(This post was written in 2008 and is now being reposted.)
Believe it or not, on the day after my last post, I received an e-mail regarding my meeting with the aforementioned magazine editor. And ...? I now have a fact-checking job at a major, national consumer magazine in New York City.
Of course, it is only a three-week-long project. But! I will network like crazy while I am there ... and this editor sent my resume to many other influential editors at six women's magazines. So that has to lead to something, right? My plan right now is to search for job openings at those magazines online and then ask the mag editor about them, since she sent my resume to people who already work for those places.
And I will continue on my full-time job search, but in a much-less frustrated way, now that I know I will be able to cover the expenses for getting to my friend's Jamaican wedding after all. And -- I get to feel extra fancy because I have accomplished one of my lifelong goals -- I will be working at a major women's magazine. Even if it is freelance.
Maybe I should start asking for things on this blog as an experiment, just to see if I get a response the next day. I really need a million dollars. No, really.
OK, so personal things aside, back to fashion. It seems like minimalist looks are going to be very big this fall, so I might not have a whole lot to complain about. Minimalist fashion usually involves very well-tailored, simple looks. And a lot of black or gray with maybe one or two stand-out items. I've loved the idea of wearing bright shoes with black clothes for some time now, and I also love the idea of buying classic, well-made pieces that will never go out of style. And I wear a lot of black. But black with one bright color just makes me feel more like an artist. See? In this incredibly blurry photo?
What else is happening? Oh, here is the new bridesmaid dress my friend would like us to wear:
It's basically the same as the other dress, but shorter -- which will be helpful in slimming down our calves since we have to wear flat sandals. (The Ann Taylor dress hit about mid-calf, as many bridesmaid dresses do -- but without heels, it's like the least-flattering leg look you can get). This new dress also has a boat neck, which might emphasize my chest too much ... but not if I lose the 25-30 pounds I plan to lose before this December wedding.
Think it can't be done? Think again ... I put on the weight in the past year due to a medicine that increased my appetite and slowed my metabolism dramatically. I haven't gained a pound in the two months I've been off the medicine, so this should be smooth sailing.
I started an exercise routine last week, using this Pedal Exerciser from Target:
Laugh, if you must. But it really works! My boyfriend already lost 10 pounds from using it ... but then, he uses it for about 2 hours every day.
Also, as I was searching for those flat, dressy silver sandals for the Jamaican beach wedding, I came across a Web site seemingly sent by God to waste all of my time.
It's called Shop Style and it enables you to create various looks based on a database of chothing, shoes, makeup, etc. Amazing. That's all I have to say.
Here's my favorite shoe so far for the bridesmaid dress:
In the end, that site might actually save me time -- it's not the easiest thing to bring a dress to lots of shoe stores to get a difficult-to-find shoe. Shop Style allowed me to place the bridesmaid dress next to the wedding gown and then place up to 600 different silver sandals next to them to see if they matched.
And no, I am not getting paid to say any of this.
As for makeup gripes, I'm still not sure what the major makeup trends will be for fall ... but I do know which lip-plumping lipstick to never, ever use -- in the fall or any other time.
It's called "Too Faced Lip Injection." I guess I should be wary when I see an illustration of a needle on a lip plumper, but here is how the product is described on the Sephora Web site: "Its patented formula is based on medically-proven blood vessel dilating technology touted to create the sexiest pout this side of a plastic surgeon's office."
After trying this gloss on Saturday, I left the Short Hills Sephora store with swollen, painful red lips that looked somewhat like I had been drinking cherry Kool-Aid for seven hours. Even though I rubbed the stuff off vigorously, it still took a good thirty minutes for my mouth to return to a normal, less Angelina-Jolie-on-a-bad-day size ... and color.
If you are really looking to plump something, I recommend that you try this Christian Dior mascara, which did something amazing to my eyelashes, especially after I used it three times. (I was waiting for my friend to get a makeover). Geez, it seems like I left that place looking like Pamela Anderson ...
Anyway, here's the mascara, which I will most likely not be able to fit into my budget any time soon:
A pretty good find, I'd say, for a company that promotes itself with zebra-print and leopard-print eye-shadows -- on its Web site and on its staff. Eek!
As far as grammar gripes go, the other day my bride-to-be friend said one wedding gown she tried on was more "bridally" than the other ... I think I understood what she meant, but I'm still not completely sure.
I learned something tremendously serendipitous, language-wise, just yesterday, however. My friend is getting married in the mayoral office on Friday, August 8th (but then technically renewing her vows in Jamaica in December). Friday turns out to be 08/08/08. That's a super lucky number in China, hence the start of the Olympics at 8:08 p.m. on Friday and the reason many Chinese couples are marrying on that day. The New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee even wrote a piece about 08/08/08 weddings in the Sunday Styles section.
But August 8th has been an unlucky day the past five years for me, because it's the anniversary of my father's sudden, accidental passing. Shortly after his death, I began seeing lots of 88s -- in license plates, street signs, on clocks. I also saw variations of it, like 11s and 8s. It drove me a little crazy at first. I couldn't figure out if I was fixated on those numbers or if they really were just magically appearing. I think it falls under the category of "magical thinking" ... something Joan Didion talks about in her memoir of her husband's death. It's something the brain does in order to make sense of something horrifying. That healing potential of the mind is really quite a beautiful thing. But it can be confusing when it is happening.
The other night, after reading Lee's article, I decided to research the reason for the luckiness of the number 8 in China. I discovered that in Mandarin, 8 is pronounced "ba," which sounds like "fa" -- the word for prosperity. But the word "ba" said twice in Mandarin means "father." So August 8th is traditionally Father's Day in China. Another neat fact about "ba" is that in Mandarin slang, the term "88" is often typed to say "goodbye" in e-mails and text messages -- because "ba-ba" sounds like "bye-bye" in English.
Put those together and August 8th stands for "bye-bye" and "father" in Mandarin. How incredibly freaky is that?
I couldn't believe that those are the only three meanings for "ba-ba" -- 88, father and bye-bye -- so I did some further research. The word "ba" also brought up a link to a Feng Shui site, which talks about the "ba gua" or eight ways. The ba gua basically form the eight directions on a compass. Feng Shui uses an octagon-shaped map to separate different parts of a room and to indicate which items of furniture should be placed in those eight areas.
Strangely enough, at my dad's funeral, I recited an essay I had written about his teaching me how to navigate through the woods as a little girl. I called it "The Navigator." I wrote it on Father's Day -- the American one. And many times, I've considered getting a tattoo of a compass to commemorate him, without even realizing it consisted of eight directions.
Very weird. And yet, it makes me feel incredible that maybe this is what all those 88s I used to see meant. At one point, when I got tired of the nonsensical nature of it all, I decided that it would mean my dad was trying to get in touch with me ... and now I think maybe I was right.
Please don't think I sound like Jim Carrey in the movie "23"! I think this stuff is too much of a coincidence to not be true!
