How to Say No to Being a Bridesmaid (and 2 Other Life Tips)
My boyfriend and I dated for ten months and moved in together a year ago. Here's the thing: His folks live only six miles away, and I've never met them. He gets together with them for dinner every few weeks, but when I ask if I can come or invite them over, all he says is "soon." Should I be patient, furious, or hurt?
It sounds like you've been patient, which brings us to furious versus hurt. But dammit, girl, this is America—you're allowed to be both! That said, we're not looking for drama; you've got a lifetime to slam doors and flounce Mariah Carey–style. What we want is to get to that sticky, nougatty center of truth. I mean, I'd be all for the whole "ignorance is bliss" concept if it actually worked. But the story comes out eventually, and when it does, bliss makes a run for it. Something is definitely going on, so sit him down and explain that the expiration date on "soon" has officially arrived. Be direct. Be calm. Be unrelenting. It's always better to know.
I was very close to my friend Karen all through childhood, but at this point we're down to lunch maybe once or twice a year. The problem is, she's asked me to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. Lisa, I haven't got the time to take a shower, let alone organize one. I like Karen, and I don't mind helping out in an unofficial capacity, but frankly I just don't have what it takes to wear teal taffeta with shoes dyed to match. Am I stuck?
—Rita, North Dakota
I'd be hard-pressed to explain marginal tax rates, I don't understand how five Supreme Court justices saw fit to rule in favor of Citizens United, and I've yet to make heads or tails of my daughter's math homework. But there is one thing, one simple, indisputable fact of which I am beyond certain: Nobody—and I mean nobody—has what it takes to wear teal taffeta with shoes dyed to match.
As for being stuck, if Jessica Chastain could get Matt Damon off Mars, surely I can get you out of this. First, though, I would urge you to remember that it's impossible to make new old friends. Be sure Karen understands that though you may be acting in an unofficial capacity, you'll be totally zealous in keeping her aunt Iris away from the Prosecco, starting the conga line, and discreetly signaling if she's got lipstick on her teeth or wedding cake in her hair. Let her know that you want to take her to lunch as soon as she's finished honeymooning, but explain that she deserves someone who can give 100 percent, and that someone just isn't you.
My son and daughter-in-law are about to have their first baby. Of course, I'd love to be in the delivery room with them, but whenever I bring it up, they change the subject. I don't want to just sit there—I want to do something! —Doreen, Seattle
Don't just do something—sit there! And by "there," I mean on your sofa. Repeat after me: "I will help in whatever way they need, which includes giving this new family all the time, space, and privacy they deem necessary."
And as long as I'm telling you things you don't want to hear: One day your children are going to ask you to mash a banana for the baby. When they show you exactly how they like it done for little Nosferatu, I want you to use every ounce of your strength to refrain from mentioning that this ain't your first rodeo. Do not insist on demonstrating your far-superior banana-mashing technique. Do not send emails about crib recalls and diaper rash. And for the love of God, do not comment on their name choice. You are dealing with sleep-deprived newbies, and at least one of them probably has sore nipples. Do not wear out your welcome.
Lisa Kogan is O's writer at large and the author of Someone Will Be with You Shortly: Notes from a Perfectly Imperfect Life. To ask Lisa a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.