Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Love, Hate, and a Trusty Shovel

My friend Jenny called me last week to tell me she’s getting married. Jenny and I go back to days of big hair and acid wash jeans, so she’s an old, dear friend, but we’re not the closest these days. I mean, we’re close enough for me to get a personal phone call a couple of days after the ring appeared, but not close enough for me to have to be a bridesmaid. She warrants a place setting of her everyday china, but probably not the Kitchen Aid mixer. I’ll be invited to the Bachelorette party, but I won’t drive two hours to actually go. But I will show up early for the wedding to be sure everything is going according to schedule (my list-making reputation goes beyond the Playground, you know. I’ve been working on that compulsion for years, people).

(She knows I have a blog, but she doesn’t read it, so it’s safe to discuss it here.)

So, I adore Jenny, and while I offered appropriate congratulations and listened to the early planning, I couldn’t say the one thing I really wanted to:

DON’T MARRY THAT SORRY BASTARD!! (That phrase isn’t exactly on Miss Manners approved responses list.)

See, I can’t stand the Sorry Bastard she’s marrying. Jenny is smart, articulate, funny, sweet, and cute as a button. She has a couple of degrees, several licenses, and is out changing the world daily. She brings home pretty big bucks and is well-respected by her colleagues. Sorry Bastard (SB) is an “artist.” A wanna-be songwriter. As far as I can tell, that involves sleeping on Jenny’s couch all day and playing PS2. He might go play with his expensive toys (you know, the keyboards and computers and things he needs to be a songwriter), but no songs seem to be forthcoming. He’ll get a part-time job occasionally, just to pay some of his bills, but he always quits because it’s not his “dream.” (I know it’s hard to break into a creative business, but there’s a reason folks tell you not to quit your day job just yet.) Jenny, on the other hand, works full-time, does all the cooking, cleaning and laundry, caters to him and still finds time to sit in the stands at his softball games. This has been the standard for about ten years. Needless to say, the grapevine speculates that Jenny finally told SB to either propose or get the hell out of her house — at 35, she’s ready for a grown-up relationship. She could do so much better than SB and all of her friends would love to see her with someone who has half her class and intelligence. I know she loves him, but seriously, we all know love isn’t everything a healthy relationship requires.

(Yes, I understand that I don’t need to like the men my friends marry. Heck, it took me about ten years to learn to tolerate Counselor Shelley’s husband. He, at least, supports her (in many ways), makes her happy, and treats her like a princess. Just ‘cause we hated each other wasn’t a good enough reason to twist my panties up. I’m not the one living with him, and I only see him a couple of times a decade. But I still have a shovel ready…just in case we need to hide the body.)

So, back to Jenny and my problem with the Sorry Bastard she’s marrying. Now is when I wish life was really like a romance novel. Oh, the things I could do if I got to write the book from here on out. Jenny’s Spunky Friend (SF) — that would be me — who kept her mouth (mostly) shut for ten years, loses it at the sight of the ring. SF hatches a plan to get the wedding canceled. After several complicated and amusing plot twists, SF manages to get Jenny to see the light and dump the Sorry Bastard. A Handsome Hunk for Jenny awaits in the wings, and HH just happens to have a French best friend, Sexy-Cutie, who falls for Spunky Friend. The four have a few more amusing adventures, a Black Moment where the girls get pedicures and drink margaritas, and then a non-sappy reconciliation scene that sends both happy couples to Happily Ever After.

Ah, the joys of fiction. Alas, Jenny wouldn’t be very happy with me if I actually tried something (and Darling Geek would probably object to me snogging Sexy-Cutie — even in the name of research).

So my choices — as I see them — are limited:

1) Smile and nod and pretend I’m really happy for Jenny and the Sorry Bastard and just steel myself for another ten years of Jenny only being moderately happy. (I could spend that time researching the best divorce lawyers in that part of the state…)

2) Take her out for drinks and explain that I think she’s making a huge mistake with this sorry bastard and risk angering her to the point she not only hates me now, but won’t feel like she can call me when the marriage goes to hell and she needs a friend. (I’m also not sure this would do much good. I know several of her good friends — I mean the kind who are bridesmaids and will be getting her the Kitchen Aid mixer — have attempted to do gentle interventions over the years and achieved nothing.)

3) Hire a hooker to drug SB and take very compromising photos that are then delivered anonymously to Jenny.

4) Break out my shovel (very handy, that shovel. First you can beat him with it, then you can dig the hole to hide the body.).

I’m open to suggestions for a better set of options. I mean, none of these are really ideal — although the one with the hooker could at least be amusing, and the one with the shovel would provide me with much personal satisfaction.

I care about Jenny very much, and I want her to be happy. If I thought that Sorry Bastard would actually work hard to make her happy, I’d support this marriage with a genuine smile on my face.

I know love is powerful and complex; that’s why I write romance. But for all the crap the genre catches, romance does show how important it is for partners to be on an equal footing of respect and responsibility. Maybe I should hand Jenny a stack of romances and hope she gets the message.

Unless y’all can come up with better suggestions, I guess I’ll just start researching those divorce attorneys and polishing my shovel.

Ever been in a similar situation? What did you do?



Playground Monitor said...

Jeez! Truth IS stranger than fiction.

I vote for the hooker.


Rhonda Nelson said...

I vote for the hooker and the shovel. Honestly, it's such a shame when women sell themselves short. This guy sounds like a loser of the first order--can't abide a guy who won't work--and she sounds entirely too good for him.