On a lighter note, anyone notice all those typos in that recent Sunday Styles section? Is the copy editor on vacation??
Also on a lighter note, I'll leave you with the top half of that minimalist yellow-shoes photo ... Taken at Lorenzo's Pizza in Philadelphia in March 2007. Also, clearly the start of that chemically-altered, ravenous appetite I mentioned earlier.
(This post was written in 2009 and has now been reposted).
This is a blog I typically reserve for whimsical/humorous/sarcastic opinions I might have on two of my favorite topics, fashion and grammar. I've also dabbled in discussing my lofty journalistic career. (That is more sarcasm.)
I've actually been pretty successful on the career front lately, though -- after fact checking at More magazine for a few months (I worked on the November and December/January issues), I got a copy-editing gig at New York Spaces magazine that I absolutely loved. After doing well there, I got another copy-editing gig at Ladies' Home Journal. And I've now received a great recommendation from my supervisor there. By December, I felt for the first time that I had really accomplished my goal of working as an editor at a women's magazine. I'm still freelancing now, and for that, I am very lucky. My current gig is copy editing a college textbook. Getting a full-time job right now as an editor is next to impossible, just like it's next to impossible to get a full-time job in many other industries. So I'm grateful that I got to see what it's like to work at a place where I always wanted to work, even if it was just a temporary job.
Because those magazines we all know and love ... well, a lot of them are going away and they are just not coming back.
The economy STINKS these days ... I know, big surprise, like you didn't already know that. I mean, how could you? It's not like you have to hear "In these tough economic times" on every news broadcast or anything. At this point, that phrase is so inevitable that it's been shortened to "in these times," "in this economy" and a multitude of variations thereof.
OK. I get it. Our economy sucks. I'm thinking this phrase has replaced, "at the end of the day," though, so that has to be a good thing.
See, I just can't help myself.
But anyway, what I was trying to get at is that while I usually write about these lighter subjects in my life, today I'd like to devote this post to talking about something more personal and emotional. So if you're not interested in that, just stop reading and ignore this post.
It's just something I've been struggling with and need some closure on and I think writing about it would help. Writing helps me with everything else, so why not this?
* * *
You might recall my posts from the fall and summer where I discussed preparing to be a maid of honor in my friend's wedding.
Overall, I've figured out that the whole wedding process has cost me about $2,000. Right now, I'm still paying off the final $600 of it. Maybe that does not sound like much, but I went into it thinking it would cost me less than $600. Eight hundred at most. Considering that I got laid off in May and I've only been getting freelance jobs -- which means I might have four to six weeks between gigs -- spending that amount of money and having the amount increase unexpectedly all the time was very difficult for me.
Also, I don't know many people who have to pay that much to be a maid of honor.
The money was not the most stressful part, however.
The experience also cost me my friend.
* * *
I've really had a hard time dealing with this. I've done everything I possibly could and stood for a lot of nonsense throughout the wedding-planning process simply because of sharing such a long friendship with this girl and my respect for that friendship.
And at this point, I have to say that I'm very sad and truly do miss my friend. We were close friends for 17 years.
But I know that I was right to stand up for myself and I have to hope that this is going to turn out to have a positive ending for everyone involved.
What ended up happening -- and I hope I do not sound like a martyr for this because I worry about that every time I describe it to someone -- was a progression of unexpected and disrespectful events. I mainly got taken for granted ... and because I am generally such an empathetic, kind and loyal person, I didn't realize how badly I was being taken for granted until it was too late.
I don't go around telling people that I have these great qualities, by the way ... I just know from experience and from exchanges with others that people generally see me that way and expect me to be that way.
For as long as my friend was dating her current husband (about two years), she told me that her parents did not accept him for health reasons, and that they would disown her if she married him. Her mom got so upset upon hearing about her engagement that she stopped speaking to her. I thought that was ludicrous, of course, and fought to defend her and help her marry the man of her dreams, despite what her parents thought.
Planning a wedding is stressful enough without these things compounding it. So I did everything I could to be an ear she could depend on, just as I have always done for as long as I've known her.
But then the planning started and she gradually became someone completely unrecognizable to me.
One of the issues might have been that she hangs out with a group of people with very extravagant tastes. (I feel bad writing these things, but I desperately need to express this somewhere and I highly doubt that she or any of those people even know about this blog.) These are people who give brand-new SUVs as birthday presents and they are all in their late 20s and early 30s. Their main topics of conversation are the expensive ski lodges where they vacation every year and how great their cars are.
Just as an example, I received a new Coach bag for my birthday last year, and it was certainly more expensive than any purse I've ever owned. It's a rather small-sized bag. And when I attended what was to be just the first of many "surprise" birthday parties for my friend and her new group, I was told by one of my friend's college friends, "Well, at least you can sell it on eBay." This was after telling her how much I liked it. But I guess they saw it as nothing next to their crazy-expensive purses.
And the surprise parties probably bear mentioning in greater detail. In April, my friend's now-husband threw her a 30th-birthday surprise party. At said party, I suggested to a girl in my friend's new group that we bring her a tiara. That was probably a bad omen, but I didn't know it at the time.
A month after that, my friend's childhood friend had a surprise party thrown for her -- this was the one where the childhood friend received an SUV from her husband. Then, by July, there was yet another surprise party thrown. This time, my friend threw one for her now-husband. On the invitation, she told the guests to not bring gifts because we would be paying for our own dinners. Guess who brought gifts? That's right, all of her new friends, but not me because, silly me, I took the invitation literally. When the check came, my friend proceeded to pay for everyone's meal -- she spent at least $800. And when I turned to her in shock, she whispered to me, "Don't make a big deal out of this!"
Now the reader should know that my friend is a different ethnicity than I am. And I have learned from spending so much time in the past year with my friend and her new group of friends that it is very popular in their culture to argue over who is going to pay for meals ... or for just about anything. You are supposed to be very modest and then at the end of the event, try to pay for it all. To me, it appears to be an ostentatious habit, especially when you are talking about extremely expensive affairs. But maybe I should have realized by July that this was exactly how the wedding was going to be. And because I was the only person involved who was not part of her culture, I would end up in complete culture shock.
* * *
Everything started out innocently enough, despite the signs of what was to come. I was happy to be spending more time with my friend ... we really hadn't seen each other more than once every few months over a period of several years. My friend told me she'd be getting married in Jamaica that December, even if her parents wouldn't be in attendance. I knew she was very upset about this and that she chose me to be by her side for important reasons and I didn't see any way I could tell her that I wouldn't be able to afford to attend. I also thought it would cost much less than it eventually did. She eventually told me everyone would be staying in a "royal villa," equipped with a butler, chef and housekeeper, not to mention a pool behind it and two golf carts. It was absolutely beautiful in the photos on the Web site, where I discovered that the resort she chose was one of the most expensive on the island, once visited by the queen of England, The Beatles and the late Jackie Onassis.
