Sunday, July 27, 2014
It's OK to say No
So here we are, in the belly of the beast. It’s wedding season full swing, which means the rest of us have to refinance our mortgage to fund your cocktail of pre-nuptial activities. This thought snapped into focus for me as I watched a caravan of Escalade Limos on the northbound side of 87 last night, no doubt ‘Toga bound. Experience has told me limo rides like that will mean two things 1) the night that follows will fall short of the hype and 2) the Citizen’s Bank card is about to take a whipping. If my days of Abercrombie modeling taught me one thing, it’s this: It’s OK to say no.
Last week I was at a barbecue. One of my colleagues was detailing the three-ring circus he’d been bullied into because his high school friend was getting married. Keep in mind this guy’s got two kids, the usual medley of monthly bills, and a good job but not a job that pays Kobe dollars. Not only is he on the hook for a bachelor party in Montreal (Montreal, are you joking me?) at three hundred a head to start, but a cross-country plane trip to Cali, where he’s expected to spend two nights in a hotel to get this guy hitched. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s in the wedding, so he has to rent a tux for two hundred bucks. His wife cannot come to the wedding, because they have two kids and can’t afford to sink the whole family into this insanity. Oh yeah, he has to take two days off from work to make the trip and buy this guy a gift. Guesstimated price tag: three grand.
Truth: He doesn’t even want to go. Who would want to suffer through that at 34 yrs. old? He’s glad his friend is getting married, and wishes him well, but the whole affair is bringing nothing but stress to the household. He doesn’t care about Montreal, can’t afford the money, his wife doesn’t want him traveling to Cali without her and the kids, and the days he has to take off work are the third and fourth day of the school year. He’s a teacher. Doing that is taboo in the teacher rack. But he feels he has to. He feels obligated. He feels guilty. I respect that stance, sure I do, but a young family man shouldn’t have to shoulder this load. It’s too much. I told him it’s OK to say no.
Same barbecue different colleague. She’s planning her own wedding for next year. Money’s tight, she’s trying to put a toehold into her own life and house and soon-to-be family. But before any of that happens, she has to flush away hundreds and hundreds this month on multiple bachelorette parties because ‘Toga-bound limos need to be paid for and drinks need to be bought and a night of saying “woo!” has to be floated. She’s miserable. She doesn’t want to do it. She doesn’t have the money. But she feels like she has to sign on because that’s what friends do. It’s OK to say no.
I’m tired of that line: That’s what friends have to do. At this age (thirty something), you’re chief obligation is to your family and that’s it. Besides, what kind of friend let’s his/her wedding guests go through this because it’s their day and it’s about them? We want you to be hitched and happy, but we have lives too. I don’t have eighteen hundred bucks to drop on your Caroline Street bachelor party and Franklin Plaza Wedding. Here I will buttress what I’m saying by admitting that the same etiquette does not apply to people getting married in their twenties. Everyone at that age is self-absorbed and should be and none of your friends should have mortgages and families at that point, so order the limos and bring on the strippers.
Perhaps my attitude on this subject would be softer if the ordeal had done a drop of evolution in my lifetime. Bachelor parties with limos and strippers. Limos are the lamest things on earth and the stripping business hasn’t progressed since the caveman age. Girl. Pole. Sweaty dollar bills. Wake me up when this is over. Wait a second . . . you actually want strippers at your BP? You like strippers? Who’s your favorite JERSEY SHORE Character? Ronnie or the Situation?
There was a time when I prescribed to this whole notion of going to ‘Toga and dropping big bucks on some dude’s bachelor party. But that time is no more. First off, ‘Toga might be the most over-hyped place on the planet. And second, bachelor parties in the made-for-the-movies sense are not fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good jubilee and appreciate the company of great friends. But getting older means the crowd gets smaller, the conversations get more meaningful, and renting limos is something dorks do. It’s OK to say no.
This year we have one wedding on the docket, and to this man’s credit, he’s gone low key and kept it mature. He’s asked us to do the following: show up, bring a gift, and have a nice time. And right now I can’t wait to do all three. I wouldn’t miss this one for the world. And when a guy does it right and treats his guests well, it’s NOT OK to say no.