The “Forever Young” 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 prudence, dear prudence here, prudence, these things that I should contact him again. Help. Thanks. Thank you.

S3: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again. And as always, I’m your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel Mallory Ortberg. With me in the studio this week is Eric MC, an organizer, a farmer and an author who lives near Kingston, Ontario. And his latest book is Full Spectrum Resistance, which explores how to build more effective movements. Eric, welcome to the show.

S4: Danny, thanks so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

S3: I’m so excited that you’re here. And I’m kind of kicking myself right now because last week I got one of my very first farming or gardening related questions in like three, three and a half years. And I should have saved it for you.

S4: Well, there’s always another season.

S3: There’s always another season. But I’m hoping that you can confirm that my instinct was right here. My the person in question had been growing a lot of summer squash. And they had discovered from another neighbor that a couple of months ago, some neighborhood kids had stolen like a a stock or two of zucchini or however, you you distinguish one unit of zucchini. And my first thought was like, okay, the one thing I know about gardening is that if you grow squash or zucchini, you never, ever run out of it. It takes over your entire life. And so like this is not a real problem. Is that true?

S4: That is totally true. Zucchini is one of the most prolific squashes. And as soon as they remove that fruit, another one will start crying right away.

S3: I was pretty sure that the reason they hadn’t noticed until someone told them was the fact like that they just had like 900 zucchini lying around and they did not miss it. And also, thank you for confirming my suspicion that they were in fact, not suffering from a lack of zucchini.

S5: Well, I’m glad that my farming expertise has come in handy already.

S3: I am, too. I would love it then if you would read our very first letter, which is not at all like farming, but maybe we can try to find a way to bring it all back to zucchini or some other form of crop.

S5: Great. So the subject is no one takes me seriously because I look young. Dear Prudence, I just started a new job that I really like. My boss is great and my co-workers are sweet. However, I’m the youngest person in my office by at least a full decade. A lot of people have commented on my age. Several have offered to be my quote work mom slash dad, though I don’t think they mean to be disrespectful. I’m a little concerned about being able to hold my own in negotiations. And when I’m leading meetings, when everyone views me as a kid, I’m 25, financially independent. I have a master’s degree and I’m getting married this summer. I don’t think I dress or conduct myself in a childish way. I just have a baby face. I get carded aggressively anytime I go out for a drink. I’ve been accused of having a fake I.D. before, too. Should I just let my ability speak for itself? Or do I need to get out in front of this somehow? I don’t want to make it a whole scene, but I also don’t want people to not take me seriously because I look young.

S3: So I feel like this is kind of a classic problem that one of my I want to say like rivals, but she’s like a wonderful lady and I read her constantly. But Alison Green over it. Ask a manager, if you like, gets a version of this question maybe twice a week. And, you know, I think there’s kind of two traditional answers to this sort of question, one of which is like here are some tips on making your face look more angular and older. And then the other one is just like, here is a script for saying like, please don’t offer to be my office mom. That’s a weird thing to say. I’m going to go ahead and say I would put myself in the second category. I would advise this person to have like just a little script ready to go. I don’t think that there’s like a particular way you can tie your scarves to make sure people don’t say weird things. See you at work. But that’s just me. That’s my particular bias.

S5: Mm hmm. Yeah. I think for someone in this position, I mean, even though they have a graduate degree. Clearly there are things that they’re still going to need to learn in their new workplace. And so one of the things that they can maybe do in kind of setting those those boundaries is to make a distinction between kind of professional learning that they may still have to do and unsolicited personal advice that that’s self.

S4: You know, some of those aspiring work moms or working dads might want to give them.

S3: Yeah. And I think you’ll be absolutely fine to say, you know, I’m happy and excited to learn from all of you. I know I’m new here, but I really don’t want or need an office parent. And I’d rather that we make sure that it’s very clear that we have professional relationships to one another.