When I mentioned that it was a bit too much for my budget and wondered why I couldn't stay in a separate hotel, my friend insisted that it would be easier if everyone stayed in the same place -- there would be 14 of us at the wedding, mostly the groom's family.
I told her that typically the bride pays for the bridal party's lodging, after she had asked me how those things usually go. After telling her that, she had the nerve to tell ME that I was stressing HER out about money!
Because the accommodations would end up being so expensive (this also included a nearly $600 meal plan), my boyfriend could no longer go with me. Naturally, he couldn't afford such a thing. My friend's reaction to this was to say to my boyfriend, "Well, I'm happy you're not coming because I hope you save that money to buy her an engagement ring." My boyfriend was completely shocked at that comment and didn't know what to say.
But that was just the beginning of more comments of similar ilk from her ... they ranged from, "I wish you were getting married, too" to "I thought you wouldn't want to be my maid of honor because you'd be angry you were not getting married." The real kicker was when she told me that she thought her childhood friend was mad that she was not chosen to be the illustrious maid of honor. I added that "illustrious" part myself. :)
It got pretty ridiculous. In her mind, it seemed like she was doing the most important thing ever and it's only natural that everyone should be envious of her.
I should mention that my boyfriend and I have been dating for nearly six years now. We are both trying to establish ourselves in our careers before we settle down and get married, and my friend is aware that it's a topic that my boyfriend would rather not be pressured about.
But that didn't stop her because she was more focused on herself or on what she assumed I wanted.
I should probably also mention that my friend proved this year that she doesn't really know very well what I want. Despite my explaining in great detail about what my work involved at those women's magazines, for example, she would ask me things like, "Oh, and what journal articles are you writing now?" I was working for magazines. I was fact checking and copy editing, not writing.
But these things all sound the same to her, I guess. Maybe they just all sound "not important" because I don't earn as much money doing them as she earns at her job? I don't know. But it was a sad thing for me to figure out because I had always thought she was very supportive of me and my career.
* * *
By August, my friend told me that it was important that she get married on a lucky day, as that is something that matters a great deal in the superstitions of her culture. She decided that she would go to the courthouse and get her official marriage certificate on the luckiest date and then renew her vows in December in front of everyone in Jamaica. Since she needed to have a witness with her and I wasn't working that day, I agreed to go. There was no way her parents would be there. I don't think they were aware of any of the specific wedding plans at that point, anyway. My friend's aunt was aware, but she had to keep it hidden from my friend's mother, even though she's her best friend and talks to her on the phone every day.
So then my friend, the bride, told me what date would be the luckiest date and it happened to be on the same day my father died in a car accident five years prior.
Now, when that accident occurred, she had a dramatic reaction to it and got very upset, so I'd imagine that she might remember when it happened. At the same time, I understand that people don't remember the date of these things usually if it's not something that specifically happened to them.
The point is, I mentioned to her a few days before the courthouse date that I hoped I wouldn't be sad that day about the date's significance for me.
She said she had forgotten and didn't have much reaction other than that.
Then, a day before we were supposed to go to the courthouse, she called me and said she discovered that the following Monday was ACTUALLY the luckiest day for her to get married and we'd have to go that day instead.
Now, considering I was also free that Monday, I guess that was not a big deal. But what if I had to work? What if I wasn't free? She would have nobody else to go with her.
She later told me at the fancy lunch we went to with the groom's parents after the ceremony in the courthouse that Monday that she was "selfishly happy I was out of work" because it meant I could be there for her.
But seriously, let's think about this for a moment. She wanted me to psych myself out of being sad on the anniversary of my father's death while I accompanied her to the courthouse ... and then a day before it, she changed the date, because the date meant nothing to her, now that she knew it wasn't HER luckiest day.
And she then expected me to be able to make it that Monday on very little notice. And then, when I thought I was off the hook of having to do anything to help her on the anniversary of my dad's passing, she planned an engagement party at the last minute so her other friends who were working and couldn't make it to the courthouse could be a part of everything.
She lives about an hour away ... so on a moment's notice, I had to go down there for dinner on Friday, drive back, and then go back down two days later. And this was on the hardest weekend of the year for me.
But I tried to brush off all of that, of course, and I didn't complain at all because I know it's impossible to understand something like that if you haven't lost someone close to you. I certainly did not expect her to understand.
But it doesn't change the fact that I think, in retrospect, that she was being rather inconsiderate.
That was fairly ironic, I think. Part of why I put up with so much from my friend during her wedding planning was because I had such great sympathy for the fact that her parents were abandoning her. And that was because my father clearly won't be present at my wedding.
When my father passed away five years ago, my friend gave me $100 (which I thought seemed a little strange) and then basically disappeared for months.
* * *
I will say that I appreciated that she relied on me to go with her to her most important wedding-dress fittings. As maid of honor, I had to learn how to bustle her dress. But at the final fitting, the one she said was really important for me to attend, she asked me the day beforehand if it was OK with me if her childhood friend and aunt (the friend's mother) also came along. I had no problem with that, of course. But then she said she also wanted me to have lunch with the groom's family before the fitting.
His family had already asked me at the courthouse what was wrong with her parents, why they wanted no involvement and did not approve of the wedding. So I really didn't want to be put into a situation like that again. My friend had carefully instructed me not to talk about her parents' objections with ANYONE. Her now-husband knew what the problem was, of course, but she told me that nobody else could know about it.
So I went to the dress fitting only to be ignored the ENTIRE TIME, except when I had to learn how to bustle the dress. When I say "ignored," I mean that my friend, the bride, spoke a different language with her childhood friend and her aunt and I had no idea what anyone was talking about. For the most part, nobody spoke to me. And this was the fitting that she said would be crucial for me to be there. The women who worked in the dress shop were quite confused when it turned out that I was the maid of honor -- the girl who had been standing there talking to nobody!
Is this something that should bother me? I don't know. I overlooked it at the time. Later that day, they would say things to me like how I could be an honorary member of their culture ... for some reason, my friend thinks I act like people of her ethnicity do (in her opinion). I have no idea why.
But I think it has something to do with the fact that my friend does not socialize with anyone who is not the same ethnicity as her ... except for maybe me and one other girl.
* * *
The same day as that dress fitting, we all went to window-shop at various stores. At that point in time (I believe it was October), I was really saving my pennies. I had to save up for this trip to Jamaica in December and I couldn't afford to spend any money on clothes. But since I thought we were going to just look for shoe ideas for the wedding in December, I agreed to go along. Once we were in the shoe store, I mentioned to my friend that I wasn't happy with my hair that day, that I was happy with the haircut I'd just gotten, but that the rainy day was making it look limp. And then she said how she thought the hairdresser didn't do a very good job and it didn't look right in the back.
