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You May Now Dis The Bride

I recently married a wonderful man. A few of his friends who could be described as "anti-marriage" attended our wedding, but everything was perfect -- until the next day when we opened our gifts. Inside one box, badly wrapped in gold paper, was a little white plastic shovel and a note: "Beth, I know it's not gold, but you get the idea." Someone was calling me a gold digger! FYI, my husband makes a modest salary. I make slightly less. When we viewed our wedding video, one of the anti-marriage guys, "Rob," had the box in several shots. My husband called Rob, who claimed "some girl had (him) hold it while she took a picture." He couldn't describe her at all -- not even her hair color. My response: telling my husband Rob wasn't welcome in our house, and that I would never socialize with him. Am I justified? Should my husband still talk to him?


The least "Rob" could've done is give you a real gold shovel so you could pawn it, since you married a man who's unlikely to ever buy you Breakfast at Tiffany's, but who can probably spring for an afternoon snack at that cheapo mall jewelry store, Claire's.

Some people's happiness really makes other people hurl. So, the guy's "anti-marriage." Frankly, so am I. But, when friends feel differently, I somehow manage to get my happily unmarried self to their weddings, carrying only a slim satin purse, and leave my soapbox in the car. Being anti-marriage isn't quite the same as being, say, anti-war. But, let's say it is in his tiny little mind. Why didn't he print up signs -- "Millions wed. How many more?" -- and enlist Cindy Sheehan to join him in picketing the church? Well, I guess some men stand on principle, and others prefer to sit down (all the better to enjoy the free dinner and open bar).

At the moment, you're giving the guy exactly what he wants: a job as the unofficial provider of the rain on your parade. It's not like you'd ooh and ah upon discovering he gave you an attack editorial instead of a gift, but can't you find your way to a few laughs at his pathetic expense? This leaping loser is actually accusing you of being a gold digger. Now, either you're so fabulous the guy couldn't muster an insult that actually hit the mark, or you're totally lame at gold digging. Hint: You're supposed to mow down the guy with the Ford Focus to get to the guy in the Ferrari, not the other way around.

Of all the outrageous appliances you must've gotten as gifts -- the remote-controlled napkin holder with WiFi, the sub-zero riding lawnmower/lemon zester -- the most powerful one of all could be that 85-cent plastic shovel; that is, if that's all it takes to turn you into the cliché nagging wife handing down the banned buddies list to her henpecked husband. Go ahead, tell your husband what you won't stand for. Just leave what he won't stand for up to him. If you married a good guy, he probably won't be feeling too chummy toward ole Robbo. In fact, it's likely that yet another wedding has turned out to be an elaborately catered prelude to divorce -- not of the bride and groom but of the groom and his alleged friend. I'm guessing your husband will be big about the breakup and grant the little man custody of the little shovel; ideally, without giving into the desire to deviate his septum in the process.

Posted by aalkon at October 17, 2007 1:38 AM


I think a little gold shovel as a gag gift was the wrong choice. Much better would have been a replica Emmy inside a box of laundry detergent. Why? Because this poor fellow has clearly married the Drama Queen of the year!

Posted by: Robert (Vancouver) at October 17, 2007 1:30 AM

I'm sorry Robert? Some small-dicked loser doesn't even have the gonads to own up to his ungracious, bitchy comment on this woman's reasons for marrying his "friend" and SHE's the bad guy in this? I agree completely with Amy that the bride should leave it up to hubbie to decide on his own relationship with this nasty little gnome for the sake of her marriage, but she has every right to treat him as the immature jerk that he is. Some little boys just never outgrow their boyhood.

Posted by: GMan at October 17, 2007 1:44 AM

some girl had (him) hold it while she took a picture If this is true, and there are not too many guests, you could maybe figure out who took each picture because they're not in it. A bit of detective work!

But whoever did this thing, what an unpleasant person!

Posted by: Norman at October 17, 2007 2:00 AM

I think she's spot on thinking Rob created the gift --- women know how to wrap presents, and they know the difference between a gold mine and a shaft.

Hubby alerted, now back off and let him do the man dance. It won't be the first -- I was amazed when I got married at the catty comments, jealousy, and downright hostility I encountered from male friends, to the point where I had to escort a buddy out the door and drive home the point that my wife's ass was no place for his hand.

