Click here to read a transcript of Prudie’s live weekly chat with readers at Washingtonpost.com.
A few months before my husband and I got married, I found out by accident that he wears a toupee. As we lay in bed one night, I noticed what looked like hairspray or gel buildup on his hairline. He was fast asleep, so I went to scratch it off, and what I thought was gel turned out to be the tape of his toupee! Here he had been wearing a toupee all this time, and I never had the faintest idea. I’m sure he’s painfully embarrassed about it, as he’s very particular about his appearance, but I’m his wife and hate knowing he’s keeping this from me. Do I somehow gently confront him about this? I’m nervous to do so, because I think he would be extremely embarrassed. In the end, I want him to know that I love him no matter what he looks like, and he shouldn’t feel like he has to wear a hairpiece.
—Bald Is Beautiful
There’s better, there’s worse, then there’s Hair Club for Men—which may be worse than worse. If you scroll around the Web for Hair Club counter-testimonials, you’ll find the most astounding thing about your story is that when your courtship began, you didn’t immediately suspect that your future husband had a muskrat pelt attached to his scalp. A standard toupee is supposed to be removed nightly, but customers of the Hair Club, or an equivalent, have the wig taped and glued on for weeks at a time. (Though your husband’s hair follicles appear to be dead, let’s not think about the life forms that must be breeding under the rug.) When he disappears without explanation, he isn’t cheating on you; he’s at the club getting his muskrat adjusted. We live in a glorious time for male pattern baldness, a time when even men who still have hair flaunt fully shaved heads. What a service it would be if you could release your husband from the tyranny of the toupee so that his scalp can breathe free. But he sounds like a delicate vessel, so handle him gingerly. Tell him the truth—that one night as he slept you noticed a buildup of glue on his scalp and realized he was wearing a toupee. Say you know that he takes great pride in his appearance, but you’re sure he would look just as handsome—probably more so—if he went natural. It will probably take time for this advice to gel, but maybe one day he will be willing to flip his wig.
I’ve been out of work for several months and have had trouble landing interviews—I have children and really need a job. My résumé is fantastic, with excellent references, but I do not have a four-year college degree. Finally, I got desperate and edited one of my résumés to show that I had a bachelor’s degree from a college I attended 30 years ago. I sent it out only once (and have since deep-sixed it). The problem is that I received an inside referral to a job with an excellent company, hit it off with everyone during the interviews, and landed the job—contingent on my passing a background check. This is where I sent my falsified résumé. I completed the background check truthfully. But now my stomach is churning and I want to call the company, tell them what happened, and resign the position. I’ve never done anything like this before. It may be the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.
—Remorseful Job Applicant
Do not resign! Contact human resources immediately and tell them there’s a mistake on your résumé and that it should say you attended, not graduated from, your college. Let them know the background-check form is accurate. That may take care of the problem. If your call raises questions, be succinct and truthful. Say you made this onetime mistake in a foolish attempt to improve your résumé, you regretted it the moment you did it, and whatever else happens, you are relieved to have put things right. It’s much better for you to come forward first before the checkers find the discrepancy. Yes, there’s a chance they won’t, but that’s a big risk. If they miss it, and you do get hired, every time anyone says, “Marvin, can I see you in my office?” your stomach acid will pour. If you get the job and this comes out later, it could be a firing offense. And if this is the worst thing you’ve ever done, take pride in having led such an exemplary life.
My family is throwing a big bash to celebrate a milestone birthday of a male relative. I’m in charge of creating a retrospective-type presentation to honor him. The problem is that halfway through his life, he came out as gay. Nearly all of his friends and family know this and know his longtime partner. However, we’re not all full of politically correct delight over his status; we just happen to love him for who he is, and his partner, too. My question is, how do I present this obviously significant shift in his life without turning it into a moment of awkwardness for the family members who love him “anyway,” as long as we “don’t ask, don’t discuss”? To his credit, he is not one to yank political strings, but I bet he’d like to have the kind of direct acknowledgement of his personal life that anyone’s retrospective would offer. How do I not tinker with my family’s best attempt to love him and still honor him appropriately?
—Cautious in California
If “Homer” weren’t gay, when you came to the part of the presentation in which he met his life’s partner, you wouldn’t say, “Then in 1992 a momentous event occurred when Homer met the love of his life, Marge, and realized he was a heterosexual.” You may think your family is extraordinarily generous and tolerant, given your relative’s deviancy and all, to just think of him as an individual, one who has been lucky in love. Instead, your family sounds about halfway there—they are right to love your relative and his partner for who they are—but it’s long past time for people to stop putting an asterisk by that love because he’s gay. So you actually aren’t in an awkward situation as far as your presentation is concerned. When you get to the point in the chronology that Homer finds Sid, you just say so. You could also add something like, “And having Sid become part of our family has brought us all great joy, not least because at Thanksgiving, unlike Homer, Sid does not take seconds of the pumpkin pie before everyone else has been served.”
My wife and I are in our late 20s and are recently and happily married. Last year, we moved to a new city so she could attend graduate school, and we have few friends in the area. One thing is causing a lot of tension in our relationship: She insists on watching the programming on Bravo TV for hours after she returns from class every night. While any sort of programming in moderation is fine (I enjoy police-car/crash-related programming), the accumulated Housewives of Orange County, Top Chef, and Millionaire Matchmaker, etc., is driving me bonkers. I feel as if I’m constantly letting the vapid, catty, self-centered individuals from these television shows into my home. To combat her watching this dross, I’ve tried bribery, negotiation, walking (storming) out of the room, and suggesting other projects. Nothing seems to work. I realize that she doesn’t want to upset me, but she is unable or unwilling to give up the demon tube during the evening. Aside from cutting our cable, I’m at a loss. Can you help?
—Bothered By Bravo
The couple whose marriage is collapsing because of the wife’s obsession with Bravo—this sounds like a pitch for a Bravo reality series! I do agree with you about the repulsiveness of the Housewives iterations and Millionaire Matchmaker. But my husband, who enjoys artillery barrage programming, learned from Top Chef of the drama inherent in the decision to cook meat sous-vide and thanks to Project Runway (now departed to Lifetime) now appreciates how “ruching” can make a dress work. So maybe you can come to share part of her Bravo passion. But for her to be engrossed by Bravo nightly, while tuning you out, is simply rude. Take her out for a nice dinner and tell her you understand that at the end of a long, intellectually demanding day, it’s a relief to watch the Housewives, whose cup sizes are probably the same as the grades on their high-school finals. But say you want to reach a compromise with her. Ask if she can record her favorites and devote one or two nights to Bravo, which would give the two of you the rest of the week to enjoy each other—suggest a regular outing, say, to the theater or a music club, as an alternative. If she can’t make that concession, maybe it’s time for the camera crew to move in.