S6: That’s kind of all you need to say. I think it’s one of those things where as soon as you acknowledge like, hey, it’s weird to offer to be my mother at work. People will, I hope, intuitively realize that. But yeah, it’s really, really okay to just kind of calmly say like, thank you. I’m not interested in that. And I think one of the fears in a situation like this is because people are already a little bit trying to infantilize you. The worry is that if you push back, they’ll treat your reasonable boundary. Setting is like, oh, the cute little kid is angry. It’s like being attacked with cotton balls and they’ll like kind of playfully potentially demean you for that. And I hope that that’s not what happens. My guess, my instinct here is that they are like behaving inappropriately, but will once kind of like drawn up, sharply realized like, oh, I don’t have to talk like this. So, yeah, I think all you have to do is just say, hey, I’m aware that I look young, but I’m actually very qualified for this job. I’m excited to work together as colleagues and peers. And I would really appreciate it if you didn’t draw attention to how young you think I look.

S4: Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think probably a lot of this stuff will kind of fade away as the letter writer settles in and set some boundaries. I don’t think they need to stage any kind of intervention at this point.

S3: Yeah. And I know I don’t I’m not too too worried about that because, you know, the letter writer says, like, I don’t want to make a scene, but yeah, I do think it’s it’s a good idea to get out and don’t even get out in front of this because it’s kind of already happened. So I would balance between like certainly let your professional demeanor and, you know, good work ethic speak for itself. But absolutely. To any of the people who have already made a comment about your age or offered to parent you at work, I think to just like calmly and gently let them know, like, I’m really not looking for that. If I do have any questions about, you know, such and such a process, I will absolutely ask you. And then beyond that, like, if it does continue, you know, then I think you get to get a little bit more like, hey, we’ve actually already discussed it. But I would really prefer that you not make comments about how young you think I look at work. And then, you know, at that point, if it doesn’t slow down, I think it would be good to talk to your boss and just make it clear, like, you know, I know that you hired me because you think that I’m qualified. This makes it really difficult for people to take me seriously at work. I’ve asked them on my own to knock it off, but they won’t. I would love your help in dealing with this because I don’t want anyone to have their age like constantly brought up in the workplace and used to sort of imply or suggest that they can’t do their job. And in any direction.

S4: Yeah. I think that’s a really good approach. And you know, if this pattern does continue, then it’s probably because some of these people have trouble listening to someone who is younger. And so a boss or maybe a more senior colleagues, he’s kind of a person who would have to set some boundaries at that point as well.

S3: Yeah. And I can understand why that wouldn’t mean of course, it wouldn’t be your first choice. I can also understand why it would feel a little like frustrating because it’s like the problem is that people don’t respect my ability to set boundaries for myself. So going to my boss would feel a little bit like I’m still in that kid role. Going to an authority figure, but that would be advice I would give anybody who is dealing with a problem that with their co-workers that didn’t didn’t respond to kind of initial requests. So I think that’s just actually a pretty standard like path of escalation.

S5: Yeah. Yeah. Great.

S3: Yeah. And you know, for whatever it’s worth, I think it’s fine. Don’t worry too much about what they do or don’t intend. I mean, I get it. I know that you realize that they’re not like secretly furious that you’ve been hired and they hate you and they want you to suffer. But it sort of doesn’t matter whether or not they intend to be respectful or not, because it’s just really weird to say, I’d love to be your work father. No one ever needs to say that to anyone ever at all. I’m like trying to think of an exception. I’m like, no, I have nothing unless you are in a play and you are playing someone’s dad.

S1: OK. I think we’ve we’ve we’ve addressed this one as much as we can. Good luck. Hopefully with time this will happen less often, but it’s still frustrating and irritating. So this next one, we’re moving from the workplace to like a grad student cohort, which is always great because it’s like the same number of problems, but with more complicated countries.

