The “No Place for Love” Edition

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership. Lucky you.

S2: You produce your prudence here, prudence, dear, in your prudent here. Do you think that I should contact him again? No. How? Thanks. Thank you.

S1: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again. And as always, I’m your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Danny Lavallee. With me in the studio this week is Grace Laborie, an associate professor in the Department of English at UC Berkeley. And also as of last month, but again, in a couple of days, my wife, which is really exciting. Hi, Grace.

S3: Hi, Danny. Welcome to the show. Oh, it’s just such a pleasure to be here on the show.

S1: As always, it’s just terrific to see you.

S3: Thank you. Yeah, we came here together, as you know, and we’re going to leave together. And yeah, but it’s it’s terrific.

S4: It does not make me unhappy to spend time with you. In fact, it’s a pleasure to join you at work.

S5: Sometimes I feel almost exactly the same or almost. Almost exactly. I mean, I don’t want to pretend that I can know every thought in your head. So when I leave a little room for the potential for difference.

S4: But to be honest, it sounded to me like you were demurring from some aspects of the observation that I just made, which is that it’s nice spending time together and I enjoy joining you at work. Well, we don’t know the efficent yet. Fair enough. Well, point taken, I guess. And to that end, would you please read the first letter? I would be delighted to do so. Daniel, thank you. The subject is, should I consider letting my best friend raise my troubled daughter? Dear Prudence, I always wanted to be a mother. Of course, parenthood comes with its challenges, but on the whole, my son’s a curious, happy, social and well-adjusted. Things were always different with Mary. We were asked to leave two different preschools because of her destructive and aggressive behavior. We considered a number of specialists recommended by her pediatrician. She was eventually diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder despite following her treatment plan. Everyday is a struggle and most of her anger seems to be directed at us. However, Mary also had a very difficult relationship with my best friend Helen, who is single and childless. Whenever Helen is around, Mary is Kalimah kind. She generally does what Helen asks. I’ve never seen her do this with anyone else. When Helen moved last year, Mary’s behavior worsened considerably. Helen asked to have Mary visit her for two weeks this summer. The break was so needed for my family and the visit seemed to go beautifully for Mary Ann Helen. But now that Mary is back. Things are even worse. Helen approached me recently and said that after careful consideration, she’s wondering if we would consider letting Mary live with her for a year. I don’t know what to say. It feels like a godsend. They seem to really love each other. And Mary, now 13, thrives with her. Helen is independently wealthy, while my husband and I divide our time between two jobs and our two other children. It’s a terrible idea when I’d be giving up on my daughter.

S5: There’s a lot here obvious, obviously, I think one thing that I was really struck by was the degree to which the letter writer seems to feel. I don’t want to see like quite abandoned by her husband in this, but a real sense of like this is a referendum on me as a mother rather than like a decision we’re making together. Like I always wanted to be a mother and then ending up. Would I be giving up on my daughter? And of course, I understand she’s the one writing the letter. But I do wonder, just especially because of the dynamics of like I had two relatively easy sons and now I have a really fraught relationship with my daughter, a sense of like. Whether or not this works out, whether or not this is an option that we pursue. It’s my fault or my call to make. Did did you get a similar read?

S3: I did. You know, I’m wearing my English professor hearthe a little bit at this point, but I was really struck by the way that the pronouns in that first paragraph move quickly between. I always wanted to be a mother and we were asked to leave two different preschools without we could mean me and marry me and my husband, my entire family. Yeah. And then eventually most of her anger seems to be directed at us, which one assumes is me and my partner. That’s right. And her partner. I think it’s interesting that the husband doesn’t show up in the story until right at the end. My husband and I divide our time between two jobs. I’m trying to avoid claiming that his non-appearance in this letter is evidence of a kind of absence from the relationship or from the family. I’m not sure that I could really sustain that on the reading of the text, but I do think it is a little odd that at no point in this letter does he have any kind of independent motivations or feelings even.

S1: Yeah. I’m curious like it. What does your husband think about all this? Has he. Have you discussed this with him? Like, is this just a call that Helen made to you and you haven’t yet told your husband that it’s a possibility? Yeah, I’m really it. Yeah. It does sound like Helen approached you and you maybe haven’t even floated this idea with your husband. So if that’s the case, I think the obvious first step is tell your husband about the offer and have a conversation. Yeah. As a parenting team about what you think.

S4: Yeah. So that being said, I guess that we should probably talk about some of the other questions, too. Would I be giving up on my daughter? Seems like a question with addressing and I think my view on that is not necessarily. I think it would be a question of how this kind of thing was handled and discussed and to what extent you’d really given Mary a chance to talk about her feelings and preferences with you.

S6: Bodythe I think that that’s important and it may very well be. I say this is a former child, a former difficult child myself. It may very well be that Mary’s conspicuous fondness for Helen is another way of antagonizing you in some way. It’s not so obvious that that’s evidence of a kind of healthy organic relationship that although it very well could be, I have. Right, you know.

