22 November 2009
(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved)
I made it before Monday! Woo hoo! I'm still posting late, but not AS late as usual. Doesn't that count for something?
Oh all right. I'll admit it. The Boy has H1N1, so we're stuck in the house for a week. Neither of us are terribly ill - he's on Tamiflu and I think I've already had swine flu this spring - but the fact remains that we can't be in contact with the rest of the world until next weekend. So far we've managed to get along all right, but I wouldn't guarantee that's going to last. Two highly opinionated people locked in a house together? Yeesh.
So here I am on this freakishly beautiful fall day (Temps in the 50s, sun shining, etc.) trapped indoors and thinking that this is the perfect time to discuss the letters at Dear Prudence .
And what do I see in these letters? ALL of them were written by women who embarrass us all with their seemingly slavish adherence to nasty stereotypes that most of us try to stay as far away from as we can.
1. The Hyper-Feminist Who Sees Everything as a Threat and Hits Back First.
You don't want to be in your fiance's family portrait. Right. A lot of people have called you on the carpet over this. They've called you immature, bratty, childish, controlling, a bitch, and a whole lot of other nasty words. As far as that goes, they're right, it IS a childish and stupid thing to do at this point, so
...for a second and pay attention.
Have you given any thought to what you're actually doing here? Is this really the line you want to draw even BEFORE you marry this man? Seriously? See, love is a funny thing. It leads us to do things that we otherwise would never consider, like making snow angels or spending money on quirky gifts and expensive meals. That's all right. It's the way it should be.
But loving someone and making a life with that person means a whole lot more than that. When you love someone, really love them, compromise is what will keep you together. It's a lot easier when it comes to trivial things - he likes depressing movies, you like musicals, for example - but there are some things that are deeply engrained that you will have no choice to accept because they could be deal breakers.
This is where the family portrait comes in. This is something that your fiance has been participating in probably since before he was even born. His family is important to him, the photo is important to them, and that's the way it has always been. If you want to marry this man, then you have no choice but to accept that he will ALWAYS be attached to his family because they love each other. That's it. You don't have the right to interfere with that, and you will never be able to stop him from loving his family. Sorry, kid, but thems the breaks.
So what's the big deal? Did you have a crappy family, is that why you're so terrified to belong to his? Has anyone in his family done anything to harm you or make you feel as if you're intruding? I doubt they have, by the way. It sounds like they've been kind to you and they're excited about the wedding. What's so wrong with that?
This hostility you have is really strange. Why so emotional about not taking your fiance's family name? Has anyone demanded that you do? It's bog ordinary for women not to change their names when they marry, you know. The fact that you're so hostile to the idea rings false to me. It looks like you're hunting for an excuse to be angry.
This business of "cutting the umbilical cord" is frankly bizarre. Who said that you can't have your own family traditions? Did someone in his family take you aside and tell you that you and their son would be chained in the basement during holidays, so you couldn't do your own thing? Why are you so threatened by the idea of being included in their family activities? Yes, they're HIS family, not yours. If you want to marry this man, again, his family will play a part in your life whether you like it or not.
I know you say that being in the picture is "...making me sick and filling me with anger." That's not the problem, though, is it? No, you're terrified at the idea. It scares the bejesus out of you that getting married is NOT just about you and your fiance, it's about ALL of the members of both of your families. I don't think you quite comprehend that being married means being accepting, compromising and understanding that you aren't going to spend the rest of your lives staring into each other's eyes.
In fact, I would posit that what you're REALLY scared of is getting married in the first place. You are clinging so hard to what you think of as your independence that you can't bring yourself to understand that independence doesn't mean isolating yourself from the rest of the world. That is YOUR problem, not your fiance's and not his family's. Until YOU deal with your issues, don't marry this man. You can't love him and be so terrified of life at the same time. He deserves better.