S7: So the subject is just too privileged to speak up. Dear Prudence, I’m a straight white, this man who just started a new grad program. I recently went to lunch with a few of my fellow students. They’re all women, which is common in my field. During the meal, one of them had to leave to take a phone call. And as she walked away, another woman who is bisexual muttered something extremely objectifying about her appearance. If another man had said it, I would have immediately called him out on it. But before I said anything, however, I worried that this might come across as homophobic. No one else said anything, and I just followed suit. What should I have done in this situation?

S4: Well, maybe I can start by kind of reaffirming what I think our letter writer gets correct here, which is that I do think it’s it’s totally appropriate and important for men to confront other men on issues of sexism. And I think it’s important for white people to intervene with other white people on racism and that sort of thing, and that those are appropriate kind of duties or moments to intervene for progressive people. But I do think this situation is a little bit different than that.

S3: Yeah, I think there’s also a real way in which it can often be especially useful for that to happen.

S6: But I also don’t necessarily feel like this letter writers should think, OK, if a white man says something, you know, because we add up in terms of our identities, I have to say something. But as somebody with different identities does something, I have to wait for somebody else from that community to say something like, I do think there’s a limit to that idea. And so, you know, I think part of what you were experiencing that moment, too, is just the awkwardness and the discomfort of like I’m a brand new grad student. These people all know each other. Somebody has just said something that’s really jarring, that’s really unprofessional that I presumably would not expect to hear even in a sort of relaxed, friendly para work setting. And so I think that was probably also part of the dimension in addition to the whole like, oh, my gosh, a bisexual woman just said something like objectifying and like potentially offensive. Is that allowed? Like, maybe I just don’t know how bisexual women talk to each other. So that all that said, I understand your discomfort. I don’t think that it’s homophobic to ask one of your like colleagues not to say objectifying things about other colleagues when you’re altogether like getting drinks after work. So in that sense, my thought here is it’s super OK for you to say something. It’s also really okay for you to say something after the fact. Like I think to just kind of check and say, like, hey, it was really taken aback by this the other day. I didn’t know what to say in the moment. So I just sort of froze. But I was really surprised and distressed that you said, you know, whatever it is that you said about our colleague, and I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t do that in the future.

S8: Yeah, I think that’s a good an appropriate way to kind of sidestep some of the difficulties of that group dynamic that is still really new and that you don’t necessarily understand. And I think it’s a good general. You know, it goes back to the I feel statements that you can always kind of have these one on one conversations where you tell someone, hey, I felt uncomfortable with what you said, and that’s totally appropriate and a bit lower stakes than trying to stage kind of a public intervention into whatever was just happening.

S6: Yeah. And and I would just say to like even if they all have a very friendly and informal dynamic with one another, and even if the woman who wandered off was like, I actually feel terrific when one of my colleagues says something like highly objectifying about my ass when I walk away to take a phone call, it doesn’t necessarily follow that. It’s therefore cool for them to do it in front of other colleagues. So there’s one of those things where it’s not just like, oh, this woman can give the other woman a hall pass and therefore no man can object to it. Like part of the thing is you were all getting together in your capacity as like fellow members of a department. And it is totally, totally reasonable to expect a certain level of professionalism there. Like to not comment. Salaciously on one another’s body parts. So as a new member of the program, you know, it was really like incumbent upon her in that moment to think like, am I out with old friends who have a longstanding habit of making jokes about each other bodies and we’re all super comfortable with it? Or am I with a brand new colleague who doesn’t want or need that sort of dynamic to be introduced who are working relationships?

S8: Yeah, definitely. And especially for someone who is starting a grad program where they might be in kind of a teaching assistant role or something like. That, you know, they they might be called upon in this context to set an example or to kind of intervene in the classroom or in other places when they see this sort of thing. So it’s good to practice and think about what that looks like.

