Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/20: P-Q6

Two Brownie Points to anybody who immediately got the point of the title and can guess to which letter it refers.

L2: The obvious solution to any impending situation in which one knows that a particular set of Privileged People will be Practising Privilege (here what might be called Dotage Privilege) is simply Not to Go. One might give the Prudecutor the tiniest bit of Wiggle Room on the question of it being both harmless and gracious to give the old dears permission to ride their fantasy for a bit. She has laid no foundation for the supposition that OD2s actually are imagining any sort of heat radiating from themselves. After all, one might say that she is presumably well past her prime - but there is no good purpose in speculating as to the nature of her private reading matter.

But there is a far better and more important question. There are people bound to ask whether the situation would merit the same response if the readers of some ghastly pornographic book were LW2's father and uncles instead of her mother and aunts. Of course it wouldn't, and there's an excellent reason. Old Women are Officially Past It. Old Men often are not deemed to have lost viability. When, to pull a hypothetical out of thin air, Betty White dating the winner of the Heisman Trophy were to generate no greater scandal than Hugh Hefner marrying a Playboy Bunny of the Year, come back and we'll talk.

L3: I thought the no-brainers were usually saved for L4. When in doubt, contact the recipients and ask. Some might be delighted; some might prefer not; some might opt for vetting. But whatever LW3 does, the worst thing to do would be to add the ridiculously obvious bits of smarm suggested by the Prudecutor, who has demonstrated on many occasions that she is convinced that her faked sentiment will fool the reader as surely as Imperial Margarine will convince Mother Nature it's butter. And we all know it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

L1: Whether XBF1 is a jerk, an abuser, both or neither, some of us will be concerned with the fact that we are, after all, dealing with hearsay evidence. It is one thing to know and understand what might or might not incline one to accept or doubt something told one by a friend, but here we are forced to trust both LW1 and LW1's account of F1. Who wants to be certain on such grounds? How often does one get a detail wrong? I can recall three occasions on which I posted a comment in one forum or another in some detail about something that happened on a television programme, with a majority of the details and the whole spirit right, but with an inaccuracy (for instance, saying that action X took place after both A and B when it was really after A and before B, though the timing was inconsequential to the point). Of course, when the welfare of a child is at stake, Mizz Lizz Probert will be the first to inform any Court in the land that we are not bound by legal quibbles about hearsay - even if that one comes back to bite her in the end.

In defence of F1 (if this really is a Degree of Separation letter, which I'll believe by default), at least she is not duplicating the conduct of Dr Schwyzer's potential partner in procreation, who simply decided (with excellent reason) which of two possible candidates she preferred for the role of Daddy, never informing her preference that she'd had any other encounters and convincing the future doctor to keep the secret. While I understand the temptation to arrange a relationship in such a way, giving oneself all the power to ruin one's partner's life in a moment of anger, it seems almost impossible that being in that relationship with such a lopsided power dynamic must surely have done the relationship harm.

Mainly, though, I wonder how long it will take, given the rush to the declaration that F1 should do all that is humanly possible to make sure that her secret is kept perfectly guarded in perpetuity, for straight men who want nothing to do with potential progeny to start wishing cancer and dead puppies all around. Not to knock the capacity of women to determine veracity, but it seems a plausible consequence.

L4: This was the title reference. Gentle readers may recall that Alice met Humpty Dumpty when she passed into the Sixth Square on her chessboard journey. One might recall that it was Mr Dumpty who persuaded Alice (or made a gallant attempt so to do) of the superiourity to birthday presents of unbirthday presents, due to the extreme superiourity of frequency of days on which they might be received.

As might readily be deduced, H4 has an entire year in which to manifest his delight in providing some less fortunate relation with The Perfect Present. I suppose it is encouraging that some men are as susceptible to the socialization of the obligation of such fanaticism. Some feminists may be pleased with this letter on that account. But his insistence on producing the goods only at Christmas in front of a Full Family Audience guaranteed to be amazed by the spectacle is behaviour to which a great many people would assign an adjective rhyming with, but with the prefix of an extra syllable than, flattery.

And H4's insistence (or the LW's; it's hard to say which) that he just wants to have the freedom to express his love of Christmas has a HUGE smack of the Christianist crowd that just wants to have the freedom to express their love of their version of Christ Jesus by indulging in what they view as his favourite pastime and stoning (or some socially-acceptable-in-Western-civilized-society equivalent, although I suspect most of them would go for stoning if they could) sodomites.

Moral: "When I pay a word, it means what I tell it to mean."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/13 - Pru World Disorder?

With the run-up to Christmas producing its usual quantity of difficulty in ducking the relentless assault of heterocentrism, a brief moment of congratulations to all those newly married this week in Seattle, Mr Savage prominent among them.

This is a brief What is the World Coming to? sort of post.

As far as L1 goes, if the world is the sort of place where the relations of a perpetrator have to take legal advice before making a sanitized expression of sympathy with anything of any real feeling or meaning sucked out of it, the world has already lost. And it might have behooved the Prudecutor to pay some attention to the difference between the LW's loss of an illusion and the bereaved family's loss of someone who, whatever his faults, at least is not known to have committed an active forfeiture of a large portion of merit. Additionally, the obvious solution is to find one of the numerous friends in common to serve as, if not exactly an intermediary, then at least as a sort of sounder out.

L2 is disqualified on technical grounds. The information is insufficient to judge whether OF2 is being swamped on home or neutral ground by BF2. Besides, First World Problems, Inc.

L3 makes me wonder how conservatives get anything done when they don't have blackmail-worthy evidence to hold over people's heads. But I am more saddened by the Prudecutor's more than acquiescence in this horrific system in which one must from the youngest of ages compose a presence that will satisfy the Great Corporate Behemoth about matters which absolutely concern it not.

As for L4, it could be quite possible that a donation would be just the thing to be the ideal present all around, but, not only was the peremptory manner of the Prudecutor's recommendation (more of a command) well off key, the timing is wrong. Just as one does not make the funeral of an uncle the time to make one's polyamourous orientation the main focus, introducing such a style of gift suddenly and as a surprise with such short time for preparation is not the best receipt for success and happiness all around. LW4 would be best advised to pick a low-key time for an introductory donation and all the attendant activities.

I think I'll pass on the moral.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Prize show?

Was this week the Thick Awards?

LW1 is about as self-aware as Sir Walter Elliot. At least, that was the first thought to spring to mind. It might be quite apt, as one wonders exactly how much indulgence one might have to extend to AW1. We recall well how Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable, whose judgment and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful indiscretion that made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence thereafter.

LW2 and LW4 apparently appear to be competing for the same award. LW2 is in slightly the more sympathetic position. While LW4's concern for the elderly might be exaggerated into something almost touching, it might be a truth universally acknowledged that the difficulty in informing one's partner of an unpleasant aspect of an Otherwise Highly Desirable Body Part decidedly lies in the challenge of making the communication without being consequently denied access to the Otherwise 
Highly Desirable Body Part in question. But LW2's selection of the Prudecutor by way of consultant is the less explicable. They both could use a touch of Miss Bates, who could not keep anything to herself for five minutes, or perhaps Mrs Allen, who could never remain entirely silent.

LW3 makes one wonder how OC3 was in any position to be able to make any confidences at all. We do, do we not, have freedom of association. One might think that LW3 could have been capable of choosing whether to have any conversation with OC3 or not, and one might wonder why a LW of any number whatsoever should consent to continual conversation with OC3 or anybody like her. Now granted, as is the case of Emma with Mrs Elton, there are some social menaces who cannot be avoided entirely. However, if one recalls such customers as Mrs Bambi Etheridge, it seems reasonable to suggest that LW3 might have done a better job of ducking contact. Having been the recipient of the dangerous confidence, it's a little late to be out of it now, but things ought not to have reached such a state; LW3 should learn for the future.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

11/22 - For the Reluctant Cardplayer

Some of my favourite Austensplaining:

In the evening it was found, according to the predetermination of Mrs Grant and her sister, that after making up the whist table there would remain sufficient for a round game, and everybody being as perfectly complying and without a choice as on such occasions they always are, speculation was decided on almost as soon as whist; and Lady Bertram soon found herself in the critical situation of being applied to for her own choice between the games, and being required either to draw a card for whist or not. Luckily Sir Thomas was at hand.

"What shall I do, Sir Thomas? Whist and speculation; which will amuse me most?"

Sir Thomas, after a moment's thought, recommended speculation. He was a whist player himself, and perhaps might feel that it would not much amuse him to have her for a partner.

Moral: Bring the relation in question a copy of Mansfield Park.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

11/15 - Quickie on the Recap

Well, to give the Prudecutor her due, at least she didn't pack the court with fawning follow-ups designed to attribute to her an infinite wit and wisdom which she possesses not. It certainly would have been easy to stack the deck; who could have proved it different? So the Unwanted House Guest turned out to be not quite so sinister as she thought.

But one glaring thing sticks out from the Twincest Follow-Up. Our LW mentions in the follow-up how his brother read the column at breakfast and flipped out when he caught on to the personal nature of the subject matter. One must wonder, therefore, why the flying flip the Prudecutor and her editorial council ran the letter without looking into the situation in the first place.

The LW obviously was familiar with the Prudecutor's column, and it stood to reason as highly probable that the twin was as well. As their circle had a reasonable degree of familiarity with them and their lives despite not being in on The Big Secret, it ought not to come as the greatest shock in the world if some of their acquaintance might just happen to be readers of the Prudecutor's column as well. Should such be the case, how possible could it be that any such person would not add up gay twins living together as supposed bachelors and not visibly dating?

