S1: Your prudence, your prudence, prudence, dear, your prudent here pretty do you think that I should contact him again? Help! Help! Thanks. Thank you.
S2: Hello and welcome to another mini episode of Dear Prudence. I’m your host, Danny Marberry, and this show is for you, our plus subscribers. Our guest this week is Ben Gaillard, a creative technologist living in Brooklyn, New York. He and Danny, that’s me, have been friends since their sophomore year of high school. And now here’s our first letter.
S3: Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.
S4: All right, so we can move on to the next one where I hope, again, we can push someone in the direction of more soul searching and hopefully an apology. But this one is all yours to read.
S5: Subject is I don’t want to postpone my wedding again. Period difference. I was supposed to get married in late March. I’m not a bridezilla by any means, but I spent over a year hammering out the details of my wedding and I was like so excited for it to come to fruition. We decided to postpone till late July. I was heartbroken but understood that this was a reasonable decision. Late July is rapidly approaching. Our state has approved gatherings under one hundred people. Our wedding will be about 90, including D.J. Witters, etc.. covid numbers have been decreasing for several weeks. I plan to have guests wear masks, but I also want this to feel like a wedding, not a funeral. I want folks to dance and have fun. My fiance is dead set against this. The both of us have the majority of our family and friends. Joining from here in town is far more risk averse than I am. He keeps saying things like, if someone gets sick because of this, I’ll never forgive myself pretty. I’ve lost so much because of this pandemic. I don’t want to lose my wedding to. My fiance says he is seriously reconsidering our marriage because of my casual relationship to reality. In quotes, what in the world? How can I convince him that we can’t live in fear until there is a vaccine and there are wedding deserves to feel like the joyful celebration. It truly is.
S4: Oh, boy, where should we start on this one?
S5: Do you think there’s I think a lot of different points that are high priority with this?
S6: Yeah, I would say it seems like first and foremost is this discussion that the letter writers are having with their husband.
S2: Right. Like. Before we get into a lot of the details, what’s most important here is that your fiancee has expressed that his priorities are, number one, not putting anyone in a position where the chances of their getting sick are increased. He would not be able to forgive himself if he were in that position. So, you know, this is pretty big for him. You also know that he’s reconsidering your marriage over this. And so that doesn’t mean you have to just go to him right now and say you’re right and I’m wrong and I’ll stop talking about this. But it does mean you need to take it really seriously and and you’re not going to, I think, get anywhere useful by either appealing to other people or trying to kind of like take a straw poll of, like, who thinks I’m being more reasonable versus who thinks he’s being more reasonable. Like, it won’t matter if most of your friends are like, well, we’re kind of on your side. If your fiance says, I can’t do this, I don’t feel like we share the same priorities and values. So he is the person that you need to be talking about this the most and you need to take it seriously, even if you strenuously disagree.
S4: I question the sentence. covid numbers have been decreasing for several weeks. What do you mean by numbers? And also, where are you getting these numbers?
S6: I think that that’s a great point. Yeah, if an argument is hinged on. Well, things are getting better and we’re going to take precautions. The letter writer notes that in the beginning they decided to postpone until late July and was heartbroken, but understood that that was the reasonable decision. Yeah, it was a reasonable decision given the context of what was going on and also given the context of what is going on now, it’s still a reasonable decision to postpone the wedding.
S2: Yeah, I mean, and I don’t want to get really bogged down in, like, throwing numbers at this person, but like, I’m on the CDC website and I’m looking at their chart of new cases by day. And I understand that new cases is not the only way to kind of take stock of where the numbers are. But I think we can agree it’s a number, it’s a relevant number. And the graph spikes big time and March goes up, goes up, goes down, goes up, goes up, goes down, goes up. And we’re at a pretty high point on a recent spike. The latest date that they’ve got data for is yesterday. The twenty eighth and new cases are forty one thousand seventy five. And the day before that it was forty four thousand seven hundred and three.
S4: Some of the numbers are not going down, and I think the reason that you didn’t get really specific there is because you knew that getting more specific was not going to help your argument.
S2: Right. Like. I don’t believe. That we’ve successfully addressed this as a country, so I understand the fatigue, I understand the frustration, but, you know, you say that you initially been, as you pointed out, you initially understood this was reasonable and yet you’ve gone from I get that it’s reasonable. We’ve got to do it to I can’t live in fear. And that’s not because the numbers change and that’s not because we found a vaccine. It’s because you’re exhausted. And I get that and I relate to it. And I also think that right now you are trying to treat your internal sense of frustration as. As if it were. An objective measure of risk, and it’s not you’re tired, I get it, that’s not the same thing as it’s now safe.
