Editor's note:Prudie's response to a letter about whether rice thrown at weddings harms birds inadvertently plagiarized three sentences from snopes.com, a Web site that debunks urban legends. Margo Howard and Slate apologize to the original author, Barbara Mikkelson. We have removed this letter and the response.
A few weeks ago, after a few too many cocktails, I had sex with my best friend's boyfriend while she was away on business. When I woke up the next morning, I expected to feel horrible about what I had done. But to my surprise, I felt fine—even a little happy about it! We are all very close, and I hear both sides of their relationship. When something is wrong, I stand by her but tend to agree with him because she is so unreasonable and moody with him. And I think that she treats him badly. I have always prided myself on being a GREAT friend and never thought I was capable of doing something like this. I don't understand why I don't feel any remorse. Shouldn't I be feeling like a horrible friend and want to confess what I did?
Well, Prudie thinks you may not be THAT great a friend. We will just gloss over the alcohol-fueled roll in the hay and move on to what perhaps is really going on here. Although you declare this girl to be your best friend, you don't like the way she treats her boyfriend, and you also find her "unreasonable" and "moody." You are, at best, ambivalent about her. You probably feel no remorse because you've either had your eye on the guy or it seemed like a nice way to punish your "friend" for her ill treatment of the bf. As for confessing, the wish to tell her of the intimacy may have subconsciously preceded the deed. Think about these possibilities a little bit, and your questions may be answered.
I have been dating "Troy" for just over a year. We are not engaged but have talked about marriage and children. Here's the problem. His stepfather is an ex-convict. His crime? Child molestation. This completely freaks me out. Troy tells me that he is completely recovered and has been rehabilitated so that he "no longer finds children sexually appealing." I still have a hard time digesting this. I told Troy that I do NOT want him anywhere near my children when we have them, that I don't want him at their birthday parties, and I really would rather not even invite him to the wedding as my nieces, nephew, and other children will be in attendance. I feel as though it would be an immense betrayal to my brother and friends if I knowingly allowed a child molester near their children at any family events. Troy has told me that he simply cannot NOT invite his mother and stepfather to these gatherings (even though he has distaste for both of them). He says that although he would never leave his kids ALONE with his stepfather, he sees no reason why they cannot be around him with our supervision. Am I being unreasonable or paranoid, or am I justified in having these feelings? I feel this could be the one thing that could prevent us from living happily ever after.
—Concerned for the Children
Your revulsion for this man is understandable, but perhaps you will feel calmer if you remind yourself that 1) you HAVE no children, 2) you are not married to this man, and 3) there is not even a wedding planned. In principle, it's agreed that one would not want kids to even be in the same room with such a man. However, if everyone is in a group, there is little possibility of him harming a child. Your young man is right about protecting the children through supervision but mistaken about something else: Pedophilia is an affliction for which there is rarely a "cure." It is not even a certainty that castration removes the urge. It is a good start that you and your young man have similar feelings about his mother and stepfather, but now you should familiarize yourself with the issue of pedophilia and decide, together, how the two of you would handle this detail if there were to be a wedding.
Would you please tell me your thoughts about this? Recently my friend and I went to the ladies room after a movie. It was full, and there were 10 or so women waiting to use the facilities. The stall next to me was the handicapped one, and I could see a wheelchair but heard no voices. As I was washing my hands, the door to the handicapped stall opened, and a man was pushing the lady in the wheelchair. A lot of the women, including myself, were more than a bit shocked. My friend said I was making too big a deal out of it and asked if I thought he should have taken her into the men's room instead. I suppose what I am wondering is: Is this common practice these days? I don't know why it upset me like it did; it's just that in my 51 years, I've never shared a public restroom with a man! If you think I am overreacting, I will let it go.
Longtime readers will probably gasp that the words "handicapped," "stall," and "ladies room" are appearing, once again, in this column, but it just proves that time has curative powers. As to your overall question about overreacting, an aye vote comes from this corner. In an age when there are unisex bathrooms and bathrooms with no designation, it hardly seems like a big deal that a man was in the ladies room helping someone who is disabled. This pair clearly did not belong in the men's room, for the reason that there are urinals out in the open. You might want to reflect on why you were shocked to be observed by a man washing your hands.