For the accent: Please don't say anything. Most people don't mean to lapse into an accent, and if they realize they're doing it, they'll just be embarrassed. Just be kind and understand that it's easy to fall into speaking like others do. Sincerely, the girl who picks up an accidental Southern accent every time she visits her in-laws.
Emily Yoffe: Good point. It's likely that the majority of people are doing it unconsciously. I lived in Texas (I'm originally from Massachusetts) and at the end of four years there I was definitely saying, "Well, thank YEWWWW!"
Boston: My fiance goes to maybe the most prestigious grad school in the country/world. I go to one that is far less prestigious. People at both programs (not close friends of either of us) have suggested to me that he's likely to move on to someone "more like him" or "in his income bracket" once we're finished in a few years.
I don't believe this, and the one time he heard someone say it he went ballistic on them, but how do I deal with these remarks, which seem to come up pretty casually and often?
Sometimes they actually get me worried that this will happen, although when I'm with him that worry goes away.
Emily Yoffe: Stop worrying. It will only be an issue if you accept the idiotic snobbery of the assumption (and your fiance obviously doesn't) and act as if your degree—and you—have been judged inferior. You could deal with it directly and say, "That's awfully insulting" or you could just fix these social critics a look and say, "Thank you so much for your concern."
Indianapolis, Ind.: Dear Prudence,
I will very soon be graduating from a four-year college program in just three years. I am very proud of the amount of work that I put in to receive my bachelor's degree one year early. My problem is, when I tell others what I have done, nearly every single person regards the fact with disdain, each of them asking incredulously, "WHY?!" I am continually shocked at this response to such a seemingly good piece of news. How should I respond to these people?
—Fast track to the future
Emily Yoffe: First of all, congratulations, and congratulations on saving yourself or your parents buckets of money. The reaction is based on the notion that you have just short-changed yourself a year of contemplative walks along the quad and thrown yourself into adult life too early. You can respond with good humor and say, "I wanted to get a head start on entering the non-existent job market."
Dinner with a side of unsolicited opinion: Dear Prudie, My mother and I are both petite, average-sized women. In preparation for summer, I've upped my workout and dropped some weight while mom is still struggling. Any time I eat more than she'd like (more as in having one popsicle for dessert, not as in having a whole family sized bag of chips) in her presence she adds commentary like "do you really think you should eat that?" or the even more subtle "you're going to get fat." She's definitely preoccupied by her own weight loss goals and adamant about keeping her food diary and couting calories while I've chosen to go the eat sensibly/exercise route. What is a good way to encourage her to keep her own negativity/weight frustration out of my direction while I figure out my own healthy lifestyle?
—Will now be dining in sound proof booth
Emily Yoffe: You need to let her know that you are each going to deal with your eating and weight privately. When she starts commenting say, "Mom, I'm comfortable with what I choose to eat. No one wants to hear a running commentary while they're enjoying a meal." Don't engage beyond that if she tells you why the popsicle will ruin your life. Just keep telling her you want to put caloric intake off the table.
Woodbridge, Va.: Hello, Thanks for taking my question - Quickly, I am a cancer survior. People (friend and family) will ALWAYS but me something with the pink ribbon on it. I HATE THAT! Believe me, I know these people are being nice, and I have expressed my concerns to them more than once (in a nice way). I STILL get the "Pink Stuff"! What am I to do besides keep telling them I HATE IT?! NO PINK RIBBONS FOR ME
Emily Yoffe: Everyone deals with major illness in their own way, and for many people putting cancer out of their minds and resuming their normal lives is the most theraputic way to move on. For people who are close and keep doing it, explain that for you these reminders of cancer just drag you back to a very painful time and that you'd appreciate no more pink ribbon gifts. If they won't stop then, then it's weirdly hostile and when you get another "gift" you can say, "I'm afraid I won't be able to use this. You keep it for someone who would appreciate it more." For others who are just being well meaning, say thanks and then toss or pass on the gifts.