S1: But I think one of the things, if you were to go down this road to treat it as a real experiment and to be prepared for even if the visits often go really well. And that last time she was with her for two weeks, it was great if she were with Helen for a year and Helen became a new sort of authority figure. Things might sour really quickly. Yeah.

S4: And you would also want to make sure that Mary knew at all times that she would be welcomed back and that if there were any question of her changing her mind or those things souring, that you would still love Mary unconditionally.

S6: Difficult difficulties. She doubtless is. So there’s another thing I wanna say just quickly on the topic of like, would I be giving up my daughter, which is just that I think I have always felt we have especially lately been thinking a lot about. I mean, we meaning men. Men. Dani, you don’t me.

S7: Been thinking a lot about the ways in which the nuclear family is a failure in so many ways for for so many children and the expectation that children naturally belong solely within hermetically sealed or at least sealable family units.

S6: Is a devastating one, especially for queer kids, especially for kids who have particular needs of community connection outside the bounds of the nuclear family. So for me, I would think you might give up on your daughter if you did this, you might give up on your daughter if you didn’t do this. The nuclear family with its protections is not going to be the thing that decides whether or not you’ve given up on your daughter.

S5: Yeah. So I think really talking about it with your husband is the next step then maybe bringing it maybe before bringing it up to marry you and your husband and Helen talking about what would a potential schedule look like? What how would you three make sure you are all checking in pretty regularly about Mary and how she’s doing and what would be best for her? What ways would you have a kind of contingency plan in place if things clearly didn’t work out? And then once you feel like, okay, the three of us are on a somewhat similar page, then talk to Mary. Ask her what she thinks. As you said, make it clear that this is an option, not something she has to do. Probably it would make the most sense to give it a trial run first, and it might not be great to do it in the middle of the school year. So this might be something that you would want to start, say, in the early summer and see how that goes. You know, you’ll have a sense of of what timeline works best for your family. But no. I mean, she’s 13. I have probably a different. And if she were a lot younger and being away from you for that long, a period of time would probably be really, really difficult. But, you know, kids at 13 often go to long summer camps. Sometimes they go to boarding school, sometimes they stay with relatives. I’m sure there are ways that you could do this that would feel like, get out of here. We’re not going to call. We’re hoping that this just turns into your life. That would make her feel rejected or cast off. But there would also be a lot of ways to make sure that this was about extending your family in in a bigger and a broader sense and and might work really, really well.

S4: Yeah. You know, so obviously want to make sure that you had an opportunity to talk in great detail with Helen about what expectations between yourselves as parents and her kids should be. Yeah. Basically, my my my thought about this is that, you know, one of the ways to diffuse the antagonism would be to really, truly consider this as an option and work out what kinds of responsibilities and ethical relations it would entail.

S1: Right. And yet, I think just to that end, the subject here, which is should I consider letting my best friend raise my troubled daughter is, I think, maybe illustrative of something that you can let go, which is like either Mary lives primarily with me and my partner and we raise her or she goes and lives with Helen and we’ve abandoned her. We’re done with her or we’re no longer involved in raising her. And like, even if she goes for a year and it goes great, I think you should still visit. You know, I think you should still call regularly. I think you should fly out yourselves at least once so that it’s not just like a year without seeing Mary. So it’s not just like if she goes and lives with Helen, then she is out of the family thing. Right. There are a lot of ways to make sure that it’s a trip, an experiment. Time spent with an basically another member of the family. Not here. You’re her mom now. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. We clean that one up. I think so, too. I’d love to hear back from you. I would really love to know how these conversations go. So suddenly to the next letter, head-first made me a little concerned, but that the subject simply refers to the living arrangements. The subject is adults in a teenage relationship. Dear Prudence, they’re all adults. I’ve been dating a woman for six months. We’ve known each other for eight years and are very much in love. I live with my ex for logistical and financial reasons and my girlfriend lives with her parents. Since my ex and I share a one bedroom apartment, if she’s at home hanging out with my girlfriend, there isn’t an option. My girlfriend has her own room in her parents house, but she doesn’t want to tell her mom she’s in a gay relationship or quote, deal with all her mom’s questions. I know she’s had a rocky relationship with her mom in the past, but we’re both in our late 20s and it really hurts that my girlfriend won’t fight for me. Am I being unreasonable to ask my girlfriend to finally have this conversation with her mom so that we can hang out at her house? I’ve already told her that driving 30 minutes to her town and then going out to eat is financially unsustainable for me. This is on my mind every time we hang out and it’s causing a real rift.

S3: Yep, that is a very odd question. It really hurts that my girlfriend won’t fight for me.

S1: Yeah, that’s not quite how I read this. Okay. I was just quoting words. Mm. Yeah. Okay. Go for it. I have a couple of thoughts and one is it totally makes sense that you would like for your girlfriends to plan eventually to talk to her mom about the fact you’re in a relationship. Totally get that. Yes. I also think you have other options in terms of figuring out sustainable and affordable ways to hang out that don’t just rest upon. She needs to have this conversation in part because things sound complicated enough between your girlfriend and her mom that I think even when they do have this conversation, that doesn’t mean the next day you’re gonna be able to comfortably come over and hang out in her room with the door closed. And her mom’s just gonna be like, great to see you.

