20 December 2009


(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved.)

Oh, the holidays! A time for rejoicing! Presents! Getting together with family! Presents! Stress! Angst! Presents! Fussing and fuming and fretting! Ah, to heck with all that. I've got a Christmas poll going over at One Messy Lady, if anyone's interested in venting.

All right. I'm late. The most devoted of us (I'm looking at you, Smag), read the letters, come up with terribly clever answers and witty bon mots to delight the heart of anyone who finds smarmy seriousness tedious. Then they post them on Thursday, seemingly within mere minutes of reading them. Now THAT'S devoted. I, however, seem to lack the facility and time to do this on the spur of the moment. I need time to digest, to research, to get my shit together...

But oh, look! While I was doing all that, some wit over at Slate decided it would be nifty to change the order of the letters and write a new headline! Why could that be, I wonder? Could they.....could they.....be hoping that they'd get more hits if people thought there were NEW letters? Have people stopped reading the actual letters and just skip right on to the Fray? Could it be that since we all moved here, fewer people are going to the DP Fray at all?

Inquiring minds and all that. In the meantime, I'll be answering the letters as they appear today at Dear Prudie

1. You know I try to be at least somewhat fair here. If there are serious questions being asked, I at least TRY to look at both sides and all that. But...but...what was it you wanted to know again? Oh yeah..... Your buddy asked you to lie to his wife, you said you wouldn't, now you're wondering what to say if she asks about the alibi you're supposed to provide so your so-called "friend" is off boffing whoever's available...is that pretty much it?


What is your major malfunction? Why are you asking the internet lady about this in the first place?

You told your friend you wouldn't lie. You told your wife about your "friend" asking you to lie. And NOW you're wondering if that was a good idea in the first place?

You CLAIM to be a friend to both of these people. Don't you think your friend deserves to at least have an inkling that the guy she married is screwing around and possibly becoming a walking disease vector or knocking up some bimbo? Don't you think SHE deserves a chance to try and either salvage the marriage or make a clean break BEFORE she spends years thinking that all is well, only to be abandoned after wasting decades of her life on Mr. Easy-Sleazy-Diseasey?

Clearly the whole "keeping your word" thing is beyond you. Your friend is banking on that. He's betting that you were all talk when you said you wouldn't lie for him and that he can count on you to be a coward. He's USING you, idiot! Why not just give up now and change your name to Patsy? Get it over with!

Here's what you need to do. Tell your "friend" to get lost. Friends like this you don't need - nobody does. THEN tell his wife the whole story. ALL OF IT. She may choose not to believe you, she may hate you for telling her, she may already know what's going on. That's not your call to make. Your obligation is to tell his wife (or, if you're a total chicken-baby coward and the fact that you wrote the letter in the first place would tend to support that hypothesis) or get YOUR wife to tell HIS wife.

She needs to know what's going on. Man up and help the friend that HASN'T betrayed your friendship and trust by asking you to lie.

2. HAHAHAHAHA! No diapers on TWINS?! Oh, stop it! Seriously, I gotta pee! It's ok, I'M trained! Hahaha! No, no really, I can't take it any more! *sniffle* *snert*........gigglegigglegiggle..... Ahem. Right. *snort*

Ok. But that's not the question. You want to dictate to your friends what presents they're allowed to buy your twins for shower gifts at the shower you're throwing for...yourself!


I have to address the diaper thing. I assume your intent is to follow the Elimination Communication fad? Hmm. I read some of the stuff on that web site. Then I had to take a break because I was laughing so hard....again. In fact, if you just Google "Elimination Communication" you'll find all KINDS of sites, blogs, "learned" dissertations, in fact, everything you ever wanted to know about letting your child shit at will while you try and "sense" when he/she "wants" to go.

It's the testimonials that kill me. All these (sorry guys) women rabbiting on about how "close" they feel to their babies and how "meaningful" their interactions are and how happy the babies are to be dangled over a toilet like a newly hooked fish over the hole in the ice. Whatever. It seems to me that anyone who's hunting that hard for a reason not to interact with other adults has issues that are WAY beyond anything I can deal with here.

There are a LOT of reasons why this is a bad idea. Yes, it's true that most kids around the world don't use diapers. As a physician that posts to the Fray said, most of the kids in the world have a better than even chance of getting cholera, typhoid, e coli poisoning, salmonella and all of the other nasties that come from being surrounded by shit. A whole lot of those kids die because of it, too. Basic sanitation has saved more lives in the past 150 years has saved an incalculable number of lives.

But wait, you say! MY house is clean! Kids are washable! Sure. Of course. For now. This is where you enter the realm of fantasy, my friend. I'm getting the distinct impression that you have no idea of the sheer tonnage of shit ONE baby can generate, let alone two! And baby poo is probably one of the nastiest substances known to the universe, too. For one thing....it's GREEN, it's stickier than superglue and smells worse than the world's worst Superfund sites. Plus, and you're going to LOVE this one... the ability of a baby to smear shit on every surface in a single room has NOTHING to do with the level of their mobility. That's right, even a completely helpless newborn can liberally beshit furniture, doorknobs, parents, pets, clean laundry, and cars with no apparent effort. And that's when they're ALREADY wearing a diaper!

