Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“My 27-year-old daughter and her best friend, Katie, have been best friends since they were 4. Katie practically grew up in our house and is like a daughter to me. My daughter recently got engaged to her fiancé and announced that Katie would be the maid of honor (Katie’s boyfriend is also a good friend of my future son-in-law). The problem is that Katie walks with a pretty severe limp due to a birth defect (not an underlying medical issue). She has no problem wearing high heels and has already been fitted for the dress, but I still think it will look unsightly if she’s in the wedding procession limping ahead of my daughter. I mentioned this to my daughter and suggested that maybe Katie could take video or hand out programs (while sitting) so she doesn’t ruin the aesthetic aspect of the wedding. My daughter is no longer speaking to me (we were never that close), but this is her big wedding and I want it to be perfect. All of the other bridesmaids will look gorgeous walking down the aisle with my daughter. Is it wrong to have her friend sit out?”
— Via “Dear Prudence,” Slate, 6 September 2017
It’s generous of you to want to involve your daughter in her own wedding, but if she’s not going to ensure that this event does not have any unsightly local limping women in it, she needs to relinquish the big decisions. This is as much your wedding as it is anyone else’s — more so, really, because you had a baby one time. What has your daughter done besides literally be the reason for this whole shebang? Sadly, it sounds like your daughter values the lifelong relationship she has built with Katie more than she values her mother’s approval of a temporary matrimonial tableau. It is a shame that she won’t stick Katie in the corner because you don’t like the way she walks, but weddings mean different things to different people. Your daughter obviously believes that her day is about surrounding herself with people she loves, rather than about recruiting whoever is available to traipse down the aisle without a gait that you personally find distracting. Hers is not a particularly tasteful approach, of course, but it’s the one she’s chosen instead of casting aside her closest friend because you find Katie’s body so repulsive that the mere sight of it will permanently mar the day in your memories forever.
Beauty only comes in a limited range of sizes, colors, and abilities, and anyone who falls outside that range is prone to destroying weddings, which don’t count unless everyone involved looks like they jumped out of the placeholder in a JC Penney picture frame. Your daughter’s wholesale disregard for shallow sociocultural imperatives that tell people they are worthless unless they conform to the physical standards of manufactured normativity is cute, but this isn’t a gathering of her nearest and dearest in celebration of a milestone that has nothing whatsoever to do with how anybody looks. It’s a wedding, for chrissakes! Not some kind of familial bonding ritual, and if it doesn’t mimic a goddamned Modern Bride spread, what is the point? Eternal love and mutual affinity between and among people who aren’t singularly concerned with your approval at every turn? Please.
We all do the best we can by our children, but some apples fall very, very far from the tree. Through no fault of your own, you simply got a child who grew up to love and appreciate people for who they are, rather than for what really matters — whether you feel that they can walk across a church looking like they came out of central bridal catalog casting.
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“A few months ago, after an increasing amount of silence on her end, an old friend told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore. So I backed off. I found out from a mutual friend that she’s now engaged. I feel like I can’t let this event go unacknowledged. Would it be wrong of me to send a card of congratulations and a gift?
I have no expectations that this will rekindle our friendship; I just want her to know I’m happy for her and still thinking of her.”
— Via “Old Friend,” Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 23 August 2017
Dear Old Friend,
Newly engaged people have so little going on, and so few people interested in their lives, that they often welcome any spare demands for their attention that others can offer. Your situation is a little more nuanced since this lady 100% told you to lay the fuck off, but there’s no reason not to offer this person an opportunity to experience the opposite of the thing she expressly told you she did not want — a friendly relationship with you. It’s hard to say why she’d want to cut off contact with someone whose instincts guide them to deliberately disregard the express wishes of others, but it’s great that you’re so selflessly willing to give her a chance to think about you thinking about her even after she specifically told you that she didn’t care to be friends with you, specifically.
I mean, what are you supposed to do here? Respect the fact that this woman explicitly told you that she does not desire your company or communication, or go to not-insubstantial lengths to make her aware that you have positive feelings about her upcoming nuptials? Is she supposed to go the rest of her life just not ever knowing whether you, someone she unequivocally said that she did not have a mutual affinity for, feels pretty good about her engagement? What kind of life would that be, really, to live day after day, year after year, decade after decade, not knowing that somebody you didn’t really like all that much was glad you got married? So few people will be offering this lady their thoughts about her engagement, it’s important to make sure she knows that at least your feelings still matter.
Bad Advice On Asking A Woman Out When She’s Dating Someone Else
Women are broadly unable to decide what is best for themselves at any given time.
“I just finished my sophomore year of college. For the summer, I got a three-month internship at a company that does work in the field I am getting my degree in and want to work in after I graduate. This was my second job, after the internship somewhere else I had last summer. I was hoping to get some good experience like last summer.
I was paired with the same person for two-thirds of the work I was doing. She has lots of skills, but I noticed when she types she uses the caps-lock key each time she needed to make a capital letter instead of using the shift key. She is only five years older than me, and she is very good with technology and computers. I didn’t understand why she would type this way, because even though she does type fast and efficiently, using the caps-lock key would slow her down. I mentioned it to her and even showed her, and she said she had no idea but she would keep on using the caps-lock key.
I thought she just needed to see how efficient it was so when I was using her computer I disabled the caps-lock key. She was very upset when she found out that it didn’t work and I explained what I did and why she should give the shift key a chance. She complained to the manager, and even though I was just trying to make things more efficient, the manager sided with her and I was let go a month into my internship. HR sided with her too when I went to them. I’m confused because I was only trying to help and make things more efficient. Did I really do something wrong or did the company overreact?”
— Via “Ask A Manager,” 17 July 2017
As long as you’re “only trying to help,” you can do literally anything! Good intentions are all that matters in the world, and the effects of your actions are entirely irrelevant. This company obviously doesn’t know how to handle itself professionally when a world-class efficiency expert such as yourself walks through the front door. It’s very likely they were intimidated by how efficient you are. In the future, just keep fucking with other people’s shit no matter what. It will be an extremely efficient way to bring your efficiency message to a great number of different employers.