As it would not take a team of rocket surgeons to work out the likelihood of discovery, the next thing is to wonder why the Prudecution would run the letter without first checking in with the LW that it would not ruin his life. Now, one could easily claim that there's no obligation to do so. And certainly the Prudecutor's conduct since the letters has been indicative of excessive salivation over the increase in traffic and revenue the letter would bring her way, given its vast superiourity to the legions of dull letters that only made this shine all the brighter. But not to check in first to make sure that both the LW and his brother were okay with the letter being run? Perhaps not necessary, but reasonably described as Heartless.

As for the follow-up itself, the LW comes across as rather the tedious sort, or at least borderline so. I do not blame him for Fitting the Stereotype; some people do, and he at least does not Universalize it the way one sees happening only too often. I just detect a bit of the wrong sort of uberassimilationist strain in the bit about sexual dropping-off being Not Uncommon Among Gay Male Companions and Guess What? Some Straight Couples Too!

Laissez-moi barf.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

11/8 Donning the Deerstalkers Again

Now that things are operational again after the storm...

Well, colour me dizzy from trying to make sense of Tuesday. Why now, of all times? In part, I suppose we can be thankful that the Forces of Evil miscalculated after 2008 and thought they'd be better off rebuilding in 2010, when their incursion into blue states probably could have succeeded. But I have concluded that the answer could well be Spain, the one blatant exception to the glittering example of Scandinavia and near-Scandinavia in the Euro-equality catalogue. If RC Spain can out-equal France (a little like Sonny outscoring Cher on the Awesome Parent Test), then I suppose it isn't surprising that the increased Hispanic vote could have been enough to tip the scale this time around, even if the Grand Declaration of Support didn't move the African-American vote all that materially. Perhaps the truly weird thing is that Minnesota undecideds didn't break in the traditional direction (almost everyone was being at best guarded about Minnesota), but that speculation must wait for another time.

Once again, we have to wonder why a LW chose to consult the Prudecutor this week. And this letter is perhaps even more of a puzzle. The Prudecutor has proved many times over that she knows virtually nothing about gay social circles. Much of her commentariat is in the same boat. This is a vastly less assimilated LW than the BF of the Deeply Closeted Actor of recent past, which raises a number of ideas. If he is deliberately consulting someone who is not the most knowledgeable of the known likely choices to tackle the question, then I shall diagnose an ideological difference with Mr Savage, especially as this doesn't really seem to be one of those questions where a LW's choice of adviser seems designed to result in that LW receiving permission to do what (s)he wanted to do all along. I shall diagnose the LW as a likely Log Cabin Republican rather than a full-on GoProud type. GoProuders are more assimilationist than LCRs.If the LW has less disagreement with Mr Savage over politics than I'm guessing, then their circle is likely to be more singles-oriented or singles-accepting than that of his counselor of choice. Mr Savage appears to socialize in a highly couple-centric environment, where a single person such as the PWA was would perhaps stick out badly. The LW's social circle appears to be flexible, perhaps of the sort with a core group of people who pair and unpair from time to time without materially changing the overall constitution and tenor of the group.

The group dynamic can be vital with certain types of gay men. This is one main reason why I might marvel to such an extent over the choice of someone so out of the loop to consult. It is, perhaps oddly, rather more Sex and the City than Tales of the City. But, even so, there are still things one wonders. Why, for instance, did the subject go so long unraised with the friend? It would seem the sort of thing that a support circle would be quite likely to raise rather early on in the dating cycle. Another point largely missed by the Prudecutor is that everybody else in the group  is backing the silent route, which, if this were a straight circle, would definitely suggest that there may well be something of which only LW1 is unaware. But this is less the usual pattern for gay circles than it is for straight ones. It certainly makes one wonder whether the group as a whole is so cavalier in general in the matter of the health of a member's partner. Is this standard operating procedure for the group as a whole? Is PWA1 a first for the assembled company?

Of the possible approaches, LW1 could just up and tell ARBF1 directly, could mention it in passing as if taking it as a given that the Revelation had been made, could hold Standard Blackmailing Conversation #42 with PWA1, could hold a non-confrational conversation with PWA1, could ask individual friends about their chosen course of action or could even call a group meeting. It would really be advisable to know more about the particular dynamics of this particular group before trying to select one from a number of paths. As far as the legal issue is concerned, well, the less LW1 appears to know about that, probably the better all around.

Moral: "Knowledge of the law is generally a bit of a handicap to a barrister."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

10/25 - More Careful Plodding

Things are getting a little strange when the Prudecutor's main column is more same-sexer-related than Mr Savage's.This week, LW1 chooses to consult an outsider. Why? Is it because the problem involves (at least on the fringes) the question of assimilation? Does he want to avoid being given the standard line he might fear receiving from Mr Savage, to DTMFA? Did he read Mr Savage's response to the woman with the pro-life boyfriend advising her to lie and tell him she was pregnant, and immediately lose all faith in non-breeders?

The matter seems to merit inquiry because his choice of the Prudecutor could well hint at his cast of mind, which could have more than the usual influence on how one might want to deal with his question. This could be something to do with the situation. Or it could help fill in the noticeable gaps in the information presented.

[My boyfriend and I have been together just under three years. It was a whirlwind romance and we have a strong, honest, and loving relationship.]

The operative word is "honest". I am really rather sad here that this was L1, as that meant necessarily that one could not read the letter without having seen the headline and knowing the nature of the problem. It would have been interesting to have been able to read the letter without knowing it would necessarily end up concerning the closet, to see what would have seemed the best guess. Whastever difficulty a couple might have, there are at least a dozen problems that coincide better with the relationship in general being described as "honest", even if, as I presume, LW1 merely means that they are honest with each other - which is actually possible.

 [We both have fulfilling careers with hectic schedules—I do a lot of traveling overseas. He is now an actor working in Hollywood]

In other words, the couple has spent relatively little time together and must rely a great deal more on trust on a regular basis than those couples who do not spend lengthy periods apart. And what was BF1 doing prior to acting in Hollywood? Was this career turn a bit of a blindsider?

[and he is paranoid about anyone finding out he is gay, even though most people who meet him suspect he is.]

What the flip does that mean, and why on earth does the Prudecutor miss such a nasty remark - or, at least, nasty way of phrasing it? One suspects that Colonel Mustard did it in the billiard room with the lead pipe, or that one's spouse has been having an affair for the past decade.

He's in his mid-20s and still struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. I'm a few years older, and much more comfortable with who I am.]

Okay, so LW1 bagged a hottie. But one might wonder how strong a relationship is likely to be if one of the participants is still struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. In conjunction with his selection of the Prudecutor, this suggests that LW1 may be what we can call by the almost neutral term "discreet". It does raise the question, though, of exactly how open LW1 is in general, and wants to be, which the Prudecutor misses his never really addressing.

[He worries about the amount of hate that can be directed at an openly gay public figure in America, despite all the recent high-profile coming-outs, and I understand his dilemma. He’s concerned that his parts will dry up once directors and producers think of him as a “gay” actor.]

BF1 seems the sort of person who Acts Now and Plans for the Consequences Later. And he seems mighty assured that the parts are going to keep rolling in if he toes the appropriate line, which raises a curious comparison to the religious debate over works-based salvation.

[When we met, he was not working in the entertainment industry and we were not burdened with this.]

Okay, a little hint, but we still don't know how he got started and if he was heading in that particular direction or if Hollywood, as it were, found him. Was LW1 or the editor responsible for this lack of clarity?

[The situation is causing huge friction, as I never meet his friends or anyone he has worked with.]

The Prudecutor omitted to point out that surrounding oneself with entirely straight associates is likely to be considered a significant tell. And this does not seem entirely to gel with LW1's seeming discreet. I begin to suspect (word choice deliberate) a little game going on here of Who's the Man? - and am not in the least surprised that this one would sail so completely over the Prudecutor's head that she wouldn't even notice anything in the vicinity. One can almost give her half a pass, given that she has never been half of an MM couple, but then, given how much Mr Savage has learned to tolerable effect about Women Parts, perhaps not today.

[I stay home or make my own plans when he socializes. I’m not even allowed to friend him on Facebook or any other social media.]

Although not a Facebooker, I'll still ask why anyone would "friend" his spouse. I can give LW1 and BF1 half a pass given the amount of time they spend away from each other. And it's an interesting twist on the Martyred Wife theme.

[We had discussed marriage; but that’s now on hold and I'm doubting whether I should base myself permanently in LA with him as we had planned. I have no desire to play the role of a McCarthy-era secret lover. What should I do?]

Who the flip discusses marriage with somebody who is still coming to terms with his sexuality??? And the Prudecutor missing that one is about as bad as Serena Williams missing a 50-mph serve from Chris Evert.

Now for general points. One remarkable thing about this letter is that it illustrates the difference between seekers asking How Do I... (X) and those asking What Do I Do; LW1 manages to give away remarkably little in the nature of how he has acted and what he wants to do. In this case, it seems almost plausible that LW1 has just gone along with BF1's restrictions without ever having had any sort of conversation about them with the other person involved. There's a radical idea. And instead, here he is asking the Prudecutor, as if, should she have chosen to lecture him about the dangers of open homosexuality and the benefits accruing to those in the closet, he'd have taken her advice to adjust his own attitude with the same application with which he'd have been prepared to DTMFA or Issue an Ultimatum per her recommendation.

And, of course, the Prudecutor completely misses (as does LW1) something quite likely to be pertinent to the discussion. From her response:

[Maybe he’s partying with straight friends and pretending to pick up girls. Maybe he’s on the town cheating on you.]

