In the weeks before the coronavirus reshaped the lives of people around the world, Daniel M. Lavery, who writes the “Dear Prudence” advice column at Slate, received an unusual letter. The writer, in the course of asking for tips for dealing with a husband who kept leaving bits of toenail around the house, admitted to dealing with the problem by putting the toenail bits in his coffee cup.
By the time Lavery answered the question in April, the world had changed–and so had his thinking on the issue. As the increased closeness of shelter-in-place orders amplified existing frustrations, what might that marriage look like? “I think about this letter writer a lot,” Lavery says.
By now, as the world changes once again, questions that address the pandemic directly have been filling his inbox for months. There was the reader looking for adjudication in a dispute with a nurse friend who