Thursday, December 30, 2010

12/30 and Done

So, the Prudecutor simply substituted a column on Monday with former LWs sending in updates to prove how well she did. While updates are often welcome (it encourages that Mr Valium Drip's friend was able to overcome his initail reaction, if only a little), it struck me as self-serving when I reached the end of the column to discover that it consisted entirely of the accolades. As others have posted that it was not always the habit for an update column to be thus, I conclude that there might be some insecurity stemming perhaps from IGBP envy. It may well be a bit disconcerting when a colleague in a field where one habitually expects to do small bits of good in dribs and drabs at best suddenly does something that catches on more than expected and becomes genuinely big. While I was overemphasizing to call the Prudecutor's one reference to the IGB videos sniping, it would not surprise me if some part of the Prudecutor, whether or not she acknowledges or even recognizes so, is seething that that punk (Mr Savage) stumbled into the middle of a pot of gold. (I must be in a charitable mood to have the Prudecutor's Inner Fiend imply calling Mr Savage a Punk and not anything a bit less P.C.)

L1: Well, so much for holding charitable thoughts about the Prudecutor. Although I have long retired from softball pitching in real life, here we have, in commentariat terms, one of the biggest softballs at one of the slowest speeds of the year, and she does not come anywhere near a foul tip. Saying how wrong it was the first time around and how right it is now? Oh, good grief. Of course this is almost the *ideal* way to start a family. Meet someone after a bad protracted breakup and fall in love extremely quickly, produce a pregnancy within the first six months of the acquaintance, and then propose on the spot during a holiday without taking any time to reflect and probably with circumstances under which a refusal would have done serious damage to the future of the relationship. The only thing that would have made this better would have been if it had begun within a month or two of the breakup of the marriage.

LW1 makes this one too easy. It's all in the Alpha and the Omega. What is the first quality he cites about his fiancee? She is more sexually adventurous than his ex-wife. Even Claude Erskine Brown on a good day could figure this one out. And how does he conclude; what is the final and most important question the letter asks? Is she right to be angry with him because he's happy about his impending fatherhood! Now that is almost subtle. Out of all the possible reasons for her to be angry with him, he manages to pick the one reason that an outside observer can hardly approve without tearing up the oh-so-cuddly picture of the sweet little baby with Mommy and Daddy. Well, it was sufficiently well played to take in the Prudecutor - not that that necessarily indicates bowling out of the top drawer.

Now one might give the Prudecutor a little latitude on the grounds of her hearing en masse from the spouses of the Undecided, had she not made such melodramatic twaddle out of the ex wasting her only chance to be a mother. There are people whose reaction is that over the top, I am quite willing to grant, but they are the people who are so twisted in knots by the issue that they are writing to the Prudecutor about it. LW1's ex, for all the seven years during which he probably yanked her about like a yo-yo dangling his indecision and acting like a boat that keeps going out and coming in again towards someone trying to get on, did not consult the Prudecutor, or, as far as we know, anyone else. That would be an important line in the cross-examination of both of them. She didn't request counseling or anything in that line, and it took seven years for her to catch on that he was just using the issue as a way to jerk her around. And again, if she'd really invested all that in having children with him, she'd have picked some other response than to guarantee the end of the marriage by shutting off their sex life without actually ending the marriage herself. Who knew how much more time on her biological clock might have run down while she was already two touchdowns and a field goal behind?

I am quite happy to submit to the Jury that the real cause of LW1's state of being overjoyed is that he knew from the first that his ex would be driven right up the wall by the pregnancy (not to mention the engagement and the way in which she learned of the whole state of affairs). The Midsomer Murder in which an amateur actor playing Salieri is murdered during a performance (*Death of a Hollow Man* if memory serves) contains just this sort of situation, with the added bonus (unless LW1 cannily omitted to mention the fact; he must be asked) that the pregnant wife is a good deal younger than the ex (who would probably still take him back). But LW1 himself reminds me of the LW past whose old flame's husband could no longer be a husband to her either physically or emotionally and who was determined to provide her all the boinking necessary to sustain herself in her difficult position. One might recall that he could not go a sentence and a half without mentioning how hot she was and how she still had physical needs. LW1 is not quite so bad, but he seems at least partially cut out of the same cloth. I for one would be well amused if it turned out that the new woman's sexual adventurousness decreases almost totally after childbirth. Then Wife #2 will have the baby that she really wanted all along, LW1 will find himself not only miserably landed both with a wife who lost her sex drive and a baby he was right all along not to be sure he wanted, and the Ex can either tear her heart out over it all or be entertained by his misery. Apt all round. Of course, it's perfectly possible that by some bizarre fate LW1 has found Hos One True Love and they will live blisfully throughout eternity, but in that case he could at least have the compassion to have a bit of consideration for the loser.

This is not to state or suggest that XW1 handled the situation at all well. I do not blame her for putting up with LW1's indecision for seven years. It perhaps mattered more to her as a sort of confirmation of the solidity of the marriage than dealt a cruel and vicious blow to her saintly instinct to parent. She saw he'd bailed on the marriage, but could not resist the chance to be punitive on the way out. But the immediate pregnancy (which one might think extremely likely to be highly deliberate on his part; I am quite happy to submit that he was only too thrilled to get a different woman pregnant as quickly as possible just to twist the knife), the way the letter tries to slip in the Ex's still being single, and LW1's picking the one thing about his current picture for which people will not be inclined to convict him as the card he forces on the Prudecutor of her cause for justified anger... oh, he has the Ex in a neat spot and is probably winning the majority of the friends in common now that he's clearly a Winner and has established that it was all XW1's fault that they never had any children because somehow he always just knew it wasn't right. Okay. LW1 1, Prudecutor 0.