While the Prudecutor did not finish the second sentence with the phrase, "...with other men," nowhere in her response to a LW whose BF is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality does she explore or even mention the dreaded B word? Being given the large number of people who round their sexual orientation presentation for convenience or some other purpose alone ought to have been sufficient grounds for her to inquire whether BF1 might have a stripe or at least a hint of actual or at least desired bisexuality. That could keep a cross-examiner with a perilous overdraft in refreshers for a few weeks.

There's so little LW there in the letter beyond the not wanting to be a Throwback Guilty Secret that there really doesn't seem to be much more to say at present. Of course LW1 has a legitimate dealbreaker, but one has so little idea of how inclined he is or isn't to use it. Possibly some of the earlier questions would help in that line.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

10/18 - Short, Still Protesting

I thank the Prudecutor for making my case that heterosexuals should abstain from the discussion of gay rights in the same way that men should abstain from the discussion of abortion.

I shall point out quickly that it is interesting that the conversation would be beginning at the pregnancy. If the dear friends and family LW1 does not want to offend were not close enough for the conversation to begin when LW1 and W1 were about to start or had started "trying" for a baby, then it seems a little pushy to expect to be provided with details at this point.

Also, it's one thing to want to keep particular information private. It's another to withhold general information from "dear friends" for whom it might prove useful. If anyone out of the loop gets a partial pass, it is the lesbian friend who is contemplating starting a family, who might find a little general advice to be of great help, such as being warned not to go to X, who's homophobic. But then we don't know if LW1 has an Inner Circle who are in on the details or not.

I also got a bit of a heteronormative vibe from L1. It may well be that she is feeling atgawked, in which case I am quite sympathetic.

That is all of my attention I feel the Prudecutor deserves this week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

10/11 - Breaking Protocol

As much fun as it might be to compare L1, in which LW1 does better going for an immediate divorce than signing a postnup, and H1 is pushing LW1 into divorce by threatening it as a consequence of failing to sign, to Mr Savage's advice to a LW, who wasn't sure she could continue a relationship with an otherwise progressive boyfriend who didn't think abortion should be banned but believes that life begins at conception, that she should tell him she's pregnant, thus insuring the end of the relationship one way or the other, I am going to break tradition and concentrate entirely on a letter from earlier in the week. I present a copy of the printed version:

David and I have been best friends since we met in undergrad. When we were accepted to grad programs at the same university, we got an apartment together. Two days ago, David was killed in a car accident. I have been devastated ever since. When I looked up David's online obituary, I was shocked to see myself listed as his fiancée. As close as we were, there was never anything romantic between us. David was gay. The only person I really know in David's family is his brother, and I called him to ask him why I was listed as his fiancée in the obituary. His brother explained that his parents are ultraconservative and very religious and, even though they knew David was gay, they never quite accepted it. I guess people in his hometown town knew he was living with a girl, and his parents explained away this "sin" by saying we were engaged, rather than saying we were just friends or even just roommates. The funeral is Tuesday, and I don't know if I can go or not. I know David would have hated the lie his parents told, but I also know he loved them very much and wouldn't want them to be hurt. I'm not sure what people would say if his "fiancée" didn't show up for the service. But I am also not comfortable accepting condolences from people for something that is a lie. I know how much David struggled with coming out to his parents and how he fought for acceptance. There is a part of me that would like to demand a retraction and correction of the obituary. Another part of me says to let it go because David is beyond hurting now. What should I do?

And away we go. I shall start with a look at Things We Don't Know:

* Was David dating? If so, how seriously? It seems reasonable to presume that he was not engaged (although who wouldn't want to see the follow-up letter, "An hour after I proposed to my boyfriend and he accepted, he died in a car accident. His homophobic family called his female roommate his fiancee in the obituary. What should I do?"). The LW would likely know if he were dating, and it does change the equation a little by adding a party directly being hurt by the deception. Certainly his  feelings and wishes ought to carry considerable weight with the LW.

* How gay (though that's badly phrased) was David? He could have been bisexual-rounded-to-gay, as happens to many people, some of whom round themselves for convenience or to avoid anti-bi attitudes, some of whom are rounded by others, either taking a lengthy run of same-sexer expression for exclusive homosexuality, or for reasons of their own; even the LW herself could have a personal motive for wanting to bump up his Kinsey score to a perfect 6.0. This is largely a side issue, but it could affect the credibility of the lie. If it will be only too painfully obvious at the funeral that the family's presenting any woman as David's fiancee is clearly wishful thinking on their part, the less the LW might have to do by way of clarification.

* This is potentially a tough one for the LW, but what, in an ideal world, would have been her relationship with David? There are many such pairs that are just genuine best friends with no interest on either side. In others, she would date him in an instant and there's a serious power dynamic in play. There could probably be a complete sliding scale set out. I bring this out as a sort of variation on the Lucy Angkatell Theory (applied to her kitchenmaid's volunteering testimony to the police in a murder case) of how confusing it can be when the right thing to do is pleasant in a not necessarily good-for-one way. Although the LW appears to have her head screwed on properly, making David's wishes her top priority, it could be trickier if there were a glimmer of attraction that she only half-acknowledges to herself.

* Who exactly was responsible for the obituary being printed as it was, with the lie? Even if everything David's brother told the LW were true, the obituary might have been drafted by the parents jointly, one of them acting more decisively than the other, or by the brother himself without consulting them. It is entirely conceivable that the brother could be presenting the parents as unapproachable because of their being really more accepting than he'd want them to be. For all the LW knows, it's possible that the brother had even been filtering communications between David and their parents to keep up the estrangement.

* Had the fiancee lie been spread before David's death, or was it a sudden inspiration? The LW's guess is plausible. If it were so, and people in David's hometown had been fed that line about her for some time, it would make the assumption stronger. But it is not confirmed that it was general knowledge David had a female roommate. Then again, it is a general rule of Evangelica that heterosex or the possibility thereof trumps homosex.

* What exactly is the familial expectation of the LW's role at the funeral? She seems to think that sparing David's parents pain as she thinks David could have wished is pushing her into going, but for all she knows the family could want her to behave exactly as the Prudecutor has advised - being "too distraught" to confirm or deny the engagement. As a side to this question, how unanimous are the parents and brother in what they want her to do? The brother presumably hasn't requested that she confirm the lie, but he might be assuming that she will do so. He might even think she will be happy to do so - for all we know, David might have told his family that she was attracted to him, or said something that they interpreted that way.

* How much of a gay social circle did David have, and was the LW a part of it? He might have had a mostly straight-appearing life with few gay friends (which would make the funeral look a good deal more straight than it might), he might have had two circles, in which case she might have been part of either or both, or his social life apart from visits home might have been predominantly in gay or mixed company.

* The main question, presented by a surprisingly small number of posters in the comments, is how David reacted to/would have reacted to the lie. If it was in circulation before the accident, did he know about it? Did he disagree or agree with it? How would he have reacted to finding out, if it were something that would have been new to him? Sadly, the LW probably can only guess about this one, which ought to be what has the most influence with her. It sounds as if everyone were in the process of something that might have ended somewhere on the scale of general acceptance (probably not very far along from the sound of the letter). How does the LW think David would have reacted had he been at home visiting and his parents/brother mentioned her as his fiancee? to company? Would he have left? corrected the statement (with how much force?)? gone along with it to keep the peace? suffered while doing so?


With that out of the way, the Prudecutor's original advice, to attend the funeral, accept the condolences of others in attendance and be too distraught to discuss the situation, was widely condemned as a bit of a stinker. Later, the Prudecutor apparently modified her response (on Facebook instead of Slate) to include correcting that there was no engagement without outing David. One interesting aspect of the letter is how many possible shades of meaning can be attained through slight variation of exactly how the LW might do such a thing at the funeral:

The LW's statement to anyone offering condolences for the loss of her fiance can reflect how they felt, living arrangements and their standing. One has various components:

We loved each other
I loved him dearly
We were best friends
He was my closest friend
We were very close

We lived together
We shared an apartment
We were roommates
We were platonic roommates

We were not engaged
We were never engaged
There was never any idea of marriage
We were not dating
We never dated
Neither of us ever had any romantic interest in the other

with other variations can produce quite a range of possible inferences for those who didn't know David that well to draw. These suggestions from posters could be combined in ways that could make it quite clear that there was never any desire for romance on either side, or leave things so loose that strangers might think the engagement had been only a matter of time with a large number of possibilities in between suggesting partial and/or one-sided attraction on either side. If the LW decided that David would want her to go along with his parents as far as she could, she could easily be technically accurate while coming across as if the two of them had been keeping the contraceptive industry in business almost single-handedly. Or, should she wish just to stay on this side of the line of outing David, she could be quite explicit about that road being closed. One thing I can say in the LW's favour is that she definitely seems to be above the temptation to imply that David wanted her but that she could not return his romantic affection.


Now, as to what to do. The LW is faced with an erroneous obituary as well as the funeral. One possible aspect of the case that I don't think any poster mentioned is that the LW not correcting the obituary could be interpreted as some sort of homophobic gesture on her part. How David's gay friends/boyfriends/exes might take this libel (a strong word, but David's family have put in writing something they know to be false with the intent of getting people to believe an untruth about him that he would clearly have found unpleasant and distasteful; if the truth of a statement is sufficient defence in a libel action, then the untruth of a statement that would have pained the object greatly surely qualifies this lie for libelous status) is not hard to guess. Especially if she had relatively little to do with them, she could come off as implicit in the closeting. Then again, if she knows them all well, while in a way it would make the whole thing sadder, there could be an added dimension that would make the family's deception appear as much a hoot as anything else. It does seem the least the LW can do for David's memory to correct the obituary; if she prefers to do that after the funeral in order to give the family something of a respite, that seems acceptable.

