Dear Prudence

Lolita Revisited

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Dear Prudie,

I had an experience recently that I’m not sure how to deal with. A friend of my daughter’s was at our house, and I gave her a ride home. During the trip she was asking me a lot of sex questions … such as, “Do you think it’s OK to have sex with an older man?” and “Is it normal to ‘play with yourself’?” The looks she was giving me suggested she was talking about me–and her. She is only 15, but the body is quite mature. When we got to her house, she hugged me and gave me a kiss (tongue and all). Now I can’t get her out of my mind! I’m sure she wants to have sex with me.


Dear C.,

A few words come to my mind … Lolita … and jail. If this happened as you say, the kid is big trouble and wildly precocious. Or maybe she saw American Beauty too many times. To protect yourself, in all ways, do not allow any situation to occur where you are alone with that girl. As for “getting her out of your mind,” do understand that your daughter’s friend’s “plans” for you make you the next thing to a science experiment. You would be a notch on her belt and perhaps a candidate for her father to make your life a living hell. Prudie suggests you not feel flattered by this proposition and get a grip. Quick.

—Prudie, sputteringly

Dear Prudence,

I feel a little odd asking for help with this, but you seem to have the savvy to get me through this awkward situation. It stands thus: I am engaged to be married next year to a wonderful young man. We’re both thrilled, our parents are happy, and our mutual friends haven’t quit telling us that they “told us so!” This seems like all is well. The problem, though, is bridesmaids. I want to have a fairly simple wedding, but there are two people I can’t imagine getting married without (not counting the groom). One of them is my oldest friend, who is now going to college several states away. I have always promised her she would be in my wedding. The other one is my closest friend in college, who has been there with me through the last four tough years. They’re both excited about it … the thing is I don’t know how I can pick one or the other as maid of honor. Is there any way I can split the title? What can I do?

—Crossing My Fingers for an Answer

Dear Cross,

You can do what some corporations do. They have co-presidents and you can have co-maids of honor. The distinction between a maid or matron of honor and bridesmaids is usually a different bouquet and walking down the aisle first. Simply have their bouquets be identical and perhaps have them walk together. And in conversation, refer to them as co-maids of honor. Now, wasn’t that simple? And Prudie wishes you mazel-ton which, of course, is tons of luck.

—Prudie, ceremonially


My boyfriend and I plan to marry next year. However, we have realized we can’t possibly receive any gifts, simply because our tiny apartment is just barely big enough for the two of us. Anyhow, I don’t know how to say “No gifts” on the invite, because presumably people would ignore it. So is it appropriate to ask for, say, money instead? Help!


Dear Cramp,

No, it is not appropriate to have the invitations say “No gifts, just money, please, due to space.” Prudie will give you the secret, however, for turning gifts into money. Take the goodies back for a store credit … cash refunds being most unusual. At some point you can select something you will have room for. Or you can use the credit to buy a gift for someone when the occasion demands it. Or you can sell the store credit, at a small discount of course, to a friend who you know is in need of purchasing whatever. And mazel-ton to you, as well.

—Prudie, practically

Dear Prudence,

I work for a small, family-owned company. Two of the family members frequently shout and swear at each other. Even though their abuse is never directed at me (a non-family member), I feel uncomfortable listening to this and am ready to start job hunting. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle the shouting? Do I ignore them? Shout back? Thanks.


Dear Peace,

It is not a good idea to shout at one’s employer. In the situation you describe, that privilege apparently comes with the blood relationship. This is not an unheard-of phenomenon, by the way, with certain volatile personalities who work together. It is always a strain on bystanders, of course, but often the underlying relationships of the shouters can be essentially friendly. It is too bad when the lack of control and decorum in a place of business encourages job hunting.

If Prudie thought it would be useful, she would recommend that you tell the yelling duo that their form of communication is disturbing the rest of the office, but she intuits that the hotheads are in the habit and will not change. If your job hunt is unproductive, try earplugs.

—Prudie, pragmatically