S4: Like we’ve all seen that like California reopened bars in a number of counties and pretty quickly said, oh, my God, we have to undo that. I’m sorry. Like, it didn’t work. It’s not going well. Nothing has changed. It is not a more treatable disease now than it was in March. So. I’m not really sure that I understand what you mean by we can’t live in fear until there’s a vaccine, if by living in fear you mean practicing social distancing and wearing masks. I would disagree that that is the same thing as living in fear. I would also suggest that coronavirus does not respond to either fear or courage. It’s not like a villain from Sailor Moon that can be defeated through the power of friendship.
S5: Yeah, if only more things were.
S2: Yeah, if anything, the power of friendship because you want to be close to your friends strengthens this Sailor Moon villain.
S6: Totally, totally. And that’s the world that I want to live in. Yeah. I think the letter writer notes that they want to have folks dance and have fun and not have to wear masks. I think that that might be the wedding that you want. I don’t think that having a wedding, given the circumstances, even if the state allows that legally, I don’t think that that’s the wedding that you would be getting in this current climate. I think that a lot of people are having a lot of qualms about it, even if they are making the choice to come and that they are kind of OK with that. I’m sure that that was actually kind of a tough decision for them. So it’s in a lot of ways not a matter of am I going to have this wedding or not? That’s going to be the wedding that I want it. I think it comes down to like. I don’t think that this wedding is able to happen right now, despite whether or not it actually happens on the day.
S2: Yeah, and like the thing that I think I also notice is like I planned to have guests wear masks, but I also want this to feel like a wedding and not a funeral. And it’s just like that comes a sentence after like there’s going to be about 90 people, including waiters. And I’m just so curious, like what protections are in place for the waiters who have to show up to staff your wedding because they need their jobs. And it doesn’t sound like you’ve asked a lot of questions about what the companies are doing to protect their employees. It sounds like your main concern is that you feel frustrated that you’re not allowed to have your party, which again, I understand. I don’t I don’t wish to shame you for feeling frustrated or wanting to experience a day where coronavirus isn’t a reality.
S4: But if you allow that feeling to dictate your choices, you will risk you put at risk people who may not be able to say no to the risks that their employers demand that they run. You will be putting your fiancee in a position where he has to either compromise his values or reconsider your relationship, and you will be conflating things like social distancing and mask wearing, which are often difficult, stressful and challenging as treating a wedding like a funeral. It’s not the same thing. You don’t need to overstate harm in order for it to be frustrating, you know.
S5: Totally. Yeah. I mean, this is thing that I’ve certainly been going through and I think everybody else has of like really, really missing things and really, really wanting things to go back to either, you know, how they were before or something similar and just wanting stuff that I can’t have right now. And it sucks. Yeah. And it’s just going to suck.
S6: It’s not going to be the end of the world. It does. It’s shitty, it feels bad, but like it’s survivable. And I think that the more that I’m able to recognize that as like this is adorable. This is, this is I’m going to be OK through all of this, even if it’s awful. In the meantime, having a more direct relationship to that and then telling people like this is this is hard. I’m unhappy with this actually kind of brings people closer to you than I think I certainly anticipated. But actually being able to share with people, like I’m said, this is awful. It actually makes things a lot better.
S2: Yeah, yeah. I just think for this letter writer, the thing is I understood that was the reasonable decision. And now how do I convince my partner? That it’s not anymore, like what changed for you is not that you learned new information, it’s not that we’re fighting back coronavirus and like the new cases are disappearing, there may be some states where there’s been a brief pause. You may be in a region where things are not as bad as in others. But I don’t think that you can back up the argument that, like, this is becoming a smaller problem nationally or that we have effectively, like, throttled the disease off at the source. So I think you just really need to be honest with your fiance and with yourself and say, like, you’re right, the risks haven’t changed, my feelings have changed, and I want to talk about them and acknowledge them and also not let them be the only thing that’s driving the bus here. Right, right.
S6: And maybe that. Foundation of understanding, people say, like, yeah, my feelings have changed and I want to do something, come up with something that feels fun and feels festive and, you know, happens with, you know, people maintaining social distancing, but then also have your the wedding that you want later and yeah, probably not in the distant distant future, but be able to have both.