If she doesn't want to go to the funeral because she can't see herself getting through it without outing David and she knows she doesn't want to out David, that seems fair enough. She does appear to feel pressured into attending by the fake announcement because her absence might raise difficult questions. Even if she attends the funeral, a memorial with David's chosen family, even if he had not quite yet gotten to considering them to be such, is a must. It might make things easier for her if she decides to opt for graciousness over loyalty.

I should go so far as to have her contact the brother, who may well turn out to be the source of all the misery in the piece, to warn him that the family had better not mention her as David's fiancee or introduce her to anyone while hanging that label on her. Even if she has no intention of outing David, I think she is fully justified in threatening to do so.

Oof. I get all this way and what we don't know makes it really impossible for me to feel comfortable advocating any particular course. I just hope for David's sake that the idea to call them betrothed was something pulled out of the hat after the death; it is a colossal betrayal as well as a libel.

One of the interesting things about the comments is that many posters, if we give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that they don't want the LW's correction of the libel to be sufficiently flimsy that the deluded will find it easy to interpret the libel as a mere stretch of truth, reveal a considerable lack of familiarity with coming out, from the vantage point of catching on to how people desperate to believe X will grab at any shred of support for their desired belief. Not that there's any reason people ought to be familiar with coming out and its associated ramifications. But it gives me a feeling of validation for complaining about straightsplaining and for thinking that it might be quite becoming for straight people to be just a shade less ready and eager to rush in with all kinds of pronouncements when they'd benefit considerably from letting less privileged voices be heard. And a special thumbs down to the woman who wrote a long post not devoid of eloquence about how she went along with the whitewashing of her late husband's family in presenting the couple as happy and the deceased as only the best parts of his character when he'd been abusive and they'd separated. We've all seen variations on that disgusting comparison before.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10/4 - Out of Patience

I begin to suspect that the selector of these letters is the same person selecting the 101-style rerun letters for Mr Savage.

L1: LW1 bears a remarkable resemblance to Claude Erskine-Brown. From early days, when he was always on the prowl to discover whether our clerk Albert fiddled a few checks or bought drinks at Pommeroy's Wine Bar with marked pound notes from the Chambers petty cash, to later times when he investigated how much our next senior clerk Henry was trying to overcharge all the members of Chambers for weekly coffee money, nobody has outdone Claude Erskine Brown on the count of attention to minutiae. And he has shown a propensity to expand this into exploration of people's sex lives, such as the time when Guthrie Featherstone had a brief fling with a communist typist named Angela until I managed to arrange for her to overhear his final speech to the jury when he was prosecuting for possession of cannabis. LW1 could not be giving us a more effective impersonation of Claude if he had a direct line through which to channel.

If history has taught us three things, at least one of them is that there is no cure for Claude Erskine Brown. LW1 should do his wife the biggest favour in his power and divorce her yesterday.

L2: LW2 has fallen into the common trap of taking hearsay evidence as proved. She does not know that her grandfather abused more even one of his daughters, although the additional hearsay evidence makes it a good deal more likely. But hearsay is always much more satisfactory to the defence than it ever is to the Prosecution or the Prudecution. The answer for LW2 lies, as is so often the case, is the conducting of a proper cross-examination. There are a variety of witnesses who can offer evidence that is not hearsay.

Unfortunately, LW2 is not so circumstanced as to be able to conduct her cross-examination in Court, with all the witnesses sworn to tell the truth. Given these circumstances that are so far from ideal, the greater the quantity of expertise with which LW2 conducts the fact-finding mission, the better. I advise LW2 to find and employ the most expert cross-examiner available for a crash course in the finer points of the art. Modesty would make the naming of the most suitable candidate somewhat unseemly, but another point of recommendation is that the cross-examiner could demonstrate the art by digging into why LW2 has so much invested in the rehabilitation of G2. A mere paucity of grandparents seems a bit skimpy - as skimpy as the portions of food on offer at La Maison Jean-Pierre, run by that larger-than-life cook and character, Jean-Pierre O'Higgins.

L3: As painful as it is, I fear that I may have to recuse myself from this case. LW3 and CW3 have created such a feud out of so little actual grounds for the same (and in so doing provided an excellent example of the value of strong cross-examination skills, as a good cross-examiner could have gotten to the bottom of the problem in five minutes) that it is impossible for the two of them to be any other than members of those great feuding families, the Timsons and the Molloys. As LW3 is clearly asking for directions on how to grass on CW3 without appearing in the unsympathetic character that usually accompanies the role of a snitch, it is clear that the odds favour LW3 being a member of the clan Molloy, for the Timsons, in general, do not grass. There are exceptions - Cyril was led into being willing to point the finger at Dennis in a cutthroat defence before Judge Bullingham, but happily it turned out that neither of the pair was guilty of the malicious wounding of the bank guard, and both were guilty only of robbery. But I have never appeared for a Molloy, not even the generally inoffensive Chirpy Molloy, known for taking luxurious baths in the middle of the robberies he committed, although I did at least bring together the eyewitness and the perpetrator who framed Chirpy.

L4: As this was turned by the Prudecutor into a technical question, here's a better solution. LW4 should get the N4s booked onto either a talk show or a court show, the former for preference. Sob stories about people in the N4s' plight are all the rage, and hosts are falling over themselves to be the most helpful. Even after the Golden Age of Oprah, there should be enough left to go around.

Moral: "It wasn't a couple of shirts; three, to be exact."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

9/27 - Guest Advisor

This week's letters seem extremely well suited to someone capable of managing irate or difficult parents, problematic gifts and tricky social situations regarding invitations. Who is better suited to handle such situations than the ever-so-tactful Mrs Clay from Persuasion?

L1: I wonder - has your father, for his own amusement, ever taken up any book but the Baronetage? He sounds just like Sir Walter Elliot - the poor dear. And it is very easy to get the knack of managing fathers of this sort, your own or anybody else's. I quite recall how, when Sir Walter had been persuaded by my pappa (with the assistance of his neighbour Lady Russell and the cleverest of his daughters, Anne, who is a little more clever than I could wish, but no matter) to quit Kellynch Hall and settle in Bath, he was about to undo most of the good work by refusing to let the Hall to an Admiral of the Navy - and all because the navy, in addition to the nonsense of providing social elevation to those of inferiour rank - really, where would society be if each of us were content with her place and never determined to rise? - undoes a man's good looks, however much of the same he might have. The old silly - how would he look if he had to go out into the world and earn money, especially as he wouldn't be any good at it? But I was quite able to point out to him that it is the lot of the few, the favoured, the fortunate to be able to select their own hours and form their own habits of sustaining health and beauty, and Sir Walter was soon quite as ready to accept Admiral Croft as tenant as my father could have wished.

Now here, LW1 has an excellent opportunity to use her father's nature to her advantage. As children are so unpredictable and inclined to rebel against attitudes suggested to them, as LW1 doubtless wants her children to become pro-choice and as her father almost certainly isn't entirely on board with that plan, she should get him to take her daughters to a pro-choice event. This will doubtless prove too much for him, and he will jump at the opportunity to fill the girls' heads with pro-life dogma, including the history of their origin, and then LW1 will have both her father and the girls right where she wants all of them. They will rebel against him and take her side - a nice piece of work. As a side note to the columnist, LW1 asked what to do, not how to phrase it; the syrupy cliches were entirely unnecessary. The columnist should go work for Hallmark - or has perhaps tried and failed.

L2: I wish LW2 had consulted me some time ago, as I'd have advised her to murder husband. After all, that's what I di... would do. And, even though the relationship was broken off, one must be very careful to ascertain that there are no lingering feelings for the other party. Why, just look at what happened with Anne Elliot. She broke her engagement to Captain Wentworth, and then was not only not content with refusing to marry the very well off Charles Musgrove, but she actually carried a torch for the Captain for eight years until he asked her again. Eight years! What man is worth such devotion?

As for the Other Woman being a mother, good grief. Mrs Charles Musgrove has two small boys, and nobody has ever thought it would be anything but beneficial for them if she were to be knocked on the head. Both the little dears did so much better when left to the care of their aunt. I advise LW2 to murder her mother as well. If she requires assistance, I have heard of a young lady who has been a perjured witness at every public trial for the last twelve years, murdered both her parents and forged her own Will.

L3: Sometimes there are things to which one just has to submit. I well recall the day when it began to rain in Bath when the two Miss Elliots and I were with Mr Elliot trying marzipan. I was nearly sure of being able to wheedle Mr Elliot out of marrying Anne, but I desperately needed to get him alone, which was never easy given Miss Elliot's determination to monopolize him, even if she did gullibly always include me in the party. When the rain came, I thought I should have my chance, as Lady Dalrymple's carriage could accommodate the two sisters and take them back to Camden Place. But dear Miss Elliot had to insist that I had a little cold coming on, and Mr Elliot swore that Miss Anne's boots were thicker than mine, and thus better suited to a walk home through the rain. But I did prevail in the end, which should serve as an encouraging example for LW3. Otherwise, this is a technical question, and I shall refer it to my pappa the attorney.

L4: Again, the LW left things far too late. I well recall how poor Sir Walter went into quite a tizzy when the Dalrymples arrived in Bath, and Lady Dalrymple an actual viscountess. As bad luck would have had it, Sir Walter, who had been in company once with his cousin, Lord Dalrymple, had, owing to a dangerous illness of Lady Elliot at the time, neglected to send the obligatory letter of condolence at his lordship's passing. Clearly this was not to be borne, and the Dalrymples sent no letter on the eventual death of Lady Elliot. But then Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret, her daughter, came to Bath. Sir Walter was naturally eager to renew the connection. Fortunately, I was able to guide him in the composition of the letter he eventually sent the Dalrymples designed to explain, if not excuse, his conduct and beg their forgiveness. Neither Lady Russell nor Miss Anneat all approved the letter, but we were on my home field, so to speak. I carried the day, and of course we all know that Lady Dalrymple did choose ere long to renew the acquaintance.