S9: Yeah, yeah. I think kind of just my last thought here is it’s not homophobic to be made uncomfortable by this. I think your worry is like, did I fall down on the job? Like, did I did I miss my duty? And I think I would slightly encourage you to reframe that thought as like what sort of a working environment do I think I have a right to expect from my colleagues? And what’s a baseline level of professionalism and respect? I feel entitled to because I think it’s really reasonable for you to also just object in terms of your own sense of okay. I feel like safe knowing my colleagues aren’t gonna be like discussing my body as soon as I step away from a table. So it’s not like, oh no, I failed to do the like correct white man thing in this moment. It’s more like this woman said something that was just super inappropriate and unprofessional. And as a colleague, you have every reason to object to it. So a little I would say it’s less like did I miss an opportunity to do right and more like this woman did something that negatively affects everybody. Grasso’s work with her. And just because she’s bisexual doesn’t mean that she’s allowed to suddenly say really sexually objectifying or explicit things around her colleagues. Yeah, I think that’s one of the great things is like you don’t earn extra sexual harasser points by virtue of whatever identity you have. It’s just a good idea for no one to do that.

S1: Right. Yeah, fantastic, good luck with his grad program, I really hope that that’s not the norm. Oh, man, this next one. I just feel really bad. There’s a lot going on here. I definitely feel for this letter writer.

S6: I also think that there are some things that had had they written in earlier. I would have had some different advice from them. So, yeah. Anyways, I don’t want to, you know, preface it too much, but I will. I think it’s my turn to read. So I’ll just jump right into it. The subject is brothers. a bad roommate. Dear Prudence, I am an extreme introvert with social anxiety medication. Gets me through the day at work, but I’m drained when I get home. I own a one bedroom condo. As a kid, I shared a bedroom with my two sisters. It was awful and I am now very territorial about my personal space. My baby brother lives in the same city as me. His live in girlfriend started sleeping with his roommates. He had to get out of that living situation or someone was going to end up bleeding. I offered to let him live with me for two weeks so he could save up his paycheck for a downpayment on new apartment. He knew what a big deal this was for me. All I asked was that he keep the place clean and not have guests over.

S1: Three days later, I walked into my apartment to see five different strangers. I got upset and told my brother to send them away. He told me he needed social support because of this breakup and that I was being a bad big sister. I told her it was my place. My rules. And if he didn’t like it, he could go live with his friends. The fight triggered an anxiety attack for me, and I didn’t sleep that night. The next day, I came home from work to find my brother naked on the couch and someone showering in my bathroom. I hit the roof and started to scream at my brother. A woman came out of in my bathrobe and I yelled at her to get the hell out. The woman asked him if I was his girlfriend of my brother, called me his psycho sister. I grabbed his duffel bag and told him to go screw himself. That I locked the door and had a panic attack. Now I am the family pariah. Everyone is taking my brother’s side and thinks that I overreacted. Maybe I did. My brother knew my issues are my rules and decided to act this way. My parents have even gone so far as to tell me that I owe my brother the money he wasn’t able to save because of my, quote, hysteria. I don’t know what to do now. My act of charity has crashed and burned all my family relationships. Help! Who?

S5: This is a sad and upsetting situation.

S6: Yeah. The good news is you and your brother are not in the same condo anymore. Like if Amona start by like looking at the upside, it’s that you now know, you know, kind of no matter what. You’re not going to invite any of your relatives to stay with you again. And he’s gone. So. So that’s all to the good. I think as we sort of focus on the positive when I think about like the the place where I think we first run into trouble in this letter is the line about his live in girlfriend started cheating on him. He had to get out of that living situation or someone was going to end up bleeding. And I would like to dispute that sentence. I think oftentimes I hear from people who talk about cheating and then somebody overreacts in like a wildly punitive, awful, sometimes violent way. And while I want to give a lot of room to the pain and hurt of being cheated on, even if you find out in the most upsetting way that someone has been cheating on you, you are still an adult in control of your behavior and your responses. And so this bit about like this adult man needed to be rescued from his living situation or against his will. He would like stab somebody. I would like to just call bullshit on that. It is his responsibility not to be violent towards other people, even if his girlfriend cheats on him. Then you get to write a sad album or cry a bunch or say, boy, I hate my ex girlfriend. She is a jerk. Or like take a cross-country trip, do whatever you need to. You don’t have to make anyone bleed. So the idea that like he had to be rescued or else violence would happen is just nonsense. He had other choices that he could have made. And the idea that in two weeks he was gonna be able to save up so much money. There’s just a limit to how much money you can save in two weeks. I just. Again, what’s done is done. But like I think you bought into his claim that I’m not in control of my choices right now. I can’t be answerable for my own behavior. And I just think that’s total bullshit. And you don’t have to buy into that when anyone tries to feed you that. Does that make sense?

