red-wedding

Basically every dinner party

There are two kinds of dinner parties. The enjoyable kind is held in someone’s home, where no more than eight close friends or an otherwise amicable group of people get along over a couple bottles of wine and a home-cooked meal. The other kind is a huge group assembled in a restaurant, and being at one of those makes me hate food, people, restaurants, and the supposedly free society that would allow or even encourage such a miserable social experience.

More on this later in the mailbag, which also features the usual: people with girlfriends, girlfriends with girlfriends, and people dumped by girlfriends. So many girlfriends. And dinner parties. Enjoy.

Cap’n,
One of my girlfriend’s good friends has gone out on a few dates with someone from their kickball team. My girlfriend is super excited about this as she enjoys living vicariously through her friends, and also because we could potentially get another “couple friend” to do stuff with! According to my girlfriend, we currently only have one and it would be great to get another one.

I say according to my girlfriend as almost all of my friends are in relationships, and many of them are married as well. So the way I see it, we have many “couple friends” already, and getting another one is great and all, but no need to immediately schedule drinks.

I took some time to think about it, and I know what’s going on: My girlfriend, like most women, doesn’t really like other women and finds them to be vapid, bitchy, and very cliquey in general. Except for her circle of girls, who are the greatest people in the world and the ONLY ones who truly “get” each other. Seeing as most of my friends are men, their wives/girlfriends are vapid, bitchy and tend to be cliquey.

While not entirely false (they can be cliquey) the WAGs all like my girlfriend a lot and would like to get to know her more. So how do I explain to my girlfriend that she will most likely not meet anyone like her girlfriends so stop comparing everyone to them and realize that everyone just wants to get along and have a few beers from time to time?
-Doc Fishman

I think you’re probably being a little unfair to your girlfriend, and to women in general. At the very least, it’s inaccurate to paint women’s attitudes toward each other as thinking that all women but their friends are vapid and bitchy. (Cliquey, sure — but men can be, too.) Men have it easy: I can get along well enough with most of the adult male population simply through the topics of sports and booze. But because women have all sorts of “feelings” and “emotions,” it’s tougher for them to make connections with women they’ve just met.

If you can stomach an anecdote: My wife’s from California, and she left most of her lifelong and college-era friends behind when she moved to New York in her late 20s. We have our “couple friends” here — most of them through my dudebros — and she’s developed genuine, loving friendships with my friends and their wives, to the point of hanging out solo with those girls. But every once in a while she still gets really sad and misses her friends, the friends she came of age with and the ones who understand her more deeply. Despite the love in the new friendships, they lack the undercurrent of ownership she has in friendships she made without me in the picture. And there’s nothing that will ever change that.

So, while I definitely think you can ask your girlfriend to try to open up to your buddies’ WAGs a little more, you should also respect that (A) no one ever WILL compare to her girlfriends and (B) who the two of you hang out with together is more important to her than it is to you. I’d recommend just going out to drinks with her friend and the kickball dude. He likes sports, you’ll have a good time.

**********

o my captain my muthafuckin captain,
Watched Generation Kill straight through after you said it was the most realistic portrayal of war. The Marines pretty much figured they were going to die due to incompetence, so my question how do you not lose your shit when given a shitty order??? Also thanks for serving so my ass can stay home and play xbox!!!

Think of it as a shitty job you can’t quit.  I mean, when you get down to it, most combat orders are dangerous regardless of the competence behind them. Generally speaking, nobody conducting a frontal assault is enthusiastic about the plan, but that plan may be the only way to accomplish the mission in the time allotted, and the mission is the job. It’s a shitty job and you complain about it to your co-workers, and they bitch about it with you, then you all help each other survive the shitty orders by trusting in each other’s training.

If that sounds like it sucks, you are correct. Buy a veteran a drink the next time you meet one.

Sex: I’m a 32 male that for the life of me I can’t keep a relationship. I get bored with chicks, does not matter if they are the smartest chick in the world, looks like a model, and bangs like a meth addict, I get bored after a year tops. I want nothing to do with them. Its a true case of what the fuck is wrong with me. I’m not even that good looking and should count my lucky stars that I don’t have to pay for sex. My friends say I’m a sociopath, so my question is what the hell is wrong with me???
signed,
a guy that’s gonna die alone

I have no way of knowing. Like, I can’t speculate about you being a sociopath when maybe you just haven’t met a person who challenges you in a way that keeps you interested. Or maybe you just prefer being able to have sex with different people, which is a pretty terrific upside to being single. Personally, I don’t find a 32-year-old single man all that remarkable or unusual, but if it’s giving you an existential crisis, you should see a therapist.

**********

Dear Mr. Caveman,
I moved to a new city a few years ago for grad school. I’m planning to move back to my home town this spring. So far so good.

