Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 9 2004 7:45 AM

When Words Are Enough

Facing the holidays with a loved one's terminal illness.

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

Dear Prudence,

In September my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The doctors are not predicting a lot of remaining time. They've told us this will be the last holiday season with one we love so much. My grandmother is the backbone of our family and means so much to all the kids and grandchildren. My husband and I want to give her something that will mean a lot to her and let her know how much she means to us. However, what do you give a person who is about to have their last Christmas? The usual picture frame or elaborate candle just doesn't seem right. I'm at a total loss at this very difficult time for the entire family. Please help!

—Upset and Concerned in Alabama

Dear Up,

Of course you are right about the usual tangible gifts being unsuitable for the upcoming holiday. What Prudie thinks you are searching for, as the perfect last gift, would be letters—from everyone in the family—expressing love, appreciation, and special memories. These could be collected in a book or an album. Prudie can think of nothing more meaningful, especially because people often have wonderful thoughts and sentiments they've never gotten around to verbalizing. (A small P.S.: A lovely holiday candle might not be such a bad idea in addition, because there is nothing permanent about it and many people find candles soothing, particularly the aromatherapy ones.) In a way, your family has a blessing, my dear, in that you will have the chance to say goodbye to your beloved grandmother.

—Prudie, meaningfully

Dear Prudence,

I'm sure this isn't the first time this question has been asked of you, but I hope you can shed some light on the subject for others like myself. I am a bright young woman, one who is otherwise prudent in her decisions and behavior. However, there exist several Web sites with nude photos of me. Nothing sexual with partners, however—merely erotic poses. Here's my question. Knowing that the person I have just started dating doesn't frequent these sites, there's little to fear about him personally finding them. Barring the worry of discovery, should I clue him in about my past peccadilloes? Should I wait until we grow serious or avoid the subject all together? If I were continuing this activity, I could see telling him, but it was more of a brief flirtation. I may be young, but I am a good girl and want my young man to continue to respect me.

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—Not So Good?

Dear Not,

Actually, this is only the second time your question has been asked. At least among Prudie readers, it is not all that common to have one's peccadilloes displayed on the Internet. Because you say your young man (to your knowledge) does not frequent these sites, say nothing. If things progress, and there are no direct questions, such as, "Can someone find your peccadilloes on the Internet?" you need not volunteer the information. Should your "flirtation" be revealed, it is all right to say it was something you did when you were young and foolish.

—Prudie, selectively

Dear Prudence,

My wife was recently invited to attend a housewares party by one of her friends in our neighborhood. When she arrived at the party at the appointed time, she noticed that several other mutual friends who said they'd been invited were not there. During the course of the party, she noticed that there was a substantial amount of wrapped food and some floral arrangements in the kitchen. At the announced end time for the party, the hostess pointedly stood by the door and ushered guests out quickly. Well, it turns out that there was actually a "second" party immediately after the "first" party. My wife has learned that the first party was apparently for acquaintances while the second party, with the more lavish food and flowers, was apparently for close friends. My wife considers the hostess a friend, exercises with her on a fairly regular basis, and we've even included her son on our family vacations. Moreover, space was not a problem, as this person lives in a fairly large home. Thus, my wife feels somewhat slighted by the whole affair. Is she justified, or do you think it's just sour grapes from finding out she is on the "B list"?

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—Thanks,

Disgruntled Neighbor

Dear Dis,

What you call a housewares party (like a Tupperware party?) seems an odd occasion for the A list/ B list thing. Perhaps the hostess didn't want a large number of women looking and buying at the same time? (Though the better-looking food and flowers would seem to confirm the hierarchy of guests—but two sets of flowers doesn't make a lot of sense.) It is always a letdown to realize you are on anyone's B-list, so your wife's hurt feelings are understandable. Time will determine how she deals with this woman.

—Prudie, categorically

Dearest Prudie,

I am a fairly attractive young woman in my second year of law school. I have had my fair share of love as well as heartache but have never come across a man like the one I recently began dating. My new sweetie and I recently consummated our relationship, and all seemed to be going well ... until Sweetie dropped a bombshell while driving me home last night. While the two of us were joking around about a mutual friend's display of jealousy at the bar that night, Sweetie tells me he is married. At first I thought he was joking, given the lighthearted joking at the bar. He said he and his wife married too young, separated, and she still lives in his hometown four hours south of our school, etc., etc. I got out of the car still believing he was trying to pull my leg. But then he sent me a text message later that night saying he was sorry and "should have told me sooner." This upset me a great deal, and I spent the rest of the night crying to my best girlfriend about being seriously misled about Sweetie, his past, and his intentions. He finally called me this afternoon to attempt to convince me that our sexual relationship did not need to end since he is separated. I explained my position: Whether or not he is OK with dating outside of his marriage, he should have given me the opportunity to be fully informed and decide for myself whether I, too, was comfortable with the situation. Conceding that this was a valid point, he then laughed and said, "And if you believe all that, then I've got a bridge to sell you." Now I don't know whether to believe that he was indeed lying as a joke or whether he's actually lying about lying. Regardless, I have had about enough of the entire situation and am pretty fed up with the guy. At the same time, though, I am disappointed that what had been a lovely, blossoming relationship is now ... well, a joke! I would love to know how you would handle the situation.

—Punch Line to My Heart

Dear Punch,

Prudie would tell Sweetie that his sense of humor leaves you cold, just as does his real or made-up wife. Your first markdown is your cheapest, as they say in the retail business. It is time for the guy with the bad judgment to go.

—Prudie, categorically