Aaron's Rotten Advice - Feb. 25, 2011 ("4-5 inches tonight, and none of them mine") Edition
I spent months planning for this party to make it a perfect event. This is my third child and every party has been a big event like this one. I put a lot of time into planning my children's parties and thoroughly enjoy doing it.
My problem is rude guests!
I had more than half of the party (20 families) respond several days past the RSVP date (I sent out the invitations six weeks ahead of time so they had plenty of time to respond). They showed up 1-2 hours late to the party with no apology or explanation (some left early).
These guests took it upon themselves to sit wherever they wanted, even when I had place cards with assigned seating that I spent several hours organizing.
These perpetrators do things like this at every party. As much as I love to throw parties for my children, in the end, I find myself disappointed, insulted and feeling used.
Should I stop having these parties or should I continue doing what my children and I enjoy and ignore the rudeness? Please tell me what I should do.
AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
My first suggestion is that you visit your shrink and ask him to change your meds, because whatever you’re popping now clearly isn’t working.
I’ve never heard of anyone renting an expensive hall for a one-year-old’s birthday party--especially with an open bar. How many infant alcoholics do you know? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry—and your guests probably didn’t either. When they got your invitation, they probably thought that either: a.) it was a gag; or b.) you’re a dangerous and unbalanced person whom they don’t want to spend too much time around (hence the late arrivals). In any case, you say they’ve behaved this way before, which at least suggests that you don’t learn well from experience—so if it chaps your ass, stop inviting them.
As far as seating arrangements, I really think you wasted your time there. A one-year-old doesn’t really give a shit where the guests sit. In fact, she probably spent the whole time sitting in her own shit, wondering when you were going to change her.
DEAR ABBY: I'm concerned about my friend "Nyla." She's 15 and pregnant. Nyla and her family are happy about it! As her friend, I'm not. I think she should have waited.
I keep telling her that her life is ruined and she'll regret having a baby this early, but she doesn't listen. It would be better if she had help, but she doesn't. Nyla's family is poor.
Now she is angry with me because of what I keep telling her. What can I do to help her understand me, and not get mad when I tell her something?
-- VIRGINIA TEEN
AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Try shutting up. This kid is going through enough right now without listening to you cluck at her about her “ruined life,” Henny Penny.
What makes you the expert, anyway? If she and her family can be happy about this baby despite being poor, then they obviously know something you don’t, so just leave them alone and go about your own business. Go to your cheerleading practice or Chastity Belt Club, or quilting bees, or however the hell you amuse yourself.
DEAR ELLIE: My twin sister's an accomplished professional, raised in a loving family, and has a heart of gold.
She'd dated someone for seven years, which ended with her in hysterics and crying uncontrollably. She's always suffered from low self-esteem and confidence, struggled with weight and some health problems, plus she has issues with men leaving her (at 19, we lost our father unexpectedly). She hasn't dated much, and then met a man from an African country. They've been together for four years.
He'd moved here, had a one-night stand, and got a woman pregnant. They married, mostly because he feared deportation. He says the mom was "crazy" so he got custody and sent the child back to Africa to be raised by his family. He then met my sister. After eight months' dating, he moved away to a university to get his degree accredited. While there, he'd lie to her, and often disallow her visiting him.
She once found condom wrappers under his bed. He talked his way out of it. She eventually moved there but he'd hang out with friends in another city, leaving her at their home. He's lured women on social networking and dating sites. (I was with her when one girl trying to contact him on my sister's laptop explained this to us.) He's also spent money my sister didn't know about until after, has driven drunk and with no insurance...and more.
She supported him through school and now that he has a job, he's spending large amounts of money without consulting her. Yet her main concern when considering breaking it off, is, "What is he going to do? Where is he going to go?"
My mother and I had to distance ourselves as he convinced her we were trying to break them up. Now he's bringing over his son, four, to live with my sister and him part-time. She's to host his grandma and sister for a month while they see he's settled.
She won't call a halt or consider options. The child's biological mom lives on government assistance by lying that she still had the child with her. My sister's boyfriend goes along with this and hasn't divorced her.
