What’s Her Problem?

We’ve got a double header today.

Dear Dr. Brothers: My parents really don’t like my girlfriend. She’s never done anything to offend them or anything, and she’s always really nice to them, so I can’t understand what the problem is. We’ve been together for almost two years now, and they still try to set me up on dates and convince me to break up with her. It makes family dinners really uncomfortable, and it’s embarrassing to have her over at all. How can I get my parents to get over it and start to like my girlfriend? — B.I.

They say that love is blind, and you obviously can’t see what your parents do, but it’s probably there.  Parents don’t like their kids’ significant others for many reasons, but they all simplify down to the same answer: she’s not good enough for you.

You're trashy, dear.

To be honest, I could care less. The only reason I’m answering your letter is it’s an excuse to tell one of my favorite stories that is related to your problem.

When my best friend Paul* graduated college, his parents threw him a party.  They were like a second family to me, and I was there well before and well after the party to help out.  Also there was Paul’s girlfriend, Beth*, who he had been dating for a few months.  She, Paul’s mom, and I were all in the kitchen.  I was wrapping up leftovers and putting them in the fridge.  Mom and Beth were doing dishes – mom washing and Beth drying.  They were doing this in silence.  Just the silence of people doing a chore with nothing to talk about.  I wouldn’t describe it as awkward.  At least not until what happened next.

All of a sudden, Paul’s mom turns to Beth, handing her a dish and says “Maybe you should start seeing other people” Not breaking her stride, she picks up the next dish and continues washing.  Mind you, Paul’s mom is the sweetest women you could meet, and I could not believe what I had so clearly heard.

The oddest thing was not what she said, but the way she said it.  It was as plain and casual as any other friendly advice.  She could have just as easily  said “There is a stain on your blouse.”

Needless to say, their relationship didn’t last long.  I will always remember it as the most polite and tactful way anyone has ever said “you’re not good enough for my son and I want you to go away.”

* Names have not been changed.  That’s how I roll.

One Line Wednesday: It All Evens Out

Today’s One Line Wednesday™ comes from Dear Abby

Flower Girl Facepalm

Dear Abby:

My daughter was asked to be the flower girl in the wedding of a friend. We were delighted for her to be a part of the wedding — that’s not the problem.

We attended the bridal shower last week, and I lent a helping hand with some of the duties. When the shower was winding down, the maid of honor approached me and asked me to “settle up” for the party. She announced that my part of the shower was in excess of $100. I was stunned. I have never heard of the flower girl being financially responsible for a bridal shower at the ripe old age of 5.

What should I do? Not a Bridesmaid



Send the maid of honor a bill in the exact amount for “Flower Girl Rental”


Each week, I select a letter for One Line Wednesday™ and skip the usual in-depth advice and gets right to the point in one word or sentence. Think you can do better? Submit your one line response below.  Who knows, maybe eventually there will be a prize for the best one.

Party Poopers

As today is my birthday, I thought this column from Annie’s Mailbox was appropriate.  Needless to say, this writer did not receive an invitation to my party.

Gifts at State Dinners are not expected - but invitations are.

Worst Guests Ever.

Dear Annie: Every year, friends of ours have birthday parties at their homes and at bars. We usually can’t go because of other obligations, but when we do go, are we obligated to bring a gift? Or is a birthday card with well wishes sufficient?

If gifts are not expected and it is simply a fun get-together, shouldn’t they say “no gifts”? We enjoy seeing friends, but by having these parties every year, it seems they are only interested in presents. To find a gift that costs only a few dollars is practically impossible. Is it wrong to feel this way? Can we just bring a card? Should we skip the party altogether? — B-Day Party Guest

Annie says:

Dear Guest: People who like to celebrate their birthdays are inclined to do so once every year. In most instances, these are very informal events. If the party is at a bar, you can treat the birthday celebrant to a drink. At their house, bring a snack or a bottle of something. It would be a shame to avoid all such parties because you are fixated on the presents. Go and have a good time.


First off, if your idea of a proper gift consists of something that can be had for a few dollars, trust me when I tell you that there is no way these friends of yours are inviting you to their parties for your presents. Considering the pettiness of your gripe, I doubt it’s your charm and winning social skills either.  If I were you, I’d be wondering less about what you should be bringing and more puzzled about why these friends of yours are inviting you in the first place.

In polite society, decent people bring something to the host of a party.  This is especially true for birthdays. You really should consider yourselves lucky if birthday parties  are the only gift giving events that you are obligated to attend.  My social calendar is chock-full of invitations that come with a gift as the price of admission – weddings, bridal showers, kids birthdays, Christmas parties, bar mitzvahs. The list goes on and on, and it only gets worse as you get older and your friends keep breeding.

Friendships are seemingly never-ending parade of obligations and inconveniences.   We put up with this crap because most people can see the long view and have a concept of reciprocity. What hippies call karma is real.  You give gifts to get them, and you get them by putting out your friends as much as they do you.

What your letter is really saying is that not only do you go to your friends parties and try to weasel your way out of giving them a gift for their effort, but you also don’t host your own damn parties making sure they return the favor. You are upsetting the natural balance of things, and that is the real cause of your frustration.

I mean seriously, you also have a birthday every damn year!  Stop complaining about how your friends are all grabby gift whores and do what they do.  Throw yourselves birthday parties. Everything will balance out, and the cash you spend on your friends will come back to you in equal measure in the form of gift cards to restaurants you hate, sweaters that don’t fit, and books you already have.

Hell, if they are dumb enough to keep inviting  you ungrateful little shits to their parties, you could probably get away with throwing yourselves to or even three birthday parties a year. Pop out a few kids, get divorced and remarried, and soon you’ll have an attic full of useless crap courtesy of your nearest and dearest.

When it comes to gifts, presentation is everything

When it comes to gifts, presentation is everything

One last thing to mention for my readers.  Stating “No Gifts” is the biggest no-win social situation there is.  It is a notice more often ignored than “wet paint” or “hot plate.”

There is always some asshole who ignores it and makes everyone look bad.  Worse, if most of your friends are assholes, there will undoubtedly be many gifts.  The writers of this letter obviously have no shame, but do you really want to be spending the entire party saying “I thought they said no gifts?” See what following clearly laid out instructions gets you?

There is a great defense to this passive aggressive ploy.  If you get one of these “your presence is our present” invites, gift wrap the biggest empty box that you can find  but (this is key)  leave it in your car. When you get to the party, if only one or two people have gifts, hang onto it for the next one.  If there are many gifts, loudly announce “I left mine in my car” and go get it. Chances are, the biggest box will be opened immediately.  When your host discovers it’s empty, simply say “you said no gifts, and that is no gift.”  The host will appreciate the joke, the people who brought real gifts will secretly envy that everyone liked your nothing better than their something, and the people who didn’t bring gifts will appreciate the vindication. Most importantly, everyone will know not to play mind games with you.