I have an ethical dilemma that has plagued me for years but has recently become acute. Ten years ago I adopted a cute kitten (whom I named, perhaps unfortunately, Prudence), and now I own a cat I hate. Over the years she has proven to be unbearably needy, a trait I find repellent. Her faults are myriad: a screaming meow that awakens me in the early hours of the morning, an apparent inability to learn the basics of litter-box usage or basic grooming, a tendency to drool when receiving her scant portion of affection, as well as colitis, arthritis, and dandruff. I know these things aren't her fault, but they do make me avoid (neglect) her. And now that I have a baby on the way, I have even less patience for her. Yet the thought of her in a cage at the SPCA, possibly to be abandoned by new owners (in the unlikely event that someone actually took her), leaves me contorted with guilt. This feeling is compounded by the presence of my other cat, a beloved pet I plan to keep. Prudie, can you offer me advice—or perhaps absolution?
It is interesting that Prudence the Cat is needy. Most cat owners say the slinky felines are haughty and aloof ... bundles of attitude in a fur coat, if you will. Perhaps this idiosyncrasy, along with the other unfortunate ones you mention, just underlines that you wound up with the bad seed of cats. Not being a cat psychiatrist (for the record, Prudie is not a people psychiatrist, either), it would seem that the annoyance on four legs is neurotic, if not disturbed. (Prudie has had only two cats, years ago, one of which was litter–box-averse, like your Prudence, choosing instead to hop up on a Regency bench and see to its toilette.) There are, let us say diplomatically, some unusual people who love any kind of cat ... even one with colitis, arthritis, and dandruff. Check with your vet about a "readoption." Try placing an ad with www.craigslist.com, which has many cities listed. (Go to Pets, which is under Community.) Should this not work, find a no-kill shelter. In the situation you describe, you should not keep the cat, but bless you for wishing to leave no kitty behind.
I am a 35-year-old woman who's recently begun receiving a slew of baby shower invitations from women I either don't know well or women I was close to years ago but have barely spoken to in recent times. One "honoree" lives about 30 miles away, and I haven't spoken to her in two years—despite my attempts to invite her to my home, out for lunch, etc. Today I got a baby shower invite from her. Needless to say, I didn't even know she was pregnant. In another case I got both a shower invitation and birth announcement from a neighbor who actually turned and went back in her house when she saw me approaching our community mailbox! The invites say only one thing to me: These women aren't particularly fond of me, but they are more than willing to accept any gift I might send. Am I reading this wrong? There very well could be a piece of modern mommy etiquette I simply don't know about. More to the point, do I have to send a gift to folks who don't return my phone calls?
—Thanks very much,
Cash Cow in Colorado
There is no "modern mommy etiquette" you're not up on, and you are reading things correctly. Prudie has long thought that announcements and shower invitations sent to people who have no real relationship with the sender should be called by their right name: invoices. Pay no attention to them, my friend, and do not feel the least bit guilty or apologetic. As for people who snub you and then send requests for gifts, they sound nervy and acquisitive. Ignore them.
I recently married my boyfriend of three years, and I feel so lucky. He is wonderful, we have a devoted, supportive relationship and are willing to do anything necessary to make each other happy. I find him very attractive, and I love him so much, but I'm having problems with our sex life. The truth is that I find this very surprising, but I don't enjoy sex. Although I have never been intimate with anyone besides my husband, I have always considered myself to be a sexual person with a healthy libido, but something happens when we start to have intercourse; my arousal just disappears. He tries so hard to make the experience pleasurable for me, but I just can't seem to get into it. I am not incapable of orgasm (under other circumstances), and I am not inhibited, but something just is not working. Is he bad at it? Am I bad at it? Is there something wrong with me? Now I feel like we should have dealt with this before we got married. Please help!
Waited and Regretting It
Prudie is in no position to know if either of you is bad at it, but she does feel strongly that a knowledgeable third party will be able to help find answers. You might consider starting with either a psychologist or a sex therapist. Whether one or both of you together explores this stumbling block would be determined by the therapist. You are wise to want to understand what's going on. But the good news is that you think you've got a great guy, so have hope. All will be well with some educated intervention.
I have been with a wonderful, loving man for about three years now. Up until two weeks ago, we lived in different apartments but visited each other often and even stayed the night many times. He recently moved in with me. It was something that we had discussed and decided would be great. Not to say that it isn't, but trivial things are starting to annoy me. I've been with him long enough to know his little idiosyncrasies, but they never bothered me until now (like how he wrinkles the sheets when he sleeps, for example). I've realized that I sometimes snap at him for no reason at all. I'm in my last semester of college, so I am wondering if his moving in is just an additional stressor that's getting me all bent out of shape. By no means do I want to end the relationship as I love him dearly, but do you think I will eventually adjust before I nag him to death?
Prudie is reasonably certain that your wonderful, loving man is not wrinkling the sheets any differently now than he did previously. Your observation about trivial things annoying you is the crux of the matter. Nitpicky complaints are most likely a stand-in for your general angst about graduating. Because you value the relationship, cut him some slack, make an effort not to verbalize whatever zinger you might otherwise let fly, and offer an inclusive apology-in-advance for any criticisms that might slip out. Recognize that what's going on is likely the bachelor of arts version of PMS.