Unfortunately, if you say anything you'll alienate her, which would play right into SB's hand.

Bad situation, PC. Sorry.

Jen said...

Forget the place setting of china. Buy Jenny a decade supply of birth control because hate to tell you babe, but I bet they're tying the knot because her bio clock is ticking. And if you think you hate him now...just wait until kids are involved.

Just opt for the shovel. The hooker? If she puts up with him not working, she'll forgive him his "indiscretion".

Had a friend from high school/middle school -- there were four of us. One girl married a total loser. He was always to genius for the jobs he was in which was why he never kept any of them. She paid for them to go to Europe. She worked. She bought the house and the car and whatever he wanted and we all kept our mouths shut. 10 years later she left and wanted help finding a divorce attorney. Then she changed her mind. Final conversation we had? "You've said he only married you for your money but you're going back?" Her -- "It's better than being alone." Game up. I have no idea what happened in her life after that because she shut the door.

Anonymous said...

What a sticky situation. What a shame. Let us know what you decide.

Agree with Rhonda about alienating your friendship.

Pat L.

Smarty Pants said...

I don't know I'd agonize much over this. Maybe for a kitchen aid friend, but not a place setting of china friend. Saying that sort of stuff is the responsibility of her close circle, not you, although they have more to lose if it goes badly. That said, if her friendship is not that critical, you may just want to lay it all out there and if she turns on you, oh well, you tried. You'll get a call a couple years from now with her sobbing that you were right.

If she was a kitchen aid friend, I'd say get out the shovel. Accidents happen. Sadly, I think you're just going to have to smile, attend the wedding, and practice what you'll say when you get the inevitable call down the road.

Is a subscription to E-harmony considered a bad engagement gift? :)

Instigator said...

Yikes! Talk about rock and a hard place. I agree with Andrea though. I'm not sure it's your place to agonize over this since she isn't a really good friend anymore. I think you should attend the wedding and be there for her when she decides this was a bad decision.

On a side note...have you heard that Match.com is now allowing you to sign your friends up and find matches for them? Am I the only one who thinks this has disaster written all over it?


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Yikes! In my experience, women sell themselves short far more frequently than I'd like to believe. Better the devil you know and all that. I've seen it happen.

I don't think there's anything you can say or do to change her mind. She believes this is what she deserves out of life. You can't change that because it comes from within. Having the courage to forgo the safe route, the marriage to the guy who's been sloughing it off on the couch all this time and find someone dynamic and interesting, isn't easy. She's going with door A because she knows what's behind it.


Maven Linda said...

I'm with Jen. Her clock is ticking, she's already invested 10 years in this loser and she's probably thinking she doesn't have time now to look for someone else. I personally think she'd be better off dumping him and going for in-vitro, which I'd probably say to her.

Will she regret marrying him? She sure will. There are so many great men out there, but she can't see them because he's standing in front of her like a giant black hole, sucking up all the light.

On the other hand, maybe she's thinking she'll marry him, get pregnant, then dump him. Not great thinking on her part, but at least it's better than expecting happily ever after with him.

What will you lose if you tell her the truth? A friendship that has become distant -- maybe. She knows he's a loser. My sister stayed with a loser that makes this one look positively adult, and he dragged her down with him until he committed the ultimate sin that made her toss him out without hesitation or remorse: he kicked one of her dogs.

He got off lightly. I'd have torn his head off, but then y'all know that about me, and you know my dogs.

I'd been telling her for years to dump him, but she didn't want to be alone. After she tossed his butt out, she had some rough patches being alone, but she finally realized that sometimes being alone is the better choice. Now she loves being alone. She's my older sister, but she's finally grown up.

Maybe your friend Jenny will finally reach that place. I just feel sorry for any kids she might have, because this drip will be in their lives forever.


Angel said...

Yep. Seen the other side of this fence. Not pretty. My Mom stayed over 30 years in a marriage that was abusive, not just loser.

We encouraged her over and over to leave. She did once, for 3 days. She'd call me crying, upset, asking me what to do. I told her the same thing: leave. But that was easy for me, because I didn't have to face making it on my own, now did I?

One day, out of the blue, she'd had enough. She made the decision for herself that she was done and she kicked him out. Has it been easy? No, especially not with the kids. But she's stronger, happier for it. And she now has a great guy she loves.

Yes, from the outside, you can tell when the guy is a loser and sponging. But maybe some women just have to learn for themselves, finally trust their self-esteem, to be able to say goodbye. And that's a lesson they must learn in their lives, not one we can learn for them.

But yes, I was waiting on the sideline with a shovel in case it was needed...


Problem Child said...

Even my tactless self knows that e-harmony and match.com subscriptions would be tacky. :-) Tempting, but tacky.

The shovel is sounding like the option of choice. I know the Maid of Honor was muttering something about "dark alleys" and "two-by-fours" when I talked to her.

She could do better, but reading some of these responses, I guess I should be happy she's not doing worse.

catslady said...

What a shame that it seems so many of us have to learn the hard way or not at all. You can be more lonely with someone than with no one at all but of course she doesn't see that. I don't think I could bring myself to attend the wedding - send regrets and with a lot of luck she'll ask you why - and since you aren't best friends anymore - you don't have to say bad things about him because she'll get defensive but maybe something like you think she deserves so much more. Or copy your post and send it anonymously lol.