Dear Prudence

Witch Way Should They Go?

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Dear Prudence,

I read you often and now need advice. My son and his fiancee are getting married soon, and I have serious questions about the ceremony. My son is 28 and very successful. His fiancee is 26 and is a very intelligent, successful woman. They have been together many years, living together for the last three. The problem is not their relationship, but my son and his intended are both witches–that’s right, witches–and they are having a “handfasting,” a witchcraft wedding ceremony. My wife and I are devout Catholics, and it seems that going to a pagan ceremony goes against all our religious beliefs. Even one of the elder priests in our parish said it would be against God to attend such an event, though a younger priest said as long as we didn’t take part in the ceremony, it would be OK.

I know my son doesn’t believe in Satan or evil. He’s a very good boy, and I’m proud of him. He has even allowed me to read the ceremony that will be performed. Actually, it’s just about the most beautiful ceremony I’ve ever read, but I’m very confused. Should I possibly go against my faith to support my son by attending a pagan rite, or should I alienate my son because of my own religious beliefs? Any advice would be appreciated.


Dear Cha,

Oh, my, talk about dilemmas … your cauldron runneth over. Prudie, however, feels comfortable with the assessment of the younger priest, and you should, too. Since you’re not participating in the actual ceremony and found nothing objectionable in the text, you and your wife should not deny this lovely son your presence. And Prudie hopes you appreciate the reversed roles in this situation: Usually, it’s the mother-in-law who’s the witch.

–Prudie, matrimonially

Dear Prudence,

Your advice to “Wondering, too” struck me as amazing. From years of corporate bathroom use, the rule among men seems to be nothing spoken in the “sit-downs,” banal comments of the “Hot enough for you?” variety at the “stand-ups,” and pleasant trifles at the washstands.

By the way, an old corporate pro once told me never to discuss anything of importance in a bathroom or an elevator. I once was in a courthouse elevator with the other side’s counsel, who hadn’t yet been introduced to me, who spent the ride down discussing strategy with his client!


Eyes Front

Dear Eyes,

Thank you for one of the better letters inviting Prudie to reconsider. Please read on.

Dear Prudence,

I enjoy your column and often think your advice is excellent and daring. Except in the case of “Wondering, too.” I suspect Prudie was napping when she answered that one. I, myself, not being shy, wouldn’t mind a friendly chat while in the office stalls but many would. Some would feel embarrassed at simply being identified and addressed in a compromising position. Others would feel tense, and conversation might interfere with the reason they are there. Not to mention that some people go there to sit and be quiet and have a small private break. Addressing someone by name, after identifying them by their shoes while they are sitting on the commode, seems downright rude to me.

–Privacy Please

Dear Pri,

Prudie has finished her nap and wishes to acknowledge that the flub-up fairy was visiting her when she answered that letter. Persuaded by several people, she now wishes to reverse herself and begs the pardon of anyone who’s had to suffer chitchat during a private moment simply because Prudie said it was OK.

An interesting sidelight to bathroom Kremlinology is the men’s room tradition articulated in the preceding letter. Women do not have such a rigid convention, but they weighed in, as well, with pleas for silence when nature calls.

–Prudie, correctively


I’m 28, and my boyfriend and I are expecting our first baby in January 2000. My boyfriend’s mother is terribly embarrassed by the fact that we are not married. (But we’ve been living together for two and a half years.) I was brought up with the values that you got engaged, got married, and then started a family. For some reason, I was blessed with this baby much sooner than planned. What can I say or do to convey to my boyfriend’s mother that this is a blessing and not a tragic event? Please help. Thank you very much.


Dear Con,

For one thing, you can tell your boyfriend’s mother that the baby is on time; the wedding is late. (Was this woman, by any chance, a member of Congress when they decided that Ingrid Bergman should be kept out of the country? If you have no idea what Prudie is talking about, ask your parents.)

In any case, your attitude about the blessed event is most pleasing, and your relationship sounds solid. To assuage social convention, however, and to validate Prudie’s suggested retort, perhaps you and the father-to-be might consider legally tying the knot … and perhaps before the little bundle of joy requires a sitter.

–Prudie, expectantly

Dear Prude,

I was ensconced in a manly game of collegiate football-watching when I overheard the womenfolk discussing proper breast-feeding etiquette. When asked, I indicated that as long as the breast is hidden under a blanket with the child, I don’t mind. However, when a woman goes “National Geographic” and everything is out in the open, I feel a bit squeamish. There was no consensus amongst the men (one turned up the volume on the game so he didn’t have to deal with the whole thing). The women were mixed in their opinions. So what is appropriate when breast- feeding in public? Thanks.


Dear ~jef,

Though there is disagreement on the subject, good sense and good taste would seem to dictate that this perfectly normal function can be carried out in public with as little obviousness as is feasible. Prudie is not sure about a total blanket tent for both baby and breast, but an attempt at decorous draping would seem the thing to strive for.

–Prudie, discreetly