Dear Prudence

Take That Zing Out of His Swing

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My spouse and I are good friends with another couple. As it happens, I work with her husband and she works for mine. Recently, though, the husband has become increasingly “friendly” toward me. One time, in a greeting, he waited until I turned my face and kissed me on the lips. Soon after that, they “dropped in” while we were watching a movie, and I was in my pajamas! I went to lie down on the sofa because my back was killing me, and he came in and said he would rub my shoulders. Well, his hands went under my shirt, and I was absolutely horrified! I tried telling my husband, but he thinks I am being silly. On top of that, the wife joked that someone at work thought the four of us were “swingers.”

Is it my imagination, or am I right to be uncomfortable? He is touchy with a lot of people, but I am getting the idea that with me, he is testing the waters. And her comment about “swingers” made me wonder even more. I am not sure what to do. When I recently had surgery, he came to the hospital and spent four hours there … I could not get him to leave! How do I say something, because what if I am wrong and he is “innocent”? Do I just let it alone until something bigger happens? HELP!

—Confused and Nervous in Texas

Dear Con,

He slipped his hand under your pajamas, his wife is “joking” about a four-way, you couldn’t get him out of your hospital room, and you think maybe this is all innocent? Wake up, honey. Your friends are on a campaign to change partners and dance. When you ask if you should wait “until something bigger happens,” all Prudie can think of is that this couple might show up at your house naked under their raincoats. Insist that your husband take you seriously in your concerns and make it as plain as is necessary to this man that you and your husband would reject any suggestion of sexual games. You are, indeed, right to be uncomfortable, you are not “silly,” and your husband is dense.

—Prudie, indignantly

Dear Prudie,

Here’s my problem. I met my husband four years ago, and I got pregnant before we got married. We decided to tell his parents and his two sisters. His mom was really happy, his younger sister was happy, but the older one was not. That sister and her hubby accused me of doing this on purpose to them (!) since they were married first and were trying to have a child.

Ever since then, my older sister-in-law has held a grudge against me for having the first grandchild. I’ve tried everything to make peace between us, for at least the sake of my son. Now I am pregnant again and the older sister knows about it. To be nice, I invited her to my son’s birthday party. Prudie, she never called and never showed up. I know this is about my being pregnant again. I’m tired of her acting like a child. Oh, and my in-laws are telling me I should feel sympathetic that their daughter doesn’t seem able to conceive. Please tell me what to do.


Dear j,

You need to tell this crowd (including the in-laws) that you are not getting pregnant and starting a family just to hurt your sister-in-law’s feelings. Prudie does not know whom your self-centered sister-in-law is more in need of: a fertility specialist or a shrink. Auntie Dearest ignoring your son suggests she is not wrapped real tight, so if no rapprochement seems possible, Prudie suggests it’s no great loss.

—Prudie, parentally

Dear Prudence,

Recently I’ve gained a little weight. My self-esteem is dinged, and I am trying to eat right and exercise. I am writing to point out a social gaffe that I hope will cause people to think before they speak: I am tired of people suggesting I am pregnant! I have a little tummy, not a huge one. I am still a Size 9. I feel bad enough about my shape without people asking about the baby. Please, remind people not to assume anything. Unless a woman is obviously nine months along or offers the news, SAY NOTHING. I am never sure what to say, and it makes me feel like a tub of lard.

Thank you,

—Growing Girl

Dear Grow,

Prudie agrees—having made the mistake herself—that asking when the baby is due can be a dangerous question. As for your feeling kinship with lard, being a Size 9 does not exactly make you the Hindenberg. When next someone makes this faux pas, simply give them the fish eye with a raised eyebrow and continue the conversation … or if a dirty look doesn’t do it for you, say something like, “I’ve joined a health club and haven’t lost an ounce. Apparently you have to show up.” The person will not make this mistake again, and you will have educated them.

—Prudie, weightlessly


We’ve got an intern with us for the summer, and he has body odor beyond belief. It is worse on some days than on others, and sometimes it’s almost unbearable for other people in the work area. As his activity heightens, the stench can almost curl the paint. Eyes begin to water, delirium sets in, and work efficiency begins to deteriorate. This problem is only getting worse, and we welcome any advice in addressing this onslaught on our olfactory senses!

—Gasping for Fresh Air

Dear Gasp,

It is Prudie’s understanding that summer interns are either unpaid or, if not, they’re certainly at the bottom of the food chain. We’re not talking chairman of the board here. The kid either needs to be let go or advised that he must bathe on a regular basis. If the person in charge feels such a conversation would be too awkward, then a note will suffice. There is no reason for a whole office to be subjected to what is essentially a teen-age temp who smells like a camel.

—Prudie, cleanly