S4: No, I mean, I get that.

S6: I just I think what I’m glomming onto is the kind of understandable feeling of frustration and anxiety that one has to perpetuate. A closet will continue living in a certain kind of closet. That is no of one’s own design. And you know that there are obviously romance is associated with unclosed saying one’s self that always, to some extent will fail to be realized, partly because the relationships into which one will enclose it oneself, as this one would seem to indicate the troubled and themselves and unsatisfying and imperfect.

S4: And then also because, you know, it’s it’s just it’s a lot of burden to place on a single speech act to explain a whole set of relations. You know, this is like who we are to each other. Well, you know, after eight years, it’s going to be a very complicated kind of question.

S6: So I feel a degree of sympathy that. But I also hear what you’re saying about the kind of, you know, the fact that other options are available and that there’s something about that kind of financial dimension that feels a little bit like an excuse.

S5: Right. Right. Like, you’ll always have the question of how do we go on dates that we can afford. And and so I think it’s important to separate that from like you want her to have this conversation with her mother for emotional reasons. And I don’t think you need to like point to. Otherwise, it’s too expensive for us to go to dinner together when the emotional reasons are totally worthwhile. So absolutely. Like talk to your girlfriend and think about for yourself. How long would I be interested in being in a relationship with someone who lives with and is closeted to their parents? And ask yourself that question and considering the answers doesn’t mean that you’re not being sympathetic to her. I think one of the things that I often see in partially closeted relationships is that the person who is not closeted feels like if I don’t agree to indefinitely participate in this relationship where I have to stay in the closet too, I’m being like unsympathetic to a fellow queer person or I’m being judgmental or I’m just as bad as that, like homophobic family members. As long as you can truly love someone and feel great sympathy for their reasons, not to come out to their family members and also say at a certain point, this is not what I want from my romantic relationship.

S8: I’m glad you said that. Yeah, I think that this description as I as I hear it. I think this this description might be grounds to end the relationship. Yeah. Nova and NOFX reasons that have for me at least I think it would be really difficult for me to continue a relationship if I felt like this was an ongoing problem again.

S6: And from my circumstances and you know, I should also say with the kind of privilege I carry in the world, it’s unlikely to be that I would be focused on the kind of pragmatic dimension of this letter is focused on.

S4: But I do think I would find it very hard to feel like, you know, again, like I just fixated on that sentence. It hurts that my go from won’t fight for me. And, you know, there’s something about that that just I think conceals a lot of resentment that doesn’t have very much to do with money and doesn’t really have very much to do with the local circumstances where living arrangement has been said.

S6: Something about how you understand that. Relationship to close fitness and your entitlement within it.

S5: And I think just especially that direct quote of how she doesn’t want to deal with all her mom’s questions. Yeah, without being dismissive of that, like none of us like it. Yeah. No, no. The whole the whole thing about coming out is it sucks. It just does suck. And people that you love ask you. Irritating, frustrating, rude, judgmental, invasive, stupid questions. I totally understand why she doesn’t want to do it. None of the times that I came out to my family did I feel excitement or joy. So again, you can have sympathy or understanding for the reasons why she has delayed her own coming out. If you decide this is no longer working for you, it doesn’t mean you’re throwing her away or saying that she’s like a bad person. But, you know, if there’s no sign of her planning on doing this. The question really is just do you want to be with someone who’s closeted to their parents forever? And it’s perfectly fine to say now that the last thing I’ll throw in there that feels very tangential. I’m just curious about since my ex and I share a one bedroom apartment, if she’s at home, I can’t hang out with my girlfriend and I could both at least as much complexity that as with the mother. Yeah. So again, I don’t know what the logistical reasons are that you and your ex still live together. My guess is you share a pet or maybe you’re just very, very entangled in one another’s lives. But as much as you are asking your girlfriend to reconsider her limits about her mom, maybe ask why do I have a living situation where I feel like I can’t have my girlfriend just to like make a meal or watch TV if my ex is at home?

S9: Yeah, I totally agree. I think there is something that it is it is as much of a practical imposition on the relationship as the relationship. The mom on the other side. You know, it occurred to me as a as we were talking about Lagu unsatisfying coming out stories, I was realizing that I have a very odd one.

S10: I have like a genuinely unusual I think I think a little unusual relation to this question, which is that for so very long, I simply refused to come out to my mother at all without being in the least bit secretive about any of the choices I was making. And, you know, like I was very frequently in relationships that either were all looked pretty straight. You know, the other ones wasn’t especially clear what they look like. But, you know, my fear was that if I tried to talk to my mother abounds who I thought that I was in a kind of more fundamental sense in terms of sexual sexual identity. My fear was that if I did that.

S9: I would be too quickly subject to a kind of overwhelming acceptance that would attempt to kind of negate or minimize some of the other difficulties in the relationship.

S11: And the thing that happened when I eventually came out was exactly that. That was exactly what happened. Yeah, yeah.

