Saturday, January 27, 2007

I Love Other People's Problems

I woke up feeling like a diluted version of myself. Headache, sore throat, chills. Vitamin C, Tylenol, cinnamon toast. And Cruel Intentions on FX! Score. The first time I saw it I was in college: Florida, spring break, drunk. No idea why we went to the movies, but I loved every minute of it. I still maintain that this movie had some oddly redeeming qualities and just preceded the wave of entirely pointless teen movies that started coming out in the late 90s, right after Scream (which is another one I will defend). I just love all things unapologetically campy. It's why Fergalicious and Smack That are on my iPod, why my parties always have themes, why I hate truly scary movies but love trashy horror movies.

You'd think I was going to be discussing other campified things, but no. I'm all over the place today. I went out with my family this morning, then came back home and put my pajamas back on. I didn't do any laundry or wash my sheets, which is a scandalous turn of events on a Sunday for me. So in lieu of a weekend update I'm just going to post something I wrote last week (at work! I'm deviant now, like all of you).

I love advice columns. They remind me of the quizzes you'd take in girly magazines as a kid: If your boyfriend [of course no one I knew had ever had a boyfriend yet] wants to go to the football game but you want to go shopping with the girls, would you a) ditch the girls and go to the game - you want your man to be happy, b) pout until you get your way - if he really loves you he'll know what you want, or c) cheerily suggest each doing your own thing and then meet up later. The options may as well have been a) be a doormat, b) be a passive-aggressive hobag, or c) be normal.

Anyway. Here's a bunch of people with problems who didn't write to me but whom I'm hijacking and forcing my opinions on. You're all welcome.

Dear Red,
Two of my good friends are engaged, and the wedding is planned for later this year. They are genuinely satisfied with and committed to each other, and I want to see both of them happy. Problem is, I've been smitten by the bride-to-be ever since I met her. At the time, I was in another relationship, but by the time that ended, her relationship with my buddy had blossomed. As the wedding date approaches, I can't help feeling like I need to say something before all opportunity fades. I know I should just get over her, but even after dating others, my mind's eye comes back to her. To top it all off, they want me to be the best man. I feel increasingly dishonest by omission, but I don't want to sabotage two meaningful friendships. Should I tell her? Should I tell anyone? Or should I do what I've done for the last few years and just keep my mouth shut?
-Not-Quite-Best Man

Dear Not,
Don't do anything. You'd just lose your friend and embarrass his fiancee. And you probably only like her so much because you can't have her. (I took Psych 101.)

Dear Red,
Something has been eating away at me and I don't know what to do. I am an executive at a large company. About a decade ago, when I was just getting started, I became acquainted with a manager at this company who seemed interested in taking me under his wing. He was a terrific mentor, and I owe much of my current success to the knowledge and insight he passed along to me in those early years. He was also married with children. I was young, attractive, and single. As we grew closer, I became aware that he was separated and seeking a divorce. You can probably guess that eventually our relationship became sexual. This lasted a few months, and then he broke it off. I knew it was not right at the time, but I was naive and inexperienced, and I really believed he was in the midst of a divorce (not that that's any excuse). Now I am older, wiser, married to a wonderful man, and have a child. I still work at this company, as does my former mentor, but we don't see each other much. I am plagued with guilt about this past relationship! Our affair was a profound betrayal of his wife and family (by the way, he never did get divorced) and I can't believe we did that to them. I don't regret meeting him, but I deeply regret our affair. What I can do?

Dear Guilty,
What is there to do? You learned from your mistake and moved on. The guilt should be his.

Dear Red,
I got married two years ago, when I was 19 and my husband was 25. I have never been happier, and am very much in love. However, when people find out I'm married, they respond in ways that I can't help but find insulting and hurtful. I have had bewildered looks, comments insinuating that I am naive, and reminders that "statistics show" young marriages tend not to last. My own mother, who had a short-lived marriage at my age, has hinted several times that I would be better off not married and that my marriage is temporary. A few weeks ago, I met a girl my age who, upon finding out I was married, responded with a sympathetic, "I bet you must have been scared!" as though I was some sort of medieval child bride. I have even been asked if I got married due to an unexpected pregnancy! How do I handle these comments?
-Not a Child Bride

Dear No Child Left Behind,
If you were my daughter I'd be concerned about you getting married that young, but who are these randoms saying rude shit to you? I'd stick with something like, "I don't know about that; I'm pretty happy with my decision." Beyond that, my client has no further comment.

Dear Red,
This year, my wife is dragging me to the home of some friends of hers to celebrate the new year. The problem is that they are total teetotalers, and to me, a day (much less New Year's Eve) without a drink is no day at all! Would it be rude if I took a nice bottle of French wine (OK, maybe two)? And would a corkscrew and proper glasses be pushing it?

