Bad Advice On Atheist Grandpas And Terrible Conversationalists

Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“I have a sister who is getting married in June. She is 16 years younger, so we have always had more of an aunt/niece relationship. She has chosen not to have any attendants, she didn’t go dress shopping with anyone (she purchased her dress online), and when I asked about hosting a shower for her, I was told she is having only one wedding shower, with only her friends.
We have met the groom and think he’s a great guy. We are invited to a dinner the night before the wedding, to meet his family. I am so upset and do not understand this. I have tried to gently broach the subject and was told they just want to do everything very ‘simply.’
I do not think there is a problem between us. In fact, she told me I was the first person she called (after her mom), when they got engaged. I don’t know if this is a “millennial generation” thing. I had thought my sister and I were on good terms, so I am baffled.
Do I just try to smile and attend the festivities we are invited to, or do I try to flat-out ask her what the heck is going on? I have a horrible poker face, so it will be obvious if I don’t clear the air. We have an older sister and brother, and they are also baffled.
What are your thoughts?”
— From: “Shunned Sister,” via “Ask Amy,” Washington Post, 20 March 2017

Dear Shunned Sister,

Millennials are notorious for being self-absorbed, but refusing to plan an elaborate wedding celebration which adheres to the specific dictates of one’s siblings’ beliefs about what constitutes a nuptial season really takes the (wedding) cake — which your sister probably isn’t even having either, the unbelievable cow!

When your sister told you that she intended to have a simple wedding, it was obviously a ruse. In fact, she is going out of her way to make her lifetime commitment to her partner all about offending you, the person who matters most in her marriage. There is no need to put on a poker face! Ask her what’s up with this weird bridezilla schtick she’s trying to pull on you and a bunch of people who need to watch her have a meltdown in the middle of a David’s Bridal, and don’t back down until you get all the clarity you so richly deserve.

Refusing to plan an elaborate wedding really takes the (wedding) cake — which your sister probably isn’t even having either, the unbelievable cow!
“At a family gathering, two nephews and one niece-in-law to be — all in their 30s — spent the entire evening talking to one another about jobs and friends in the presence of their father, mother, and me, all in our mid to late 70s. We do not know their colleagues or friends. I thought their behavior was rude. Was there something I might have said that would allow us elders to be included in their conversation? Have we missed something about human interaction we should know about in these 30- to 39-year-olds?
Anonymous / Boston”

— From “Miss Conduct,” Boston Globe, 17 March 2017

Dear Anonymous,

Thirtysomethings are all rude people and terrible conversationalists, so it’s no surprise that you found yourself unable to penetrate the forcefield they erected around themselves, leaving half the room to do naught but sit in miffed silence, powerless to intercede with polite queries about literally any subject on earth besides other humans and work, subjects about which septuagenarians famously have very little personal knowledge.

As if you could, at any point, have asked for more details about their professions or personal relationships! Who do they think you are, Phil Donahue? This kind of deliberate exclusion is due entirely to an unbridgeable generational divide created solely by people who were born between the mid-1970’s and 1980’s with the express intent of precluding social interaction with their parents and similarly aged family members, with whom they have never before spoken and with whom they will not speak until their 40th birthdays.

Sulk silently until these ungrateful wretches age out of their ill-mannered obsessions with discussing the people they know and the way they spend most of their time.

“I am a step-grandfather. Must I go to a grandchild’s church performances even though I’m an atheist?
— From “Dear Abby,” Washington Post, 24 March 2017

Dear Command Performance,

Just when the Bad Advisor thinks that the thoughtlessness of today’s youth knows no bounds, she hears of another atrocity to top the last. Your grandchild’s selfish bid for attention need not be acknowledged.

There is only one center of this universe, and it is as science says: The sun, which is held in place by the boldly secular commitment of you, atheist grandpa. Even the most casual interaction with a religious entity could topple this delicate celestial balance, which is certain to be upset by the presence of your butt in a pew — to say nothing of what chaos might reign were you to lay eyes upon a stained glass window, or lend your ears to the reading of a gospel verse.

Do not succumb to the cruel manipulation of the tiny monster in your midst; this child’s demands must not be accommodated, lest this wee egomaniac come to believe that people of varying — or no — religious beliefs can love and support each other despite their differences. Remember — it’s “this little light of mine,” not “this little light of my grandchild’s,” and you, the sole torch-bearer for atheism, cannot afford to have yours snuffed out by a kid dressed as a llama in a Christmas pageant.

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