Are inappropriate arm strokes, like mild racism, a hazard of hanging out with septuagenarians that one must tolerate in deference to their imminent death? Or is it just creepy? What if said old person has degenerative brain diseases? These problems and more are raised, if not solved, in this week’s Other People’s Problems, The Cut’s weekly round-up of advice column letters.
Grabbiest Grandfather, Dear Prudence
Is it just the Alzheimer’s feeling you up?
My husband comes from a very conservative and strict family and I’ve learned to keep my opinions to myself and be on my very best behavior around them … A few years ago, my husband’s grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He too was a very reserved man, with great respect from the community and well honored by his family. However, with his diagnosis he has become a bit indecent. It started with a few stroke on the arm and legs two years ago, but at the most recent Thanksgiving, he grabbed my chest while we were passing in the hallway. I’m the only female in the family under 40, so I don’t have other “peers” to compare notes with.
Grabbiest Grandmother, Ask Amy
Dementia vs. ‘heebie-jeebies’
My mother-in-law has no situational awareness. She often pets or strokes my 1-year-old daughter in a way that makes me extremely uncomfortable. For instance, she will rub her leg all the way up to her diaper over and over, and let her hand rest at the top of her thigh, or will put her hands under her shirt to rub her chest. I feel that if I don’t say something now, very shortly those things are not going to be OK … My mother-in-law will also stroke my child when she is in my arms and her hand will brush against my breasts. She will also let her hand rest in my husband’s upper thigh and crotch. He has talked about how uncomfortable this makes him, but he won’t say anything to her. The whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies. I want it to stop, but I am not sure how to do that in a way that is effective but doesn’t permanently damage the relationship. My mother-in-law has early dementia, so whatever I do will have to be reinforced.
Cutest Widower, Miss Manners
Adorably outdated dating.
I am a recent widower and will be dating a lady for the first time. We will be attending a performance of “The Nutcracker,” and I’m wondering if it may be appropriate to give my lady a corsage for the occasion.
Diciest Résumé, Ask E. Jean
Can a former sex worker get into politics?
I’m a political science undergraduate in my final year. To help pay for my education, I took part in various awkward arrangements with a string of sugar daddies. These men distracted me from accomplishing anything worthwhile. It was difficult, but I managed to end my easy-money addiction and rededicate myself to my studies. The reason I’m writing? The political campaigns have fired my imagination like nothing else! I’ve been working as an intern for a senator and have now decided to make politics my career. But I’m terrified that somewhere along the line someone will find out what I spent my first two years of college doing.
Worst Shrink, Social Q’s
He’d make anyone crazy.
I had a consultation with a psychiatrist recently. After 20 minutes, in the middle of a raw story about my family, his cellphone rang. He looked at it and said, “Excuse me, I have to take this.” I assumed it was an emergency, until he said, “Yes, lentil soup sounds great.” I didn’t say anything, but it’s still bothering me.
Best Holiday-Themed Cosplay, Dear Prudence
But can you reuse the Santa suit outside the bedroom?
My boyfriend “Nick” and I have a holiday tradition where I dress up as Mrs. Claus and he dresses up as Santa and we role play. My costume is from an adult shop and is very suggestive while his is just a regular Santa suit. The thing is this year he has decided to volunteer for a well-known charity standing on the street dressed as Santa to collect donations from passersby, and he wants to use our role-play suit! I told him I want him to get a different suit for his charity work, and reserve the other one for its own special purpose, but he’s been dismissive of the idea, saying a proper Santa suit is expensive and that he doesn’t want to spend the money unnecessarily.
Most Bigoted Grinch, Dear Prudence
So anti-Chanukah they might cancel Christmas.
My son’s second-grade class is having a “Holiday Month” where they learn about Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Ramadan, and other holidays during December. One of the mothers is threatening to sue. She claims that since we live in a Christian country, only Christmas should be taught. She attended the Christmas session last week and said some unbelievably anti-Semitic and racist comments in front of the kids. Some of the kids were in tears. The principal called it a free speech issue and is considering cancelling the rest of the Holiday Month to avoid a lawsuit. He more or less agreed with her that Christmas should be the only holiday discussed.
Worst Kiss, Ask Amy
This should be a felony.
I have been working off and on as a freelance consultant for a nonprofit group. I work from a home office and take occasional meetings with clients. Recently the organization hired a new director … Soon after his arrival, the new director asked to have lunch with me. We went to a nearby restaurant to talk about possible projects for the future, etc. At the end of the luncheon, as we were saying goodbye on the curb outside the restaurant, I reached my hand out to shake hands. Suddenly, he pulled me toward him and kissed me on the lips. I was so shocked that I said a weak goodbye and left him standing there. I completed my assignment feeling awkward and wondering if I wanted to work with him in the future.