Dear Prudence

Makin’ Copies …

How to shut up an annoying co-worker.

Get “Dear Prudence” delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to (Questions may be edited.)

Dear Prudence,

I am writing on behalf of my whole office. We work with a very nice woman, but she’s a nonstop talker, and it’s all about “I, me, my. …” It is so obnoxious, all this talking incessantly about herself. She will say, “How was your weekend?” And before you can say it was good, she starts with, “I did this, I did that, my son, my daughter, my this, my that. …” The difficult part about this is that whenever we need to make a copy, we have to go into her office to use the copier, and then it starts. We can always hear her capture the ear of the next victim who walks in. Someone will walk in to use the copier, and she will say: “Did I show you the pictures of my grandchildren? My son is so wonderful/has a great job. He lives in East Overshoe. Have you ever been to East Overshoe? He has the nicest house, blah, blah, blah. My daughter is so wonderful, she has a big job, a big house. …” We are at wits’ end. Why do people do this?

—Your Lips Are Moving, but All I Hear Is Blah, Blah, Blah

Dear Your,

Cut this woman off at the pass: Move the copier out of her office. That will alleviate some of the captive audience business. As for why people behave this way, it is a combination of self-involvement, insecurity, and no antennae as to how the me-me-I-I routine is being received. These individuals are rather pathetic, so either tune out, or find a reason to flee. Alas, there is no even remotely polite way to say you don’t give a rat’s patootie about their “news.”

—Prudie, pragmatically

Dear Prudence,

I have an 18-year-old niece by marriage who is very attractive and has a killer bod. We get along tremendously and have lots in common. The problem is that she is constantly flirting with me, i.e., rubbing her body against mine, using her tongue in a provocative licking motion when she is speaking to me, shaking her breasts and butt in my presence (usually when we are alone in a room), licking my hand, and other sexually suggestive gestures. I must admit that her actions continually get me aroused to the point where I have to leave the room. My question is: Is this normal behavior for someone this age toward a 35-year-old man? It’s now to the point where I have been dreaming about an encounter with her. Should I inform her parents of their daughter’s antics? My other option would be to just hook up with her and see what happens. I am confused and horny all at the same time. Please let me know what you think.

—Horny but Waiting in Fla.

Dear Horn,

This girl sounds like a cross between a sexual adventuress and a dog. Prudie has never heard of licking people’s hands as a come-on and would suggest that you decline to play in the Let’s Get It On Invitational … not because she’s young or because she’s a relative (though not by blood), but because she sounds unbalanced and wildly aggressive. The direct answer to your question is that this is not normal behavior toward any man of any age, except perhaps in a bordello. And please forget running this by her parents. It would be really awkward to inform them of their daughter continually rubbing up against you, using her tongue in a provocative licking motion, shaking whatever shakes in your direction … not to mention the hand licking. Perhaps you should reduce the home visits and ask them all out for dinner. Or: You could flat-out tell her to knock off the seduction routine because nothing is going to come of it. Take it from old Pru, you do not want to go there.

—Prudie, resolutely

Dear Prudence,

Recently my cousin, who was a high-school teacher, left her husband. Turns out she had taken up with one of her underage students. Her husband, whom I’m very close to, was devastated. This has been a repetitive pattern with her. This is her second marriage and her second infidelity. My question is about the revulsion I feel around her. At a family gathering, this narcissistic twit had the audacity to bring her now-18-year-old beau. I can’t accept my cousin’s little boy-toy as a member of the family, and I can’t stand the vile smirk on her face when she thinks that no one knows what happened. Would it be sanctimonious of me to boycott the next gathering if she brings him?

—Gearing Up for a Springer Appearance

Dear Gear,

Prudie would in no way think you sanctimonious for avoiding this shameless and brazen cousin. “Principled” is actually the word that comes to mind. (And if anyone in the family asks the reason for your declining the next invitation, by all means tell them.) Too few people these days seem to understand that some value judgments are worth making and that one’s presence amounts to tacit approval. Good for you.

—Prudie, approvingly

Dear Prudence,

I have a thorny problem. I’m a 26-year-old American woman living overseas. Around a year and a half ago, I met a wonderful man (who’s native to this country), and we recently became engaged. The problem is my family, or more specifically, their house. I moved out to go to college about eight years ago and have never gone back except for brief visits about once a year. I love my family, but their home repulses me. The house I grew up in is filthy in the extreme … stuff piled so high, you literally have to dig through it to move around the rooms. The windows, walls, carpets, and furniture have never been cleaned in my memory. So many things are broken and halfheartedly patched up that it would take years to repair everything. Dog and cat hair covers every conceivable surface, and my parents smoke incessantly. The house is so disgusting that, as a child, I could never have friends over to play. In college I had to make excuses about why friends couldn’t visit me over vacations. How can I possibly bring my fiance, who has never even been to the United States, to visit them there? I can’t face bringing him to a place I am so embarrassed about. He knows about the situation and tells me that he loves me for who I am and doesn’t care at all where I came from. I can’t help but think that he only says those things because he doesn’t know how bad it really is.

—Troubled in Tokyo

Dear Trub,

What you describe is not merely a shabby, messy house but something way beyond the norm of “casual housekeeping.” It sounds like a pathological situation, and your parents may, in fact, be mentally ill. But be that as it may, when you and your beloved come to your hometown, have your parents meet you for dinner somewhere. That way you will be spared the house and still be able to introduce your folks to your intended. You are in no way a “bad person” because you wish to avoid a setting that is clearly disturbing.

—Prudie, rationally