S9: I got the kind of stifling, smothering acceptance. And it made me feel fully misunderstood, even though from the outside it have looked like Apsley Affirmation.

S12: So my point there is like if you are a family member to whom someone is coming out, you don’t really have any good options like you’re gonna fuck either way.

S5: Yeah. I think the less I know I keep saying this is the last thing. But you know that question about am I being unreasonable to ask my girlfriend to finally have this conversation with her mom so we can hang out at her house? Probably that little last bit about so we can hang out at her house. You need to acknowledge you can’t control. But again, there’s often this idea of is it unreasonable to have a stake in this question or a preference? You can both be reasonable and have to part ways. It’s reasonable to say, I want you to come out to your mom in the next couple of months. It would be reasonable for her to say I decline. It would then be reasonable for you to say, I don’t think I can be in a relationship where I need to be closeted. I think I need to break up with you. And then it would be reasonable for your girlfriend to say that hurts my feelings. I don’t want to be friends. Like all of it could be perfectly reasonable and it would still be sad and difficult. So I wouldn’t get too hung up on like is it or isn’t it reasonable? You’ve got to advocate for yourself and figure out what you can’t and can’t put up with in a relationship.

S12: Yeah. You’re not being unreasonable, but because we don’t have enough evidence to suggest your partner is either.

S5: And also people sometimes have a right to be unreasonable. Yes. If somebody wants to be closeted, even if it sometimes means they don’t get to keep dating the people that they want to. They get to make that call. They get to decide to prioritize that closeted ness. Sometimes it has to do with other issues of safety. Sometimes it’s just like if this is a mistake, it’s the mistake. I’d like to make and you just you get to do that as an adult person. You get to be closeted if you want. All right, so I am glad I saved for this next question for you. I’m glad that it’s your turn to read it, especially because I think it asks the kind of question that you often want to intervene in, which is like, what do I read to solve all of my problems?

S11: Yeah, yeah.

S5: Well, yeah, especially when it’s like, what do I read online to solve all of my problem? God.

S12: No, nothing. Addiction dictionary, maybe. Okay. How would I know if I were non-binary? Dear Prudence, I’m a 33 year old woman who has always assumed that being a woman was just an immutable fact for me. I’ve never felt like a man. I don’t think of myself as particularly feminine or masculine. I don’t have any particular attachment to or identification with my body parts or anything, but neither do I desire male body parts. I tried to learn more about different gender identities, is talking about them has become more mainstream, but I find myself mired in web sites and conversation about the validity of different gender identities instead of conversations about how to recognize them and how it feels internally.

S10: I’m not interested in questioning other people’s identities. I’m just interested in trying to figure out my own. Now that I understand, I have the option. What resources my overlooking. Do you know of anything that might be helpful?

S5: Sigh. Yeah, certainly. I think logging off and avoiding these web sites that make you feel stuck in something, just you stop using the word validity.

S12: Yeah, I don’t need to worry about that. None of us need to worry about that. But you especially don’t need to worry about that. Like the question that you’re asking is a question of the utmost importance. And it has come from somewhere. It has come from somewhere that matters.

S10: And I assume that that somewhere that matters is not, in fact, a kind of online forum or the discourse on Twitter. I imagine that it comes from an instinct that is far more personal and intimate than that and that you are seeing explored. It sounds like, you know, you are you attending to the the rest of the world in order to help you explore something that started off within you. And, you know, my sense is that the work that you are going to need to do is not work for which resources in that sense will be helpful. What will be helpful is introspection and anything that helps introspection, which could be speaking with a therapist. Could be with you. Could be talking with a lot of friends. It could be writing things out. Writing poetry. It could be journaling. It could be reading a lot of novels or reading a lot of poetry or writing, you know, like what? Whatever it is, it’s like something that’s going to involve a kind of serious process of introspection. You are not obliged to have a sexual identity or to have a theory of sexual identity.

S11: None of us are. And you don’t need to do anything other than continue as you have been to think and feel your way through your own relations.

S12: What it means to be in your body, to be inhabiting the linguistic subject position into which you have been placed by virtue of your birth and the way in which you’ve been raised. And to continue to work that out. And exfoliate that and unfold that in your relationships and manifest value in your life. And you can definitely do that without pamphlets.

