Every week, Danny and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: “the Angry Wedding Guest.”
Nicole: Yeah, Keri’s not that mad, and trying to fire her up about it—or the rest of this Secret History–style circle is only going to bum more people out. “The rest of our collective friendship, for the rest of our lives” will be tainted? Seriously, unless the seven of you murdered a dude and made a solemn pledge to show up to each other’s weddings to prove you’re keeping the secret until the end of time, you are taking this too hard.
Nicole: I’m curious how you felt about Carla before she said she couldn’t make the wedding! Why are you so angry about this? There are seven of you!
Danny: This is Carla’s job, you know? Even if it’s only four shows, actors are not known for their employment stability, and when a job comes along, you take it.
Nicole: I think the LW must be bringing some other unresolved feelings to the situation. I don’t for a second think all was cloudless before the wedding came up.
Danny: She should definitely read Mary McCarthy’s The Group.
Nicole: Everyone should, and YES.
Danny: It seems like she’s imbuing this wedding with a ton of meaning. I mean, weddings are meaningful, and I think it’s generally important to attend your friends’ weddings if at all possible. But this idea she has, that this one day is going to be the sole source of group anecdotes for years to come, that anyone who missed that one day will be forever locked out of their shared experience—
Nicole: I’m worried that her social life outside of this group is not as satisfying as she might want it to be, and that’s part of where this is coming from.
Danny: —is just not true.
Danny: She seems worried this group is drifting apart, and if they don’t all come together on this one day, they’ll spiral off into isolation. She straight-up says that if Carla misses this trip, what’s to stop her from missing future trips. Which is going to happen, not just with Carla. You are not always going to get all seven people to have perfect attendance and you need to let go of that as a goal.
Nicole: Magical thinking all around!
Danny: So, your anger is real, certainly. Your anger appears to stem from a degree of fear and frustration that you can’t control what happens to your friendships and a desire to mandate other people’s behavior. So in that sense it’s justified. But does that mean you should tell Carla you’re angry with her, or act as if she’s done something wrong? I don’t think so. Tell her you’ll miss her, tell her you’re feeling anxious at the prospect of drifting apart, tell her you want to make sure you can keep one another as priorities, yes. But to tell her she is wrong for taking this job instead of attending a wedding, or that she’s a bad friend who’s not going to go on enough ski trips with you in the future—that’s unreasonable.
Danny: Of course it can feel sad. But it happens all the time, it’s a very common occurrence, and it doesn’t mean your friendship isn’t important.
Nicole: It just means that in college you all lived within shouting distance of each other, had flexible schedules, and fewer responsibilities. This is a real life stage transition, and it may be hitting the LW in this particular way.
Danny: Right! “Your feelings make sense, your proposed course of action is unreasonable”—a common Prudence refrain.