S4: That totally makes sense. And of course, the brothers kind of narrative that that our letter writer accepted. Obviously, he’s saying this sort of thing to the rest of the family and even more ridiculous things, which I think is an important kind of factor to appreciate in this scenario.

S6: Yeah. So, you know, then beyond that, like. Yes, you asked your brother don’t have guests over. He then had guests over. And when you told him you can’t do that again, he did it again. So like in that sense, you were right to tell him to leave. It’s not your responsibility to save his money. For him, I think it’s totally, totally fine for you to decline to give him money. That’s sad. I think that like the part where you are responsible for your own behavior, even under like intense provocation or distress, is the screaming and saying go through yourself like there are ways to tell somebody this is not working. You need to leave that. Don’t involve doing that. And again, I’m not saying like you should never lose your temper ever in your life. And if you ever do, you know, you need it like go crawl through the desert and atone. But I do think sometimes it can be easier to maintain the ways in which you believe that you are right. If you can also acknowledge like and here’s something that I did wrong that I regret. So it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give into the rest your family and give him money and say, you’re right. I’m like awful and a bad person and quote unquote, hysterical. I don’t think you have to accept that perspective, but I think you can say, look, I shouldn’t have screamed at you. That was wrong. I’m sorry, but I was right to ask you to leave. I had set very clear rules and you were able to abide by them. So I’m really sorry that I lost my temper. I don’t want to do that again. But I was very clear with you about what I asked from you when you moved and you weren’t able to do that. I think it’s for the best. We’re not living together. I think that’s kind of it.

S8: Yeah, yeah. I think that approach of telling the truth and continuing to maintain those boundaries is really important. And I think I mean, some of the brothers actions and some other things that the brother said here were so cruel and clearly that part of the story has not been told to the rest of the family. So I don’t know much about the rest of this of our little writers family. But hopefully if they do the things that Danny is saying here and continue to maintain those boundaries, at least they’ll see, if not support, then more neutrality in this situation.

S3: Yeah. So, yeah, I think too like I would encourage you to say that’s your brother if you don’t think you can handle having a conversation with him over the phone or anything. I would really understand that. And I would also understand giving a little time like this sounds pretty fresh. You don’t have to apologize when tempers are still really, really high.

S10: Like if you wanted to give it a week or two weeks or even a little bit longer than that, that would make sense to me. I think you could also in the meantime, just say to your parents, like, thank you for your input. This is between me and my brother and I. It’s not like up for discussion anymore. And then if they keep saying like, no, it is and you’re this kind of a person and we think this, this and this. Then I think, again, that will be a provocative moment. And that will probably be a moment where you’ll feel like the only way for me to get what I need from these people is to scream. And in those moments, I think that’s when it’s really important to recognize I’m about to lose my composure. I need to get out of this situation and to hang up the phone. Leave the room. Ask them to leave. Leave their place. Get out of that situation and just say, like this conversation is stop being productive. I’m going to go and I’m glad that you live alone, because that means that you don’t have to worry about doing this while sharing a space with them. But it’s really, really okay for you to disagree with your parents. You’re an adult. If they think that you behaved, quote unquote, hysterically, you don’t have to agree with them. You don’t even have to convince them that you behaved reasonably. All you get to do is are all you have to do is say like I’ve made the choices that I feel that I need to make. I’m not looking for your advice on the situation. That’s it. So. It can be really hard, I think, when you are dealing with family members who who want to paint you out as like this unreasonable or like it sounds like they’re trying to like really stigmatize your anxiety and like like stigmatize you as being a mentally ill person who’s unreasonable. And so I think in those moments it can feel like I can’t possibly apologize for anything, because if I do, they will seize on that to manipulate me. So I also just really understand, if you want to keep that apology like a text or an email and just say like, here’s what I am sorry for and here’s what I’m not. But beyond that, like, don’t give him money. Don’t live with any of your relatives ever again and don’t accept the premise that they get to tell you what to do about this.