I think you're sabotaging your engagement because at some level, you don't think you can handle being married. Of course, I could also be wrong. Look at it this way. If you continue to try and drive a wedge between your fiance and his family, you are not going to come out the winner. Eventually, he'll get tired of your isolation tactics and find someone who is accepting and kind and respects that he has a right not to be ordered around and manipulated.
2. The Desperate Divorcee - Anything for a Man.
You can't see it, but I'm shaking my head right now. It's a combination of disbelief and despair at the way some women manage to convince themselves that being married to someone, ANYONE, is better than being on their own. No matter how rotten a guy is, no matter what dangerous, illegal or downright creepy things he's into, there's always some woman who manages to convince herself that "deep down", he's a "good person", or "it's just a front" and he's a kind and gentle guy. I get it, I do. I think it's an exercise in futility and a stupid thing to do, but I understand where it comes from.
You raised your kids alone. Great. I'm sure they're lovely human beings. I also know darn well that being a single parent is a lonely, lonely thing and that it's hard to be the only one in authority, the only one who is responsible. Many single parents would do anything to connect with someone just so they can come home and talk to an adult after work.
What are you doing with this guy, then? You say he's "Mr. Right", but you know that no one's perfect. You claim he's your everything and you want to spend your life with him...but something bothered you practically from the start, didn't it? That squiggly feeling in your gut just wouldn't go away, would it? There was always something just a little bit off.....and you convinced yourself that it was nothing because you were (I gotta say it) desperate not to spend the rest of your life alone. You were willing to put up with whatever weird, creepy thing this guy was into for the sake of a warm bed at night.
What was it? Was he a little too nice? Did his sincerity strike you as somehow false? Did he spend just a little too long hugging your daughters? What about your sex life? Not quite what you expected? Maybe he was just didn't seem into it all that often? I'm sure it was all very subtle - maybe cell phone calls that he left the room to answer or just a little too much time on the Internet after you were in bed at night. Whatever it was, you felt it, and you felt the need to check his computer to either confirm your suspicions or make them go away.....
You know that snooping is wrong, but there was some little niggling doubt in the back of your mind.....
So you found out you were right. "Mr. Right" is actually "Mr. Creepy". There is nothing "normal" or even vaguely acceptable about him having nude photos of his stepdaughter on his computer. Your instincts are right on the money. His excuses strike you as nonsense, too, especially that twaddle about how he photoshopped the clothing out of the picture out of curiosity. Eew. Just the fact that he wanted to see this young lady in the nude is creepy and the reason he gave - creepy again. What sane person wants lingerie shots of herself taken on her wedding day by her stepfather? Yuck and double yuck on that one!
I don't think you need to worry about your granddaughter. Your "Mr. Right" isn't interested in children. If I were you, I WOULD be worried about your daughters, though. "Mr. Right" seems to have a thing for very young ladies. Younger than you. In fact now that I think about it.... why do you think he married you in the first place? Could it be that it was the fastest, easiest way to get access to your daughters?
You aren't being paranoid here. There is nothing wrong with you. There's a lot wrong with HIM, though. If you stay with this guy, if you let him convince you that you were hallucinating just because you have convinced yourself that any guy is better than none, then you are a fool, madam. Your gut is telling you to jettison this loser. SO LISTEN TO IT.
3. The Florence (I've Got You in my Clutches) Nightingale.
Patients fall for doctors, doctors fall for nurses, nurses fall for..... terminal patients? Um. Ok. I guess. Sort of. You say (and I'm quoting you directly so I don't get this wrong), "But I want to be happy with someone, and he has every right to want the same, too."
Ooh. Twit. Yet another woman who's managed to convince herself that a guy is absolutely THE ONE, even though in this case....he doesn't even know your NAME.
You know this is a crush, though. This guy doesn't know or notice you, or he would have said something, anything to get your attention. Still, after seeing that he's on a dating site, you've decided that he HAS to be the love of your life. Mind you - the only conversation you've ever had consisted of you asking him if Tuesday was all right for the next appointment...