S2: Yeah. And just what are other ways that we can experience joy. There are other ways and again, you don’t have to pretend that you like it. You do not have to pretend that it’s fun. I don’t want to say like, you know, I think it’s really hard and difficult when somebody is like, not only is wearing masks the right thing to do, it’s fun and easy for everyone. And anybody who expresses frustration should just admit that they’re lying and it’s actually easy. And I don’t want to go quite that far. It’s OK to say, like, this sucks that I’m annoyed, but. You got to be able to just let it be that and then say, and it’s still the best thing that we have, right?
S6: Right. I think that there’s something really to be said with like, you know, because I can’t do X, I’m going to do Y, and that fulfills some thing. But it’s still it’s still not as good. And I am unhappy about it. That’s OK. And it’s a coping strategy.
S2: Yeah. Yeah. But you don’t like Ugne future protection from this virus by being really laid back about it for the previous couple of months. It’s not how this works. All right. We’ll move on to the next question. It’s my turn to read. I remembered at this time I remember things sometimes the subject is I’m a white business owner. Can I start a go fund me to raise money from a break in? Dear Prudence, I’m a self-employed artist and was already struggling with a loss of income due to the pandemic. Recently, the glass door of my business was shattered and my laptop and other important items were stolen. I’m not sure if the Braken was connected to the recent protests in my city or not. The laptop had lots of important things for my business on it and I can’t afford to buy a new one. I don’t have insurance. And as a self-employed artist, I have not yet received any of the government aid set aside for small businesses, and I’ve yet to receive any unemployment assistance on top of the time it takes to run the business. Now, I need additional time to repair and recover from this break in before reopening. Is it OK for me to start a Go Fund Me campaign to raise a few thousand dollars so I can get back on my feet more quickly? I worry about what people may say because I am white. When I started my business about fifteen years ago in this neighborhood, white people were just beginning to arrive in force and push out black and Hispanic residents. The neighborhood is now fully gentrified. Does trying to raise money now make me seem tone deaf to this issue and or to the Black Lives Matter movement more generally? I don’t want to come off as a white person who doesn’t understand their privilege.
S6: There’s a lot of stuff going on here.
S4: There’s a lot of stuff going on here. I think one thing I want to start by saying is like part of the question is, can you promise me that nobody will dislike it if I create a go fund me? I cannot promise you that. I can’t promise anyone that you could start a go fund me for one of the most, like, universally agreed upon things in the world. And I’m sure there might still be somebody who sees it and gets annoyed for whatever reason, reasonable or unreasonable, they might even lead an even angry comment. So like in the grand like. Kind of like. Overarching question here, which is, can you, dear Prudence, promise me that there’s a way to start a fundraising account where no one will be annoyed with me? No, I cannot make you that promise.
S6: Yeah, and I think that the a good way to start to untangle this, I think, is to recognize or try and point out some things. But I feel like our getting conflated.
S2: Yes, please.
S6: Having a go fund me campaign to raise money for a personal cause or the cause of somebody else isn’t the same thing as saying and trying to receive money for a cause from other people. I think that go fund me is like it’s a tool, but I think that it gets. Was in a lot of different ways by different people, and that if the issue is being able to raise money that you don’t have from other people that, you know, government isn’t necessarily the only avenue for that.
S4: Right. I think there was also a sort of assumption that if I start a go fund me, I’m sort of I’m definitely going to find the money. And I think you should also prepare yourself for what would you do if you created the go fund me and you didn’t raise the money you needed? What would be your second backup plan? Totally, because that might happen to. It’s certainly possible that you could create a go fund me. Some of your friends would chip in what they could, but lots of them are also struggling. And you didn’t get the money that you needed from that route.
S2: So start thinking about other options, because I don’t think that it’s the slam dunk that you seem to think it is. The other thing that I, I think is getting conflated or maybe a connection is not getting made that they should be making is when I started my business about 15 years ago in this neighborhood, white people were just beginning to arrive in force and push out black and Hispanic people. The neighborhood is now fully gentrified.