S5: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I agree with all of that. And I think you’re just starting to come in to realization of this huge thing, which, as you say is like that being a woman, which I thought was just something I could not change or attempt to alter about myself is in fact something I might want to change or other people have changed. And I take that seriously. And so now I’m trying to get a sense of are there other things that I want? Are there things that I want to do on the basis of what I want? And not immediately having an answer to that question makes a lot of sense to me. But there’s I think sometimes there’s a sense of what’s the field map to this? What does feeling a man look like? Is it across the board? The same for everyone? What are the eight things that I can use to identify like signs of dysphoria so that I then know what to do next when, as you say, it is about identifying what is desire look like for me? What are ways in which I have carefully absented myself from thinking about desire by thinking actually I feel fine. And what are ways in which I can interrogate what I mean when I say fine? And so again, that doesn’t mean here’s a guidebook to figuring out what you actually want. But yeah, I think one of the things that might be really helpful is to seek out and talk to and ask questions. Again, not like Button Hole, the first trans person you see and demand that they like give you their life story. But like anybody who’s developed a relationship to womanhood, to their body, to their gender, that strikes you as interesting or worthwhile, whether that be somebody who’s gotten like top surgery, somebody who’s gotten breast implants, both like how do they feel about their bodies? How do they feel about the choices that they’ve made? How have things changed for them? How have they not? I think to maybe think of. Now, what are choices people have made and what have those choices done for them? And just trying to learn more and then just noticing to have a response to that. Do I feel instinctively intrigued by it? Do I feel a little panicked by it? Do I feel like vaguely curious, but not especially moved internally and just keep a record of those thoughts and feelings? All you have to do is collect this information about yourself. And yet, I think, Grace, as you are saying, like reading generally about the human experience and writing is going to be a lot more helpful to you than like seeking out a guidebook to identifying your feelings about your gender and your body and then figuring out what you get to do next.

S8: That being said, Kay Bernstein’s book, My New Gender Workbook is a kind of like fun thing to read. And by all means, dear, if that would be fun for you.

S11: But as they say for me, like what gives me pause in this letter is just what it what a sentence as being the hope. That’s.

S6: Every one’s identity and therefore mine can be mapped onto a total grid that will include all of us as kind of co-equal negations of being life in this, transmen all feel this way and do the whole thing.

S5: Non-binary people all feel this way and do these things.

S6: Or maybe not. I mean, I wait. I think I see this kind of thinking tends to work is like transwomen will feel one way, transmen feel another way. And then there are a million different ways to be non-binary. Which I find sort of slightly offensive, both because I noticed that’s trends, not well, like I find slightly offensive because non-binary people, in fact, very frequently do find things that they share and do in fact have like grounds on which they can build community and build solidarity based on shared identity and shared experience. Not always, but sometimes. But also, self-evidently, if you’ve ever met two trans women, you will know that it’s a rich tapestry does not come with a single.

S13: It doesn’t mean just one thing. It means as many different things as there are transwomen.

S6: And sometimes that is a challenge. In fact, that’s that’s something that is that can be difficult. But it’s I think more often a real strength of trans community. An aspect of trans resilience is that we are capable of like standing in solidarity with each other and being in a community space with each other without assuming that we share as a single aetiology or single kind of way of rationalizing our experiences of embodiment and identity.

S5: Yeah. So I would just say don’t feel surprised that as you are just for the first time in your life questioning the great CIS assumption that has defined your existence, that you don’t immediately have a really strong sense of what you like, what you don’t like, what you want, what you don’t want makes a lot of sense. You have just opened a book you don’t already know. I don’t see the ending, but yeah, it just makes a lot of sense that the first time you think about these questions, you would not immediately think, I know what I want is this. Yeah.

S11: So all this is and I’ll say another thing like you, it sounds like you know this it sounds like everyone will know this, but nor is it the case that the first identity formulation that is not AI insists that you come up with. It’s not the case that the first one will be the last one necessarily. For some people, it is.

S6: But plenty of people understand transition as a set of shifting signifies a shifting IONSYS, which kind of makes sense for a particular kind of time and space and may very well generate other identities, other claims and other kinds of self-knowledge and self-expression in other moments. So yeah, not only do I not share the hope that we can all be mapped onto a grid, but I wouldn’t share the hope that any particular individual could be entirely mapped onto such a grid. If one were inconceivable.

S5: Yeah. And you know. Good luck. This is exciting, interesting, provocative stuff that you get to think about and everything is available to you.

S13: Yeah. Good luck. This is really exciting. Genuinely, the moment that you are at in relation to questioning how can I be in the world is a moment of deep and rich possibility and I wish you all the best of it.

S14: Yeah, this next one I think has a very straightforward answer. And it’s all about your dear friend Beth. As soon as they’re happy.

S15: So I get to read this one, which is great because I really am excited about the subject line, which is chicken fisting story played on speaker phone during my commute. Dear Prudence, I live in New York City and I take the subway to work. I take the same train at roughly the same time every day. I don’t talk to my fellow commuters. We certainly recognize each other on a daily basis today, like every day. I was listening to the pretty part of my morning commute, which strikes me as amazing because we only put out one a week when I listened a few times.

S16: Maybe a short commute, short or short.

S15: True. I suppose that makes sense. My boyfriend recently gave me his old air pods since he upgraded and I was using them to listen to the morning Bundes episode. Toward the end, the sound got very quiet, so I kept turning up the volume so I could hear it as I got off the train and went to use my headphones for a work call. I realized they had died during my commute, which is why the volume went down suddenly. I now realize the entire subway car full of familiar commuters must have listened to you and Elizabeth talking about testing new loops by fisting a raw chicken. I guess my question is how do I apologize for being that person who didn’t use headphones in the subway? Briefly apologize. Hide my head in shame. Move to a new city to avoid making eye contact with strangers who hurt me listening to a story about chicken fisting.

