally tipped. Personally, I'm usually just as glad to get rid of change, so I'll commonly drop my coins into the jar. If I'll need coins later, if the clerk was rude, or if I just don't feel like it, I have no compunction about pocketing my change. My question is—what about my 2 cents? I often find myself stopping by a shop in the morning for a breakfast snack. The tab for my usual order is $1.98. The staff there is inevitably friendly and helpful, so I'd normally be disposed to dropping my change in the jar. However—I worry that a 2 cent "tip" would be considered an insult. (Which is the opposite of what I'd wish!) What should I do with those two pennies?

—Mark, Non-Gratuitously

Dear Mark,

Find a fountain and make a wish.

—Prudie, magically