Dear Jakeman,
I had to google teetotalers. I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask them if you can bring booze; just because they abstain doesn't mean they're necessarily opposed to being around it, right? If they seem uncomfortable, back off. It does strike me as odd to have a party on New Year's Eve if you don't drink or serve alcohol, but at the end of the day it's their home and you have to respect their comfort level. And since "a day without a drink is no day at all," on your way to pick up snacks for their party maybe stop by an AA meeting.

Dear Red,
My husband and I have been close friends with another couple since college. We were both recently in the bridal party for their wedding. After an engagement party, four bridal showers, a couples shower, and the wedding (we brought gifts for each) my husband and I have been set back financially due to the gift-giving extravaganzas. Now, the weekend that they have returned from their honeymoon, they are throwing a birthday party for their dog! My husband and I feel like we have been picked up, turned upside down, and shaken until everything we have has fallen out of our pockets. It seems like we have been taken advantage of in our relationship even before the wedding madness began (vacations, etc.). In addition, the wife recently inherited a large amount of money. My husband and I are nowhere near that kind of financial stability and lead a modest lifestyle. I would hate to end a close relationship that we have had for almost a decade, but to continue in this way is really putting a dent in our pocketbook.
-Gifted Out

Dear Gifted,
Four bridal showers? And what the hell is a couples shower? It should be mandatory that two tacky people can't marry each other, because then they have no idea how bad they both are and they just unleash their tackiness into the universe. If you've really been taken advantage of by them, by all means reevaluate the friendship. Unfortunately cheapsters have a way of making you feel cheap for standing your ground, but once you've felt screwed a few times you just have to. Double-check any bills you split and give them the benefit of the doubt; maybe they're more clueless than conniving. As for the party, go if it will be fun. Bring a bone for the dog and call it a day.

Dear Red,
I have a problem that often leaves me frustrated and angry at myself: I am very bad at small talk. It's amazing to me how people can slip in and out of frivolous talk (though I know it serves a socially useful purpose) with seeming ease. No matter how hard I try, I feel that I say the wrong thing or something inappropriate. What concerns me most, however, is that I'll soon be entering the work world, and the ability to make light conversation is paramount in business relationships. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear JS,
When I find myself in a situation like this I usually just ask them about themselves, like how it's going with whatever thing they've been up to or the person they're dating or something like that. People can talk about themselves forever (as evident by the ubiquitousness of blogs, present company included). Also, I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for being nervous. They're probably a little nervous too and not even noticing your nervousness.

Dear Red,
I am a college freshman at a large university. My roommate is a Texan, and one who seems dedicated to proving the proposition that everything is bigger (and more irritating) in Texas. His personality has been a source of much conflict on my floor, and I generally regard him as a disagreeable person with whom I associate simply because of our room assignment. The problem is that one of my female friends is both extraordinarily attractive and a close confidante. Unfortunately, my roommate wants to meet this friend solely on the basis of her good looks. For months, I have dodged his questions of "when am I going to meet ------ ?" However, it's becoming hard to keep this up. Should I bite the bullet and introduce my good friend to this blight on Texan statehood?
-College Boy

Dear College,
Just don't introduce them. You don't owe him anything. Or if it's been an elaborate song and dance to keep them from running into each other, do it but warn your friend beforehand. We have self-congratulatory "Texans" up here too, but we call them Yankees fans.

Dear Red,
My boss is a woman and she doesn't wear underwear. She is 35 and pretty and she is having an affair with a man who has two children and a wife. We have meetings and she wears slit dresses that are distracting. She lets everyone know her private life. What should we workers do? Look away or watch the whole thing?

Dear Kbent,
Look away. And stay away.

Dear Red,
What is the best way to turn someone down when asked for your phone number? In some instances, lying and claiming to be involved is not an option, such as when asked out by an acquaintance who is aware that you are available. What's the best response, without being rude?
-Just wondering

Dear Just,
"I've just been so busy these days, I really don't have much time to go out. Hey, how's work been going? So-and-so told me about your new job..."

Dear Red,
I have a long-distance boyfriend of three months. I've only seen him three times and I'm beginning to dislike him. However, he constantly phones me and sent me a $75 Christmas present. Should I send him a Christmas present or would this encourage him even more? I want to break up with him.

Dear Desperately,
Break up with him!


Killer said...

You should write a column. Ann Landers is too wishy washy and Dear Abbey is too PC.

-R- said...

"I had to google teetolars." Ha! said...

actually killer, one of them is really dead (abby?) and it's written by like her daughter, which i find layers upon layers of creepy.

metalia said...

I was waiting for you to get all sanctimonious and post that awful "drunk driving teen" poem, as Dear Abby is wont to do. ;)

Also-- I saw Cruel Intentions this weekend, too! I agree; it definitely still holds up.

Melissa said...

Not just teetotalers, TOTAL teetotalers. That's pretty damn teetotally.