lilysea: Arsehole (Arsehole)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,
I am an older, sexually conservative woman who got herpes from a man I was dating. He’s a pillar of the community and did not tell me he had herpes. I had a long dry spell before we started dating. My issue is that I have an unlabeled bottle of herpes medication in my desk drawer at work. My administrative assistant asked for some pain relievers, and I opened my desk drawer and shared from a labeled, over-the-counter bottle of acetaminophen. I saw her staring at the unlabeled bottle in the drawer. Later that day I went back to my office, and she and another person had actually opened the unlabeled bottle and were looking at the medicine! I was too stunned to say anything, and they left. I guess they looked at the color and numbers on the pills and looked up the medication. In the few months after that —I kid you not—several people at the office have “casually” mentioned herpes and how disgusting it is. At the company potluck, no one touched my dish. One co-worker asked about a red spot on my hand and said loudly, “Yuck, it looks like herpes!”

One odd thing about this is that I have been extraordinarily financially generous to the admin who peeked and told. I don’t understand why this is happening. I used to like my job, and I make a very high salary. If I leave the company, I fear this issue will follow me. I was not in the least bit promiscuous in my life (truly). I feel so ashamed, though.
—Pariah

Answer:
That is absolutely horrifying—both that your administrative assistant would paw through your unlabeled medication and that your co-workers are now mocking you for a confidential medical condition (one that, by the way, is both extremely common and easily managed with medication, and not something you should feel ashamed about or isolated by). What they’re doing, in addition to being cruel and unprofessional, is also a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which prohibits the disclosure of private medical information in the workplace. It’s unbelievably childish to treat a dish you prepared as somehow “contaminated,” doubly so when it’s common knowledge that herpes cannot be transmitted via potluck. The fact that this is your subordinate makes the issue additionally uncomfortable, but you do at least have the authority to correct her. It’s understandable that you felt too flustered and embarrassed to address the issue in the moment, but you should absolutely set up a meeting with her and make it clear that it’s wildly inappropriate for her to go through anyone else’s medication at work—labeled or otherwise—and that it is a potentially fireable offense. If your office has an HR department, you should bring them into the conversation, because (once again!) it’s not appropriate for employees to mock their colleagues for their perceived or actual medical conditions.

lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Q. Pets are not family, are they?: My childless sister “Sally” and I are close but are having a disagreement. Sally lives several hours away, and my 8-year-old daughter and I try to visit for the weekend about once per month. The problem is that my daughter has severe pet allergies, and Sally has two cats and a small terrier.

Though she keeps her house as clean as possible, the very presence of these pets causes my daughter to sneeze, congest, and sometimes break out in hives. I’ve repeatedly asked Sally to either get rid of them or keep them outside during our visits, but Sally claims that though she loves her niece, she can’t keep her pets outside all weekend because the cats are “indoor only,” the dog is too little to stay outside, and coyotes are a danger. She also told me that I was out of line to ask. Was I? They’re only animals, after all, and her niece is family. When she visits us she boards them or gets a sitter, so I don’t see why she can’t do the same when we visit. She’s also suggested that my daughter take allergy medication, but I find that out of line. Is it? How can we resolve this?

A: The most important thing to do here, I think, is to make sure you don’t let a conversation about reasonable accommodation turn into one about whether your sister’s pets “really count” as family. (I’m on your side in the sense that I think a human child’s health is paramount here, but I just don’t think it will be useful to turn this into a litigation on your respective reproductive choices.)

It’s absolutely fair of you to say that the present situation is dangerous to your daughter’s health. It’s also fair that your sister is anxious about leaving her dog outside for an entire weekend, especially if she lives in a coyote-heavy area. If she were willing and able to hire a pet sitter during your visits, that would be an ideal solution, but since she isn’t, you should advocate for your daughter’s health and stay in a nearby hotel so that she can get a full night’s sleep without having difficulty breathing.

Incidentally, unless your daughter has an issue with allergy medication, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t have some at the ready with you, given that she might have a reaction to someone else’s pet at any time. That doesn’t mean she’ll be suddenly able to sleep comfortably in a house with three small furry animals, but there’s nothing wrong with giving someone allergy medicine for an allergy attack.

lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,
 
This summer, I was lucky enough to see a famous musical. The show is not anywhere near my home, so a friend and I booked flights to the show. Fast-forward several months. We were thrilled to arrive at the play we had been vying to see for so long. As soon as the opening number began, however, she began singing along! Not full singing, but a loud enough whisper to draw the attention of nearly everyone seated around us. This was distracting to me because although I know all the lyrics, I was trying to pay attention to actors.