The lesson in the situation is that, while Sir Walter was renewing his acquaintance with the great lady in Laura Place, Miss Anne was renewing her friendship with an old schoolfellow, a sickly widow whose acquaintance could be of no advantage to her. I marvel at her taste, which is apparently shared by LW4. Surely there are more profitable people he could cultivate.

Moral: "We are not all born to be handsome."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

9/20 - Seven letters; no T, S, N or L...

How I wish that the Supportive Shower-Throwing Sister had made the cut for Thursday instead of the earlier-in-the-week jumble. That letter was much more satisfactory than any of these, raising a nice point of how not to punish the baby without condoning or dismissing the bad conduct of the parents. What strikes me most of all is that the LW herself, so eager to throw the shower, suffers from the same obsessive lack of guilt as Miss Brodie. It might be interesting to know which of the sister's friends are among the group of eager shower-throwers. As seems to be the case with the LW, they could well be saying a good deal more about their own condoning of the affair than anything else. The sister's guilt reflects on them. There might also be much to be gained by delving into the mother's excessive shaming, starting with the determination of whether or not it's excessive. Here again it's tricky because the bulk of any disapproval ought to be directed towards the adulterous fiance, who was the vow-breaker while the sister was the accessory, but the sister is probably going to end up being the one taking most of it. All in all, a highly more satisfactory letter than any of these four.

Happily, they all merit quick disposal of the same sort.

Dear LW1: How fortunate that your intended has revealed her true colours before any actual exchange of vows. You could reasonably pre-empt her ultimatum by issuing one of her own; either she accepts DW1 as a person who existed and has a right to a spot in memory and IL1s as members of your family whom she will be making members of her family if she wishes the relationship to progress, or she is entirely free to leave. She could be given a period of time in which to adjust her ideas and expectations. But odds are that this course would prove to be time wasted. If you don't think more time a worthwhile investment, you'd be perfectly justified in imagining that you'd written to Mr Savage instead, in which case you'd surely have received the reply that you ought to - all together now to the tune of the theme for the Mickey Mouse Club - DTMFA.

Dear LW2: Why on earth did you consult the Prudecutor? Surely Dr Westheimer would have been a much better choice. Mr Savage has enough on his plate at the moment, and he is not always the best authority possible to select for consultation on questions concerning woman parts. As the only sensible reason for consulting the Prudecutor instead of someone who knows about and has probably practised the enjoyment of the parts in question can be that you want the Prudecutor to give you an excuse to cut your husband off (but you frame it sufficiently cleverly to avoid being called naughty things by the commentariat), I shall go one step beyond that and give you permission to divorce on grounds of sexual incompatibility. If not now, it will happen soon enough. Why waste time?

Dear LW3: Divorce at once. What has taken you so long? You married into a family that made it plain that would always choose coddling and accommodating a member with an abusive personality, whether or not his tendency to abuse ever turned sexual or not. You learned this quite early on in your marriage. Instead of scorning their ridiculous intrusion into your conduct, you even joined in the accommodation. Bad LW3! There might have been some interest in examining the reform had it not been for the disturbing new development. And you are quite right to be disturbed. People who are coddled and accommodated so long, like Sir Walter Elliot, get worse and worse. H3 showed early on that he would not cut off his family for intolerable conduct. In reality, he ought to have murdered his brother several decades ago. Fear of imprisonment ought not to have deterred him, as there would have been available to him the services of at least one barrister with a lifetime's experience in getting murderers acquitted.

Should you choose to remain married, however, there is always entrapment if H3 does not feel up to murder. Correspondence is possible if U3 is not particularly wary and discerning. Or there could well be some way to catch MIL3 and U3 doing something that, while not yet of an endangering nature to D3, is clearly Out of Bounds. H3 should be active in devising such a scenario.

Dear LW4: Divorce your husband on grounds of insufficient intelligence. Anyone with any sense would have long ago imported a dead bed bug or several into the home in question and presented them to F4s to demonstrate the need for new bedding NOW!

Moral: "A baronet must be seen to live like a baronet."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/13 - The Austenian Approach

Dear LW1: Your mother has obviously taken for her role model that anti-paragon of parenthood, Mrs Bennet. We are told frequently that it takes a great effort on the part of Mr Bennet to be able to keep the household expenditure down to a level that is just barely within his income. I recall reading  a spot-on critique once of Mrs Bennet in which her attitude towards Jane's beauty was called that of a procurateuse - the fond mamma viewed her eldest daughter not as someone possessing a sweet and virtuous character but more as a piece of stock that could fetch four or five thousand a year on the marriage market.

In part, how to handle this feels like a technical question. One wants to call foul on the Prudecutor (well, one wants to do that anyway, if one must be completely honest, about seventeen times every week) for inserting a question that is so much about various legal steps to take. Surely this sort of question ought to be sent to someone more specialized. But it does allow the Prudecutor completely to duck the question of the ongoing relationship with M1. Thankfully, LW1, you have the potential example of an assortment of daughters. Jane would respond that of course it was very wrong of her mother to act so, but would forgive her and probably pay off more of her mother's debts. Elizabeth would have less patience and would probably take appropriate legal steps to restrain her mother's conduct. Mary would spout platitudes about identity theft and then, on a good day, realize that she had no clue what to do about it. Kitty would have a coughing fit. Lydia would adopt her mother's tactic.

So there you are, LW1 - five separate courses of action. Pick your favourite Miss Bennet, and your dilemma is solved.

Dear LW2: Do you admire Miss Woodhouse?

This letter has Emma written all over it. Sarah's genetic disposition could be a complete rewrite of the question of the Dubious Parentage of Harriet Smith. We all recall how Harriet is the Natural Daughter of Somebody. Harriet herself is content with not being able to know her father; Emma, almost immediately after befriending Harriet, is quite sure that, in such a position, she herself would have been both unwilling to settle for such ignorance and successful in discovering her true origins. At least in one respect, LW2, you have the advantage over Emma in that her elaborate suppositions leading to her eventual confidence in Harriet's father being a gentleman are entirely the product of her own fancy, whereas you at least have done research into facts, rather as Mr Knightley might have done.

The story then takes a turn into one of the few chapters in the book in which Emma does not appear - the conversation between Mr Knightley and Mrs Weston during the course of which Mrs Weston advises that it would be unwise for Mr Knightley to follow his inclination to canvass John and Isabella for their opinions during their upcoming holiday visit. You and Mr Knightley both yielded.

I would place where the story is now at about the point at which Emma and Mr Knightley have a major difference of opinion. Emma dominates Harriet into refusing the marriage proposal of Robert Martin, shortly after Mr Knightley heard out Robert's plans and advised him that he was proceeding in a sound manner.

Therein lies your choice, LW2. You doubtless know how your friend will react to various possibilities. You can be Emma, or you can be Mr Knightley. The choice is yours.

Dear LW3:  The Austenian component is a bit thin here. It would certainly be possible to go back to Pride and Prejudice and think of Mr Collins assiduously courting the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh, but I shall move on to Persuasion, where this can be framed as a tricky comparison to the relationship between Sir Walter Elliot and Mrs Clay, especially as the Prudecutor  seems to be presuming to side with or feel like Anne Elliot in opining that LW3's male colleagues are jockeying to see exactly which of them gets to be her Sir Walter.

But this leads me directly to a feminist thread of mentoring that I read from a while back. LW3, you have the idea of a mentor in the back of your mind, but the concept completely sails right over the head of the Prudecutor. Indeed, her attitude is exactly the sort of claptrap that is preventing the expansion of mentoring into the model needed to assist the advancement of women in many fields. The question the Prudecutor completely fails to ask is whether this is how the men are mentoring other men. A personal response would be that one has no idea, but it seems plausible enough. Now one might expand in due course into what necessary differences there may be for cross-gender mentoring, but it would be a bit disappointing for this all to devolve into men, on being told that they must mentor women, as they've been mentoring men, attempting to do exactly that, only to be told that they're Doing It Wrong.

On the other hand, given this particular situation, your instinct is not to be comfortable with the invitations you've been issued. There ought to be some way to work your way into mentoring situations that is as comfortable to you as the current system is to the younger men these elders mentor. The Prudecutor's road doesn't go there.

Dear LW4: While I can hear Mrs Elton proclaim that their coachman and horses are so extremely expeditious, and that she believes they drive faster than anybody, I'll pop over to Northanger Abbey instead. Although John and Isabella Thorpe are brother and sister instead of husband and wife, they fit neatly into the same sort of blustery exaggeration as that perpetrated by your friends. Happily, I doubt that they are slated to remain friends much longer.

Moral: "It is very good advice, and it shall have a better fate than your advice has often found; for it shall be attended to."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

4 x 100 again

Short on time; here we go.

L1: Interesting that this sort of issue would arise after forty years of marriage. In one respect, this could be as innocent as Richard Sackbutt's mother inviting a homeless woman home for the night, only this has turned into an extended stay, which is a number of steps too far. Perhaps decades of ministering have not had a good effect on H1, who has taken it on himself to assume more authority than is good for him. Perhaps, too, LW1 and H1 have let spousal communication fall into such a state of disrepair that this problem is more symptom than cause.

L3: This could be a technical question. To what extent does the Jewish faith play a central role in this question? It could be a great deal. Odd that all the tales of the Old Bailey contain no open Jews, when there are many lawyers and judges as openly Christian as Soapy Sam Ballard. My main question here is why LW3 would assume that she couldn't ask BF3 about the non-invitation. Under what kind of code are these families operating that everything done must proceed under such a veil of secrecy and second-guessing of motivations rather than open discussion? How Venetian.