S4: And I think I sometimes see a version of this in letters from somebody who is uncomfortable about their own role in gentrification, because the fear is like if I acknowledge myself as anything other than a mere observer or accidental beneficiary of gentrification, I will be admitting in public that I’m a bad person and that people should fight me. And I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. When you started your business 15 years ago in this neighborhood, you were one of the white people who were arriving in force, pushing out black and Hispanic residents. And that neighborhood is now fully gentrified. And you were one of the gentrifiers and I don’t say that to say you are the worst person in the world. It is all your fault. But I just was really struck by that sentence like, well, there was this big wave of white people coming in at the same time that I, a white person, came in. But I was just noticing the wave. I wasn’t part of it. And you don’t need to try to. Protect or defend yourself like that, like I think it’s really important to say I was part of the wave that gentrified this neighborhood and now black and Hispanic people don’t live here. And if saying that out loud, if you don’t like it and if it makes you think I want to do something differently with my time and my money and my work, do that. But if you just want to say it and also keep your business, do that, you don’t have to collapse this issue or pretend to distance. You don’t actually have in order to live and work.
S6: Right. Don’t need to distance yourself from what you see as the problem to then feel like it’s OK to ask for help in something like this. With that also, I mean, I think that the letter writer notes that not only is unemployment assistance a living hell, I guess they don’t say that, but that was my experience. But like that, on top of the time, it takes to run the business normally, to have to repair and recover from the break in like that is something that I think that you can legitimately ask people to help with. Like that is another way of recouping your business.
S7: I think that the the angle of also trying to raise money for particularly expensive equipment and stuff like that, I think the idea to ask other people for that is not inherently something that would seem like that you’re asking too much for your position or but it would be unfair to the community.
S6: You can definitely ask for help to recoup that expense.
S7: And I think that part of taking a little bit more ownership of that and not trying to avoid feeling like you’re asking the community for help that you don’t deserve is to seek out people that you do have a relationship with that you know, can probably afford to help you out with some, tell them why you’re asking them and kind of take it from there. I think that the desire to have funds recouped is not inherently a bad thing or wouldn’t mean that you’re not recognizing your privilege. I think that that’s fine. I think it’s use some of that privilege that you have with, like, you know, probably knowing people that could afford the help and ask those people directly.
S2: I think that that’s the right phrase to sort of hinge upon, because that question at the end, I don’t want to come off as a white person who doesn’t understand their privilege again without coming down real, real hard on you. Letter writer. What that tells me is that your main concern is not looking like you don’t get it. And that’s not the same thing as my main concern is I’m worried about continuing to contribute to the gentrification of this neighborhood. Your worry is that people will think that that’s what you’re doing. And I think that’s part of why, like, for example, you just call them the recent protests.
S4: You don’t mention what they were about. And I think it’s safe to say that the protests were about police brutality, state sponsored anti black violence and and death. It’s not a protest that was about we don’t want white people to have go fund me accounts, so. Conflating the two feels a little bit to me like and I know that you may have seen this like on social media a lot lately, that like lately it seems like a lot of the news has been about like, you know, various television networks are pulling old episodes of long cancelled sitcoms where the golden girls wear mud masks out of like in this way. That’s like that’s not what people are in the streets protesting and focusing on. That suggests that there’s this concern of like. Oh, that’s too big to address, I don’t know how we would address things like antiblack violence or police brutality, that’s too big, but do you want us to pull old 30 Rock episodes? This feels a little close to that. And again, I don’t say that because I think that you’re purposely trying to dismiss the movement of the protests. I just think. It doesn’t sound like anyone in your life has said, don’t start to go fund me. It doesn’t sound like you’ve ever seen or heard a protester saying, no more, go fund me for white people. I think your real concern is that you don’t know how to deal with the fact that you were part of the way that gentrified this neighborhood. And what you want to do right now is ask for more money to keep doing it. And that doesn’t make you personally and individually responsible for gentrification, but I would say take some of this discomfort and ask, I’m not being like you’re not being asked to be more aware of your privilege. You’re being asked to be part of a solution to redlining and to like the need for reparations and for like the legacy of Jim Crow laws and for anti black police violence. And whether or not you have a go fund me and keep doing your your business is is a lot less important than what you do in response to this moment and the things that are actually being asked of people in your neighborhood and in your town. So. I realize that’s neither a yes or no about whether you should make a go fund me. I’m not going to give you that answer. I do think you need to be asking yourself different questions. And that’s, I think, my last word on the subject. Sounds good. Yeah.
S8: That’s our mini episode of Dear Prudence. For this week, our producers felt circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. As always, if you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message at four zero one three seven one, dear. That’s three four to seven. And you might hear your answer on that episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request, we can even alter the sound of your voice.
S4: Keep it short, 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening. Oh.