She said that in the middle of this store, in front of other people. She had never talked to me like that before, and this was also one of the first things she'd said to me all day, considering that she had been speaking in another language for most of it. I asked her what she meant about it not looking right, and she explained that my hair underneath my highlights, in the back, was too dark. If it was darker, it was only because it costs a lot more to get your entire head of hair highlighted, so I usually opt with just getting the top layers done. It really was not noticeably darker.
So I said, "I think you're only saying that because you're worried about how it will look in the wedding photos." And she actually agreed and said I needed to go back and have them color all of my hair.
When she said that, she then explained how when she was a maid of honor once, her friend told her she "wasn't allowed to cut her hair" so she would look just like the other bridesmaids. My friend has pretty short hair usually, so that was quite a task. It didn't really look right for months when she did that, kind of straggly.
Of course, I never said anything to her about it.
So then I quipped, "Well, if your goal is for me to look like the other bridesmaids, I think you picked the wrong person to be your maid of honor." I was commenting on the difference in ethnicity, but jokingly.
If only I knew at the time how accurate my statement was.
* * *
My friend had picked out the bridesmaid dresses for me and the other two girls after much deliberation. She tried to get a good deal on them. I believe I showed them to you in an earlier post. As I also mentioned in that post, at that point in time I had gained about 40 pounds in only one year because of taking a medication that greatly altered my metabolism and appetite. I planned on losing at least 20 pounds by December for Jamaica and tried to be as agreeable as possible about whatever dress she chose for us, despite feeling like a cow in just about everything.
(This is greatly exaggerated, of course, as I only weighed 170 pounds -- my normal weight is about 130, though, so for me, that was heavy). Anyway, I tried on the bridesmaid dress quite modestly, just hoping that I would be a smaller size by November and could return it for the new size if necessary. Then, two weeks later, my friend informed me that I'd have to make a return visit to get a different dress from her -- she had to go out and buy new bridesmaid dresses because the other two girls were TOO SMALL to fit into the first choice's bustline.
This is not an example of my friend being inconsiderate ... just an example of me going along with whatever just to make everyone happy, despite how much it might bother me. And everyone else complaining about something that I would think is not a huge problem.
Imagine being the girl who unexpectedly gained 40 pounds having to stand next to two size zeros at a beach wedding. Oh, and you're the only member of your race present ... as if you weren't standing out enough already.
Yeah, that was me.
Oh well, though, I guess that's just life. (I'm only 10 pounds away from my normal weight at this point, luckily.)
* * *
That day when we went window-shopping after the dress fitting where nobody spoke to me, I couldn't afford to buy anything, as I said. But my friend's childhood friend and aunt each bought shoes and boots for themselves. They said, "You should buy something! You should shop!"
We looked at purses in one store and I stood there in disbelief while my friend told me you could tell if something was fake leather or not by smelling it, and she proceeded to smell several purses. I don't know, I guess she just really loves them. Then she bought some expensive luggage, just completely spontaneously.
And then they complained some more that I was not purchasing anything.
You know, the more I write about these separate experiences, the more they come together for me and really only spell out what was to be my impending doom ... keep in mind that my friend was fully aware of my financial status through all of the events mentioned above and below. And the events mentioned below only get worse.
* * *
I had been very excited at the prospect of planning a bridal shower for my friend ... until she informed me that she didn't want one because she would be upset that her mother wouldn't be there. So instead, I had to plan a bachelorette party with the other bridesmaids: her childhood friend and the sister of the groom (whom I had never met).
I've told a few people now about that party, so I will try to summarize this. My notion of a bachelorette party is that the bridesmaids all plan it together. A bridal shower is something that only the maid of honor plans. So, I figured my role as maid of honor was to be as agreeable and stress-free as possible and try to make friends with the other two bridesmaids. When the childhood friend starting taking over with all of the planning, I asked my friend if this was what she wanted. I had a feeling that the stuff the childhood friend was planning was far too lavish and not what my friend expected for her bachelorette party at all. She said she just wanted us to make sure that it took place in NYC. And she asked me to just go along with whatever everyone said they wanted to do.
When the two other bridesmaids said we should pay for a hotel room in the Gramercy Park Hotel (extremely expensive and considered to be a hotel for "the rich and famous"), go to a fancy tea at the Hotel St. Regis (also extremely expensive), go to a nice spa (where the various services are also fairly expensive), go out to a very expensive dinner and then go out clubbing in the city (and everyone knows how drinks can add up in NYC), I did not know what to do. The best I could do was explain in one carefully worded email that I didn't think most of the guests could afford all of these things. I eventually got them to choose less expensive (but still very nice) places for the tea and hotel. I had definitely not planned on staying in the hotel at that point. Considering how many events they thought were necessary, I thought the whole thing had gotten out of hand, but I didn't want to cause a stir, as usual, so I went along with it and just saved some more money.
Here are the places we went for tea and our hotel stay, Alice's Tea Cup and Four Points Chelsea -- both very nice places and still rather expensive, considering it was New York.
These girls jumped on calling these places and planning things without even discussing it beforehand most of the time. I later found out they had been talking to each other over the phone, while I was only planning things with them over email. So I found that kind of strange.
Finally, I realized that in order to actually be involved in setting things up for the party, I had to come up with something that nobody could beat me to doing. I told them I would call the restaurant (Buddakan, pictured above) and clubs (notice how I TOLD them I would do it before actually doing it), and then I suggested that we create cute goody bags for the guests. Considering that they were each going to pay an arm and a leg to go to our little soiree, I thought it was the least we could do.
I thought we could maybe put in some cookies and some joke-y type gifts -- the bride's favorite products, like chapstick, for example. Her favorite body lotion. I had no idea the other two bridesmaids would say we should get the products for her from Sephora and use Pottery Barn lingerie bags as the goody bags.
Once again, my idea taken over. And I tried to be agreeable.
We settled on the products for the bags finally and then the childhood friend actually started complaining to me that she COULD NOT AFFORD THEM. What about everything she expected me to do that I couldn't afford? I couldn't figure out if she was crazy by then or what. She was the one who nixed the cookies and simple items and she thought it was my fault she couldn't afford something??? What about the hotel room I was ending up paying for because she requested I spend the night in it (despite the fact that I live an hour outside of New York and did not need to sleep there).
I made it to the bachelorette party in one piece and just felt like as long as my friend appreciated the bags I made (I stayed up all night decorating them with ribbons and tags that matched the wedding invitations my boyfriend and I had designed for her for free, and I put each girl's initial on each tag), then MAYBE I'd feel redeemed from having been ignored by the other girls the whole time.
What do you think my friend had to say about her hotel room, however? That it was TOO SMALL. That her fiance was lucky because the hotel room he got for his bachelor party was bigger.