Upon intermission, I asked her if she noticed all the people seated in front of us turning around to stare at her and thereafter suggested that her whispering bothered them. She was shocked that this behavior would be considered rude and then stated that it was their problem. She proceeded with this through the end of the play. I’m shocked no other patrons confronted her. Based on this fact, I wonder if perhaps I am wrong and overly sensitive. Who is right?

Answer: Oh my God, you’re right. On no planet, no parallel dimension, is singing along with a musical from the audience considered good theatergoing etiquette. A few years ago a woman was thrown out of The Bodyguard musical for doing exactly what your friend did.

Obviously there’s nothing to be done about it now, aside from committing to never seeing a live musical with her again, but if you simply want the rush of being told you were right by a stranger on the internet, allow me to grant you that rush: You were right, and your friend was rude.

lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence, I recently attended a wedding of one of my husband’s college friends. He’s not someone that we see often, but we encounter him and his bride two or three times a year at parties, are friends on Facebook, etc. Anyways, I wore a blue dress to the ceremony, and it turns out that the bride’s wedding colors were royal blue. Her bridesmaids wore the color, the close family wore the color. I had no idea. Other than a wedding invitation, we never had any contact with them prior to the event since a summer BBQ where dress codes were not discussed. It seems that she casually told some of her friends not to wear blue, and I didn’t get the message. She was apparently horrified that I had worn “her color.” Another woman also wore blue and got the same treatment.

At the start of the reception, she stomped over and said very loudly that she couldn’t believe I had worn her color. It was really embarrassing, but it was her wedding day so I apologized, said that I had no idea and that the whole day was beautiful. She stomped off in a huff, and eventually her husband came over and said that she was really upset and that seeing my dress was detracting from her having fun. He wanted to know whether I could change. A friend loaned me a long black sweater and I put it on over the dress. Later, the bride pointed me out (while using a microphone) and said “she’s not invited.” Later in the night, she came up to me AGAIN to tell me how this had shattered her day. At this point, my patience was wearing a little thin. We said our goodbyes. This morning, I woke up to being tagged in a rant about guest etiquette on Facebook and an email from the groom asking me to apologize again. I responded, copying his wife, reiterating my original message in a bland way (sorry, I didn’t know. I appreciated them letting me know and hopefully wearing the world’s largest sweater had mitigated it. It was a lovely day. Have a nice life). This woman has gone from generically fine to totally unhinged in my book. We’re going to see them again at a BBQ in about a month (it’s at our house, otherwise I’d skip it). I’m wondering how to handle this situation, especially since I just got a call from a mutual friend saying that she called her sobbing about how this had really cast a pall over her day. At this point, I don’t want to fuel the fire or ever engage again, but I’m stumped—because she seems excited to have a dead horse to beat.

Answer:
Good Lord, this woman is grimly determined to be personally victimized by the color blue. It’s a little trickier to keep your distance as hosts than it would be as mere guests, but at least you always have the excuse of needing to check on the grill/cooler/new arrivals if you need to quickly escape her conversation. And, of course, if she or her husband try to drag up your mortal blue sin again, you can generically and cheerfully change the subject, excuse yourself, and make a mental note to disinvite these cranks from all future barbecues, cookouts, get-togethers, clambakes, and/or hootenannies. Do not apologize again, and do not entertain their future complaints. And, for your own sanity, mute or unfriend them on Facebook. Let all future rants about dress codes pass by you as th’idle wind, which you respect not.

 
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Prudence,
My sister and stepsister have always quarreled over every issue you can think of. My sister is a professional photographer and records almost every family function in spectacular style. My stepsister got married recently and decided to skip on paying a photographer since my sister always carries her camera. You guessed it: The photographs came out horribly—red eyes, blurry, and fuzzy. My stepsister had a fit and screamed at my sister. My sister said she had accidentally brought some bad lenses but since no one officially asked her to be the wedding photographer, she hadn’t had time to prepare. And it is true—no one asked my sister to be the wedding photographer or offered to pay her. However, my sister has since confessed to me over a bottle of wine that she deliberately chose a bad camera because my stepsister was a "cheap, selfish witch."