Hubby's going to have to deal with all of it, so give him a chance to step up to the plate.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at October 17, 2007 6:33 AM

Oy. It’s too bad you can’t do a “Judge Amy” kind of thing where you drag all the parties in to account for themselves. “Rob” sounds like one of these guys you find on AWS style sites who talks trash about women and marriage and then flips to “freecell” when his wife comes in the room. He’s the one who really needs advice and here it is: An excerpt from:

John Tierney Forbes Sept. 2000
By way of preamble
“In 1902, as he lay dying at the age of 48, Cecil Rhodes…” gave some rules to live by and one of them was:
“Make an enemy for life. A gentleman has been defined as someone who never gives pain to anyone unintentionally. This leaves plenty of leeway for deliberate rudeness toward someone you can't stand. Stand up to a bully; speak out against a fraud; fight off a rival for a prize. Care enough about something to make someone mad. …"

Now you can agree or disagree with “Rob’s” take on marriage in general or this woman’s marriage in particular but his craven denial of the shovel gag puts him out of the brotherhood of men. (Women are still allowed and even encouraged to lie when the need arises but that is a topic for another day.)

And where was the Best Man? His job is to locate the louts and the passion princesses and toss them out so the groom need not soil his tux. Come on people, if we are going to maintain archaic rituals, let’s get it right.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 6:51 AM

What a chickenshit....not even owning up to his "gag" gift. He obviously knows what poor taste it was in and how it is bound to affect his friendship.

I'd be pissed off at this ass as well, but I think stepping back, taking a deep breath and dealing with humour instead of dramatic outrage goes further to demonstrate that committing wasn't such a bad idea. Cliche wife responses justify the disdain these guys have for their buddy committing. (I'm making an assumption based on the apparent lack of maturity that his reasoning runs more along the lines of "girls suck" than any logical argument against the institution of marriage.)

Since the fellow was invited, he must run in the same social circles, so she's bound to bump into him again. Storming off when he shows up just gives him & his buddies more ammo. A pointed but civil, humourous reminder of his stupidity demonstrates just how cool she is and makes him look like the ass he is. Much sweeter than the drama!

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 7:28 AM

From a different angle..hubby and old Rob are best buddies from kindergarten on, and Rob misses his wittle buddy. He blames her for taking his little keg killing friend away from him and he's scared shitless because he's probably fat, ugly, stupid, and he's damn sure no woman wants him. So she's going to catch hell from him as long as they stay married. So now that hubby bit the bullett and married her, she better tell her wittle husband that his handling of his friend Rob and his antics will determine how sucessful their marriage is. My best friend of over 20 years was my best man. He and his wife didn't care for my wife, but they gave me their opinion and then stepped back and trusted my judgment on her. They never warmed up to her much, but they were both very respectful and nice to her. Marriage is hard enough without a "friend" who tries their best to tear it apart because of their own immaturity.

Posted by: brian [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 7:47 AM

And another thing. This letter shows why there will always be work for good screenwriters. Just when real life seems to be offering a noteworthy moment, one of the main characters blows his line and we are left with a soggy pile of some stuff that happened.
All he had to do was puff out his chest and say “That’s right, I did it. And I also checked ‘chicken’ on the RSVP but had the steak instead!” Attending a wedding used to signify your blessing of the union and the institution. Now it just means you know a good party when you see one. Showing up to heckle the proceedings takes some major stones but I’m guessing it is a growing phenomenon and the serious bride had better be prepared for it. (It’s HER day after all; if the groom had any stones he wouldn’t be up there in powder-blue tux.)

How do you deal with someone who insults you and then pretends not to have insulted you? It all depends on how far down you are willing to climb on the ladder of self-esteem in order to fight this person at their own level. Pity him, ignore him, keep an eye on him, or write a syndicated columnist and hope people recognize him. Any of these will do nicely.

Posted by: martin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 8:13 AM

Marriage is hard enough without a "friend" who tries their best to tear it apart because of their own immaturity.