I managed to get through the day. I thoroughly enjoyed each part of that day I was paying for, despite the fact that the girls invited were excruciatingly boring and completely sheltered and out of touch. They're spoiled, basically. Three of them believed that Barack Obama is Jamaican, for example, and did not believe me when I told them otherwise. They consistently thought every person in New York was trying to rip them off that day. Our taxi driver said he couldn't take more than four people in his cab, a well-known practice in the city. He said he'd do it this one time, but only if they gave him a higher tip. When we got to the tea, they refused to do so and got angry with the poor guy! Then I believe someone who sat in the front seat had some complaint about how he smelled, of course.
The entire group was helpless as to how to navigate the city. I had predicted that beforehand and wondered why we had to go to so many events in so many different parts of the city with people who didn't know how to get around. But since I was there and I lived there for three years, I was the one who had to lead everyone around all day.
By the time we got to dinner, I thought I might make it through the night OK. I felt bad for my friend because this group of girls started pressuring her to drink, like they always do, despite the fact that my friend doesn't drink (she gets sick every time because of an allergy).
Who do you think was the person she asked to go to the bathroom with her and look after her when she let the other girls peer-pressure her into drinking?
Me, of course.
So, you'd think it would be understandable that her friend who always has her back, the one who always stands up for her, might be upset when the group of girls ended up at a club after dinner where after waiting in line in the cold for 45 minutes, they were told by a bouncer that they could not get in without paying $200 per person.
I was literally pushed into the club by these girls after explaining that I simply couldn't afford to do that at the drop of a hat. And you know how I hate using the word "literally," so I must really mean it.
Once inside, I excused myself and left for the bathroom. My friend came in and looked for me and I said to her once again that I could not pay for this. And she said, "well, I'll pay for it."
I should also mention, since I forgot to, that my friend had caught wind of the bachelorette-party events a few weeks before the party (not sure how, I guess her childhood friend told her?) and then asked me if she could pay for me. I said, "thanks, but no thanks." I mean, I thought the whole idea of us throwing her that party was that we were giving her a gift! Who ever heard of the bride paying for the maid of honor who is throwing the party in the first place?
So when she suggested yet again that she would pay my way, I was flabbergasted. The most ironic part of it was that my friend DOES NOT DRINK. The $200 we each had to pay was for bottle service, where they bring drinks to your table. It was utterly ridiculous for us to be there.
But, this was TenJune, one of the best clubs in New York, often frequented by celebrities and the very wealthy; a few weeks after our party, Britney Spears celebrated her birthday at this club.
And it was only the best for my friend's group of friends, I guess.
The more I write about this, the more I feel like one of my original notions about these people was true. They think everyone can spend money just like they can. Or, at least, they expected me to be able to.
And maybe they didn't know, which is not their fault. But my friend did know. And yet she kept putting me into these situations that were incredibly alienating and difficult for me and kept making me feel totally taken for granted.
I told my friend I wanted to leave the club and go back to the hotel, but she requested that I stay, of course. One of the girls came up with the idea that one of her guy friends (who had helped us get in to the club) might end up paying for everything. That the guy worked on Wall Street and was "very wealthy" so we should just let him do it.
Now why should I let some guy I just met for the first time spend that much money on me? Does that make sense? It was definitely something that I knew my boyfriend would not be happy about.
So when I left the club, my friend said she was going with me, although I knew she was not happy about it. But how could I stay? I didn't feel right about what was happening and I don't think most people would. I had really saved up to pay for all the events of the day as it was ... I had given a lot of leeway to the other bridesmaids with the planning and was so nice to them about everything ... I had discovered the day before that these clubs could be expensive and they had promised me that we wouldn't go to an expensive one. So when they dropped that $200 bomb, I was furious.
The problem could easily have been solved if we just went somewhere else. But instead, my friend and I left and all the other girls stayed, dancing the night away without us.
* * *
On our way back to the hotel, I started crying and finally confessed to my friend how hard it had been to plan the party with those girls, how bossy they were and how they didn't care about financial concerns that were quite reasonable. My friend said she wished she had known and actually hugged me and said she felt so bad I had to go through so much and kept everything inside. Then she said she hoped it wouldn't be awkward for me with the other girls. I said I didn't see why it would ... I mean, why should they be mad at me when what I did was completely reasonable?
What I didn't know at the time is that my friend thought the other girls were right and I was wrong. She just said the things she said and hugged me because she was trying to defuse the situation.
Like she apparently does with most things now. She says what she needs to say to avoid conflict. She manipulates to get what she wants. She throws money at problems in order to solve them. And apparently she lies through her teeth.
* * *
We had a great day together the day after her bachelorette party, shopping in SoHo. I went home thinking that I had been right to act the way I did. That she was OK with everything and that things would proceed in a more normal way.
That I would get the friend I knew and loved back.
So I found it strange when she didn't talk to me much that November. I found it even stranger when I got included on an email where her childhood friend was talking about how she couldn't wait to do her makeup ... and that was after my friend had asked me to come to her house several times that summer to help her figure out her makeup for the wedding and had asked me to do the makeup for her on the actual wedding day in Jamaica. I had actually bought her a book on how to do makeup on women of her ethnicity. I had engaged in lengthy conversations about what she should look like. And now, just like that, someone else was doing it? And it was the same girl who bossed everyone around and planned everything for the bachelorette party?
I couldn't understand how any of it was happening, really.
I told my friend that it upset me that she had disregarded all the work and research I put into that and that all of a sudden, this other girl would do the makeup. And I had to find out in an email that was sent to me by accident.
She said that what she originally said was that she wanted all four people to do her makeup -- me, the two bridesmaids and her aunt. Now, I know she never said that. And the notion of having eight hands in her face is just inefficient at best.
So then she sent an email to all of us saying that she had booked an appointment with a professional in Jamaica.
Again, throwing money at something. Defusing. Saying whatever she thinks she needs to say.
So, when she actually did have the makeup done and her wedding planner criticized the eye makeup part of it, who do you think ended up redoing it for her?
Me, of course.
* * *
By the middle of November, I still did not know who my roommate would be in Jamaica. I had been told that it might be the childhood friend's younger brother or the brother of the groom. Now how does it make sense that I should have to share a room with a man I've never met before? The only other option was my friend's aunt, which made the most sense and I requested that I stay with her. "But she snores!" they said. Better than sharing a room with a guy!
When I arrived in Jamaica and discovered that my room had one bed and not two, I actually said out loud, "Good thing I'm not going to have to share this bed with one of those guys!"
But nobody heard me because my friend was nowhere to be found (cell phones don't work in Jamaica) and didn't call to see if I was in the villa yet until three hours after I arrived.
And when she called, she mentioned how she and her fiance were staying in a separate suite in the resort.
So they were not staying in the villa.
The villa that was so important that I pay for staying in because everyone needed to be in one place. The villa that I had to stay in and apparently share a bed with a strange woman (who didn't really speak English). And why was I paying for all of this again? I was the person she needed to be there with her in Jamaica so badly for what reason???
Even now, I am still bewildered by it all. But I guess that is good. I guess that means that writing about this is separating me from missing my friend and reminding me of how shitty she was being.
