Dear Prudence

Dealing With Drunks

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Dear Prudence,

At a recent work-related occasion for merrymaking, I found my boss and I were two of the last people present. Alcohol was freely available, and he asked me if I wouldn’t have one more drink with him. I hadn’t seen much of him at the party, but as we talked I realized that he was maybe not three, but at least two sheets to the wind. He was also alone and faced a 20-minute car ride home, including a stretch on the freeway. I had no access to a car at the time.

I was concerned for several reasons and ended up ruffling a feather or two. Can you recommend a tactful way to point out that a superior is, let’s say, not fit to operate heavy machinery or a motor vehicle?


Dear Puzz,

Prudie is dying to know how you ruffled the feathers—and whose. Did you put your well-oiled boss in a cab or conscript a co-worker to chauffeur Old Granddad? In any case, since you ask about future approaches, there really is no tactful way to tell a guy he’s too drunk to drive. People who have had a snootful respond differently. One person may be amenable to the “suggestion” that he be driven home, another might become belligerent and argumentative. In either case, do your best to prevail, and it is likely that a sobered-up person will thank you in the morning. If someone is really blotto and you can get your hands on the car keys, do that. Then get him a ride home, or failing that, plunk him on the nearest sofa.

—Prudie, protectively

Dear Prudence,

I’ve recently had a strange development in my social life. I’m a 20-year-old college student whose roommate turned 21 not too long ago. Predictably enough, my roommate likes to go to bars. Unfortunately, he can’t bring himself to go without a “wingman,” and this duty almost always falls to me. Even though I look old enough to get into bars, I never drink because I’m usually the designated driver. In any case, what almost always happens is that I sit at the bar with my roomie and watch him have fun and chat with the ladies. I don’t really feel comfortable in bars, but I go to keep my roommate happy (and alive). Should I suggest my roommate find another “wingman”?

—Too Shy in Tucson

Dear Too,

You call it “wingman,” Prudie calls it “schnook.” It would be good for your studies if you advised the boulevardier that you are attending college, not bartending school, and he should no longer count on you to be his minder. Once in a while, maybe, but you need to swing into a new routine. Trust Prudie, this is not why your parents sent you to college.

—Prudie, soberly

Dearest Prudence,

I am currently enjoying a brand new relationship (four months). The man I’m seeing is intelligent, sensitive, has a wonderful sense of humor, and is supportive. Things are moving along very slowly. That is, we haven’t said the “L” word yet, but there are terms of endearment and lots of shared affection. The trouble is, I want to know if this relationship means as much to him as it does to me. (I should mention that his previous girlfriend died, so he’s still cautious and a bit sad at times.) He’s definitely a keeper, and I don’t want to come off as neurotic or pushy. I’m just having a hard time being patient. Is this a normal relationship progression?

—Impatient Penelope

Dear Imp,

You describe a guy who sounds like a jewel. He is working his way out of a mourning situation, yet he displays sensitivity, intelligence, humor, and supportiveness. What do you want, woman?! If you have long-term designs on this man, and Prudie divines that you do, give the relationship time and room to breathe. Rein in your “curiosity” about his feelings. Time will reveal them, and all you can do by forcing the issue is to muck things up. Four months, given the sound of things, is not too long to have not yet discussed the “L” word. Prudie is for honesty in relationships, but in your case, a little playing it cool can only work to your advantage.

—Prudie, coyly


I have a problem that many women would kill for. I am thin. So what is the problem? I’m a man. Why is it that it’s acceptable for women to be thin, but not men? I am healthy, and the only time I’ve had to see a doctor in the last five years was for a muscle pull. My problem is that I am sick and tired of people asking me if I’m sick. These are mostly family members who haven’t missed too many meals. One commented to my 9-year-old that he was probably going to be “skin and bones” like his dad! It’s ludicrous that I should even have to defend myself, but I don’t want my son to be thinking about this. Now I dread going to be with my family because of their insensitive remarks. What do you suggest I say in response?


Dear r.,

Prudie is wondering: How skinny are you? Trim people usually receive compliments, not queries as to whether or not they’re sick. Since all things are relative … in your case, including the relatives … perhaps your family of chubbies can’t quite figure out why you don’t look more like them. Prudie is guessing at their girth because of your remark about family members who “haven’t missed too many meals.” If the relationships are generally good, save for the remarks about your skin-and-bones self, Prudie suggests you be direct with the weight watchers and simply say you are more comfortable not dealing with your nutritional intake or your metabolism. If they can accede to your wishes, fine. If not, bag the visits.

—Prudie, assertively