The only stable/responsible person is my sister, who I can see bearing the brunt of this transition, financially and emotionally. The child only knows his father from recent weekend chats over Skype.
How do we support her when we don't approve or like her situation or her boyfriend?
AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
Call immigration, then call social services. I’m sure one of them will have something to say about his abandonment of his child, not to mention the sham “green card” marriage. While you're at it, call Bellevue on your sister. If it pisses her off, so be it. She’s obviously too stupid to know shit from pudding, anyway. Besides, you know damn well that while she refuses to dig herself out of this mess, you’re the ones who will have to listen to her bitch about it.
DEAR MARGO: In May of '83, when I was 18 and my brothers were 16 and 14, my mother died after a struggle with brain cancer. By July, my father had disposed of all her things, and by September, he had a girlfriend (14 years younger) and was spending all of his free time at her house instead of with my brothers.
By Christmas, he had scheduled a wedding for July of '84 and made plans to sell our house because his girlfriend was uncomfortable knowing our mother had lived there. When my middle brother and I objected to how quickly things were changing, Dad insisted that his happiness was the only thing that counted.
He got married, moved to the neighborhood his wife chose, and forbade us to talk about our mother. I was not allowed to live at the new house during summer vacations from college or to move home even briefly after graduating. I was treated as though my unhappiness with the situation was that of an immature troublemaker, not a grieving child. Since then, I've suffered from recurring depression.
I entered therapy and now am much better, except for one thing: I truly hate my father and his wife for the way they treated us, and I hate that my father managed to replace my mother so quickly and then tried to erase her existence. It's the most honest emotion I've had in the past quarter-century. I want to say, "Bleep you and get out of my life." However, my father will soon be 80, and I wonder if it would be cruel to tell him how I feel and kinder just to keep avoiding him. This situation is making me ill, but I just can't figure out what to do.
— TIED UP IN OLD KNOTS
AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
I don’t know if it’s "kinder" or not (and really, who cares?), but it’s probably more comfortable for you if you just stay away from him. He’s never cared about your feelings before, so he’s not likely to now--and at his age, if you say “Fuck you,” he’ll probably forget five minutes later. What fun is that?
DEAR MISS MANNERS:
Today I was going through paperwork, arranging it for tax purposes.
It's necessary to point out that I am 10 years delinquent in contending with filing, due to PTSD, and have not been able to open so much as a bill (most things are paid out of my accounts direct) unless it is very easy to identify.
Much of the year I've worked with a therapist in preparing to overcome this. At first, mere mention would create an emotional and physical response that was rather out of context. I would be gridlocked for days at an e-mail talking about needing to do it. We got to the point I could handle this year's, which would still avoid the most painful of the paperwork, and help me develop a routine in simply working with any paperwork. The catalyst is my son is going into college, and I don't want my impairments to impair him from getting financial help.
A friend came over today to "help" and happened upon a Social Security document that was very personal inside. He laughed upon opening and reading it, though there had been no need because the front was clearly marked and could therefore be properly filed without personal information being read. It was my yearly statement about lifelong contributions.
It was a clear setback. My heart raced (and I had a heart attack two weeks ago), breathing became difficult, and I wasn't able to continue. I told him that felt very inappropriate and went to my room to be alone.
My therapist friend recommended I write to you and ask how that could have better been navigated had I had the presence of mind to be forthright, a prepared statement, so to speak. Perhaps with your insights I could handle that better myself should it come again.
AARON’S ROTTEN ADVICE:
I wouldn’t worry about it—I don’t think you’ll have a chance to get to that point again. If this guy has any smarts, he won’t waste his time trying to “help” you. And you can bet he’ll spread the word to warn off your other friends, too. I don’t know what trauma caused your PTSD, or why it’s specific to tax season. Were you attacked by a CPA? Choke on a paperclip? Sit on a pencil?
Whatever the cause, you might want to get on Craigslist or eBay to sell some of your shit—you’ll need the money to pay the government the back taxes you owe when they come after your whiny, cry-baby ass.