I am not sure what to do here. The entire fallout has most of my relatives talking about what a “bridezilla” my stepsister was. Even my stepmom apologized to my sister for her daughter’s behavior. Was my sister right? Should I say anything? - Not Picture Perfect

Dear Not Picture Perfect, I shouldn’t laugh. I won’t laugh. I’m not laughing now. Nothing about this situation is funny, and I’m going to take it very seriously. Here is my official ruling: Say nothing. There is nothing to be gained by telling your stepsister the truth, as you’ll only extend their ceaseless quarrel. What your sister did was passive-aggressive and mean-spirited, but your stepsister has learned an important lesson: If you want professional wedding photos, hire a professional photographer and pay them. Don’t ask someone you know hates you to do it for free at the last minute.
dorothy1901: Gilda: Put the blame on Mame (Default)
[personal profile] dorothy1901
DEAR PRUDENCE: Recently I decided to get a job teaching English abroad. I felt fortunate to get hired exactly where I wanted to go and am now happily living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The problem is my parents. I knew they would be appalled at the idea of their young daughter going to live in the Middle East, even in a relatively safe place like Dubai. So... I told them I had accepted a job in Tokyo. I've been living in Dubai for eight months, and as far as I know they haven't caught on. I've made up stories about struggling with sushi and the Japanese language and even spent a fair amount of time learning about Japan to make my lie more believable. My parents don't use social media, so there isn't much danger of them finding out via that route. I love my life here in Dubai and would like to renew my contract, but I feel awful for lying to them! I also feel awful imagining how they will feel if they ever find out the truth. Please help me figure out what to do that will hurt my parents (and me!) the least.

--AN AMERICAN ABROAD

DEAR AMERICAN ABROAD: Oh, wow. First and foremost, I'm so impressed by your ability to sustain a lie of this magnitude for over half a year. This was sort of a plot on Friends, but you're pulling it off in real life.

You've probably considered your options, but let's lay them out. You can spend your life hoping they never find out. You'll periodically make up facts about Tokyo and feign a familiarity with the Japanese language you do not actually possess. If your parents ever introduce you to a Japanese-speaking person, you will be sunk. This will be a lot of work and a lot of stress, probably for nothing; they'll almost certainly find out somehow, at some point. They'll be mad at you, and you'll fight, and they'll do whatever it is that they do when they get mad at you.

Or you can tell them and save yourself years of stress every time you pass a sushi restaurant. You'll have to have a lot of difficult conversations in your life, and you won't be able to get out of them by pretending to move to Japan. That can't work more than once or twice.

So: Should you tell them while you're still abroad in Dubai, or wait until you come home? My vote is to do it now, while you're still overseas and thus harder to yell at. (I'm afraid you are going to get yelled at. That can't be helped.) There's not much to say beyond, "Mom and Dad, I told you a stupid lie because I couldn't handle the thought of your getting mad at me, and it's gone on for too long, and I have to tell you the truth."

Tell them you're not in Tokyo, get yelled at, renew your contract, enjoy Dubai and the peaceful sleep of the honest, and learn to face your parents' wrath head on in the future. The good news: This has to be the maddest they'll ever get at you. After this, everything they get mad about will feel like nothing.
cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
Q. Stolen kitchen dreams: I’ve always loved cooking and design, so when I told my best friend about my dream stove, she must have known I really had a special place in my heart for it. Imagine my surprise when I found out SHE had bought my dream stove before I could save up for it! Needless to say, I felt incredibly betrayed. I’ve basically been giving her the silent treatment for the better part of a year. To make matters worse, she acts like she has no idea why I’m so mad at her! My anger and hurt have gotten so bad that our friends called a meeting for us to talk it out, but I don’t want to hear anything from her unless it’s an apology. What should I do?

A: I don’t often find myself wishing that a letter were fake, but I sure hope you’re just some bored internet denizen inventing dramatic stove-related scenarios to entertain yourself. I’m not surprised your friend has no idea why you’ve grown so cold and distant. If one of my best friends suddenly gave me the silent treatment for almost an entire year, the type of stove I had recently purchased would not even make the top 100 possible reasons why. It would fall below “She has been possessed by the evil spirit Aku from Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack” in terms of plausibility.

