DAME’s Friendkeeper tells us how not to spend Turkey Day alone and digs into why a woman’s friend has lost her funny.
We urgently need your help. DAME reports the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. In times of crisis it is even more critical that these voices are not overlooked, but COVID-19 has impacted our ability to keep publishing. Please support our mission by joining today to help us keep reporting.
I’m unable to make it home for Thanksgiving this year which means I’ll be on my own. I’m a terrible cook so I can’t host my own dinner—and most of my friends will be out of town or with their families anyway—but I certainly don’t want to be alone on turkey day. Is it rude to weasel an invitation to a friend’s family dinner? Will they resent my asking/presence? Can I suggest that someone else host a meal for those of us who aren’t going home? If someone I know is hosting a dinner, how can I make sure I get invited without looking desperate/pathetic? I have visions of sitting alone at my local Indian food spot, wishing every bite of saag paneer was actually mashed potatoes and gravy. Please don’t let this be my fate!
Feelin’ Like a Turkey
Last year, despite our stellar personalities, my Aunt Mattie and I took Christmas alone (I say “took Christmas” because it sounds kind of sad and Dickensian). My daughter was with her dad and his family and Mattie’s husband was with his ho ho ho. Anyway, you can read more about it here. The point is, we decided to do a movie and Chinese food and celebrate and make it great just we two and the movie was sold out and our fellow Jews were using up all the Chinese tables so we ended up eating Indian food on my aunt’s block and crying in our Tandoori chicken and six bottles of Taj Mahal. I don’t think I’ll offend Mattie when I say it sucked. The fact is, the holidays you look forward to should be good. They only come but once a year. Here are my tips for you to avoid our fate. First thing you do, post on social media—Facebook and Twitter for all of your friends to see: “In case anyone was wondering, I’ll be alone on Thanksgiving” (then post a photo of the Swanson’s turkey dinner with mostly white meat and apple cranberry cobbler). If that doesn’t get you some invites, I don’t know what will. But there are options. You don’t cook? Well, neither do I, and if you remember, neither did Charlie Brown but he made a gorgeous popcorn, buttered toast, jellybean, and pretzel meal for his friends! But if that’s too lowbrow for you there are several places (Fresh Direct here in New York, Whole Foods, Zabars, etc…) that supply an entire Thanksgiving dinner. So you could invite your friends for that OR you can have a potluck. Make a turkey (by make I mean buy one that’s already made and tell everyone you made it) and assign everyone a dish or two. Truthfully, I believe that if you invite the right people, one of them is bound to say, “That’s crazy! Come to my Aunt Ina Garten’s for Thanksgiving!” Bring wine and some mixed nuts and I have no doubt you’ll be a regular at their table.
I have this friend who has a tin ear for humor. Not in the telling of jokes—strangely enough, she’s an incredible wit. She just seems to take everything and everyone so seriously right now. So many unnecessary hurt feelings, and it’s like I’m constantly putting out fires, over-explaining, editing what I’m about to say, or saying, hey, we were just teasing, or that was a joke—remember those? The thing is, she’s never even the butt of a joke, because everyone has learned by now that she can’t take one, can’t even be ribbed. But there must be something more going on, right? She’s got other virtues, otherwise I wouldn’t be friends with her—she’s smart as hell, really generous, and a great friend-fixer-upper. But as someone who has surrounded herself with a bunch of funny people, it can be really stressful to include her at, say, a dinner party or a group outing because I feel like I’m always running interference, or like I am suddenly so earnest and so are our friends, and what fun is that?
What should I do, Julie?
I Cannot Be Serious
Hmm, you say she is “taking everyone so seriously right now.” I assume she hasn’t always been like this or you wouldn’t be friends with her, so what’s going on? I have certainly experienced times of stress in my life where my sense of humor had sort of gone fishin’. That does happen. Could be she is going through some difficult relationship thing or work thing or family thing that’s making her ultra-sensitive. The first thing I would do is sit down with her alone and explain your concern about her. Not getting jokes seems to say she’s distracted or unhappy. Tell her you’ve noticed this change in her and it’s worrisome to you. Give her a couple of examples without sounding like you’ve been taking notes on her behavior (which, of course, you have). I think bringing it to light will help. If that’s not the case and she’s just changed then I think you should maybe consider hanging out with her less. If your group of friends gets together to have fun, they will just not want to do it if she’s there. Because one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch (girl).
I’ve seen every Dear Julie you’ve done and they’re very tactful and chock-full of wisdom.
Perhaps you can help with what my girlfriend calls another “Larry David situation” which I seem to have a knack for getting myself into. I would be so grateful.
I was at the dog park several weeks ago and noticed a woman snapping pictures of her dogs with a high-end professional camera. The park was nearly empty so I asked if she was a photographer; she replied yes. I mentioned that I didn’t have any great pics of my dog so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind taking a few, I even offered to pay her or do some web development work as barter. She brushed off my offer and obliged me. She took quite a few pictures. We spoke a little and she gave me her card before I left and told me to email her so she can put them online and send me a link to them. I didn’t want either of us to forget so I emailed her later that very evening, sure to ask again how much I should send her via PayPal. I even implored her not to do any photo editing because I can do that myself and I didn’t want her to feel like I was burdening her.
I didn’t hear back after a week so I sent her another email saying that I wasn’t hounding or rushing her, but just wanted to make sure she got my first email, thinking maybe it went to her spam folder. Didn’t hear back again so I texted the number on her business card, again just asking if she received any of my emails. She finally replied saying she did receive the emails and “just hasn’t had a chance to send the pics yet.”
Seeing the story written out makes it seem like the stupidest thing in the world, but I love my dog and I sure would love some professional pics of her! I’d also love your tactful and wise input.
Thank you so much and keep up the great work on the column!
Okay, so let me get this straight. You sent her an email and then another email and then texted her to see if she got the emails? Couldn’t you find her on Facebook and friend her and all of her friends so you could post on their pages about how you really need to get the pictures of your dog? Better yet, does she have an address on the card? Because I think you should go to her home and just stay there until she satisfies your demands. Or maybe you should write a note and wrap it around a rock and throw it through her car window. Or kidnap her dog and send pictures of it in super hero costumes. Or call her parents…or go to her parents’ home in Florida and be in their pool when they wake up. I don’t know just some thoughts. Really, though. Let it go, Larry. Let. It. Go. When I was interning at David Letterman, a photographer form the NYU Alumni newsletter came and took a picture of us. He said he would send it to me. I called and asked and he didn’t. I never got the picture. And let me tell you it’s a lot harder to get a picture of yourself with David Letterman than a shot of your dog in the dog run. Are you in NY? Because I take good dog pictures. Actually, no I don’t want you to have my contact information.
Here’s the best dog photographer I know who took the cover photo of You Had Me At Woof, Michael Nastasi.
Now leave that poor woman alone.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
We urgently need your help!
Covid-19 has dramatically impacted our ability to keep publishing. DAME is 100% reader funded and without additional support, we can’t keep publishing. Become a member at DAME today to help us continue reporting and shining a light on the stories that need to be told, from perspectives that aren’t heard enough. Every dollar we receive from readers goes directly into funding our journalism. Please become a member today!
(And if you liked this article and just want to leave us tip of as little as $1.00 or make a one-time donation, you can do that here)
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS
NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps us continue to cover the policies, social issues, and cultural trends that matter, bringing the diversity of thought so needed in these times.