L4: The answer is secondarily about the dog and primarily about the human relationship. As far as the dog is concerned, if stepparent were more accurate than co-parent, then a significant but unequal contribution would be quite in order. Co-parent could go either way, but the human relationship is probably more to the point. What is the couple's overall financial style? How does money affect their general decision-making process and influence? What does this request tell LW4 about BF4's conduct and character? Where is the relationship going? Do both parties agree? There is much too little information provided by LW4 here.

L2: I call a foul on the Prudecutor here. Nobody who suggested Operation Brokeback Ambush in deadly seriousness can make any sort of claim about being all twisted up inside over military witch hunts. At most, the Prudecutor did what Mr Knightley suggests Emma did during the four years when she was supposedly labouring to bring about the match between Mr Weston and Miss Taylor, that she just had a stray thought to that effect one day and repeated it to herself every so often. A case can be made for staying, but on balance leaving wins. My sympathies to LW2.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

8/30 - One Letter Only

As the Prudecutor finally addressed the main point of Homocentric August directly (while both revealingly and badly), it seems fitting to close off the month by looking exclusive at L3, in her response to which the Prudecutor cannot make herself more clear. The opening sentence shimmers with unPrudecutorlike brevity and lack of equivocation - "Invite him." Now, perhaps this may surprise some readers, but my response is not going to be an instantaneous, "Don't invite him." A kneejerk call in either direction is automatically wrong in approach, even if it turns out to be the stopped clock in this particular direction.

I shall begin by parsing the Prudecutor's reply. I don't know where she gets the idea that she is agreeing with LW3 about the world changing, as LW3 never said any such thing. Conflating living openly and entering marriages suggests a simultaneity that does not exist, probably for some nefarious purpose. The article to which she linked was quite weak. At the very least, President Obama ended up, deliberately or otherwise, hiding behind the most politically palatable reason for his change of heart, his daughters. Actual gay people entering actual social institutions had nothing to do with it; his daughters have friends with same-sex-couple parents. It is possible to view his support as indirectly insulting. I do not share such a view, but can see how some people conclude much similar support to be based on the idea that, because Queers Are Raising Kids (clutch pearls!), they had better be made as assimilated and normal-looking as possible - a sort of twist on Miss Barrett in Up the Down Staircase summing up her student Linda Rosen for the school psychologist with, "Marry her off quick."

Saving the Prudecutor's speculation on motive for another paragraph, and her assumption about the meaning of BU3's accepting such an invitation for another, I shall jump ahead. There is something missing from the Prudecutor's response. If I were in true Conspiracy Theorist Mode, I might speculate both that this was indicative of something sinister in the Prudecutor's mentality and something that (almost) none of the straight commenters would catch. But I am not in such mode. I shall even go so far as to pay my readers the compliment that doubtless they all caught the glaring omission of the Standard Meaningless Prudecutorial Congratulations And Best Wishes bestowed upon any couple on the point of marrying or family-expanding.

Moving on to motive, the Prudecutor is quite right to point out that there could have been various reasons for BU3's vote. True, some votes against marriage equality are based on genuine opposition, while others are based on political expediency. The Prudecutor appears to feel that a vote based on political expediency means that said voter should get a free pardon in such matters as social invitations, but is a bit too much of a weasel to state such a thing explicitly. Here she lines up squarely in the same camp as Karl Rove (according to Andrew Sullivan). Circa late 2004, Mr Rove patronized a barbershop with a predominantly gay clientele. Apparently, relations were at least reasonably civil all round. Then Mr Bush was re-elected, largely due to Mr Rove's pushing for much of the re-election campaign to be tied to the backs of anti-gay ballot measures. When Mr Rove next appeared to have his hair cut, he was reportedly stunned by the unfriendly treatment he encountered. Why should anyone have taken offence when there was nothing personal about anything he'd done?

I take similar interest in the Prudecutor's presumption about the meaning of BU3's possible acceptance of the putative invitation. It would show that he's open to admitting he was wrong? That might coincide, but A would not necessarily imply B. And this leads me to an interesting view of Who Really Benefits from the system the Prudecutor recommends. I do think, by the way, that BU3 could have voted for the ban in a way that made his personal dissent clear, although in such a case think it highly unlikely that LW3 would at present be experiencing such angst.

LW3 mentions a fear of offending other family members if BU3 is not invited. Presumably, then, EF3 have brought pressure to bear on LW3 not to make waves or not to have any visceral reaction to BU3's objectionable vote in company. Flipping the coin, one deduces similar pressure on BU3 not to make too great a display of prejudice in public. And the same familial forces that would be offended if LW3 were to withhold the invitation would presumably be equally offended if BU3 were to decline it. What, then, becomes the picture? LW3 grits teeth and invites; BU3 grits teeth and accepts. Neither wants to be in company with the other and it spoils the day, but both capitulate to keep the Tyrannous Middle happy. It's quite reminiscent of Tom's account in Daria of how the Sloanes always handle problems by pretending they don't exist, which is inconvenient when there are odours involved.

Now for some points about which L3 is unclear. BU3 served as an elected official. Presumably he is out of office at present. When, oh, when, did the vote occur? What were the political consequences and follow-up? How has BU3 addressed the matter within the family, if at all? I suspect that he has not had to address the issue within the family, and that perhaps there has been considerable pressure exerted on him to avoid doing so. Or perhaps he has been able to skate along in the presumption that of course his entire family agrees with him. Oh, dear. Has LW3 had any contact with BU3 about the nauseating vote? Has BU3 met LW3 and F3 as a couple? Perhaps most importantly, has BU3 apologized in any way, shape or form?

I shall now jump ahead a bit and propose a solution. I suggest that LW3 contact BU3 privately - assuming, of course, that the date retains some wiggle room. LW3's tone should be one of presuming and completely accepting that BU3 doesn't want to attend the wedding any more than LW3 wants to invite him. The contact should be an offer to conspire to hold the wedding on a date on which BU3 could not possibly attend. Then nobody has to confront the Tyrannous Middle.

In one respect, the Tyrannous Middle subconsciously play into the hands of the Bigots. It is not often stated, but I am convinced that the TM, as does the Prudecutor herself, is quite attached to the Gay Doormat, who will always Be the Bigger Person, Turn the Other Cheek, and Accept Hateful Behaviour in exchange for the few Crumbs of Approval the TM deign to provide. If BU3 has not apologized, then one of the main signals sent by Just Inviting Him thoughtlessly because it's the Thing to Do is that Bigots Can Mistreat Queers as badly as they like and still be invited to their weddings. For a prime example of this, Mr Savage was recently so foolish as to invite one of the main bigots, Mr Brown, into his own home for dinner and a Biblical debate that 95 people out of a hundred could have predicted would come to no gain for either side. Mr Savage was sufficiently deluded to think that such a gesture would force Mr Brown to acknowledge his humanity. Mr Brown has not done so. Huge net loss for us across the board, as now our homophobic relatives will feel entitled to similar treatment. After all, if the Head F***** can do it...

I can almost feel wave after wave of commentator glaring at me for daring to think that issuing the invitation might not necessarily automatically be Best. Let me guess. Almost all of the Just Invite Him crowd are straight, straight, straightstraightSTRAIGHT. Well, isn't that special, as Church Lady would say, without a question mark. The Prudecutor did, to her credit, manage to avoid the common pitfall of making a comparison between BU3 and that irritating relative that opposite-sex couples only invite out of obligation. While there is much that L3 did not include, we do know in part from such a system of omission that LW3 feels deeply wounded by BU3's vote. And I sincerely doubt anyone in the Just Invite Him crowd has experienced anything like what LW3 has experienced in the form of a potential guest actually casting a vote on record in opposition to the very possibility of the marriage. Even if the invitations to the wedding took on a remarkable similarity to everybody in the class giving a Valentine to everyone else except Charlie Brown, LW3 would be entirely justified in taking that vote as a complete dealbreaker.

I shall close with disappointment that certain family members will be offended if the invitation is not issued. Offended? Offended is what LW3 has every right to be by that disgusting Amendment, in addition to the conduct of BU3 in voting for it. If that's the dealbreaker, so be it; there shall be no reproach from me. If not, and LW3 can invite BU3 with peace and joy at heart, then fine, though I still hope something prevents BU3's actual attendance.

The Prudecutor should be ashamed of herself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

8/23 - Would That Be Phobic?

Dear LW4: W4 presumably has some sort of phobia, but it would not be phobic of you to divorce her. People might find such tricks charming or cute or harmless. Really, it manifests a mental attitude that is little short of the mindset of the Queen of Hearts when one thinks about it. If you don't divorce W4, who has shown such a demonstrable phobia for accuracy, at least be sure that you negotiate a similar concession (though likely you already have one and just don't recognize it).

Dear LW1: We are all capable of loving things which ought not to form part of our daily surroundings, be those things children or ice cream or maddeningly attractive serial cheaters. You are to be commended for appreciating that your style of life would not create a suitable atmosphere for a child. Accepting this is not demonstrating a phobia of disorders, but rather humane attitudes about acceptable home environments. But this is not necessarily all bad. It gives you one of the best of goals to motivate your desire to change. Change is difficult, often unpleasant, and generally not really something towards which those who may know they must change without feeling it are able to work with an undivided will. You may well find out the full extent of how capable you are of abandoning your routine, which could be information of great use to you.

Oh - and don't foster, either. I could add, be thankful that you aren't a heterosexual couple, as they just tend to get pregnant often when they are actively trying to avoid doing so, but some people would consider that heterophobic, and therefore I won't.