S17: Do we want to answer the question we just took while great Beth is let’s answer the question and then talk about how great Beth is. Okay. So the answer to the question is you’re totally fine. Don’t worry. This is your golden heart is a fun anecdote that you have shared with us, but you don’t have a problem and you know it.

S5: Yeah. And just like the whole thing about living in a city is part of the basic commute is you leave people alone are like the basic etiquette of commuting. It’s like you didn’t know you’re not going to do it again. People would feel like confused if you went up. Then we’re like, hey, I know a couple of days ago you might have heard someone talking about chicken. Yeah. My bad yet again.

S4: I don’t I don’t think I think this letter is an object. It tell the story. Rubberband to really ask for us for our advice.

S15: I think that era. Yeah. This is just like they’re fine. If anything, maybe some people were like, oh, now I know a new kind of lube I can try shrimp with. And it was cool. I want to say boy butter, but I don’t think it wasn’t boy butter.

S4: I was like Gilla glide on.

S18: It does appear that probably we’re still in business. It does look like they still have the flip tops on the little air bottles. What do they have a classic probe anymore?

S16: We’ll get Beth back on the show. We should. We have to get Beth back on the show. But you know, speaking of Beth, it’s me. What about it? I don’t know. You just want to talk about how great you were.

S4: Well, I just love Beth and she’s the best. And I’m and Tina. And I’m really happy that she got solid story.

S13: I remember the first time I heard her telling that story and I find it deeply satisfying. And then I also wrote the story for Lacy, who may not have heard the podcast with Beth. Beth is like a really, really beloved and dear friend of mine who has been very helpful to me during the last period of my life and has become parts of our lives collectively.

S4: And that’s rather lovely.

S11: And and did the podcast a while ago and it was beautiful. And she told a story about when she was living in Chicago and that her favorite lube company changed that. That mixture, right. I guess you’d say recipe. The lube recipe shifted. And she was so upset that she invited some of her kind of lesbian friends around and they fisted a chicken using the old lube and the new leaf to kind of test, which was better. And then wrote to the company that was putting out the the new recipe lube, pointing out that the old one was indeed better. And then they they switched back. So this was like consumer power for like Midwestern dykes. And it was kind of beautiful. So that was the story. I always think that it’s kind of an unfair test for the obvious reason that it’s gonna be easier to fist the chicken with whatever lube you use second. Right. It seems so obvious to me that, like, you’ve got to have two separate chickens.

S8: You’ve got to start the chicken from scratch and you’ve got to make sure that they are chickens of roughly the same kind of shape and integrity, because otherwise it’s fully unfair kind of test.

S13: And I’ve told Beth as much. I think that the scientific value of that that test is really compromised by a fun story, but it doesn’t actually doesn’t solve the problem.

S17: It’s a fun story. Beth, if you’re listening. But anyway. Yeah. So I my point is I love Beth and she’s the best.

S15: Yeah. I think maybe my one other suggestion would be regular headphones. Don’t ever lose battery. So that would solve one problem, right?

S11: Wait. Yeah, that’s true.

S15: Instead of airports. But I don’t know. Maybe you really love airports for other reasons.

S16: Well, yeah. Yeah, maybe. I don’t really understand them, but I’ve been. But people that people swear by them. Yeah. I’ve never used them so I can’t speak to it. I considered buying them when I was in New Haven recently and then there were $170 Daniel for a pair of phones and I could get a pair of earbuds for like 20 bucks. Well, I like I just idea. Buzz, thank you very much.

S5: The subject line of this next letter, I always think of the Chester Jay Lamp Wick episode of The Simpsons where he and Abe get in that fight and keep saying, paint my chicken coop and like, give me back my corn muffins or something that those muffins were terrible muffins, whatever. That’s the tone that I read this, sir.

S16: Sadik-Khan, do you want me to read it? I wish that you. Okay. Paper my butterfly wrap. Dear Prudence, my sister had kids early and my parents had me late. So there was only a six year difference between my nephew and me. He is fifteen. I recently found a handmade rap online that looked like butterfly wings.

S13: It was over $300, but it was so beautiful that I needed it. I bought it with my own money. My nephew decided to loan my wrap to his girlfriend without asking me. She lost it. My nephew lied to me about what happened to the wrap until his girlfriend confessed. I am livid. More so because my sister will not do anything about it. She made her son apologize, but refuses to pay me back the money. Spending that amount of money is ridiculous. And it was cupids. I hope you can hear the air quotes ridiculous. And it was stupid of me to do so and leave the rap out. I told her I didn’t expect her son to steal from me. She yelled at me that she didn’t raise a thief. I told her she obviously did, or we wouldn’t be in this mess. Our mom had to pull us apart. I took the TV and other gifts. I bought my sister and my nephew back and stopped babysitting my nieces. I loved that presence alone. My sister was furious at me and my parents think I’m overreacting. My relationship with my sister has never been the greatest and I’ve never enjoyed her asked you that. Everyone in the family owes her something since she has kids. We all live together, but I am the only one that pays rent. She crossed a line here. That rap was something I scrimped and saved for. I’m honestly thinking of going over to my boyfriend’s family for Christmas. I don’t know what to do now or what I should do going forward. Help.

