Q. Would you be the referee, please? My fiance and I are moving into our new house soon, a few months before our wedding. He said he wanted to be totally aboveboard, so he told me he has a box of memorabilia (pictures, letters) from old girlfriends that he plans to put in the back of a closet. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I don’t want to be unreasonable, but I’m not crazy about the idea. I long ago ditched all my similar stuff. I think I just don’t want to be confronted with those bits and pieces from his past. Really, what’s the point? We’ve agreed to let you decide.
A. OK, I have my striped shirt on. The decision goes to your fiance. Here is my thinking. Getting married does not mean plighting your troth and removing all evidence of the past. Some of us are inclined to keep sentimental things, and some aren’t. As for being “confronted” with this stuff, unless you plan to hang out in the back of a closet, this situation will not come to pass.
I, like your intended, have kept some things from other lives, and to tell you the truth, I never look at them. By making an issue of this, you will come across as petty, if not jealous. It seems to me you might want to develop your more generous and trusting instincts. Why nurture a small germ of resentment when there’s no need to? Here’s the thing: The girls, themselves, are not in the house . . . just some letters and photos. If you really want to make points, present him with a bow for the top of the box.
Q. I was very concerned about your answer to the pregnant woman who wondered about drinking alcoholic beverages. Since 1981, the US Surgeon General has been warning pregnant women to refrain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the No. 1 birth defect in this country and entirely preventable if pregnant women do not drink. Please correct your advice. You may save a child from FAS!
A. I’ll bet I’m not the only person who’s surprised that your organization still exists, but good for you. Temperance means moderation. FAS comes from abuse of alcohol — most often by an alcoholic or a binge drinker. While I’ll grant you the literature takes a cautious, conservative approach to the subject — saying no alcohol at all — and the CDC stipulates there is no safe amount of alcohol for pregnant women, my own experience, anecdotal information, and two doctors have confirmed for me that a glass of wine will not cause problems unless there’s a systemic problem to begin with.
I certainly am not encouraging alcohol intake during pregnancy or saying getting schnockered is risk-free, but neither do I think a pregnant woman who has a modest amount of wine is looking for trouble. I say wine because 1) I have no personal or anecdotal experience with hard liquor and 2) wine is relatively low potency, whereas distilled spirits are high-potency alcoholic beverages. “CDC studies have shown that 0.2 to 1.5 cases of FAS occur for every 1,000 live births in certain areas of the country.” I know I am sticking my neck out on this one, but I am a pragmatic realist in all matters, and this is what I believe.