Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at
Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at
Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
June 23 2009 3:49 PM

Boyfriend Gives His Teeth the Brushoff

Prudie counsels a woman whose partner is lax at oral care—and other advice seekers.

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Emily Yoffe: This is your chance to completely butt out. They are both adults and it's up to Friends #1 and #2 to decide where they want to live and how they want to conduct their romantic lives.


Philadelphia, Penn.: Hi Prudie, My husband and I just bought plane tickets to go see a friend's new baby in August. But my mother-in-law just informed me that she's having a big 60th birthday party for herself that weekend! She was really upset when she heard we'd be out of town, but changing the tickets will be hundreds of dollars. What should we do?

Emily Yoffe: You have to look at this in the longer term than the immediate cost. Is your mother-in-law's weekend absolutely set, or is she flexible? If it's set, you and your husband know if she's the kind of person who, after her initial upset, would say she understands she should have told your earlier, and she knows it will be too hard to change your travel plans, then you can go. But maybe she's the kind of person who will bring this up at her 70th, 80th, and 90th birthdays. If that's the case, amortize the cost of the tickets over those decades, and tell your friends you have to reschedule.


Glendora, Calif.: Hi Emily.

I need a little workplace guidance. About once or twice a week, a male coworker will buy a coffee drink for myself and another female in the office. The gesture is very sweet and much appreciated. The problem is that neither I nor my female coworker like the drink he chooses for us. It feels like a waste of money for him to spend 3 or 4 dollars for each of us when we both inevitably pour the drinks down the drain.

What is the polite thing to do in this situation? Would it seem ungrateful to tell him what kind of drink I would prefer or should I just let him continue to spend his money in vain to spare his feelings?


Emily Yoffe: This guy is shelling out about $16 a week in unwanted gifts, so that's a lot of money to go down the drain. Also, picking up an occasional coffee, etc. for a colleague is one thing, but a constant stream of one-way gifts can be uncomfortable The two of you should tell him that while you very much appreciate his thoughtfulness, both of you are trying to cut down on snacks, and that the drinks are delicious but too caloric for you. Tell him that he's wonderfully generous, but your waistlines and his wallet would be in better shape if he cut back.


Just overweight, thanks: Speaking of people asking if you're expecting a baby, is there way to say "no" that isn't awkward for them? It happened to me recently in a professional context, and I wasn't sure the best way to get past the moment.

Emily Yoffe: I think Dave Barry's rule is the best: Never ask a woman you're not sure is pregnant if she's pregnant, even if you notice a baby's head appears to be emerging from her. Yes, this is embarrassing for all concerned. So if you're the one being asked, you can laugh it off by saying, "I'm not. But if I were the fathers would be Ben & Jerry."


Emily Yoffe: Thanks everyone. Talk to you next Monday.