S16: Paper my butterfly rah.

S5: So I do agree that you have overreacted. I had a rider that was listener.

S17: You should know that Danny looked at me with some concern while he said that as though he didn’t know whether I would agree or not, potentially because you think that I am like this person, that is not at all true.

S5: I said I only started to look at you suspiciously, because you waited a minute to say that you agree.

S17: I obviously agree. Yeah. Good. By the way, go and spend Christmas with your boyfriend’s family, for goodness sake. You’re absolutely right. Yeah, that sounds like it’s best for everybody, but best you’re in no condition to try to. Yes, but, you know, I’m sure it’s a lovely wrap.

S5: What’s a butterfly wrap? Well, it’s apparently. I thought it was a sandwich at first, but a wrap. That looks like butterfly wings. Like a wrapped, like a shawl. Okay.

S11: So this this wrap. Okay. You paid a lot for the wrap. I get that. I would be sad in your position to be real man in your position, too.

S1: But there’s also just a limit. Like does this 15 year old boy or his presumably 15 year old girlfriend have a spare three hundred dollars? No.

S17: Does there it sounds like a singular right word to describe this. Yeah. Lessness, selfishness.

S1: But I don’t think he intended to, like, sell it. Yeah. Or give it away permanently. You know, it’s one of those things that falls under the category of sometimes things happen and it sucks. And the most you can hope for is an apology. But like this kid doesn’t have to be any dollars. You’re single parents, sister does not have $300. Sometimes in life, you buy things that you love and you don’t get to keep them for as long as you would want. You’re not going to get that money back by taking back your gifts, yelling at your sister some more, telling her that she has shit. Children like, yeah, you need to let this go. You have now rung three hundred dollars worth of anger out of this loss, and any more than that is like you are now spending more than you spend to begin with.

S11: You know, I I agree. We were on the same page about this one. Although I do think that your I will maintain slight suspicion that I would have a diva side if somebody treated one of my beloved items of clothing with with with such disrespect. I believe that I words.

S1: I’m sorry. You think I didn’t think you were.

S11: I think that you would. You do think that I would treat that.

S1: You know, I think you would like scream at a sibling until your mom had to.

S11: It. But I have a diva side. We both know. It’s not anything I’m ashamed of. But my point is, like, I get that. But Barbara totally on the same side about, you know, this person’s overreacting needs to chill the fuck out. Yeah, but one thing that does seem to be a pattern that I’ve noticed, you know, a few times recently is families rewarding the sibling who does most to reproduce children.

S6: And that dynamic is one that would frustrate me, too. And that does frustrate me, too. Yeah.

S11: So I guess I want to say, if one of the underlying dynamics here is I feel as though my sister’s life choices are being over rewarded and mine are being ignored or marginalized, and that that friction or that tension is playing out through a kind of conflict over my apparent like wastefulness with money.

S5: Right. We like the implication of like instead of buying butterfly raps, you should have kids. Exactly.

S11: If it is if there if you feel that there is some kind of association there, that would make sense to me. As far as a framing, that seems to be something that indeed heterosexuality does to people and. I think it’s fucked up. I wish that we did not especially organize our social relations around Valorize Thing and Elevate saying people who have chosen to have killed kids, not that there is anything wrong with having kids. Not that that is a choice that should be denigrated either.

S1: Yeah, but I absolutely yeah. There’s there’s totally ways in which you can have patience for your 15 year old nephew and his 15 year old girlfriend and also realize that the dynamic that the other adults in your family have set up is one where this is not just the rap. There’s other things going on now. I still think that you can handle this individual situation differently. But I agree that, like, the underlying stuff absolutely matters. Relate to that end. Yes. Go be with your boyfriend’s family for Christmas and don’t do it in terms of like I’m withdrawing my presence from you because you all don’t deserve it. Just do it in the sense of things are really complicated and tough right now. I think we’ll all feel better if we take a breather. It’s a wise decision, not a punishment.

S11: And I.

S5: It sounds to me like you are ready to begin to move outside the White House environment because you’re the only one paying rent, which means that you have enough of an income that you could potentially save up to move in with friends or roommates. And I think that long term, that’s gonna be the best choice for you. I think that’s what you’re gonna need more than anything else. Yeah, I again, I totally get why it would feel really frustrating that the kid lied to you. I also get that, you know, 15 year olds or 15 year olds, he eventually cops do it. I think mostly to let that one go, if only for your own peace of mind. And then in the long term, get out of there. Yeah, I know. See your family a little bit less often and prioritize people in your life who care about the things that you are doing.

S11: And I really hope that at some point before too long you get a delicious, delightful butterfly wrap and that you are treated well. Do you know who I would ask to get you about to flare up? I would get your boyfriend to get you one. Yeah, you know, I think that.

S19: Oh, wow. I’m looking at the now and they look kind of pretty. Yeah, some of them do. I just I googled butter. Yeah. We didn’t really know what a butterfly rap was, so we googled it and. Wow. Yeah. It’s kind of a love.