In any event...you're in for some surprises. All parents are, even those that have done the baby thing before. It's ok. And when you spend that first night getting up to feed the twins only to find that you're up to your elbows in excrement, which means stripping off the kids, the cribs, doing all that laundry, and scrubbing down all the hard surfaces with bleach (babies DO have gut bacteria, and it doesn't matter where it comes from, e coli makes everyone sick) while your partner wields the formula bottles and tries to get them back to sleep. Just as you put them down, you will be showered in pee and barf and have to do the whole thing all over again.

No one will want to see you on their doorstep because no one wants their furniture to look and smell like yours...barnlike with a faint pong of sour vomit and organic poo. I predict that within twelve hours of your joyous arrival home, the local 7-11 will run out of Pampers and you'll be on the phone to a cloth diaper service, BEGGING them to make an exception and deliver before morning.

It's ok, though. Kids are tough. Probably yours will survive even YOU.

Now, as to the question you asked. Well, it's tacky to throw your own shower in the first place. You probably know that, and if you didn't, then your mother severely neglected your etiquette education, so it's not your fault. If you want to make people do what you want as far as presents go, then get someone else (NOT you and NOT your partner) phone around with registry information. Be warned, though. Not everyone will obey. People are funny that way. No matter how ridiculous YOU think the present is, you do not get to sneer at it, throw it in the trash (The landfill? For shame!) in front of them.

Wow. All that unsolicited advice. I'm REALLY GLAD that I have no children, because I'd probably start smacking people who tried to tell me how to raise my kids...

3. I'm sorry about your mother. It must have been very difficult for you to go through that by yourself. Why are you wondering what to do about your thieving aunt, though?


.. and think for a second. Are you ever going to be able to look at this woman again without wanting to smack her? Like Prudie said, there's no chance for any kind of relationship there again. So put that out of your mind. You don't care if you offend her in the least, and you don't want the sort of person in your life that would take advantage of her own sister's death to make a few bucks.

Your aunt is an evil, conniving, miserable waste of skin. If she'd been drowned at birth, the world would have been a sunnier place. You're right. Stop feeling guilty about thinking that's what she is, because you're right.

What can you do? That's the problem, isn't it? I'm guessing that your financial situation, while not dire (you would have mentioned that) is not exactly terrific, either. The medical expenses alone have to be pretty bad, and I know what a funeral can cost. It's outrageous. That had to be a real hit to your pocketbook, you're going to take awhile to catch up, and the whole idea of your aunt keeping that money must make you furious. I get that, too.

You need to tell someone, someone who has more clout with the family than you do. Is there another aunt or uncle that you would feel comfortable trusting with this? How about your mother's friends? A grandparent? A lot of people just don't understand just how expensive things are and how much is left over to pay even with insurance. When you find someone you can talk to about it, show them the invoices. Let them know just how much money you're out. Tell them everything, then sit back and wait for the fallout.

I know there were people on the Fray telling you that you should just "live and let live" and "go along to get along". Some were telling you that you "have" to keep peace in the family, that you shouldn't rock the boat and so on. A few even told you to get over it because you'll make that money back in the end anyway. They're wrong. If families can't be frank with each other, they have no business calling themselves "family" in the first place.

Your aunt does not deserve to get away with this. Your mother did not deserve to be used that way. Neither did you. You need that money. If you can't actually get the cash, then the entire family deserves to know just what kind of person your aunt is. No doubt she's playing the angel right now, basking in the glow of her "charitable" act while planning the purchase of her new waterbed, large screen TV and Corvette.

4. You're spending Christmas Eve with your parents, who you KNOW always go to church that night. You invited your boyfriend to spend Christmas Eve with your family, KNOWING that going to church is part of the deal. You TOLD your boyfriend that when he spends Christmas Eve with your family that going to church is expected.


I was inclined to cut you some slack, knowing that you're barely out of teenagerhood and not yet versed in all of the ways that adults behave. I really was. But you started out telling us that you plan to marry this guy one day, so I decided to treat you the way you're acting. Like a childish and clueless adult. So there. No one's asking you to like it.

A lot has been made on the Fray about this whole atheist vs. christian thing and how you two should break up now because it will never work between you. I cry bullshit. In fact, anyone who tells you is suffering from a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion. If anyone ever tells you this to your face, ask them to substitute "white" and "black" for "atheist" and "christian", then tell them to


If they don't get it, then to heck with them. They don't deserve your time.

Whew. Now. This is not a religious problem. This is not (really) a dating problem. This is a simple matter of etiquette. Ready?

Right. See, you told your boyfriend what the activities will be for the evening. If he were REALLY uncomfortable with the whole "going to church" thing, then he SHOULD have declined the invitation and offered to meet your parents another time. He didn't do that, therefore he has to participate in the evening, sit through a church service (no one has ever actually DIED of boredom) and get over himself.

See? How easy was that?

Now you go on, and here is where you show your age. First you say that he'll go if you ask him to. THEN you go on to say "I don't think it's my place to force him."

