Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at
Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at
Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Nov. 23 2009 3:33 PM

Thanksgiving Misgivings

Prudie talks turkey with advice seekers about the upcoming holiday and all its pitfalls.

(Continued from Page 1)


Holiday parties and coworkers: I'm sure I won't be the only person asking this. ... I work in a fairly small department. I socialize with some people in the department (lunches and occasionally outside of work). I was considering asking those I socialize with to a holiday party but don't want to possibly create ill will in the department. For holiday events with co-workers, is it better to invite all or invite none, or can it be assumed that as it is known that some of us engage socially outside of work, I can invite only those I am social with?

(For what it's worth, there are not space limitations, it's an open house, and I doubt the folks I don't socialize with would come, but I don't want to have to baby-sit people who don't know other friends; and the people I do socialize with know my other friends, too.)

Emily Yoffe: At my daughter's elementary school, there was a birthday party rule that either you invited everyone or you invited fewer than half the class. That seems like a good way to go here. If you only have a few work friends who are also social friends, then just invite them, but send the invitation to their homes and don't discuss the party at work. However, since you work in a small department, if you are going to invite a significant number of people, go ahead and invite them all, especially since it's an open house. Then don't worry about baby-sitting anyone. Be a gracious hostess and introduce them to new people they might like, then leave them to act like well-socialized adults.



Washington, D.C.: My boyfriend and I have been together for a year, and things are great.

BUT ... I'm having trouble with something, and I know it's me not him and I need help getting over it.

His ex-girlfriend (from a few years ago) is one of the most gorgeous people I've ever seen in my life. I'm cute and in good shape, but I happened to be at the same gym as this girl, and she has the sort of body that I didn't really think was possible. And super pretty too.

They're not friends anymore, and he never mentions her at all, so I know this is dumb, but I just can't get past the thought that there's no way he'll ever stop thinking about this girl's body because I know, after having seen it, I can't stop thinking about it, either!

Emily Yoffe: He was with her; now he's with you. He had a go with Helen of Troy, but he prefers someone cute but wonderful. It turns out even if you're with someone really gorgeous, unless you're getting along, the good looks are meaningless (see: Prince Charles, Diana, and Camilla). However, your relationship can be ruined if you turn from the delightful person you are into a jealous obsessive who puts herself down. Keep going to the gym, staying in shape, and ignoring her; and keep reminding yourself that he doesn't want her, he wants you.


Turkeys in the kitchen: I serve a full turkey dinner at Christmas to eight people, and my grocery bill, including the bird, is $250. Girlfriend should toss $10 into the hat and bring her own bottle of wine.

Emily Yoffe: I wonder if they'll say, "Sorry, no seconds for people who didn't pay the full cover!"


San Diego, Calif.: No, no, no, do NOT ask your co-workers to your holiday party. Trust me, someday (sooner than you expect) you will regret asking them over so they can examine your medicine cabinet ...

Emily Yoffe: When you entertain, anyone can look in your medicine cabinets. Instead of the marble trick (load the medicine cabinet with them so they fall with a crash on the nosey guests), just stash your medicine and your easily accessible financial records, etc., somewhere inaccessible when company calls.


New York, N.Y.: Just a quick etiquette question for you. ... I was in a packed movie theater last night, and I had two adolescent boys behind me. One of them had seen the movie already, and one had not. How do I know this? Well, they talked incessantly the entire time. It tapered at times, but I could still hear rude boy No. 1 explaining things to rude boy No. 2 most of the time. It was so distracting, and as it continued, infuriating. I did the requisite half-turn-around so they would see that I could hear them and found it annoying. That piped them down for a bit. Then they ramped it up for the closing 2-3 minutes! I was so pissed, it took every fiber of my being to not turn around and curse them ad nauseam. When it was over, I had to leave immediately, lest I become my mother and lecture them on the spot about how rude they were. I also sensed it would have done no good, being that they seem to be in their "I'm-such-a-cool-smartass" years. How should I have handled it?

Emily Yoffe: You're right, what would a post-movie lecture from "Mom," accomplish? When the half-turn evil eye doesn't work, you need to address the problem more directly at the time. You should have turned around and quietly said, "Gentlemen, you're ruining the movie for us and we need you to please stop talking." Beyond that, there's not much you can do, except join Netflix.


San Francisco: I've got really rude in-laws, and they drive me crazy. Now, they are nice and well-intentioned people who raised my wonderful husband ... but, they somehow missed the memo on basic communication and manners.