Jenée Desmond-Harris: Thanks for being a good colleague and husband and filling in today. So what would you tell this letter writer?
Joel Anderson: It seems as if it’d be easy to simply insist that you can’t go and that your sister did this to herself with her selfishness and obliviousness to everyone else’s situation. Adding that she’s making your life unpleasant and inconvenient might help here, but probably won’t down the line.
Jenée: Yeah, I just wouldn’t be willing to risk not getting back to work in time for someone who’s acting like this.
Joel: But the letter writer can follow up with an explanation about why, wish her the best, and then go on about her business.
Jenée: I always say: Still send a gift.
Joel: A great gift!
Jenée: Just to be the bigger person.
Joel: As nice of a gift as you can possibly send/muster/stomach. And yes, maintain the position as the bigger person, the one with the best story to tell when her sister inevitably tries to make her the villain.
Jenée: If the sister really wanted her family there, she would have consulted with them on the date. Or, I guess, if she really wanted them there and wasn’t horribly selfish. It’s normal to check with key people!
Joel: Right. This isn’t about accommodating your 17th favorite friend; this is about ensuring you have as many of the people you love there for the big day. I don’t know why she wasn’t thinking of that in the first place. Well, other than that she’s an asshole.
Jenée: I’m getting a lot of letters related to people rescheduling their pandemic wedding for the fall, and I do feel sorry for them because it usually means they’re planning a wedding with a few months’ notice.
Jenée: Uh oh, you said “look”—you’re about to be unkind!
Joel: Well, you’re about to be surprised, for a moment. But we, ourselves, have had to miss a couple of rescheduled events because of the spread of the delta variant. We absolutely sympathize with being torn between our love and obligation to our family and friends, and being unable to make things work on our end. It’s not quite an agonizing decision, but it’s a tough one.
But reasonable people tend to understand those particular obstacles. This person’s sister doesn’t appear to be reasonable, and there might not be a way to make this right. And that’s hard to accept, but she might have to accept it.
And if she doesn’t … fuck it.
Jenée: Right, one thing that isn’t mentioned is that every one of these guests would be totally justified in not going because we’re in a pandemic. And I feel like not caring about having a variant superspreader event goes hand in hand with being a jerk to family members. The theme here with the bride is: I only care about myself.
Joel: Well, that’s the thing that sort of mystifies me about all of this: Why are people not calling off these events because of, well, common sense? I get it; it’s frustrating to put these events on hold. But you know what’s tougher? Having to do a remote funeral for someone who died because of your own personal superspreader event.
Joel: At a certain point, you have to prioritize yourself and your health and sanity. And if people who are supposed to love you don’t understand that, I mean, fuck ‘em. A wedding isn’t a good reason to die. Or to get fired.
Jenée: And here I thought I was a bridezilla for being mad at people who RSVP’d no for their children the day before and then showed up in a white dress.
Joel: WOW. Hey, we better hope no one who was there that day is reading this!
Jenée: You know they don’t have Slate Plus. It’s fine.
Joel: I can’t even say which family this person belongs to.
Jenée: No more details.
Joel: Good, for the sake of our own family harmony.
But seriously: One thing that helps when you’re planning a wedding is to realize that very few people are as excited about it as you are, and you should plan accordingly if you want to have as many people there as possible.
Jenée: Totally, either make showing up really easy for them or be understanding. Nobody else cares as much as you do, not even your siblings.
Joel: Like, you’re technically throwing a party for people. What sounds enticing about a party where you have to make a million sacrifices to get there and spend too much money when you do, AND deal with an ungrateful asshole? You’ve got to try to make your wedding convenient, make people feel good about coming. If you can’t do that or don’t even want to do that, you’ll end up with the attendance you deserve.
Jenée: On that note, we’ll wrap it up. Stay home in peace, letter writer: You have our support. And good luck with the new job! Remember that you have a year to send the gift, so feel free to save up some money first.
Joel: Also: Don’t feel like you have to apologize for not going. Just say, “Can’t make it, hope you have a great time, and mask up so you don’t kill our parents.”