It’s been 11 days, you know what that means – another round of Dear Dear Prudence!
Every week Slate, an online magazine that’s a lot like if Gawker was written by the editors of The New Yorker, runs an advice column called Dear Prudence. Written by D.C.-based Emily Yoffe, the column is similar in format to Dear Abby (ask your parents) and covers a range of topics such as manners, etiquette, familial relations, and of course how to deal with the weird sexual kinks of our loved ones. At least one of those makes it into the column a week. Drink when you hit it.
This week Prudence counsels a mother whose child may have a rare genetic disorder passed on from her mother-in-law…and we throw out her perfectly good advice for my horrible rambling tangents Sweet sassy molassy let’s get on with it!
My husband and I just had a beautiful baby boy. He’s doing well but was premature, and I had a complicated pregnancy that required months of bed rest. A week after our son’s birth, we learned devastating news: My husband’s mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. That means my husband’s risk of inheriting this horrible genetic disease, and eventually becoming gravely ill and dying from it, is 50/50. If my husband inherited it, our baby’s risk also is 50/50. I’m heartbroken, afraid, still hormonal, and furious. It is obvious my mother-in-law has known something about this for more than a decade. Her own mother and several of her aunts died of it. My mother-in-law says she didn’t really know it was HD; she just thought it was something old people get. There’s evidence she’s lying about her ignorance, and I think she did it because she wanted grandchildren. I feel I had a right to know of the existence of this genetic disease before my husband and I conceived a child. I should have known before we married! I still would have married my husband, but I would not have had a child without genetic counseling. (We do have an appointment with a genetic counselor in a few weeks.) My husband is angry with his mother, but not as much as I am, and this is becoming a source of argument between us at a time we need to be supporting each other. My questions are: Can I limit how much she sees the baby? She’s visited a lot, but seeing her makes me sick. How much can I vent to my husband over this? And what are my obligations to other family members? For example, one of my husband’s cousins is very recently pregnant and they might want to get testing to see if the fetus is at risk.
So your mother in law has been diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder that will slowly destroy the person you (or at least your family) know and love with a gradual mental and physical breakdown…and you’re mad at her? In the immortal words of Captain Picard, toot toot you’re a bitch.
You say there’s “evidence” that she’s been “lying about her ignorance,” but I’ve got a feeling that evidence is 90% wishful thinking on your part, a manifestation of your own complete lack of empathy for someone who just found out they don’t get that nice easy peaceful “go to sleep and never wake up” death, or at least a quick “some ass in an Excursion is texting through an intersection” death. She was probably telling the truth when she told you that she thought it was just something old people got. Don’t forget, medical science was one step above sorcery until about 1967. People who are old now didn’t get a lot of clear explanations for what was happening to their dying relatives when they were young. There was no MRI and textbooks were in black-and-white with very few pictures.
Can you limit how much she sees the baby? You can, legally, but if you do, once again, toot toot you’re a bitch (What do you guys think of “toot toot you’re a bitch” as a catchphrase for this thing? Leave a comment!). The only thing worse than what can only be described as blame toward your mother-in-law over this health issue is the fact that you’re considering keeping her from her grandchild as…what? Retribution? You don’t seem stupid enough to think she’ll infect the kid. She only has a few non-screwed-up years left, your child deserves at least a chance at having some faint memories of what grandma was like “before.”
Yes, get your kid tested, yes inform the rest of the family, they have a right to know. Be understanding and forgive your mother in law. Your kid will be fine, even if he or she tests positive for it they still have a healthy few decades for space lasers and stem cells to advance science to the point where it just becomes chronic. Just don’t do anything stupid like vote for “right-to-life” candidates, ironically enough they’d rather your kid die than be cured by stem cells.
Well that sure wasn’t funny, I sure hope the next letter is this week’s weird sex letter:
Two months before I asked my wife to marry me, I cheated on her with a woman I met through a hookup website. This woman and I met only once, engaged in oral sex, and I never saw her again. I was consumed with guilt and confusion over my double life and wondered if I would always be a liar and a cheat. At the same time, I was in love with my soon-to-be fiancee, and I made a decision to keep my mouth shut and go ahead with my plans to propose. We’ve been married now for nearly two years, and most of the time I’m happy. My wife is happy. I have resolved to never do anything like that again. And yet I still occasionally experience bouts of guilt and emotional pain, not to mention a fear that what I did will somehow be uncovered. I’ve convinced myself that keeping the experience a secret is best. But is that the right choice, or am I just making excuses so I don’t have to do the right thing?