She couldn't understand why I didn't know she was in a separate room. She said she had told everyone about it. But then everyone else told her they didn't know either, so clearly she did not inform any of us.
So, I had to stay in this villa with these people who I'd never met, or didn't really know well at all. The poor butler brought in a twin bed on wheels for me and placed it in the corner of my room, so at least I would not have to sleep with the aunt. I can't say the same for two of the guys though, who had never met before and had to sleep together. Meanwhile, my friend's suite was very luxe, of course. When she finally came to the villa that night, I got to go and check out her suite and wait for her and her fiance to get ready for dinner. I went down to the beach at that point and felt like, well, I'm here. I'm here in paradise. As long as I can enjoy how beautiful this place is and that I probably would not have gotten the chance to go here for any other reason (it really made no sense for me to spend that kind of money), I will be happy. I can get through this.
I should probably also mention that I had been awake for more than 24 hours at that point because my friend had booked my flight for 6 a.m. It takes an hour to get to the airport from my house and you need to get to the airport at least an hour before the flight leaves ... so I had just stayed up all night the night before to make sure I got to the island (so I could sit by myself for three hours once I got there, apparently).
Guess who missed their flight? The childhood friend. But it was OK, she and her husband said, once they finally got there. It gave them a chance to GO SKIING. No remorse at all for letting her friend down. At least it gave them a chance to go on an expensive vacation at the last minute.
I wonder what that is like, by the way. To say, oh, I missed my flight to Jamaica so I think I'll hop on my snowboard for a day. And then I'll go spend a week in paradise. Like it's nothing.
By my second day in Jamaica, I was relatively content. The bride's childhood friend still hadn't arrived, so at least I wouldn't have to deal with this bossy girl who followed my friend's every move. We made plans to go snorkeling -- the bride, a friend of the groom, the groom's mother and I -- while all the guys were off playing golf. My friend's now-husband is a huge golf nut. Golf is expensive when you play it as often as he does. He is a pharmaceutical patents lawyer. Enough said.
He also practices his swing in the middle of conversations with people on a regular basis and explains that he is just always thinking about golf.
Apparently the resort where we stayed has the highest-rated golf course in the world.
Ohhhh. That's why we had to stay there.
After a few mishaps on the beach -- the snorkeling fell through because my friend was afraid of the waves and the paddleboat fell through because the friend of the groom dropped her designer sunglasses in the water ("Oh well, gives me an excuse to buy more!" she said as my friend frantically searched for them underwater) -- my friend and I decided to go check out the swim-up bar. I'd yet to have a tropical drink on the beach and isn't that what Jamaica is all about? We walked over to the resort pool that had the swim-up bar and my friend said she wanted to swim a few laps in the Olympic-sized pool first. I said that was OK and swam two laps with her and waited on the side while she finished. She swam all six laps with her head above water, sunglasses and SPF 50 on, and a hat on her head to protect her hair, incidentally.
She's pretty OCD like that usually, but I guess the wedding day called for more of it.
By the time she got out of the pool and we started walking towards the swim-up bar, I noticed she was walking the opposite direction, back to the beach.
"Where are you going?" I asked. "I thought we were going to the swim-up bar."
"Oh," she replied. "I changed it."
I changed it???
"What do you mean?" I asked. "You changed your mind and didn't think to tell me?"
I tried to be nice about it and asked if she had gotten so overwhelmed with planning so many things (and constantly switching her plans because she's so indecisive) that she had forgotten that you're supposed to tell someone that you don't want to do something anymore if you are right in front of them.
She said she just wanted to get back to the beach so we could go to lunch. She really had no reaction at all to what I was saying.
* * *
OK, now I'm exhausted. I will finish the rest of this later ... I think this is really helping me to get closure, though. The whole situation was ridiculous and it only got worse after that ...
* * *
I'm back. Now, where was I? Oh, right, the swim-up bar.
When we got to the beach, I picked up a cocktail at the beach bar and got into our villa's golf cart to drive over to lunch. On our way there, my friend was saying something about family and it made me think of the story I had told her in the fall, about how I had found out that my grandfather had been abusive to his kids. Her reaction to this was, "Oh, and you didn't like that because you were sensitive ..." Now how does that make any sense? Like, if I wasn't "sensitive," maybe that information would be OK with me? I don't think anyone would like finding out something like that. It was just a strange reaction to have. And it seemed like she was saying it because she just wasn't really listening.
By the time we got to lunch and met up with my friend's aunt and her son, my friend realized that we had to make lunch quick so that her aunt could make it to her spa appointment on time. She also had to pick up extra food for the childhood friend who still hadn't arrived from the airport. Everyone started ordering extra helpings of things because they thought it would take too long to ask the waiter for a separate take-out order at the end. Then they asked the waiter to "hurry it up" several times, which made me embarrassed to even sit with them. At least they mostly spoke in English that time so I could join in the conversation. And at least nobody sent any of their meals back to the kitchen ... the night before, at our first dinner at the resort, the groom sent back his lobster because "it wasn't cooked correctly." Then, as everyone ate dessert, he got a second lobster to eat.
The same thing happened at the wedding dinner the next night. The aunt did not appreciate how her meal was cooked, and so it was sent back to be fixed.
These were excellent, high-priced-resort restaurants. And yet even that was not good enough for these people. That evening turned out to be halfway decent ... we all went for a relaxed barbecue on the beach hosted by the resort staff. There was a native show where we got to see a fire-eater, contortionist, drummers and limbo contest. It was so much fun and probably the best part of the entire trip. If I hadn't looked it up on the Web site a week before the trip, though, we never would have discovered it. It was the only really cultural thing we did the whole time.
My friend told me that night that she wanted to try again with snorkeling the next morning. I thought it seemed a little silly to try to plan anything on the actual day of the wedding, but she said she wanted to have some fun before she had to get ready.
So when the phone rang in my room in the villa at 7 a.m. and my friend asked her aunt if I might be interested in going to the gym, I was surprised. In retrospect, what I think happened was her childhood friend had asked her to go to the gym with her and she said yes, forgetting that she had made plans with me to go snorkeling at 9:30 a.m. Clearly, I had no interest in hitting the gym at 7 a.m. the day of my friend's wedding, so I said no. Silly me, I thought she'd still come by after the gym so we could go snorkeling, but she never showed up. No phone call or anything.
When I woke up, nobody could be found in the villa except for my friend's aunt. We had no golf carts, so I couldn't go anywhere. Eventually, the groom's sister (one of the bridesmaids) came back in a cart and gave me a lift to the beach. I decided to just spend some time there with her and the two friends of the groom because I had no idea where my friend was. Once we were on the beach, I decided to see what time the beach-front restaurant would be open because I still hadn't eaten anything. After finding out from a server, I turned to head back to the beach and WHAM! I stubbed three of my toes into a cement planter, breaking one of them.