Dear LW2: Welcome to dealbreakers 101! The odds are that whatever D2 has done might not rise to standards sufficient for declining the stipend. But these are matters which each must decide for himself. There are those who might accept (however cringingly) a Trump Fellowship who might draw the line at some other public figure considered more reprehensible, and others who would decline an offer from a less nauseating source.

But I am almost inclined to emulate Antony Blanche in speculating about the crimes D2 has committed, as you seem to be reacting the same way most of fashionable Venice did when Lady Marchmain's presence led to the shunning of Lord Marchmain and all those connected to him. Visions of murder, rape or heterosexuality might arise. (I shall resist the temptation to cite the stereotype that heterosexuals never fund fellowships because they waste all their cash on abortions or the upbringing of the results of all their unplanned pregnancies, as that would be rather heterophobic.) Now heterophobia might likely cause your declining the offer, but would not necessarily coincide with it. But it is just as legitimate for you to claim to have accepted for Macchiavellian reasons.

To be practical, there ought to be a Moral Fellowship Swap, where people who have been offered fellowships from objectionable sources can swap the moral intentions of their donors.

Dear LW3: Here we have another case for Lucy Angkatell. If T3 were male, you would have no compunction about reporting to the appropriate authorities that he'd indulged in predatory conduct towards F3, and quite right and proper. But T3 is female. No doubt you consider yourself a young person of character, imbued with the noble ideal of being heteroaccepting. Good for you. But you clearly fear that it would be heterophobic of you to report T3. Perhaps there would be a little pleasure in the reporting on that account, which is where Lady A comes in. As she rightly points out, it is much trickier when the right thing to do is pleasant. But, as people as well-regarded as Mr Savage tell us so often, not all heterosexuals are good people. Equality means that they are capable of beimg just as villainous as anybody else. It is not heterophobic to dish out equal punishment when they are.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

8/16 - Towards New Horizons?

Dear LW4: Yours is a tricky letter, as you really ought to be commended for going through testing before sleeping with a new partner. Please note that I avoid the biphobic trap of adding, "especially given your selection of partners of both genders". (As an aside, someone on the Prudecutorial staff did a better job than usual at suggestio falsi through suppressio veri.) The tricky part is that, as Lucy Angkatell points out in The Hollow, the answer appears to be a self-serving or enjoyable suggestion. But the solution is obvious - if women won't get tested with you, then just stick to men. The world will not end if bisexual people make the conscious choice not to indulge their capacity to take pleasure from both (or all, if one goes beyond the binary) sexes. And the men you partner don't make any sort of kerfuffle when you bring up testing.

Now, to provide a more practical suggestion than the Prudecutor, who would rather berate someone for the horrible crime of having the wrong manner than make a useful suggestion - after all, why on earth would an advice columnist ever want to make an useful suggestion? If people solved all their problems, then they might never consult advice columnists any more. (That they might develop new problems seems not to have occurred to her.) The answer is unilateral disarmament. Should you insist on sleeping with women in future, then, when a relationship progresses to the point, accompany your inital suggestion with a copy of your test results. Quite naturally, your initial suggestion is intended to precede the actual first boink, as both parties should have time to consider. Any potential partner favourably inclined will then respond in kind. This may be a bit passive-aggressive, but passive-aggressive is at least an improvement over overtly aggressive.

Dear LW3: Why do people assume that they will be able to sneak around behind someone's back and get away with it? Such short-sightedness can only be a sign of desperation. If the problem is S3, it is quite possible that they have tried to raise the difficulties his condition has given them with you, only to be shot down. Or perhaps they have observed your conduct with others and made the pre-emptive decision that you wouldn't listen or understand (much as, in the specualtions of Gladys Stern, Maria and Julia Bertram likely decided well in advance that there would be no point in opening their hearts to Sir Thomas, who would in their opinions be incapable of understanding them).

But I have a little idea that goes beyond the thought of the Prudecutor and probably most of those who will comment on the situation. I note that you mention you and your children have shared a house with families. This is a most interesting point. The mere fact that you are a single mother does not make your family any less a family than those which have the good fortune to be headed by two adults (and there are those opting to treat arrangements with more than two adults as a single family unit besides). But many people feel otherwise, and will require two parents. If you are of that persuasion, I suspect that your friends are also. And there we have the rub. You mention your two friends, but not their spouses. It is highly possible that the mother who raised the ugly truth either dislikes your not being equally friendly with her wife, or suspects you, as a single interloper, of having Designs on the poor woman. Not every couple can socialize well with a single on a permanent basis - not necessarily great, but a possibility. Or perhaps there were threesome hints you missed. If your friends are also both single parents, they might be conducting a clandestine romance, and your son was the most convenient lie available. Tough on him, but another possibility.

Dear LW2: Now we may be moving towards a post-straight society. Had you not signed your letter as you did, I might never have caught on to this being an opposite-sex couple. Now, the Prudecutor almost makes an interesting suggestion here. But she forgets an important aspect of her own advice. Perhaps conservatives do care very strongly about traditional families. But, in traditional families, the Husband does deliver just as many lectures as he pleases, and the traditionally submissive Wife accepts whatever instruction he deems fit to bestow upon her, with the Children ideally following her lead in this regard.

The real answer is to give H2 what all Republicans want. This, of course, is a Divorce. In fact, his conduct is begging and pleading for it - if he at all has any clue as to the effect of his conduct. He is doing this deliberately in an attempt to induce you to divorce him. And then he gets to run for office, New Trophy Wife by his side, claiming all the while that he was the Victim in your marriage. If you are not so generous, you can refuse to perform such a kind action.

Dear LW1: Now, this is quite serious. You have discovered something you did not know aboutn your daughter, and naturally it has thrown you off a bit. But far more important than whether you warn her off the dangers of sexting (and shame on you for sexist assumptions that only one sex cannot be trusted with pictures of privities) is that you immediately go and enroll in Parents and Friends of Straights, a worthy organization that will see you all the way through your daughter's accidental but now-enforced coming out. That will prevent you from falling into such homosexist traps as calling the genitalia of the opposite sex nasty names. Do remember, however, that PFS is really just a starter organization, and not the be-all and end-all of Straight Acceptance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

8/9 - 20 Minutes

Time to set another speed record, even for Homocentric August.

Dear LW4: A golden opportunity lies before you. You have seen first hand how the system works. If you were a member of an oppressed minority, you could resolve to change the system (better from the outside than the inside; people who try to change the system from the inside are mainly Boy Scouts who end up just going on camping trips and telling themselves their minor efforts are Making All the Difference). But I see the conflict in your letter. At first you begin by acknowledging your luck. And you have had luck. But instead of channeling your anger more towards the system, you end by emphasizing your hard work (read - sense of entitlement) and fury at your friends. The Prudecutor's answer is just to continue the system as is - and why not, as it works for her? But she is all wrong, of course. Changing the system is the answer, but you have already indcated that you will (a bit like Phyllida Erskine Brown) Join the Oppressors. Adieu.

Dear LW3: As much as I want to like a woman whose daughter calls her Daddy (a clever nickname - quite out of Vonnegut in a sideways manner), this one is so easy even the Prudecutor can't boot it. Anyone who marries someone who bullies her child ought to be forced to turn heterosexual and have the child taken away from her in court.

Dear LW2: This is a fake question. I have read all about it in a book. Or, what happened might have been real, but it was cribbed from the book. A group of boys at a summer camp did this sort of thing all summer. Your son's mistake was doing this into something which would leave evidence in the event of discovery. Now, in the book, I am quite sure that it was done into a sock, which would surely never have risked expulsion from camp, unless there were a serious attempt at enforcing an explicit rule against self-pleasure - in which case, who'd have been left by the end of the first week?

But it is interesting that you and his other father have managed to rub along so well together despite your many differences over all these years. Let that serve as encouragement. Just because you didn't go to that sort of summer camp (I suppose that your husband did) does not mean that the world is ending. As this is more up your husband's line, let him advise your son on leaving no evidence. You stick to emulating Martha Stewart and making nice potpourri sachets, and the two of you can each support the other and strengthen the household in his own way.

Dear LW1: Until I saw the closing, I was puzzled. But you heterosexuals think you have all the fun, don't you? You automatically assume, just because your sex can result in pregnancy, that there is an automatic default assumption of monogamy in order to assume paternity. But just because there is an assumption in place that is not there for most of us does not free you from having The Monogamy Talk. Not that your late husband's last adventure was not wrong - though quite a lot of people will regard something that did not go beyond exchanging inquiries as actually Out of Bounds (which is why you HAVE THE TALK) - but, given conditions (and how somebody dying could actually have brought about such a tryst with a full-time caregiver is something I'd like to go into in greater detail in future) a generous heart would want to forgive someone in such a situation, especially if there HAD BEEN NO EXPLICIT AGREEMENT ON THE SUBJECT. For better or worse, you are what you are, and your instinct to punish him and his relatives for, among other things, something that might have happened as early as the first incident, shows clearly your punitive nature. With your next husband, be as explicit as if your next spouse were a wife. I do not like you enough to recommend a wife until you have at least one more husband and show you can get this right.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

8/2 That Time Again!

At long last we return to Homocentric August!

Dear LW1: On one count, I say, good for you for not yielding to pressure to conform to anti-stereotypes. Doubtless you have heard tell for decades that heterosexuals are notoriously fickle, and that, if they were ever granted the right to marry which obviously all your lovers have been, they would destroy the institution of marriage by undermining the concept of marital fidelity. Heterosexuals are entitled to the benefits of matrimony no matter how promiscuous, or, if one prefers, sexually open they are.

