Advice from Slate's 'Dear Prudence'

Nov 12, 2012

Need help getting along with partners, relatives, coworkers... and people in general? Ask Prudence! Emily Yoffe -- a.k.a. Slate's advice columnist Dear Prudence takes your questions on manners, morals and more.

Good afternoon. I salute all the brave men and woman who have served our country (Hi, nephew!).

And a word of warning: We're having terrible technical problems at the chat today, so we'll try to do our best, but we might not make it all the way through.

Dear Prudence, I came home early from work on Friday to the unexpected sound of the vacuum cleaner running in my 12 year old son's room. Thinking that perhaps this was a sign of the apocalypse - my son cleaning his room without major nagging on my part - I burst in there and caught him with his pants down and the hose attachment attached to his, well, you know. He froze like a deer in the headlights and, after picking my jaw up off the floor, I mumbled something stupid like "excuse me" and turned around and walked out and hid in my room. He left to go to his dad's for the weekend shortly thereafter. He will be home tomorrow night after school and I don't know what to say to him. Actually, do I have to say anything to him or can I just act as though this never happened and not say anything about it at all? (I much prefer option two, by the way) What do you think?

I am sincerely hoping the Dyson company doesn't see your letter and come up with a new line of vacuums guaranteed to suck the living daylights out of the user.  For one thing, you may want to pick up a copy of Portnoy's Complaint. Let's just say the liver scene should reassure you that young men have always been creative when it comes to relief.  Normally, I agree with you Mom that backing away quickly is the right path to take when stumbling upon such an uplifting scene. But I'm actually worried about the amount of suction he could be applying to his private parts and the potential for gunking up the machine's mother. I think this calls for a man to man talk.  I hope you and your husband can laugh about this, and that he can tell your son with calm good humor that there are lots of ways to accomplish his goal, but it's a good idea to keep the household appliances out of it.

Sorry everyone, our  technical issues are so overwhelming that we can't do the chat. However, there are lots of good letters already in the queue and if you send more over for the next 10 minutes, I'll answer as many as I can off-line then post them   this afternoon on  Thanks for your patience and I hope next week we're back to normal!

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Emily Yoffe
Emily Yoffe -- a.k.a. Slate's advice columnist Dear Prudence, offers advice on manners, morals and more. She is also Slate's Human Guinea Pig, a contributor to the XX Factor blog, and the author of What the Dog Did: Tales From a Formerly Reluctant Dog Owner.

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