A not-so-close friend is getting married. After several years of not being in touch, she asked me to take part in her wedding. Recently, since the announcement of her upcoming nuptials, she has tried to become a “best friend.” While I like her well enough, I do not feel I should be part of her wedding. She has picked extremely expensive gowns, which members of the wedding party have to purchase. She will not take NO for an answer. I have tried to be tactful about this and even suggested she choose someone who is closer to her. This isn’t her first wedding, and I wasn’t even invited to the others. How can I gracefully get out of this?
—Looking for a way out!
The others? This woman has been married more than once, and you’ve never been invited? Prudie does not know why you are having such difficulty saying the “N” word, but you really owe this pushy woman nada. She is trying to manipulate you, and it sounds as though she’s hard up for friends to boot. You need not feel shy about telling her you appreciate the thought, but you wouldn’t feel comfortable accepting. As for this woman (or anyone else) who “won’t take no for an answer,” the person will have to if you say it and mean it. The last Prudie heard, they were not issuing subpoenas for bridesmaids.
My wife’s best friend has asked us to help host a birthday party for herself—at her own house. Actually, what she said was, “My party is on Saturday, and you’re on the host list!” Later she said it was something we could do “if we wanted to help out.” I’m offended by being asked by someone to help pay for her own birthday party at her own home. Am I out of line? I could understand BYOB, but this deal is being catered, with a bartender! My wife is worried about how to decline. I’m worried about the principle of accepting. What’s your advice?
—Host or don’t in Washington
You are quite correct. The birthday girl’s plan is tacky. In a perfect world, your wife’s best-friend status would allow her to tell this woman to undo this Bring Your Own Cash party because it is in poor taste. Prudie doubts your wife is up to this, however … even though this sounds like the social version of “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” But let’s be pragmatic. With or without a hint of how startling the friend’s announcement was, your wife should simply say that you and she must remove yourselves from the “host list” because you have a commitment for that evening. It is not important that your commitment may be to watch NYPD Blue or give the dog a bath. Caveat: Because this babe’s judgment neurons seem defective, she may push your wife to tell her what the prior commitment is. Under no circumstances should she bite. With a little luck, the party planner might figure out there is something wrong with her party plan.
My boyfriend is perfect in every way except for one thing: He chews with his mouth open. This may seem like something very minor to some people, but the sight and sound of chewed food and smacking lips at the table make me lose my appetite. I don’t think I could deal with this on a daily basis. Not only that, his lack of manners in this area embarrasses me in front of my parents, who definitely notice these things. I finally worked up the nerve to start politely asking him to chew with his mouth closed. He can manage this for about 30 seconds, then starts in again. I draw the line at reminding him more than three times in one meal. I don’t want to turn into a nagging, motherly girlfriend, but to me this is a matter of common courtesy. This could be a deal-breaker. Any suggestions?
Bulletin: Your parents aren’t the only people who notice “these things.” It seems to Prudie it would be really hard to be married to someone with whom you could not eat. You need to feel proud of the other person when you decide to share a life, and while table manners may sound insignificant, the feelings this deficiency evokes in you would only intensify with time. It is a truism that little annoyances during courtship have a way of ballooning into major sore spots down the line. If, as you say, he is “perfect in every way,” it is worth a shot to tell him his revolting table manners are about to queer the relationship unless he cares enough to find some way to effect a change. Prudie does not even know what this would be, but surely it is a habit that can be undone.
In regard to your letter to G.G., whose girlfriend is in love with a gay man, your answer was on the money, but there may be one other thing going on. I am a woman who has numerous gay male friends, and one thing I have observed is that there are people who actually believe that being gay is a choice. I have known women who, taking that thought one step further, think if a gay man meets the right woman he might “change his stripes,” as it were. Consciously or subconsciously, this idea may be a motivating factor for G.G.’s friend, no matter how nutty it may seem to you or me. And it may just be the age-old problem of wanting what you can’t have.
Prudie takes your point and concurs. In the instances she knows of where a gay man, not a bisexual, has been moved to make a life with a woman (excluding convenience marriages for show), it is because a particular woman is special to him, though the urges remain homoerotic. In such liaisons, the relationship is loving and warm, but with little or no sex.