This stereotype is similar to the notion that all heterosexual women can't kill spiders and only like to watch Sex and the City or Real Housewives instead of some nice dykish sport. But there is one important difference. That stereotype is dissimilar to the one about heterosexuals changing partners every three minutes and having babies whose paternity must be determined by Maury Povich or Jerry Springer in that you, LW1, are playing with other people's hearts, whether they know it or not. You might be entirely magnanimous, but, for all you know, the fact remains that it is quite possible that you could cause serious harm to one of these other women just due to your own whim of the moment should it so strike you. This does not mean that you should drop your wicked ways and conform to the image of Shiny Happy Breeders that the political leaders want to put before the public thinking only that if we like you will the road to your getting your just rights be eased. But it does mean to be diligent about what you're doing before you start yo enjoy it too much for the wrong reasons.

Dear LW2: My, aren't the heteros coming out of the woodworks? But this problem fortunately has nothing to do with sexual orientation, although it might be true in some parts of the country that acceptance comes more easily for people who present themselves to best advantage. The Prudecutor, who thinks of nothing but Korporate Amerika, wants to homogenize your fiance's speech, not because it irritates you, but because how dare any good little Corporate Drone show any sign of individualism? Bad Prudecutor! But he already stands out as a breeder. The idea of both of you improving your speech is the new "let's both eat healtheir and exercise more" - condescending. You could offer to cure the fault he finds to be your equivalent - far more useful.

Now there is the stereotype that heterosexuals go to extreme lengths to hang on to their youth. Who can blame them, really? After all, it is when they are generally most fertile (as long as they are not trying to appeal to the paedophiles), and that is one of the greatest reasons advanced for people choosing the heterosexual lifestyle. In your fiance's case, he speaks like a permanent teenager instead of wearing inappropriate clothing.

I shall point out only one advantage. At least he is not spending six hours a day in the gym (and when breeders go to the gym, I am told that they actually work out the whole time, as there are no distractions unless they are co-educational) maintaining a youthful body. Think about it. But I suspect that the main thing is that you simply don't love him because of his speech. If you can't embrace his faults and find them charming, then dump yourself already.

Dear LW3: I am sorry for your addiction and hope that you have been able to get your life on track. Congratulations for setting a good example for your children. And what you ask is not unreasonable to a certain extent. Your husband's relations (and the one thing the Prudecutor got right is that H3 does seem to be waffling a bit) can reasonably be asked to understand that you were an addict and that you have made a considerable recovery.

But that is all. You can reasonably request understanding. You cannot demand forgiveness. Now, if your conduct was exemplary in the years prior to your fall, this would seem to be a point in your favour. But it could be chickens coming home to roost. There is an excellent chance that your husband's family contains one or more heterosexuals - as you can see from the other letter, they are everywhere, in even the best of families. Have you ever been even the tiniest bit heterophobic, judging those members of his family whose lifestyles didn't suit you? If so, chances are that they were just waiting for you to fall from your own state of grace. It also sounds as if you have not made truly repentant reparations for your thefts. Attend please first to that before making demands.

Dear LW4: This is a technical question. The library needs to be warned to check their stock. As for your naughty thoughts about your colleague and her student, let them lie.

We shall leave the reader to settle on a moral of his or her choice.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

7/26 - Almost August

The front page is acting up - this will be at blitz speed.

L4: Why on earth is LW4 asking the Prudecutor this question? Surely the correct expert would be Estelle Getty - or is she even still alive? At any rate, this is a technical question, and does not merit a measured response.

L3: The Prudecutor is more or less on the right track here, but does not see far enough to the correct solution. Although LW3 does not deserve this good fortune, the easy solution is for F3 just to duplicate the present he buys for M3, give it to H3, have H3 pay for it and give it to LW3. A little incestuous, but isn't that fitting?

L1: Rehiring the nanny would be the supreme feminist gesture - of the branch of feminism that would replace patriarchy with matriarchy if it could. After all, N1 never took an oath not to cheat on LW1, whereas H1 did. And it will serve brilliantly to demonstrate the lack of need for men in the world. If these ideas appeal to LW1, then she should hire away. But the Prudecutor's suggestion of giving H1 a second chance is entirely wrong on all fronts.

L2: LW2 ought to read Emma and attend to the debate between Emma and Mr Knightley over the question of why and/or how Frank Churchill might manage to visit his father despite the objections of the aunt who rules his life. Emma maintains that it is difficult for a young man who has tempers to please, while Mr Knightley is all for the young man standing up and announcing that he would gladly sacrifice any pleasure for his aunt's convenience, but that it is his duty to visit his father on the occasion of his marriage, and that he intends to leave on the morrow. He thinks it would actually raise Frank in the Churchills' esteem, for they would know they could always count on him to do his dfuty by them as well as by his father. Emma is highly entertained, and convinced that only Mr Knightley, who has always been his own master and has never had to manage anyone else's temper, would think it possible to make such a declaration.

Moral: "If he would say so to her at once in the tone of decision becoming a man, there would be no opposition made to his going."
            "No," said Emma, laughing, "but perhaps there might be some made to his coming back again."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

7/19 Shock! Horror!

The Prudecutor actually came close enough to getting one right that I might actually give her a B+ for one answer. It may take me almost the entire next week to recover. Another 4x200 (with bonus):

L3: Here we have the dreadful occurrence of the Prudecutor managing not to get one wrong when the letter in question was not a complete softball the way some others have been. Some people are Natural Survivors who do their causes all the possible good in the world by being Out and Visible on the Front Lines. LW3 is not. A little more about the benefits of Choice Feminism, or skepticism about how LW3's unwilling and unenthusiastic participation could conceivably help the cause could have improved the answer, but basically it was on the right track. And, as always, I raise an eyebrow when the Prudecutor launches off on an assumption that the working world is so homogeneous that the same Corporate Culture is to be found in all working environments.

LW3's shaming coordinator would do well to take a page from the example of Virginia Trant in The Big Crunch. Shame is to be applied to those who don't contribute to the endless round of charitable collections undertaken by wives whose straying husbands leave them with little else to do (besides helping murder their pregnant schoolgirl mistresses), not to survivors who recognize that their contributions are better off remaining monetary.

L4: What interests me here is that the Prudecutor completely fails to make even the tiniest nibble at the most interesting piece of information in the letter. F4 is insisting that BM4 appear in less than all her usual hirsute glory for the wedding. That would seem to be the vital clue. One recalls when She Who Must was squired for an evening out and an unimpressive dinner by an old flame, Chappy Bowers. While the meal itself was less than inspiring, it was Chappy who gave SWMBO pause by using a coupon for the meal and trying to get a reduction on their bill because they didn't eat the bullet-hard potatoes included in their Selection of Vegetables. A man who would do that would very likely be the sort to investigate the contents of a woman's shopping basket, and that simply would never do.

As for the wedding-related problem, who the flip cares? This is LW4's greatest concern? If it were not for having so many friends who practice in the Family Division and do divorces, I should tell LW4 in clear and ringing tones not to marry F4. But I am too kind to my friends to advise so.

L2: Here there are clearly established procedures (or certainly ought to be) for what W2 can or cannot do given her position and the situation. It would appear from L2 that OP2 is positioning himself so as to take most particular advantage of the lifeguards' situation as they enter or leave their chair. But this requires definite confirmation as being a strong point in W2's favour should she choose to take direct action of the sort indicated as being her preference in L2. Given the Prudecutor's fondness for the idea that all employment cultures are alike, it is almost strange that here she chooses to take a more individual view of the situation here at hand. But this is enough of a technical question that it hardly seems fair to put as a question to the Prudecutor. W2 should do what she is able to do to remedy the situation, and perhaps one might understand if she were to go a little beyond what is most strictly permitted in the situation. It is like Emma Woodhouse wondering if she went beyond what she could say about another woman when she told Frank Churchill she thought Mr Dixon sent Jane Fairfax's pianoforte.

L1: Now one can practically hear all the wolves gathering at the door to proclaim that what occurred was absolutely not rape, at least in the more recent encounter. The Prudecutor actually starts out on somewhat safe grounds, though slightly inexact about implied consent. But then, while it is far from me to be out of sympathy with the Prudecutor or anyone else who cannot stomach the thought of intimacy taking place with her (or his) partner for life without the assistance of the prior consumption of at least a bottle of wine or preferably two, she must allow that not everybody is like herself. LW1 and H1 clearly are not. They are entitled to their own agreement. And I cannot help but wonder what is wrong with being punctilious, a quality surely in great demand among many couples trying, in the face of considerable difficulty, to conceive offspring.

Where I shall tackle LW1 is on two fronts. First, is it so clear that H1 violated their agreement? This led to an agreement that he shouldn't be afraid of coming close to me in similar situations as long as he asked my consent. From LW1's description of the recent encounter, it's hard to say what constitutes what. Is starting to kiss her always a sexual advance? Did her conduct have anything to do with the situation becoming sexual? This is most unclear.

But I feel on firmer grounds questioning whether the situations were so very similar as LW1 maintains. C1 went to a friend's wine tasting. That event was supposed to so comparable to a night of party and drinking? Who organizes such wine tastings? Who gets that drunk at them? From LW1's description of the recent encounter, even if we overlook any possible effect on the relationship of six years of marriage, it sounds as if she only realized her state of inebriation when she could only recall half the encounter. How reasonable is it to suppose that H1 ought to have recognized her drunkenness and how sober is he supposed to be in the agreement to be able to be competent to make such a determination?

I have no quarrel with the couple having an agreement, but think that the agreement needs to change. As to whether or not the couple ought to divorce, of course they ought to divorce. Claude Erskine Brown is in desperate need of a brief. When he is briefless for too long, he starts looking for young lady barristers to take to the Opera. And we all know what happens then.

Moral: "As a bacchanalia, the Blind Tasting ranked very little higher than an afternoon out with the Temperance Society or a vicarage tea party."