Moral: One does not have to be a great admirer of Ms Long to have developed a taste for declining annoyingly contrived marriage proposals in as devastating a manner as possible.

L2: Well, one must give the Prudecutor credit for finally taking the correct approach. There might be better comparisons out there, but she does at least make the effort to solve the situation through analogy. It strikes me that this might be largely a technical question. The exact chain of events seems a bit fuzzy. Should not LW2 have been told at the time of deposit that the check would not clear in its unsigned condition? Then, too, one must imagine that LW2 paid off some bills early rather than keeping the funds reserved for expenses related to the proposed trip, while F2 was busy making secret travel arrangements in LW2's name, in which case why F2 even bothered to send LW2 the check for the thousand dollars in the first place just confuses me to pieces. What LW2 ought actually to do I could not begin to say without having the facts before me much more clearly.

F2 reminds me rather of an old bucket (pronounced bouquet, of course). Quite the little controlling angel, isn't she, as she spreads her largesse far and wide (where others spread invitations to Candlelight Suppers)? One can almost hear Hyacinth phoning Elizabeth and issuing a command invitation to coffee at 3:25. The situation seems to justify the view expressed by Joanna Southwood in *Death on the Nile* that she finds it best to drop her friends when they lose all their money, thus to avoid having to buy terrible clothes from the boutiques they start up. Joanna only likes successful people, and claims that others just are less honest about it, and go on about how they just can't stand poor Emily or Pamela any more because her troubles have made her so *bitter,* poor dear.

I once saw advertised in a catalogue a book titled *Hyacinth Bucket's Guide to Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate*. Thinking that it would live in a variety of catalogues for years to come, I deferred purchasing it - and it never appeared again.

Moral: "You remember my sister Violet - the one with her own Mercedes, and a Jacuzzi, and room for a pony - but not in the Jacuzzi, of course (ha ha ha)!"

L3: Is LW3 male or female? It perhaps ought not to matter, but it may provide options for what LW3 does about BP3's ongoing difficulty. The early phrasing seems more or less male, although it's difficult to tell these days when *married* is not quite so broadly definitive an adjective as it once was. On the other hand, LW3 has sttod by and been supportive some five to seven times already without bringing up the issue, which does, although I apologize for stereotyping, sound a bit more in line with the way women are socialized.

My guess, if I absolutely were forced to make one right at this moment, is that LW3 is male and BP3 is perhaps making use of that or at least being given a generous slice of benefit from a rather small portion of doubt. If so, there are two ways LW3 can approach this. He can try ever so gently and supportively reminding her that she has been playing up gender stereotypes and asking her to be the strong feminist with whom he went into business, or he can have a little collapse of his own and give her a taste of her own medicine. If LW3 is female, it becomes a bit more tricky, although the call to be the Strong Female Role Model might still work.

BP3, with all due allowance made for her grief, reminds me a bit of Liz Probert, who does occasionally get to have it both ways in her full head-on political correctness.

Moral: "No; how would you describe me physically?" "Well, you're fat." "And should you be persecuted for saying that about me the way Claude is being for saying that about Wendy Crump?" "Of course not - you're a man!"

L4: If LW4 wants to study to be a Shakespeare professor, will the Prudecutor change her answer?

As I am calling a major foul and three jams in the penalty box for the Prudecutor, I think I shall waive either further elucidation or a moral.


  1. Happy New Year Rhumpole and thanks for your sound advice....

    I would be easier on Prudie though, after all she's been entertaining one and sundry all year round.

    You know only people who find a relatively happy conclusion to their predicament will write to thank her --the other ones will be seething or laughing their heads off at responses to their made up letters.... Most of the time people who write genuine letters know the answer, or can see it as they put pen to paper (excuse me, keyboard and printer -- I miss the pens, particularly those carved from the feathers of white hens that the monks had to chase all over the yard when they needed a new one --oh, and the hens also provided eggs. A win win situation in contrast to my printer which gobbles up ink, makes funny noises, prints funny lines and forces me to talk to India for two hours straight...)

    I don't know if there's competition among advice columnists. I mean why the hell would Prudie be jealous of Savage and vice versa? They're colleagues and for all we know they exchange tips on their jobs and are friends... Do you suppose there are conferences of advice columnists where they all meet each other and have a good time?

  2. Ms Kati - Many thanks, and the same to you.

    Please remember that I never plead guilty, and therefore obligated to assert that the Prudecution must be in error unless the only possible explanation is that the Prudecutor is correct.

    If I took an advice columnist seriously enough to consult him/her and follow the advice received, and it turned out disastrously, I think I should probably be in the right mood to write in again to point out just what was so terrible about the advice, in order to spare others with similar problems in the future.

    I wouldn't call it competition. I would think more in terms of something like high school. Imagine a classmate you don't really like but who at least stays out of your way and doesn't steal your thunder, even though you're both known for similar things. Then he goes and does something monumental. I know I've no real evidence, but I just find the picture so convincing that, when the Prudecutor does think about Mr Savage or events bring him to her attention, some part of her calls him That Punk to herself. I might if I disagreed with him as often as she does; he does have the sort of air to invite that.