—Guilty and Tired of It
That isn’t weird, it’s barely even about sex! Christ…
So let me get this straight – you were dating your wife, you were looking down the barrel of going all Everybody Loves Raymond on her, and before you pulled the trigger you got a blowjob from a chick you met on the internet. Once. You kept your mouth shut, she never found out, and it’s two years in and you haven’t gotten drunk enough to confess. You seem to think that’s what a double life is – let me tell you something, if you don’t have a second set of kids, another house somewhere, and a pair of safe deposit boxes with keys for each wife at your lawyer’s office with your will, you don’t have a double life. You don’t even have one and a half lives.
You got a blowjob from some chick before you got engaged. You got away with it for two-plus years. You’re never going to see her again. I’m not saying it’s okay that this happened, but…screw it, I’m saying it. It’s okay. Stop punishing yourself. Definitely don’t punish her by bringing this up. It’ll only hurt her and you won’t feel good about getting it off your chest when you’re busy looking for an apartment to live in that you can afford while still paying the mortgage on the house she gets all to herself. The right thing to do is shut up. If you make it to the end without being a cheating douchebag again God will definitely mulligan the beej and you’ll be fine.
Obviously I’m kidding about that last part. There is no God.
Now that you’re cheered up, let’s deal with the next moron’s problem. I sure hope it’s a weirder sex letter:
I graduated from high school near the top of my class, with a grade point average over 3.9 and a weighted GPA over 4.6. I completed 28 college credits in high school and scored a perfect 800 on the math section of the SAT. Now that I’m out of college and in the working world, I no longer know what I want to do in life. Most of the people I know are considerably more successful than I am. I feel disappointed because I didn’t graduate from an Ivy League school or end up at a Fortune 500 company. I feel slightly embarrassed every time my friends ask me what I do. How do I learn to love my current job and stop fantasizing about what “could have been”? Staring at the high unemployment numbers hasn’t helped.
—Regretful (Former) Tiger Cub
I’m starting to think we’re not getting a weird sex letter this week. It makes me sad.
I don’t know what the hell a Tiger Cub is but I do know what a first-world problem is and this is it. You graduated high school with near-perfect grades (Perfect enough that you remember your GPA – that’s pretty weird but not sexually weird. Does a sex letter followed by a weird letter add up to a weird sex letter? Is there a sentence limit for parentheses? Probably “no” and “yes.”) and aced the math half of the SAT back when the SAT only had halves. That’s why you study your similies, stupid.
Let me tell you what I’ve learned since graduating from a state school in the bottom 10% of my class – if you have a degree hanging on your wall and you’re paying your own rent, you’re laps ahead of everyone you graduated high school with. There are people in your class who never even went to college, still live with their parents, and have no idea how to start a career, much less an ideal one. And your friends who graduated from the top schools and work for the companies who have spent the last 30 years destroying the middle class? They’re probably miserable too. Read Bonfire of the Vanities sometime. Seriously, I’ll wait.
They’re all miserable, aren’t they? They’re rich, they’re successful, they’re attractive, and everything sucks. So relax, Tiger Cub! Just make friends with some poor people. They’re more fun anyway, and a lot of them have pretty rad tattoos. Instead of fantasizing about what could have been, fantasize about how much worse it could be. That’s what my old pappy always told me and now I’m a complacent manchild. It can work for you too!
Well after that I’m ready for about seventeen hours of Halo, but first I have to answer one more letter:
I recently started a new job where I replaced a woman who was both obnoxious and incompetent. She trained me, and working with her for just two weeks was extremely unpleasant. Since then, my co-workers and managers have told me I’m terrific. Repeatedly! Every day, I receive compliments that contrast me favorably with the woman who left. At first, it felt good, but after four months of being compared to her, it seems like overkill. To complain about praise seems petty. At the same time, I find myself cringing each time someone tells me how much better I am than her. How can I stop being compared to this woman?
—Sick of Compliments
Seriously, is it “complain about everything being fine” week on Dear Prudence? First we have a moron who wants to tell his wife about one blowjob he got before they were engaged, then we have a letter from someone who is doing fine but isn’t famous or something, now this idiot. Read your letter again, SoC. Everyone likes you better than the person who had your job before you did, and that’s a problem for you.
You know what? Fuck you. Here’s what you do – go on the hookup website from two letters ago, find some guy who’s about to pop the question to some girl, and give him a blowjob that he’ll feel guilty about for the next two years. After that, go to your high school reunion and tell everyone how stressed you are at the job that you have and are good at in the current economy. Be sure and find a former star student whose job is less good than yours so she feels like crap. How do I know you’re a woman? I don’t know, I just have trouble seeing a guy writing this letter. Correct me if I’m wrong (comments section, people!).
Seriously, that’s all the advice you get, jerk.
Well we sure learned a lot this week, didn’t we, kids?
Just a reminder, if you’d like your question answered you have to get it on Dear Prudence first, just send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t send them to me, I don’t have an advice column on Slate. Yet.