S4: Yeah, definitely. And one thing I wonder, too, is if the letter writer has anyone who they can reach out to for support. I mean, they describe himself as an extreme introvert with social anxiety in the very first sentence. But this is also a situation where it probably feels like everyone’s ganging up on you. So I’m wondering if there’s any, you know, even a therapist or friends who you can kind of reach out to for some support in this moment.

S10: Yeah, I think that’s a really good idea. And if there’s not anybody like close by or in the short term that you can reach out to, maybe to make that a goal in the next month or six months, and then that’ll be really, really good. And even if the only things you get out of this is like I need to really like scale back on the number of interactions I have with my family, that would make a lot of sense to me. And really, I think to make a long term goal, how do I set my boundaries and advocate for myself before I get to the point where I want to scream or if I am experiencing extreme provocation and I want to scream? What other options do I have to deal with my feelings? Because that’s not a good way to interact with people, whether they be family, whether they be colleagues, whether they be your friends. I don’t want that for you in the long run. I want you to be able to have other strategies when you’ve reached that breaking point. So to that end, I think, you know, finding a way to add some sort of therapy, especially like DVT, potentially to the medication that you’re taking, might be really, really good because, you know, same thing is with your brother, like regardless of the provocations, losing your temper, screaming at people, telling them to go screw themselves. That’s not a good long term strategy for dealing with extreme emotion. So it sounds like you’re you’re kind of at this point right now where you’re like, I’m able to just function at work. And then kind of beyond that, whenever something goes wrong or somebody disrespects my boundaries. I have almost no resources left and that’s functional. I want more than that for you. I don’t want to make it sound like you’re fucking up. You’re not doing well enough. I just mean, this is kind of a sign that like, okay, I need a little more help than what I’m getting right now. That makes sense.

S5: That makes total sense. Yeah. And I think even though this is a difficult situation. Ah, letter writer does seem kind of self-reflective about a lot of things and has, you know, obviously set up a lot of kind of coping mechanisms already. So all of the things that Danny is talking about, these are totally doable things. I believe that you can do all this. I believe you can handle this.

S6: Yeah, I do, too. And just again, I realize I feel like I’ve come down a little hard on this letter writer. I just want to reiterate, like you were clear with your brother when he moved in about what you needed from him. He didn’t do it when you had said, like, you’re not doing it. He did it more super reasonable to tell him to leave. Totally unreasonable to suggest that you’re responsible for him not being able to save up his last paycheck. You know, life happens.

S10: Sometimes relationships fall apart, sometimes live in relationships fall apart. You got to move in a hurry. That happens. He gets to figure it out. It’s not your fault that he wasn’t able for two weeks to go like meet his friends out at a bar or at their home. So on on that front, you are just within the like, totally in the clear as far as I’m concerned.

S5: Yes, I agree 100 percent.

S7: Her luckily we are ending on a lighter note with things that I think it’s just like.

S6: Is nice is the worst case scenario is somebodies house sitting and they have a nice time. So I like the idea of walking away today with an easy, easy answer. Would you read this last letter subject?

S5: Should I start paying my friend for a house sitting? Dear Prudence. My partner and I are going overseas for two weeks. One of our good friends has agreed to housesit for us again. In the past, he’s refused payment. We used to need him to house it to take care of our cats for at most a week. He said we paid him in the wine and whiskey. He drank while staying at our place. He’s also said he enjoyed taking advantage of our media room. He was also employed at the time. He’s now been laid off. We mostly need him to house it to check on the mail, pass out Halloween candy he offered, and maybe bring in a few decorations. My. Huttner thinks it would be awkward to offer to pay him now. I think I agree, but I also don’t want to take advantage of a friend for two weeks. I want to help him, but I’m afraid it would be insulting.

