Dear Prudence

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Cubicles

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Dear Prudence,
I work in a federal office building, and while we aren’t as formal and stuffy as some offices in this building, we are required to act professionally. An employee in our office is a woman who is in her mid-40s, and any person who owns a penis is in danger around her. She literally throws herself at any male who comes in, and of course any man who works here. She talks dirty and suggestively, and most of the men just ignore her—but she is particularly forceful if a man doesn’t respond to her. When any “new blood” arrives, she is frightening to behold. We recently hired a man in his mid-20s, and he is scared to death of her! When he resisted her advances, she acted surprised. Unable to help myself, I asked if she didn’t think she might be a little old for him. She replied that no one is too old or too young for her. Her boss (male) ignores her behavior. She is married and has daughters whom she is always trying to set up—but makes it clear that she wants to “try out each prospective date first,” if you know what I mean. Do you have any thoughts on cooling her off aside from hosing her down?

—Feeling Dirty Just Being Within Earshot

Dear Feel,
Don’t you hate it when that happens? A sexpot, emeritus, who’s always trolling for men is mostly pitiable. This woman has clearly misunderstood the meaning of community outreach. Prudie isn’t sure that ignoring her is the answer. Maybe her boss’s boss needs to be made aware of this situation. This woman’s behavior is indecorous and unprofessional, and when an employee is “scared to death,” it is probably harassment. Even if she’s a glibido (all talk, no action) this man-trap does not belong in an office setting. Prudie suggests you and the others do whatever is necessary to have her removed.

—Prudie, disgustedly

Dear Prudence,
I would like your opinion. My husband of three years and I are currently separated. This is why: About a year after we married, my husband told me he was being sued in a paternity suit having to do with a one-night stand before we met. He was found to be the father and had to start paying child support plus $4,000 in arrears. (I borrowed the money for him.) Needless to say this was quite a blow to our marriage, but I tried to deal with it. I probably should add that my husband has not been able to contribute financially on a regular basis … always for one reason or another. About four months ago I discovered he had been e-mailing women on the Internet and making arrangements to meet. Of course he lied about it at first, and then, when he finally confessed it was true, tried to convince me that it was all just kind of fantasy stuff. When I told him I wasn’t sure I could deal with this, he moved out. Now he wants to come home. I don’t think I can open myself up to any further hurt from this man. What would Prudie do?

—On the Fence

Dear On,
Prudie would buy track shoes. But you should make a list. From your letter, none of this fellow’s good points is apparent, whereas some of his negatives are compelling. He is not regularly employed; you are paying his child support; he trolls for women on the Internet—explaining it away as fantasy stuff. As a last-ditch effort to stay married, tell him you have a fantasy, too: It is to have a faithful, employed husband who wants to knock himself out making his marriage stronger and better. If he can demonstrate that he’s able to straighten up, fine. If not, over and out.

—Prudie, explorationally

Dear Prudence,
My son’s high-school golf coach asked me for part-time assistance. I said OK. I was taken aback the first day, however, when the coach and I played alone. He continually picked up his ball on the green without putting it into the hole, gave himself preferred lies, and in general hacked the course up. No shame in being a bad golfer, certainly. My own high-school coach, a man I greatly respected, was dreadful. But my son’s coach ended up underreporting his nine-hole score to his athletes to the tune of 15 or more shots. At first I thought he was kidding, but no, he showed them his card and behaved as if he had really shot a 45! I was surprised, but I didn’t think too much about it at the time. I thought maybe he needed to save face in front of his team. The next week, one of my son’s friends on the team said that, playing with him, the coach had done the same thing. “Cheated like crazy,” was the quote. Golf is a lot of things, but primarily it is about being honest and playing by the rules. And especially, I would think, at this private high school that emphasizes ethical behavior in every other area. My instinct is to try and talk to the coach and explain that he is making a mockery of the game and doing his athletes a disservice. But there are two complicating issues. One, he is a power-wielding individual at the school, and if he takes offense, he could make life for my son extremely difficult. Two, his children attend the school, and even if he agreed to step aside, he’d be around all the time. Alternatively, I suppose I could approach the school principal. Any suggestions?


Dear Perp,
Ah, a Bill Clinton clone. Our 42nd president was another authority figure well-known for mulligans, not counting shots, and fluffing up his score. Ordinarily Prudie would suggest talking to this man yourself, but from the sound of things, he would feel embarrassed and belittled and then, along with his clubs, would carry around a grudge. Prudie suggests you go to the principal and make your case. What the athletes observe and learn from the coach’s behavioral ethics has much more meaning than what the guy’s supposed scores are. Let’s hope the school principal agrees.

—Prudie, ethically

Dear Prudence,
Twenty months ago my boyfriend asked me to marry him. He bought a beautiful set of rings and asked me to move back in with him. There is a 15-year age difference between us, but we had dated for four years and lived together for three years (except for the six months I lived apart from him). He has not once mentioned marriage since the proposal. The one time I brought the subject up, he accused me of being after his money, though he doesn’t really have any. I even mentioned I have no problem with a prenup if that would make him feel better. Do I raise the subject again or chalk it up to experience and move along? I love him and he keeps saying he loves me. Our relationship is good in every other aspect.

—Will I Ever Hear Wedding Bells?

Dear Will,
Prudie feels certain you will hear wedding bells. Whether or not they peal for thee is another story. It seems the two of you have been together for roughly seven years with only one of you having the urge to merge. You have to decide how badly you want to be married. It would appear that he produced the rings to mollify you and to get you back under his roof. As for his worries about your being a fortune-hunter when there is no fortune, chalk that up to an artificial barrier he has thrown up. Whether or not you raise the subject of marriage again depends on your willingness to give him an or-else ultimatum and then being prepared to walk if he turns you down. Something is making him dawdle, and your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find out what.

—Prudie, searchingly