Your friend has purchased a stove. That is the only thing that has happened in this story. She has not deprived you of your ability to purchase an identical stove in the future. She has not taken the stove that is currently in your kitchen out of your home. You are still able to cook and design things to your heart’s content and have not been harmed in any way. This is straight-up Dr. Zoidberg “this is bad and you should feel bad” territory. You are being extremely unkind for extremely silly reasons and should immediately apologize and amend your behavior. If she forgives you, count yourself extremely lucky.
minoanmiss: Minoan lady watching the Thera eruption (Lady and Eruption)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
This is the one which sent me on today's Advice Column Adventure. Another doozy. Abortion in this country, good grief. Read more... )
minoanmiss: A detail of the Ladies in Blue fresco (Lady in Blue)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
This one is a doozy. I'm putting it behind a cut. Read more... )
cereta: Vic from Non Sequitur (Non Sequitur - Vic)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
I recently rented a room from a single man whom I had a lot of chemistry with at the rental interview. I vowed not to pursue anything before moving in because he introduced his girlfriend (though seeing how they interacted with each other, I felt doubt as to whether she was really his girlfriend). A few days later, he invited me to an art event he was hosting. He seemed extremely happy to see me, got me a drink, and later sat down beside me and told me his life story, including a couple of serious health conditions. It was clear his implicit question was whether they were deal-breakers for me.

Afterward, I started to walk away, and he suddenly said in a shocked voice that he’d kissed my ear instead of my cheek when we said goodbye. I realized later he’d made a pass at me. Since then, it was somehow as if we’d agreed to pretend nothing ever happened. He recently told me he’d be home all day, with the implicit message that maybe we could hang out, but then wasn’t.
 He also has a relatively new business that keeps him busy. Should I write him off as unavailable, or try to talk to him? Ideally, I’d like to slowly begin to date him, though I worry that’s unwise, because moving again is impossible at the moment, both financially and emotionally.

—Perplexed

Oh, honey. You have expended more emotional energy on a man you have met twice than some people give to actual relationships. Of course she is his real girlfriend. Of course you should write him off as unavailable. This man is your landlord. When he tells you about his health problems, it is not because he is testing your compatibility. Whether the accidental ear-kiss was a clumsy, half-hearted attempt at flirting or simply a fumbled goodbye, it was certainly not an invitation to a relationship. I can guarantee that he has not spent a tenth of the mental energy you have on dissecting your few interactions. Pay him your rent on time and look for a boyfriend elsewhere.
cereta: Baby Galapagos tortoise hiding in its shell (baby turtle)
[personal profile] cereta
(Can you tell I'm catching up on Prudie?)

Dear Prudence,
I am 23, suffering from a degenerative disease, and mother to a toddler. My ex and I were a terrible match, but he adores our daughter, though he doesn’t put a lot of effort into their relationship. He has a solid income but is otherwise incapable of being a functional adult. He doesn’t pay attention to his bills or taxes and doesn’t clean, and he won’t even change the oil in his car until the engine blows (twice!). I have been dating a wonderful man for three years who loves me and my daughter and has asked me to marry him. He is starting a new job that will likely take him across the country, and he wants to be together. Despite his offer to fly her back as much as possible, I still feel guilty at the prospect of separating her and her father. Is it wrong to marry the good guy, who will take care of us, even if it means deeply altering my daughter’s relationship with her dad?

—Rethinking Remarriage

Get married, enjoy your wedding, take care of your health, and make sure that no matter where you end up, your daughter has regular visits scheduled with her dad. It will be hard for her to live far away from her father, but it would be much worse for her if you break up with your caring fiancé out of a twisted sense of guilt.
cereta: Bloom County, Opus typing "Maybe not that bad, but lord, it wasn't good." (it wasn't good)
[personal profile] cereta
Dear Prudence,
My sister won’t speak to me because I taught her daughter a naughty word. I was playing Scrabble with my 8-year-old niece, who is very smart. She always kills me when we play and it’s kind of embarrassing for me. But this one game was close. I had the opportunity to play all my letters to spell “fellatio” ensuring I’d win the game. I thought a bit about whether I should play this word or just lose graciously. Pride got the better of me and I played the word. My niece didn’t believe it was a word and looked it up in the dictionary. This lead to numerous questions about sex that I wasn’t prepared for. So I told her to ask her mother. When my sister found out what I’d done she hit the ceiling. She was furious at me that I’d taught her this word. Now she won’t speak with me. I’ve considered apologizing but I don’t think I did anything wrong. She would have learned the word eventually anyway. When I was a kid, I learned far worse words younger than that.

Bud! Fellatio is only 11 points in Scrabble! Even with the 50-point bonus for using all of your tiles, this was the wrong hill to die on. It is a bad idea to teach your 8-year-old niece about blow jobs, no matter how much you thought you knew about oral sex when you were a kid. (For everyone who doesn’t believe Scrabble can lead to a situation like this: Play with my family sometime.) I admire your commitment to winning and share your salt-the-earth strategy when it comes to gamesmanship, but you should know better. Apologize to your sister, and don’t play Scrabble with your niece again.

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