Sunday, February 21, 2010

In which Sly and Doris threaten to boycott the wedding

I tell Primo I am writing about the Wedding Boycott and he says that his parents never really meant it and that maybe he shouldn't have told me about it.

"What do you mean, they didn't mean it?"

"They were just blowing off steam," he answers.

"That's crap," I argue. "It took you over a week to convince them to come. I wish you'd called their bluff and said, 'I'm sorry you feel that way. I'll miss having you. Have a nice life.'"

"No, it's my job to fix everything in my family," he says. "I'm the one who has to cajole and convince and make everything better."

We argue about this for a while. He maintains that his parents never meant that they weren't coming. I say that makes it even worse: what kind of parents make the empty threat that they are not coming to a child's wedding?

Primo says that his parents say things like that all the time. It's just their way, he explains. It's because of how exhausted they are from Nancy, his mentally ill heroin addict sister, who had borderline personality disorder, and who was horribly abusive to Sly and Doris.

"That may be the case," I admit, "but that does not give them an excuse to treat you badly. What have you ever done to them?"

"They have been good parents to me," he says firmly. "They do love me."

I fall silent, but I still think it is a crappy, horrible, mean, manipulative thing for a parent to tell a child that he is not coming to the child's wedding, even if he doesn't mean it.

Especially if he doesn't mean it and if it's all part of a game where the child is then supposed to coax the parent out of the parent's hurt feelings. Give me a break. I was in your standard what am I doing wrong in my relationships here's a spreadsheet of all my boyfriends fix me in two sessions because I don't have money and time to waste please therapy. The mother and father are supposed to parent the child, not the other way around. Boundaries, Sly and Doris. Boundaries.

So what is this horrible thing I did to warrant a wedding boycott and the admonishment that Primo not marry me?

A few weeks before our wedding, I wrote something in my old blog - the one Sly and Doris read, alas - about how I was getting a bit stressed planning our wedding event. We were going to have houseguests for 14 days and I had written a four-page project plan detailing meals, airport pickups, hotels, guest room linen changes, and transportation plans. We had two 12-person sit-down meals at our house. A wedding supper at a restaurant. All meals with two truly lactose-intolerant eaters plus two fakers, one person with hemochromatosis and hence no red meat, etc, etc.

I wrote about this in a blog post.

I wrote about worrying about getting it all right and keeping my guests comfortable.

I also wrote about our wedding supper at the restaurant and how to seat the pastor, the priest and three vocal atheists, one of those atheists being Sly, who is not shy about his opinion about how stupid believers are, another being Ted and another being my brother, who has almost made my mother cry in some of his atheist arguments.

I was pretty sure that the pastor and the priest could hold their own against the atheists, but I did not want them to be in that position. I wanted our evening to be pleasant and free from tension. I was pretty sure my brother would behave, but I had never seen Sly in a public setting and I also knew he would be well lubricated, if you know what I mean.

So yes. I was worried.

But my exact line is just about how to seat three vocal atheists and the pastor and the priest. Nothing else. I do not write anything else in my old blog.

Sly and Doris take great offense. They assume I am talking about them and Ted. They assume that I am worried about their offending the pastors and not about the pastors offending them. Of course, they are correct, but there is another way to interpret it. Their first thought is always to assume they are the injured party. Always.

They take enough offense that they call Primo and tell him they aren't coming to the wedding and that he shouldn't marry me.

After making sure that I am not around, of course, and that they are speaking to him privately.

Because this is a secret he'll be able to keep from me. I sure won't notice if they don't show up.

Primo is crushed. Who wouldn't be? His own parents, telling him they won't be coming to his wedding? He tries to explain I was also including my brother and Ted. He tells them they are over-reacting.

They are unswayed. They call him repeatedly, including at work, while he is with a customer. They are still furious. He tries to calm them.

I tell him to tell them not to let the door hit them where the good Lord split them. Honestly. How much nicer will it be if they aren't there? I know my wedding day and wedding week will be easier without them. I also know Primo will be unhappy at his parents' betrayal.

But Primo is truly distressed. Truly. I do not buy his argument that they never meant it. Because he spends a week trying to convince them to come.

He tries everything. Everything.

They are unmoved.

He finally uses his last weapon.

He tells them that I am pregnant.

And if they ever want to be allowed to see their grandchild, they will come to his wedding.


  1. All I can ever think when I read these stories about them is how unhappy they must be to live like that. And how amazing that your husband seems to have risen so much higher!

  2. My Dad's parents issued the same threat over my parent's wedding. I struggle to remember the exact reason - I think it had to do with something involving my Dad's father's then-mistress, whatever it was had nothing to do with my Mum & her family (my parents met because their fathers were great friends when my folks were kids), my Mum's mother went to their house and begged them to attend. Completely nuts. Like the commenter above, this makes me think that people Like That aren't very happy with themselves.

  3. Maureen and SC, they are bitterly unhappy. What's so sad is that I think they choose to be unhappy. There are things they could be happy about (three lovely grandchildren who live 15 minutes away) but I don't think they want to be happy. It is really very sad.