S13: Get your boyfriend to buy you. And that’s kind of how this works. You’re family like leeches all your resources and steals your stuff and then you get a boyfriend to buy you stuff. That’s out heterosexually. Should wear.

S1: Yeah. At this point I’m just going down the rabbit hole of looking up butterfly wings. Maybe you’ll find one that you like that you can save up for for a year’s length. Now maybe you’ll find one that’s a little bit cheaper that you might like. There will be other things that you’ll be able to get yourself before long term. Get out of here.

S20: That’s it. We did it. You did it. We did it.

S15: We did it. We did it together. And I couldn’t have done it without you.

S10: I sometimes wonder what this show would be like if you did it without guests. Not that you should. I don’t think you should do that. But I just mean like it would be a different kind of thing.

S5: I have recorded an episode twice without guests. How did it go? It’s very hard. Yeah, it’s way harder. Any tweaking to fill? I would occasionally incorporate what I believed to be Phil’s reaction that it felt actually very much like what you have told me about like classic psycho analysis.

S17: Like I was projecting all sorts of things onto what I thought and wanted for me. Tabula rasa that ray. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. And I would often have to be like I I guess I could fight with myself in the following way, but it’s it’s hard and there’s a lot of dead air.

S13: Yeah, I can imagine. That’s right. You know, I mean you’re very good at this in my view. And I think he knows it. Thanks, Grace. I really appreciate it. Congratulations on being really good at your job.

S5: I sure love you. And I look forward to seeing you in just two seconds because this whole goodbye thing is pretend by a.

S21: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence. Our producer is Phil cercas. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton.

S22: Don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate dot com slash Dear Prudence to subscribe. And remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus, go to Slate.com slash pretty pod to sign up. If you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message at 4 0 1 3 7 1, dear. That’s 3 3 2 7. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request we can alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short. 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks. Listening.

S1: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday.

S19: I think the point that I’m just trying to register as like when we think about how do we relate to something called gender in the world or the existence of patriarchy in the world or how if we want to frame that, I think we can say we relate to our own gender or we relate to our own situation within the scheme of patriarchal power distribution and also we relate to the gender of other people. And that is important to us as well. It is important to me that I was raised by two women. That is an important aspect of my life to listen to the rest of that conversation.

S5: Joint slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash prudy part.

S23: So when I was living in Chicago with my ex girlfriend, okay, well, you’re not no longer living together, but we were both in the city. We oh, we must have been sleeping together or maybe.

S24: Yeah, I think we’re still sleeping together. Okay, whatever. We’re lesbians. So it’s like that anyway. Still are. We bought our favorite lube and went at it and the lube had suddenly changed texture so that it was it was long sticky strings like a spiderweb bar. And it had before been this like really.

S14: I guess what the record shows really good graces face when I said it was like I consider it for the record to shut up and the new and the new bottle was terrible.

S24: Like it had a it had a dome top. So you actually were sort of scrabbling at it, you know, with your Luby fingers and the old one had been just this nice flip-top black bottle said probe. And was this like viscously wonderful thick lube that original is marketed to gay men and lesbians discovered so many way. So the new lube does seem we bought probe and it was different, violently, different bottle, violently different formula. And we thought, what are we gonna do? How are we gonna exercise our power as consumers? So we had a party and we invited every lesbian we knew in Wicker Park, which I think was maybe fifteen nineteen ninety two. This fear had not moved there yet and is not a lesbian, but you know all the girls and go fish, all those kind of people were hanging around in Chicago.

S23: So, so we sent out invitations and everybody arrived and we had different lubes in little paper cups with different coded letters or whatever, you know blind testing. And we had a raw chicken in the middle of the table and everybody was invited to put on a glove and get some these little cups and try the different textures of the lubes, you know, squeezed in between your fingers, smell whatever they needed to do to have the experience and then to fist the raw chicken ball up their fist slathered up with lube and stick it in that chicken and really work it and see what they thought.

S25: And then we had it had a sort of a, you know, a survey or like a thing make it fill out with the differently ribs and did the chicken have a grand jury experience, etc, etc.. And then we took these surveys and we crunched the data with some kind of, you know, 1982’s software. I have no idea what it was. And so we’d come up with some really scientific results. And then we wrote the company, which was called Davran Laboratories, which I think was like a guy named Dave and a guy named Ryan. I kid you not. We said, you know, we had this party, we had the chicken.

S26: The results are the oldest old probe, which we had in a bottle of to be part of this test. That own probe is vastly superior to your new formula. And we beg you, please, to use our scientific research for the good of humanity and bring back old probe. And surprisingly, they did and they marketed it as classic probe. So as with classic Coke a case and I Elizabeth Freeman brought back a classic probe, I’m not sure how long it lasted. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure whether they were ever able to make a go of it in terms of marketing, but it really is kind of the only research I’ve ever done.

S23: And I’m an academic and I’ve been an academic for 25 years as the only research I’ve ever done that’s really changed the world.