* * *
When I first told my brother about this trip, this was the point where he asked if I had also gotten held-up and mugged ... because he couldn't get over how horrible the series of events seemed to be. Just thought I should note that. :)
* * *
I'd like to say that everything else went perfectly and maybe it did in some ways. But by then, I was definitely starting to feel my frustrations rising to the surface and I desperately wished I could talk to someone about them. Since my cell phone didn't work, I had no way to talk to my boyfriend back in the states except by using email. And I only had access to that the time I was in my friend's suite.
After breaking my toe, I hobbled over to my friend's suite along with the groom's sister and the groom's friend. None of us knew where she was at that point. When we couldn't find her there, we decided to just head back to the villa.
When we reached the villa, the childhood friend's husband told us that he had no idea where she was either. In fact, he didn't even know where his wife or mother-in-law were, he claimed. I went to put some ice on my black-and-blue foot and realized I needed something from my room. So imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my room and found my friend sitting there next to my bed, getting her hair done by her aunt! Her childhood friend was helping.
I asked how the childhood friend's husband couldn't have known they were in there. And my friend, the bride, said, "Because we wanted privacy ..." So, not only had she stood me up that morning but now she was hiding from me and everyone else? And having other people lie for her?
And not one of them noticed my foot or that I was limping and carrying an ice pack.
I asked if I could do anything to help, of course, and they asked me to call the front desk of the resort and make sure they were sending a shuttle for my friend so she could get to the makeup artist. When I did, the people at the front desk said, "We know! We already sent someone! He'll be there in two minutes!" I had no idea that they had already called the front desk twice, most likely. Just more of them not trusting people and thinking they are being ripped off ...
After my friend scurried off, I started to get ready for the wedding ceremony. Even with the help of a girdle, my dress still did not really fit correctly, to my dismay. But it would have to do. As my friend's aunt helped me safety-pin my bra straps inside of the dress, I started crying and said how I was sad that my friend's parents would not be present. How it was so unfair to her.
She said that I just had to be strong and show a brave face.
I guess everyone's MO was to pretend that it wasn't happening.
As I said earlier, when the wedding planner saw my friend's makeup job and asked where her eye makeup was, I had to improvise and do a whole new eye-makeup job for her. She didn't trust anyone else to do it. What a surprise.
Seems she trusts me and relies on me constantly when she's in a bind. But otherwise, why should she bother paying attention to me, right?
After I finished, the other girls were all ready and started helping my friend get into her dress. I still had to do my hair and makeup, however, because I'd spent my time helping her. So then the photographer showed up, and now what you see in the photos is the other girls helping her do everything and me looking into a mirror in the background.
* * *
My boyfriend says that shouldn't matter to me, but it kind of does ... I guess because it's a perfect metaphor for what was going on throughout the whole thing ... when push came to shove, I was the one who was doing a lot of work to help my friend with her wedding planning ... but when the cameras were out, the other two girls were right there, ready to pose and act as if they were so wonderful.
Speaking of cameras, I didn't even mention how many there were and how often photos were being taken of EVERYTHING. I hate to say that a stereotype is true of any culture ... but the amount of photos these people were taking was ridiculous. It was almost like the photos of their trip were more important to them than actually enjoying it. You can't even look natural and remember things as they actually were when you are constantly posing like that.
But I think being natural is the least of their concerns. They want to look as glamorous as possible and they want to be able to show it off later, it seems.
I can't tell you how many photos were taken of meals in restaurants, by the way. They even took photos of my food and asked why I was not photographing it myself.
I'm just not sure what the hell I'd do with a photograph of a meal. I mean, it just goes into my stomach, right? Do I need to have a memory of how expensive a meal was?
* * *
My friend had requested in a very sugary email a week before the wedding that I help her make sure her dress was "draping the right way" and that her hair and makeup all looked OK when the photographer took her pictures, so I definitely had my work cut out for me that day. She even requested that I use blotting papers on her face if it looked oily and reapply her lip gloss if it was fading.
I was responsible for holding tissues around my bouquet, in case she might need some. I didn't realize that she meant she might need them during the ceremony, however. After she read a poem aloud to the groom and he started crying, she turned to me with this look on her face that said, "Hey, what are you doing!" Apparently I was supposed to supply the groom with a tissue, even though he was quite far away from me and it would have looked pretty odd for me to do that.
You know, the thing is, I was happy to do all these things. I was honored that I was chosen to help her. And I understand that when someone gets married, she often develops a boss/subordinate role with her friend, the maid of honor. I was quite the subordinate, jumping whenever she needed me for eight months.
But that doesn't mean it's OK to literally boss someone around. I mean, don't subordinates deserve at least a little respect? Why would you treat someone so poorly and with such little concern for their well-being when they are doing so much to help you out?
* * *
When the photographer started taking the photos, I had to take photos myself with my friend's camera. It was hard to not get any of the other people's cameras in the shots! There was one point where the photographer asked that we take a photo with all the couples and families grouped together. It was awkward, to say the least, when everyone had been grouped in the photo and I stood off to the side by myself. He looked over at me like he didn't know what to do with me and the other people started nervously laughing. I said, "Wow, it's just like being picked last in gym class!" Just to lighten up the tension, I guess. I can't remember where he finally placed me ... probably with my friend's aunt and her family.
Once it was time for me to go along and make sure my friend looked OK, she had resorted to yelling at me the one time I wasn't there immediately to carry her train. Basically, her train could not touch the ground while she was walking. I even supplied both of them with gum at one point.
Not once did either of them notice that my toe was broken. The black-and-blue marks and swelling didn't tip them off, I guess.
When it was time to toss the bouquet, I was the only single girl there who could catch it, which kind of made the tossing seem ridiculous. But because they wanted to take a photo of her tossing it, my friend and the groom asked one of the married women to come out and pretend to catch it with me. Just so I wouldn't look dumb standing alone. How considerate. Of course, it also sort of sends the message that because I was the only single one, I looked dumb.
When I had to reach over to catch the bouquet, I tripped and yelled in anguish because it hurt my toe again. Finally, the happy newlyweds asked what was wrong and I said, "Well, I broke my toe this morning." "What???" they asked in utter disbelief.
Then, when my friend came back down from the balcony, she said, "Well, you've broken a toe before, right?"
Oh, right, because that makes it nothing to worry about. Because I've broken a toe once before. What a crazy, uncaring thing to say.
Dinner that night was very nice, for the most part. There was an awkward moment when I got asked who my favorite author is by the girl at the end of the table, the groom's friend. I guess someone had told her I was a writer and editor, so she wanted to know what I like to read. I responded that it was hard to choose just one, but I'd have to say Vonnegut. She had no response.
Then I said that I really loved Mary Shelley, too. The woman who wrote Frankenstein.
Again, no response or recognition that she even knew who I was talking about.
I tried again. I said how lately I've been reading a lot of Malcolm Gladwell. That he's had several books lately that were number-one best sellers.
