Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Q. Card Confusion: For background, I have Asperger syndrome, or mild autism as they call it now. While I still have some difficulties in social interactions, with constant practice and some therapy I have gotten to the point where I can generally pass without more than an occasional raised eyebrow. This experience, however, has me second guessing myself. I am a large, rather imposing fellow with professional experience in security. About three months or so ago, I received a card (a legitimate snail-mail card) from a very nice young lady who I know through work, stating that she had had a dream about me, in which she and some female friends were being harassed and I showed up and drove the harassers away. I let her know that I had received it through a Facebook message, because I really didn't and don't know what to say. Having stumbled across the card again while cleaning my apartment, I am once again asking myself a) if there was a better way to have responded to it and b) if it was considered normal to send that type of card in the first place. A little clarification would be most appreciated.
A: It is considered normal to send such a card if the person sending it is perhaps a little shy and socially awkward herself and is trying to think of a safe way to initiate a romantic feeler without the danger of getting all flustered in a face to face conversation. That, at least, is my reading of this. Your response was perfectly appropriate, but also sent the signal that you didn't want to pick up on her signal of possible romantic interest. So now the question is: Do you want to? If you are interested in getting to know this very nice young lady better, it is not too late to find out the meaning behind the note. I suggest you send her an email or private Facebook message, saying that you recently came across her card and it made you feel good to think she feels you would protect in a dangerous situation. You can suggest that the two of you get together for a very safe lunch or coffee and offer a couple of dates. And if this works out, you better let us know!
Dear Prudence: No Kissing on the Mouth
Q. How to Forgive/Get Over It?: Two weeks ago today, my mom was hit by a car speeding up to beat a red light. The driver was a 19-year-old kid who stopped at the scene and gave his statement. My mom was a pedestrian and the kid may have been driving over the 45 mph speed limit. THANK THE LORD my mom is expected to make a full recovery, but she broke most of the bones on her left side, her pelvis, her tailbone, just to name a few. She was recently moved from the hospital to an acute in-patient rehab facility. According to the police officer at the scene, the driver was not ticketed and the case is considered closed. I don't believe in revenge and thoroughly believe in forgiveness, but I find myself feeling angry that the driver got to walk away while my mom's life, my dad's life, my life, my kid's lives are dramatically changed by this event. Some days I want to contact the kid (his info is on the police report); other days I pray that I can learn to forgive him. My mom is expected to make a full recovery (although pain may be an ongoing issue), but she won't walk for six-to-eight weeks and will have to go through therapy for longer than that. How do I let go of this anger? The accident could have been a lot worse, so I am thankful that my mom is just suffering from broken bones.
A: I do not understand how almost killing a pedestrian while speeding doesn't even merit a ticket! Your family needs to hire a lawyer. The lawyer can look into what happened and potentially get this case reopened. Yes, we can be grateful the driver stopped, but a reckless young man needs to be held to account for causing massive injuries. A lawyer can also tell you whether you have grounds for a civil suit. You are not seeking revenge, but justice.
Q. Guests: My boyfriend and I live in a fairly large home by ourselves (it's his parents’) whereas our circle of friends still live with their parents. We are all in our early 20s so this is quite normal. Because of our situation, my boyfriend and I often host parties or dinner at our house where we sometimes provide food and/or alcohol and clean beds for our inebriated guests to sleep on. (We are never EVER invited to other people's homes as they are not as free as we are to have guests over.) However I have started resenting these nights as many times one or more of our friends does not bring a gift to be shared with friends on the night. This means that many times I have prepared dinners for a number of people who do not bring so much as a bottle of wine to the meal! Moreover, the morning after I have to get up and clean the entire house, change sheets or make beds together with just my boyfriend (and sometimes even completely alone) because all of our dear friends get up and leave without lending a helping hand. This weekend has been the pinnacle of this behavior. Four of his friends dined and stayed with us overnight, went home then came back for a second dinner and once again slept in our home. Not once did they help clean the house, leaving their beds messy. They also offered just one gift over the weekend whereas they enjoyed two dinners. Am I too sensitive or is this acceptable behavior? I love their company but the nonstop cleaning at the weekend is driving me insane!
A: Your friends have hit the jackpot—free food, free booze, free beds, free detox! Maybe you need to get a neon sign for your home declaring it the Leech Motel. I'm surprised your "friends" haven't balked at your only offering the modified American plan and started screaming, "Where's lunch?" It's one thing that you're the only people in your circle with a place where you can entertain, but if you had parents in residence, you have to ask yourself if these people would still socialize with you. If you don't mind doing some entertaining, you need to make some new rules starting this weekend. First of all, decide how often you want people over. If it's once a month, say so and explain that other get-togethers will have to be off the premises. Then say from now on parties are going to be potluck, and assign dishes to people. Say you're moving to BYOB, and since you're sick of all these Goldilocks sleeping in your beds, tell people they are going to need to cut themselves off before they are unable to drive. Yes, this may drive some of your friends away, but it's time they started getting lessons in reciprocity and self-control.
Q. Re: Pedestrian Accident: The writer says the driver "MAY have been going over the speed limit." (S/he wasn't there, so how are we to know?) The mother may have stepped right in front of the car; it’s not specified. The police investigated this, and found the driver not to be at fault (no ticket). That's why they're called accidents. It's unfortunate, but the kid may very well be not-at-fault, and the mother, despite her injuries may have been.
A: Several people are raising this point. Yes, the daughter wasn't there and we only have her word that the driver was speeding to beat a red light. Maybe Mom was stepping into the crosswalk while looking on her cellphone. The other day I was driving downtown and a middle-aged woman stepped in front of me—not even at a crosswalk!—doing just that. Fortunately, I was going slowly and saw her coming. This inattention on both sides is really scary. But if there was excessive speed and inattention to a pedestrian on the part of the driver, I do think it's worth it for the family to check this out legally and make sure that fault—or not—was properly assessed.