So you want to contact him? Knock yourself out. A whole lot of people (including Prudie) have speculated that you're into the whole idea of being with a guy that's dying, then spending the rest of your life sighing and moaning about your lost love (which you knew about ahead of time). Are you hoping it will make you interesting in the future, so that you have an actual excuse to spend the rest of your life whining and not have to do anything about it because you had True Love and lost it so tragically (but predictably)?
Maybe it's even appealing to you that if you succeed, you'll have complete control over every aspect of his life and better yet....there's nothing he can do about it! Ooh, that would be keen, right? You'd be in total control over everything - from his pain meds to his bowel movements. Is that what you're into?
So I say go for it. Contact him on that dating site. Chances are that once he realizes who you are and that you've been staring at him for YEARS, he'll be so creeped out that he'll change doctors just to get away from you. I'm guessing that a guy who's trolling dating web sites who KNOWS that he hasn't got long to live is just looking to get laid as often as possible before the end. If he DOES buy into your fantasies, so much the better, right?
4. The Freaked Out Little Girl Who's Afraid of Behaving Like an Adult.
I said it last week, and I'll say it again. Thanksgiving as a holiday seems to have rooted in the collective mind of this country as the absolute most CRUCIAL DAY of the year. People kill themselves in driving in snowstorms to get to Grandma's house for a dried out turkey and sauce out of a can KNOWING that they're going to be re-living every single scrap of sibling rivalry, every creepy moment of of the time that pervert of an older cousin felt them up under the table, every story that Gran has to tell about the potty training and bed wetting of her adult kids and so on and so on...
But you have a different goal, and it's a good one. So why the angst?
Having the parents meet over a festive meal? Good idea. At least they'll all be on their best behavior, right? And they'll have to meet sometime. Ok, I know it's the creepy uncle thing that's got you going, so here's my advice on that.
I know this scary dude got invited to your home without you knowing about it. I'm guessing that your boyfriend's father asked HIM if it was all right to invite Uncle Scary Dude and your boyfriend said yes, then forgot about it. That was it, right? Thought so. The gun thing would bother the heck out of me, too. Judging by all the comments people have made about it you and I are NOT in the minority on that one.
You can't disinvite the guy. It's your boyfriend's house as well as yours and he said it was all right. So you're stuck. What you CAN and SHOULD do is have a chat with the man who okayed that invitation. Tell him that it's no big deal that you have to feed an extra person. You know you're going to make too much food anyway. What you have to let him know is that you just won't tolerate a gun in your house.
This is not an unreasonable request, and if you don't have hysterics when you bring it up with your boyfriend, you will get your wish, or at least a reasonable facsimile of it. Either Uncle Scary Dude will refuse to show up if he's not armed (breathe a sigh of relief), or his brother will talk to him and he'll leave his gun in the car. This is only a big deal if you allow it to become one. If you let everyone know that those are your rules in a calm and quiet manner, then people will respect that.
Now, as for the "meeting of the parents"...I think you've blown that WAY out of proportion. Both sets of parents are adults and they do know how to be polite. You can trust them to behave with no help from you. If they can't bring themselves to behave, THEY'RE the ones who are going to look like morons, not you. I'm assuming that this dinner is being held in contemplation that you may marry your boyfriend one day (expecting a ring for Christmas, maybe?) and you want the whole group of parents to at least partly know each other. A noble, if wrong headed goal.
Why wrong headed? Well, you and your boyfriend are potentially marrying EACH OTHER and NOT living with your families. Each of you will have to get along with the other's family - even if you don't take his name and want to avoid the family photo - for the long term. Your respective parents are not necessarily going to become buddies because of this. In fact they may not like each other at all, and it doesn't matter. After all, when the wedding's over with, they never have to be in the same room again. It's true. You'll never have to worry about them getting along because it's just not that important that they do!