The issue is a friend of mine. This guy and I met in grad school, and while we’re not super close, we still hang out and grab drinks every now and again. This guy is an odd character, and he doesn’t have a great reputation in our program. My line is that I like him despite himself.

He sounds awesome. What a shame you’re moving.

He acknowledges that he’s this way, he just doesn’t care. The long and the short of it is that he doesn’t have many friends in this city. That’s partly (or largely, I guess) his fault, but it still sucks for him.

None of this would be a major issue except that in the past few weeks

A) He shattered his ankle, requiring a four month recovery. It being winter, he’s pretty much housebound these days.
B) His mom got quite ill and he can’t go visit her because of the ankle situation (also he has all the spare cash you’d expect of a grad student).
C) Got dumped by his girlfriend, who had been a great influence on him.

“She made him barely tolerable!”

I’ve known this guy for a few years, and at one point stress caused him to spiral pretty badly. Basically, I’m worried about the combined weight of three shitty things causing this guy to spiral again. There’s also the fact that I’m moving away, so whatever support I can provide will be seriously limited.

While I’m still here I’m making myself available to help him out, but I guess I’m wondering what, if anything, I can do to help this guy out from a distance?
Thanks,
Rick James’ Unity Ring
(Has enough time passed for Chappelle Show references to be clever again?)

The world would be a better place if everyone had more friends like you. But an overwhelming sense of duty and responsibility to third-tier friends is not a societal expectation. You’re his friend, not his case worker. That means you can (and should!) text or email him occasionally after you move to check up on him. That’s it. That’s what friends do, and it’s enough.

Your friend got a triple-decker shit sandwich, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for what the world deals out on a regular basis. This is life: we break our bones, our parents get sick, we get dumped, and nobody has enough money (except the few who have too much, which creates its own set of problems). So, while any kindness you offer to your friend will be appreciated, he’s ultimately the one who will determine whether he emerges from this a stronger person or stays down after chance pulled the rug out from under him. You can still be his friend without feeling responsible for his well-being.

If that’s too depressing of an answer, then just focus on helping him out until you move: offer to pick up groceries and prescriptions for him, drive him to physical therapy, lend him books, hang out with him on a weekend when he’s bummed he can’t go out. Hell, maybe you can introduce him to another weirdo who rubs everybody the wrong way, and they can be friends after you leave.

**********

Kapitány,
My buddy is throwing a surprise birthday party for his wife’s 30th birthday at a local fancy, chain restaurant.

C’mon, you can’t tease me with “fancy chain restaurant” and not specify which one. Are we talking a P.F. Chang’s or more like a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse? This is important.

I’ve known him for 15 years and her for about 5. He actually met her through me, as I invited her out with us and introduced them. He asked my fiancée and I about having the party on a Thursday versus a Saturday, as it would save him 50% off the total cost but wasn’t sure if people would still come. We told him people would still make it no matter when it was.

So the Evites go out

Evites? When’s the party, 2006?

detailing the event saying dinner will be served. Within a day 20 people RSVP yes. Then he sends an email to everyone who RSVP’d saying in order to keep things simple he has put together a menu at the cost of $60/person, but the first drink is on him. To save time splitting the check at the end of the night we can give him the money via Paypal and he will pay.

Here’s the problem: you’re friends with an asshole who thinks a surprise dinner party is a good idea.

People who organize group dinners of more than eight people are agents of Satan. Like, it’s one thing if you’ve got ten or twelve family members around the big table in your home for Thanksgiving, but twenty people shoved into a line of tables at a restaurant is a fucking TERRIBLE social experience. It takes forever for everyone to sit down and order, you’re stuck talking to the same 3-5 people sitting around you for the entire meal, and God help you if you’re against the wall and have to pee. And — dickheads asking for PayPal in advance aside — the check is always a complete shitshow because society is riddled with people who try to weasel out of tax and tip.

Am I wrong in thinking that he should pay for his wife’s surprise party, especially after telling us he was going to and sending out an invite with no mention of cost to anyone who attends? Not only that, he picked the most expensive Prix Fixe menu at one of the most expensive restaurants in our city. I threw a surprise party for my fiancée’s 25th birthday party and covered the catering and drinks myself. Isn’t that customary? This guy supposedly makes the most money out of all of our friends. He’s constantly taking vacations and buying the latest technology. He can certainly afford to pay for her surprise party.

Well, $60 a head times 20 people is, what? 1200 bucks? That’s two plane tickets to somewhere sexy (or two iPads), and he can’t have his awful dinner party budget cut into his vacation/tech budget like that.