Word, Brian. Those are the kind, though, that sometimes need to be weeded out "gently". Tapering phone calls, too "busy" to meet for a beer, that type of thing. Unless the guy is really thick and needs it spelled out for them. Oh yeah, and some women are like this too. I had to deal with one after I got married. She was my friend, though, and the last straw was when she got herself in trouble and asked me to drive to Maine (4 hours from here) to bail her out! The whole way home, she blamed my ex "for taking me away from" her, if she had been with me, "[that] never would have happened", blah blah blah. I told her that she needed to grow up and get over herself, and she shouldn't call me until then. I still haven't heard from her. My dad says she falls into the $20 category, as in, if you meet someone, and they ask to borrow $20, you give it to them and then never see them again, it was probably worth it. o_O

Posted by: Flynne [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 8:23 AM

If this guy is the genius behind this gift, he has insulted both her intelligence and her marriage. BUT she's still gotta take the high-road. If he were HER friend, she could do a little social pruning and cut him out of her life. But he's hubby's friend, so she's gotta be at least lukewarm-civil when she's blessed with his presence. Deliberately rude people act like they do in hopes that others will be rude back, thereby justifying their behavior--I hope the LW doesn't give him the satisfaction.

That said, I don't have the most warm & fuzzy feelings about getting married myself. But I love attending friends' weddings. I look at it like this: I majored in English, but I have many friends who majored in Engineering, Business, Math, etc. I was happy for them when they obtained their advanced degrees, even though they were in fields I avoided and cannot relate to.

Posted by: sofar [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 8:34 AM

i think it's pretty funny. why do people expect to get presents for their wedding anyway.

my advice to him would've been to at least give them a real shovel. those are pretty useful, unlike your vibrating napkin holders.

Posted by: jody at October 17, 2007 8:57 AM

No one should "expect" presents. Traditionally, as I'm sure you know, they were given to help a young couple set up house as they'd both just come from their parents home. Rarely the case anymore. Most of the weddings I attend these days are second weddings and my gift of choice is cash.

People can't seem to help but give gifts. We were horribly rude in our invitations and mentioned gifts as in, "The pleasure of your company is all we request, no gifts please" as we really didn't want any vibrating napkin holders. We got them anyway.

Posted by: moreta [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 9:18 AM

Well first question I have is Rob one of the Anti-marriage friends? Could he really be that stupid to pose with the box? Before any one decides what the appropriate response should be make sure you know who's guilty.

You mentioned salary but what about assets? Does he come from a wealth family? If yes then I'd look at a family member first. Also the girls theory does actually sound plausible, especially if he comes from money. Rob may know exactly who the girl that gave him the box to hold is and may not want to tell for other reasons.

There is of course the conspiracy nut version of events. How did the bride fell about Rob prior to the wedding? I have one friend who was dating a nut. You would not believe what I supposedly did. The only thing that saved me was that she screwed up her dates.

Posted by: vlad at October 17, 2007 9:21 AM

If he did do it maybe find out why before you throw him out for good. If he's one of the hubbies casual friends then there's not really much harm in tossing him. If it's his best friend then it would be a bit different.

Posted by: vlad at October 17, 2007 10:03 AM

Perhaps the bride should give "Rob" a "Thank you" gift in return. Something pithy like a medium-quality inflatable sex doll with a note that reads "Rob. I know it's not a real woman to help you pass those lonely, cold, empty, gin-soaked nights, but you get the idea."

I'm not a hardcore "Marriage advocate", but sheesh. It was a bad joke from a little prick. Move on.

Posted by: RedPretzel in LA at October 17, 2007 10:08 AM

Lame joke by a socially challenged dork. But she's only giving him credibility by reacting to it. I'd say let it go. This dumb Rob guy with his plastic shovel is providing her and her girlfriends with joke fodder for the next two years. His joke wasn't much to laugh at, but he sure is - that's what people like him are good for! Nothing to get into a snit over, and lay off the husband - if you're going to be a shrew over something, wait for something big.

Posted by: Pirate Jo at October 17, 2007 10:31 AM

If I were in her situation, I would probably go with RedPretzel's suggestion. (of course, after finding out that he, indeed, was the culprit) Call me crazy, but the thought of sending along a box containing a sex doll to a cad like that (with that note attached) would send me into giggle-fits. Who knows? Maybe Rob will go into some deep self-reflection after receiving his own "gift" and apologize.