You aren't "forcing" him to do anything. You didn't "force" him to agree to the invitation. He CHOSE to attend. Part of that is going to church for a couple of hours. Tell the boy to suck it up and deal. A couple of hours out of his life for the potentially lifelong good will with your parents? No contest.

Oh, and give your parents a little credit, why don't you? They aren't stupid, and I'm betting that even if your light'o'love decides on the rude and churlish action of staying home in front of the TV while everyone else is at church, they won't pitch a fit or yell at him. They MAY say something to you, but that's when you have to make a decision. Whose opinion is more important to you - the guy that you're planning to spend your life with, or the parents that you don't even live with any more?


  1. "...baby poo is probably one of the nastiest substances known to the universe..."

    That's not necessarily true. My wife breast fed our kids, and the poop was slightly sulpher-scented but really not too bad at all! See, all they have to do is breast feed those twins and that solves...

    Um! Oh!

    Never mind. They'll just have to swim in foul-smelling baby shit. Hehehe...

  2. Yeah. I think you were a little biased what with those being your kids and all. Call it a hunch. And let's face it. Poop is poop is poop. NOT something you want smeared all over the house.

    Sigh. They'll find out. Oh yes they will!

  3. Messy,
    Can't agree with you more on the poop, tho Schuyler is right about the difference between breast/formula excrescence. Solids bring a whole new horror, but of course by the time these new parents add solids, their babies will be crawling to the toilet themselves to do their business, right?

    My breast-fed boy had a terrible rash when he was about 5 mos old (turned out to be mild excema), so at one point, I was advised to leave him diaperless as much as possible. What a DEBACLE!! It really does have a way of getting EVERYWHERE, and Babies have a talent of splashing and splooshing, or simply getting it on a hand and heading that hand directly to the mouth.

    Any time he 'went' without a diaper, it was a challenge, because we have 1. a baby covered in squashy poo, and 2. surface or (more likely) surfaceS covered with poo. One can NOT clean it all at the same time, so, either one partner cleans the baby (a bath) and the other cleans the stuff, or the stuff has to stay pooish until baby is clean and dry and safely placed. Of course, by the time the sheets are stripped and new ones placed, Baby is wet or pooish again. Twins? NFW.

    In order for the Elimination Communication to work even a little, it is the parent who must be painstakingly trained. As in "how many minutes exactly after starting a meal does baby tend to eliminate?" and, "At what times of the night does baby tend to let go?" In addition to this note taking (which one has SO much time to do), the parents would need to basically sit and stare at the baby every minute of every day even after the "signs" become clear. This means no break to pee or shower, cook, or wash the mountains of laundry that are sure to accumulate, even WITH diapers. I almost feel sorry for these guys, their hearts are in the right place... Almost.

    The smugness is sure to take a hit, and the first two months of these babies in the home would make a reality show that I WOULD watch.!

    -Mommy of two

  4. "Beshit." My favorite new verb!

  5. Messy, what a neat pix! It looks like they painted the ceiling blue after they put the light in? What amazing contrast the pealing paint and the lamp lasting forever make....

  6. Interracial relationships and a religious-atheist relationships aren't the same thing. You aren't born religious (you can be born into a certain religion, but not religious). You can be brought up/educated religious, but after that, it's a choice you make (or renew, or rethink) as an adult, and it usually expresses itself in terms of values and goals (important things to have in common in a lasting relationship, no?).

    When you have a person whose religious beliefs translate into action in their everyday life (important family tradition of going to church on holidays, probably went to Sunday school, etc.)- well, you could probably still make it work with someone who believes differently (everyone has differences of opinion). The problems come in when: 1. the atheist partner doesn't respect the religious partner's traditions ("I'd rather offend your whole family than set foot in a church"); 2. What happens when they have kids (as I assume a good Christian girl would want to at some point), and she wants to bring them up Christian? If he's atheist enough to refuse to set foot in a church service, why would he agree to let his kids be brainwashed into believing in superstitions and a big old man in the sky who's always watching you?

    Bottom line: the more important each partner's religious beliefs are to them, the more important religious compatibility becomes.

  7. iamsmr:

    I think they DO translate to the same thing. In interracial marriages there are frequently differences in culture that can seem insurmountable, and there are always family members on both sides that are willing to be miserable about it. I have to say that whenever I see family sticking their nose in, the couple in question is even MORE committed and MORE likely to stay together than anyone else.

    As for religion, the LW stated that she does not take religion as seriously as her parents do. If I had to guess, I'd say that the only time she ever goes to services is when she's with her parents. There is therefore no problem at all with the relationship between her and her atheist boyfriend.

    The question is one of simple etiquette. He accepted the invitation knowing what it entailed. If he REALLY couldn't bring himself to step inside a church, then he should have declined the invitation and no one would have thought twice about it. The girl should have reminded him of this, he could have gone along and listened to the music and the world would, as usual, keep rotating.

    I know many, many couples who married outside their religions. The most harmonious teach the children about BOTH and let the kids choose. Those parents do not judge, do not force anything and accept their children's choices. It works, and BECAUSE of people like you passing judgment, they make their relationship work to spite the idiots who tell them they're "wrong" in some way.