Dear Prudence

Your Cheatin’ E-Mail

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Dear Prudie,
I have been going with a guy for about a year and we moved in together two months ago. Recently, I went out of town to visit my parents, and upon my return found out he had been joining these adult online Internet sites where people “meet.” He doesn’t know that I know. I (unscrupulously) looked in his e-mail (I know the password) and that’s how I found out. I then joined the same Internet site and wrote him an e-mail wanting to find out exactly what he’s looking for. He responded to this e-mail, of course not knowing it was me. Is it wrong, do you think, for me to lead him on like this? Am I better off just leaving him? Aren’t most men cheaters anyway?

—Stir Crazy

Dear Stir,
This is a rather newish relationship for you to be having such problems. And no, most men do not cheat. Since you’re evaluating whether or not to stay in the relationship, if you’re up for some mischief, you might arrange to meet him as your make-believe e-mail self. Bring a doctor with you, if you can, because he will probably faint. Prudie thinks this would be a perfect, not to mention satisfying way to put the issue on the table. Let us all know what happens!

—Prudie, playfully

Dear Prudie,
1) I am a “Two-Ton Tessie.”
2) Camryn Manheim is not a REALLY big woman. You must not have ever seen a REALLY big woman.
3) I hate that you have the ear of 10 percent of the nation when you make your horrible statements showing your fatism … encouraging others in insulting and disrespecting fat people.
4) I have canceled my subscription to your column as I am no longer interested in seeing what you have to say. You have shown your true colors.


Dear Li,
Feeling kinship with Peter Finch (as Howard Beale in Network) when he says he’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore, Prudie is going to keep this discussion going. It might be … well, more prudent to let it ride, but your letter touched the nerve that Prudie has long called The Italian-American-Mobster Response. It is beyond annoying to hear Mafiosi say that law enforcement authorities arrest them simply because they have vowels at the end of their names … as it is when anyone tries to skate away from the facts under the banner of “prejudice.” Regarding your second point, Camryn Manheim really is a big woman—and refers to herself as such. It is absurd to say she is not, or at best it is to be in denial. The girl’s got to be at least a size 20. Regarding your third point: fatism, shmatism. It is not insulting or dissing fat people to acknowledge that some men (or women) have an aesthetic problem with weight considered to be beyond the norm, let alone off the charts. The word “obesity” has a medical definition and is not meant as a slur. Regarding your fourth point, the Prudie People will miss you.

—Prudie, colorfully

Dear Prudie,
My mom is 50-something and is getting married for the third time. She is planning a formal wedding and reception to celebrate the happy event. My question is this: Am I obligated to help pay for this, or is she on her own? I am happy for her but not quite sure where my responsibility as a dutiful daughter lies and would not want to hurt her feelings by not doing what is right. Your insight would be appreciated.

—Dutiful Daughter

Dear Dut,
Your dear old ma must have rice marks by now, but tell her congratulations from Prudie nonetheless. As for your question, you have things a little backwards. The bride’s parents pay for a wedding—not the children. The only exception would be, for example, if you were a millionaire and your mother was living on a tiny fixed income and you offered to pay for the festivities.

—Prudie, matrimonially

Dear Prudie,
When my husband and I are together in a restaurant or other service business, I have noticed the tendency of waiters and other personnel to address us as “you guys.” I have experienced it in other settings as well. While serving on jury duty recently, I was dismayed to hear the judge’s clerk address the panel as “you guys.” Is this a peculiarity of the Midwest? And could you suggest a polite but effective way to address this practice with individual offenders?


Dear Laur,
Prudie knows the Midwest well, and the “you guys” business is not a regionalism. It is, let us say, a casualism. Prudie finds that form of address OK when talking to children, or close chums, but it is rather inappropriate coming from a waiter or clerk of the court. (Prudie suspects, however, the better the restaurant, the fewer “you guys” will be heard.) Alas, there’s really no polite way to call someone on this rather graceless form of address; you would just come off as a stodgy, formal person who takes herself too seriously. The only way Prudie would go for you saying anything as a rejoinder to “you guys” would be to do it with humor. A remark such as, “And to think I wore a dress and you didn’t even notice!” might send a moderately subtle message that you are not, well … one of the guys. And it also might go right over the person’s head.

—Prudie, diplomatically