My fiancée and I are saving to pay for our own wedding. I’m working overtime every weekend in order to make as much money for it as I can so it doesn’t drain our savings. I understand it’s “only” $120 for us to attend, but we’re on a budget and spending that much money on a dinner for a friend isn’t ideal. Am I a dick if I change my response to “no” and just ask to get together with them another time to celebrate? Or should we suck it up and spend the money to celebrate with our friends? He’s going to be in my wedding party, so I don’t want to offend him.
-Hornswoggled Hungarian

Okay. This is crazy, but try to stay with me here. I know you introduced his wife to him and he’s one of your closest friends, but I think you should try – I can’t believe I’m saying this — being honest with him.

no-way-wiig

Seriously, call him up and say, “Hey man, when you sent the invite, I didn’t realize it was going to cost me and Krista $120. I know that probably doesn’t sound like much, but I’m working overtime to save for our wedding and that’s just a little too steep for us right now. Is there any way we can show up after dinner to hang out and wish Melissa a happy birthday?” Unless he’s a real prick — which is possible, given this awful party — he’s either going to say “Of course!” or offer to cover your dinner.

I mean, what’s the alternative? You come up with a bullshit excuse and miss the party and reschedule so you can lie at length about why you couldn’t make the party? If they were less integral to your lives, sure. But this dude’s in your wedding party. Just be straight with him.

**********

Dear Matt-

Football question: how many more seasons before the NFL/major broadcasters scrap the contemporary announcing model? Generally speaking, today’s announcers suck and I don’t believe many would argue against this. How long before we find another way to get somebody else’s voice into your living room on Sunday to improve your viewing experience? I personally like Barry Switzer’s model, where you basically have a guy who is extremely knowledgable about the game able to discuss the play by play, but also a total vulgar homer when it comes to your team doing well or shitting the bed. I don’t see the NFL going that route though. It pisses me off that guys like Buck and Aikmen are paid beaucoup bucks to not add any value to the game. (‘Do you see this ever changing?’ is probably a more apt question than ‘when?’)

I don’t see it changing until the present broadcast model changes. ESPN took a small step with its “coaches room” during the Auburn-FSU national championship this year, but that happened only because ESPN was happy to funnel part of its audience onto another one of its channels. Maybe future NFL broadcast deals will allow for alternative announcing set-ups on the networks’ toddlers (NBCSN, FS1, etc.), but the Bucks and Aikmans will stay in the spotlight.

And that’s too bad, because if I were in charge, I’d have a booth that was one play-by-play guy and two “color” commentators, each a huge fan of one of the teams on the field. They’d still be professionals, of course: they wouldn’t be the drunken moron next to at the sports bar. But they’d wear a jersey and openly root for their team, and you’d get to hear from someone who watches the team every week talk about a coach’s or quarterback’s tendencies. Plus every touchdown would come with a simultaneous “Oh no” and “WOOOOOOO!”

My helpless BS: I recently left my cushy corporate job to pursue a second career in medicine. I’m still very young, so I figured that if there was a time to take a risk and try something new, best do it now before there are kids and a mortgage involved. Through all this, my girlfriend has been nothing but supportive and I love her. Before quitting, I managed to save up enough money to pay my half of the rent for a few months, grab groceries every so often, and still take her out on special occasions. Here’s the problem: I am unemployed, unsure about what sort of income I will have anytime soon, and am about to embark on a few years of debt while I am hopefully allowed the opportunity to return to school to pursue this dream of mine. With all of this uncertainty, I want to secure the one certain thing in my life… my girlfriend.

I know I want to marry her and she wants to marry me. I also know that she would prefer this to happen sooner rather than later (been together for 4 years, living together for 2). She knows I’m counting my pennies carefully and says that she does not want an expensive ring/wedding… she believes frugality is a good thing when it comes to getting married (minus drinks and music- then it’s SPEND SPEND SPEND). What she says makes me think I can take the financial risk now to make both of us happy.

Question 1: Is she pulling my leg? She actually wants a big ring I can’t afford today and a wedding with 500 guests? But she also wants to get engaged tomorrow? Homegirl can’t have both. I personally would like to buy a ring that I could afford today and propose tomorrow, but I don’t want this to come back and bite me in the ass when she changes her mind about being all frugal in a few months. What would you do? Do you ever wonder if you got engaged too quickly?

I did not get engaged too quickly. My wife and I dated for a year and a half and lived together for four or five months when I asked the question, and — as I’ve stated here before — my only regret is not doing it sooner.

You just gotta talk it out, man. I know that that ruins any kind of surprise you may have had in mind, but you just gotta lay it all out there. Tell her everything you wrote a couple paragraphs above, then lay out the different options as you see them. If you’re going to be a doctor, you’ll eventually be able to buy her much nicer jewelry.

Question 2: Will you hire me?

Thanks again,
Richard Dent’s Spent Rent

Probably not, as you’re going to be focused on medical studies and not fully invested in football-related dick jokes. We only want people who are SERIOUS ABOUT THIS BUSINESS.