At least the LW didn't sulk and complain about the "gift" being a waste of an opportunity for a wedding present. That reminds me...has anyone seen the show "Bridezillas"?

Posted by: cinnamongti18 at October 17, 2007 10:32 AM

Sorry I should have read the letter more carefully.
"When we viewed our wedding video, one of the anti-marriage guys, "Rob," had the box in several shots."

Posted by: vlad at October 17, 2007 10:37 AM

"telling my husband Rob wasn't welcome in our house, and that I would never socialize with him. Am I justified?"

Not really. LW's best response should be excrutiating politeness. If she's smart, she'll have more fun pillow-ridiculing Rob with her husband over the next bunch of years then actively holding a grudge. Less risk of proving Rob "right" too.

Posted by: snakeman99 at October 17, 2007 10:51 AM

I'm with Pirate Jo. As usual!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 17, 2007 10:53 AM

We were horribly rude in our invitations and mentioned gifts as in, "The pleasure of your company is all we request, no gifts please" as we really didn't want any vibrating napkin holders.

The thing is, there's rude, and then there's RUDE. Putting anything about gifts on the invitation is technically not supported by etiquette, but if you're putting the equivalent of, "Look, we just want you to come and enjoy some free food, booze and music; no entrance fee required," people typically won't mind.

As for the LW, I guess I have a sick and twisted mind. I'd get a gold (or "gold") shovel, hang it on the wall, and throw a party for my husband's old friends. When asked about the shovel, I'd happily mention the gift I got, and then would say, "That was SO thoughtful, but as you can guess, I only like the best! So I got a real gold shovel to bless our home." And I'd have Kanye West playing in the background, timed so that a particular song would come around every 45 minutes or so.

Because really, how pathetic is that? The woman marries a guy who makes less money than she does and all his friend can accuse her of is gold-digging? That's it? Whatta maroon. He's no threat to her marriage...though I have this sneaking suspicion that he finds her more attractive than he ever wants to let on, and that may be motivating at least part of his behavior. The more she can take the high road and be the party that's less high-maintenance, the more she wins. And really, if the accusation is all that ridiculous...why does she care?

Posted by: marion at October 17, 2007 1:15 PM

I think marriage has it's purpose and usefulness, I believe in it, blah blah blah.

I think LW's response was appropriate. Not what I would have done, (If situations were reversed,) but it works. (I'd have probably said, "a shovel...? But you're not rich... what a moron." and left it at that, making Rob the penultimate dipshit in my mind for all time, but that's me. She never said her husband wasn't "allowed" to be friends with Rob, she said she doesn't want to see him again. He fucked up, he screwed the pooch, and now pays the price. This limits access to his friend, a deserved repercussion.

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 1:35 PM

Why would the shovel be gold?

What sux is, if you're sane and you think a friend has insulted you, you're probably right, and you have to clean up your friend's mess: flush the offender; turn the other cheek and prove your friend's assessment of you causing a perpetual death spiral until you flush; or demand better behaviort causing a perpetual death spiral until you flush.

Or enjoy it per Pirate Jo - but part of the fun in that is having Rob around to ridicule, which would be like keeping fleas as pets.

Have a Wedding Video party where you have a game called "Gues the identity the douchebag who gave me this cheapo shovel" and the winner gets the shovel and the douchebag.

Posted by: DaveG [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 17, 2007 3:29 PM

she really shouldn't give this idiot the satifaction of being upset. cover that shovel with gold foil & have it framed...

Posted by: petitenoya at October 17, 2007 4:49 PM

Exactly, Pirate Jo. I can hear the advice my mom would give: "Kill 'em with kindness."

Posted by: kg at October 17, 2007 5:19 PM

I've given friends a gag gift of this sort before, and I had my name printed on the tag pretty clearly. If he had really meant it in fun, he would've owned up to it and been real about it. Sophomoric humor should still be allowed, when its not downright mean.

But as a firm believed of brotherly love, I gotta say that the LW won't get anywhere if she antagonizes her husband about his choice of friends. If I were her, I'd go the route of "this hurt my feelings oh so much", and act tearfully distressed, not angry and vindictive. Angry and vindictive might make him feel like he's included in the accused, and it could also make him feel defensive. But just discussing how hurt you may have been by the comment will reinforce the need to protect his girl, you know? Then he can go about dealing with his "buddy" in the proper fashion.

