Dear Prudence Presents: Poisoning the Well

Questioner #1 says that she just ended three months of live-in nannying for "the world's most annoying, inconsiderate, intolerant and rude couple." Her retribution for suffering their slings and arrows was to semi-regularly dip their toothbrushes in the shitter and sprinkle toilet water into the wife's bedside glass. Now that she's gotten a little bit of distance on the situation, she's feeling ashamed and guilty about it, especially having heard that "both of them are having some kind of health problems." They parted on the worst of terms, but she's wondering if her conscience still obliges her to call and make a full confession.

Prudie's transfixed with horror and disgust, but her sacred duty as advice columnist prevents her from recommending a course of action that might lead to legal sanctions, however well-deserved. Instead, she advises her to consult a doctor and a lawyer, or maybe a doctor/lawyer hybrid to explore the possible medical and legal complications, because "It may be that the need to get a proper diagnosis for this pair is crucial to their treatment." I think I'm a little more sanguine about possible dookie contamination because I'm a younger brother, and I can confirm that my sibling and I unknowingly brushed our teeth with toilet water on multiple occasions with no ill effects. I even got some backup from the peanut gallery when some doctor wrote in and amazed Prudie with the fact that toilet water is NOT highly toxic, and that it almost certainly never made them sick. Prudie grudgingly amends her advice to say that the nanny should seek therapy instead.

If it's not parents worried about their shiftless, irresponsible children, it's the kids worried about the awful hole their elders have managed to dig for themselves. This person paid their own way through college and just got their first big, grownup job, but Mom and Dad are broke as shit and already there with their hands out. They've been rocking the fast cars, nice clothes, and unaffordable mortgages for years, but now the party's over and they basically don't have a pot to piss in. It's almost a good thing that their problems are so immense, because whatever they manage to claw out of Practical Pig's paycheck is just a drop in the bucket compared to the trouble they're in. Prudie and others in the peanut gallery zero in on the real danger, which is that they'll come bearing loan paperwork awaiting his or her signature. Let them bleed you of whatever cash you can spare, but for the love of god, do NOT put your name on anything! Prudie also cautions the writer to keep an eye on their credit regardless, because Mom and Dad may not take no for an answer. Or even bother asking in the first place.

The next questioner says that her brother's married and stable now, but she knows that in the past he's beaten up a couple of his girlfriends.

Before meeting his wife, he went to counseling and anger management as a condition of staying in my life and our parents' lives. He is a much different man, but sometimes I see glimmers of his old temper.

The problem is that he and his wife are looking to adopt, and they're asking her and her parents to write letters of recommendation for their adoption booklet. She's conflicted about writing one at all, and if she did, she'd feel obligated to mention his history of domestic violence and anger issues. Prudie says to be honest, after first confirming that her assessment is going remain totally confidential. A worker for an adoption agency agrees, saying that what they're looking for is consistency. If he was honest with them from the jump about going to therapy and his sister backs him up about the personal growth, then it only makes him a stronger candidate. If he's peddling a bunch of rose-colored crap, then he already ought to know the sort of risk he's running. Either way, an illustration of why honest input from family is crucial to the process.