S7: I think this is really sweet. And I think one of the nice things about having close friends is you can say stuff like, Hey, I’d love to offer you money this time around. I’m worried you’ll be offended. You know that you can actually name the dynamic because you’re close.

S4: Yes. This is such a nice problem to have. Yeah. And I think the answer is really clear. Yeah, of course they can offer. I think that’s a very thoughtful thing to do.

S7: Yeah, I totally agree. And you know, you can say like it’s it’s a longer job than we’ve asked you to do before. It involves a lot more work. And I just think, like when you’re close with somebody, you can name dynamics like and I know you’re between jobs right now. I’m also worried that you’ll think that I’m being condescending or I’ll offend you or hurt your feelings. And if that’s happening right now, please tell me and I will cheerfully shut up. But you want to be able to trust that between close friends you can name difficult dynamics and that your friend will be able to talk about them with you. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And if he says nope.

S6: Same as before. Thank you. But like a a week one direction or that is not going to break you. What I really need from you is just the ability to sometimes vent about this and maybe to help me proofread a resumé. And if that’s the case, take him at his word. Don’t offer again. Don’t stress out about it. Leave a nice bottle of wine for him or something around. But yeah, I didn’t ask him and then do whatever he says.

S4: Yeah. And especially if your friend does turn you down to pay him. I mean you can just leave him some gifts. You can, you know, use that money for some extra stuff that your friend can enjoy or take home later.

S10: Yeah. Yeah. I think this is great. And you know, the nice thing about housesitting for friends is it often is just really nice to be in a space that isn’t yours. So like you can also take him at his word if he’s like, nope. I actually find this relaxing and fun and I get to enjoy like going through your liquor stash and you don’t have to worry that he’s actually like miserable or hates this. If he says that he is enjoying himself and this is just a reminder, if any of my friends are listening to this who have beautiful homes and you want me to house it. I love doing that. So please ask me as soon as possible, especially if you have a media room. That’s so cool. Like we don’t just have a TV somewhere in the house. We have a room for media.

S5: Yeah, it sounds like a lovely time for their friend.

S1: Eric, thank you so, so much for helping me kind of rest my way through some of these tricky, tricky questions today.

S5: Well, thank you so much. It has been wonderful to be here even for some of these tougher questions. And just a delight to speak with you.

S3: Yeah. Do you have any like last minute gardening or farming advice for any of our listeners before we let you go?

S5: Oh, my goodness. Well, you know, I think in general, one of the reasons that I became a farmer in the first place was because food is it’s an important way to connect people. You know, it’s one of those things that we really have in common. And so maybe let’s all look for opportunities to eat with people we care about and build a good, healthy relationship dynamics while doing that.

S10: That is a fantastic idea. And I can get all the way behind it. Thank you so much again, and especially thank you for confirming my suspicions that no one has insufficient zucchini if they’ve ever planted a single stalk. Although if anyone listening has actually had trouble growing zucchini and you’re like, no, I’m the one person, please write and call in. Let us now. I want to hear from you.

S11: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence. Our producer is Phil Sarkis. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton.

S12: And don’t miss an episode of the show. Head to Slate.com, slash dear prudence to subscribe. And remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus, go to Slate, dot 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 even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short. 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.

S9: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday.

S13: If it’s possible, I think what I would say is I would love to be able to spend holidays together as a family. What I need from you is to not comment on my body, that’s all. If you can do that, then I would love to be able to talk about movies, books, work. You know, our pets. Whatever else. If you can agree to that, I can agree to that.

S1: And if not eminent, I’m going to make different holiday plans to listen to the rest of that conversation. Joint slate plus now at Slate, dot com forward slash prudy pod.