Posted by: Scott at October 18, 2007 3:24 AM

I think the best advice for this letterer might be to file for divorce/annulment before her husband does.

The letterer bans the buddy from the house and wonders if she should decree that hubby can have no contact with buddy. The buddy is no stranger. Tasteless, dunderheaded and uncouth as the buddy's behavior is, it can't be new, meaning the only difference between this offense and the other (previous, likely) offenses is that she and her husband are now married.

The letterer believes that marriage imbues her with an insurmountable line-item veto over all her husband's social contacts (even his closest friends) and every other part of his life. Note that she doesn't ask if she can forbid her husband's private contact with his buddy, only if it's prudent. It's as if the priest pronounced "Outraged" as her husband's personal Pope.

In short, that attitude is probably going to result in divorce and/or cheating on his part and deep resentment on hers.

Better to get it over with now, before they breed.

Posted by: Steve W at October 19, 2007 12:37 PM

I think that the bride should have the note and little plastic shovel framed in a shadow box, and place it in a prominent location. That way, Rob's stupidity is showcased for all to see.

Posted by: Laurie at October 20, 2007 6:37 PM

She should send Rob a plastic blow-up doll with a note that says, "This isn't the real thing but I figured you needed one!"

Posted by: Michelle at October 21, 2007 11:36 AM

I wonder if the husband is pissed at "Rob"? Perhaps she was asking if it would be an appropriate response for her husband to cut off contact with R, and not necessarily asking whether or not it were an appropriate "Mandate" from her? Maybe he's as outraged as she is, and she's looking for advice for the both of them?

Posted by: Morbideus [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2007 12:25 PM

I'm coming at this a little late, but I'm just gasping over this behavior! It's not a question of people being pro- or anti-marriage, it's a question of whether they're pro- or anti-their friends' happiness. This guy, evidently, is against it, or at least thinks little enough of his friend to imply that he himself knows better than his friend does what will make his friend happy.

Chances are this guy Ron would treat any woman who tied his buddy down the same way. It's really not about her, it's about the husband. By implying she's a gold digger, he's saying that 1) his friend isn't good enough to love on his own and 2) he doesn't know how to pick a woman. I imagine this is even a way to see how it's going to be now by challenging his friend and seeing what he'll do to defend his wife. At any rate, the friendship is between the two men, and it needs to be repaired, or not, in their corner.

Posted by: Rebecca at October 24, 2007 9:19 PM

Honestly, I wish my friends had done more to break up my marriage. But then, you have to think of the scene in "Man With Two Brains" where Steve Martin is asking his dead wife if it's ok to get remarried.

"Just any sign will do." I didn't listen. She was cute. And crazy. I just didn't know how crazy, and frankly, didn't care so long as the fun was going on.

To some extent, she shouldn't feel she must put up with Rob's abuse.

But in her case, lest she go down the same road with the ashtray chucker in a later column, show some grace and humor, and let her husband sort it out. He'll either cut off Rob, growl at him privately, or show her that really, his relationship with Rob is more important. If she forces the issue (and she has), it will cause bigger, long term problems later, because she's cowed her husband, and given Rob a valid point in his anti-marriage argument. And likely, make Rob's present a self fulfilling prophecy in family court when she does come to hate the hen pecked weinie she saddled herself with.

We only have her side of the story, and no one is going to state they're a controlling shrew to an advice columnist. Rob might miss his relationship with his friend, might have had personal tragedy with marriage (it's the leading cause for divorce) and maybe, genuinely thinks his friend would be happier without the impending legal grief. Then again, some people like to cause as much grief and chaos as they can. If that's the case, Rob's not good at hiding it. Also, a good sign of an abuser is someone who separates their SO from their friends and family. I wonder how much sex and intimacy this is going to cost Mr. Outraged.

Maybe, if she concentrates on being her husband's partner, and not his boss (or Personal Pope. I am SO stealing that.), Rob will come to find out that his friend is happy and content, and his life is richer because of his marriage. Try working (or talking) with your husband instead of making ultimatums, or you may find that in balance, Rob's right.

Posted by: Wayne at November 2, 2007 7:33 PM

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