Still no response.
Finally, I said that I really loved Winnie-the-Pooh, and she finally understood what I was talking about.
That same girl said a few minutes later how she thought the servants at the resort were very happy and most likely happier than we were in life because they got to work at the beach instead of SITTING BEHIND THE COMPUTER ALL DAY.
I was speechless when I heard that. The same butler who had to pick up all their crap off the floor everyday in that villa (although his job was lessened because of me cleaning up after everyone at night when people had gone to bed) was happier than we were? What a crock of shit.
It was all I could do to hold my tongue when I heard that. But I did anyway, for my friend's sake. And I was shocked that everyone else actually agreed with the girl.
* * *
When I got back to the villa that night, the husband of my friend's childhood friend was out back, ingesting one of the herbs that Jamaica is most famous for. He had asked me to join him earlier in the day, telling me that my friend and her husband had agreed to partake as well. I was surprised by that, but believed him anyway. He actually asked me to try to procure the stuff for him from the villa's gardener because it was likely that the gardener would trust me because of my skin color, but would think that someone of his race would be some kind of a narc. Pretty ridiculous considering that this guy is one of the biggest potheads I've ever known and I'm sure he's bought it from all sorts of people in his life.
By the time my friend got back, I was feeling so drunk that I really needed to go to bed. I was worried that she would notice and actually lecture me about it (she's been known to do that), but she didn't notice because she was too busy speaking in another language again with five other people. I sat in the living room of the villa for 10 minutes while nobody talked to me, and I wondered in my haze if maybe I could start to understand what they were saying. Eventually I gave up and before going to sleep, I made sure everyone knew that I planned on going to breakfast with them at 9 a.m. the next morning. I had to leave for the airport at 11 a.m. and everyone was going to have brunch beforehand.
* * *
When I woke up the next morning, I quickly packed up all my bags, so excited to get on that plane and get back to my boyfriend at home. I noticed that my friend's husband was hanging out with his family in the living room and he had my friend's bouquet to give me. He said I could keep it, since I had caught it, but he wasn't sure if I'd make it through customs at the airport with it. He said if that happened, it was OK if I just threw it away, obviously. I took the bouquet and went back to my room to fill out my check-out form.
Then, when I left my room a few minutes later, suitcase and form in hand, I noticed to my surprise that everyone had left without me.
Only two people were still there, my friend's husband's sister and her husband. They had not planned on going to brunch and weren't flying home until later in the day. They said everyone had left and they couldn't believe they had forgotten me. If I wanted to get to the main resort so I could catch the bus to the airport, I'd have to call the front desk for a shuttle to come get me.
I was in shock and gradually became incensed at what had happened. I called the front desk and said to the groom's sister, "Well, I guess this is what happens when you're not family." She sort of rolled her eyes when I said that, but seriously, how do 12 people forget someone? Several of them knew I was there, ready to go. And yet they still left me.
* * *
Once the shuttle showed up to get me from the front desk, the childhood friend's brother drove up in one of the golf carts, laughing and saying, "We forgot you!" I was not amused at that point. I just got onto the shuttle.
I was so angry that all I could think was that I wanted to just get to the front desk and then go home. I didn't want to have to deal with anyone. I had done my part and helped out my friend and I was done. I was finished with being treated so disrespectfully, not only by my friend but by all her other loved ones. I'd had enough. On the shuttle trip to the front desk, I started noticing all the resort activities I could have taken part in but didn't. Like the tennis courts, the dolphin lagoon, the chess on the beach, the various bars and restaurants. All things you should be able to do when you are spending that much money, right? All things that are hard to do when you are at the whim of someone who plans things with you and then doesn't show up.
When I got to the front desk and a bell hop helped me with my suitcase, he noticed the bouquet I held and said, "Oh, I guess you were the lucky one!" I said, "No, I was the only one."
Then I walked to the beachfront restaurant to find everyone eating happily at a long table. Once they saw me, they all were laughing and saying, "Hey, we forgot you!" I put down my bags and said, "It's OK, I'm getting used to it by now."
Then I left to go get some coffee and wanted to make a quick exit. I was so angry that I actually tossed my friend's bouquet in the trash on the way there. When my friend saw me do that, she ran after me to the buffet line. Big mistake on her part.
"Don't be mad!" she said and tried to hug me, even though I clearly did not want to be hugged at that moment. She explained how they had sent someone to get me once they got there and realized they had left me.
So it took them the whole trip over to the main resort area before they realized I wasn't there. And they had to drop off everyone else BEFORE they'd go back to get me?
I think what was going through my mind when I was standing there so upset was that I didn't care about my friendship with her anymore. The way I had been treated for so many months was absurd. I said to my friend, "I am so tired of having to be so flexible for you!"
She explained that everyone there had to be flexible, not just me. That nobody else was complaining.
But nobody else was being treated the way I was ... nobody else had so much stretching expected of them, whether it was their wallets (all of which were more bountiful than mine), their time, their pride or their ears and heart. Hell, I was even stretching my body for her. I lost 20 pounds in only a few months for the wedding. And I colored my hair for it, another thing I couldn't afford. I even used self-tanner for two weeks.
* * *
Surprisingly enough (or maybe not), the bouquets the bridesmaids had to use were made of artificial flowers bought from Michael's. It was important to my friend that we carry peonies because they are very lucky in her culture. But it wasn't possible to get peonies in Jamaica, so she settled for fake ones. It was my task to create the bouquets and when I asked the other two girls to help tie the pink ribbons on theirs, once we were in Jamaica, one of them told me I was doing it the wrong way and the other claimed that she did "not know how to tie a bow."
My friend's bouquet was filled with beautiful, local flowers, on the other hand.
When it came to our hairstyles, my friend said she didn't care how we wore our hair. I made sure mine resembled the other bridesmaids at least somewhat once I noticed they were coincidentally wearing theirs EXACTLY the same way and had not informed me. It was hard to make shoulder-length, layered blonde hair resemble long, straight black hair, but I did my best.
Meanwhile, my friend had obsessed over her hair for months and told her husband that her aunt had made her hair look like a princess for him.
This all matters because it's just even more indication of the lack of focus on her bridesmaids. When I get married, I will make sure that my bridesmaids get the best treatment. I would never say, oh I don't care how you do your hair and here, carry some plastic flowers!
* * *
What followed in that brunch buffet line was unfortunate. After explaining to my friend that she needs to learn how to communicate better and asking why she didn't show up the day before to go snorkeling, or at least call, she said, "Oh, well I couldn't because I had my period."
Now, I've known for years that she is afraid to use tampons. We've been friends for 17 years, and not once in all that time has she used one.
But in the heat of the moment, I said, "Well, you could have worn a tampon! It's that easy!"
Not to mention the fact that I had my period for the entire trip, but I didn't let that stop me from doing anything.
Then she said, "But you know I can't use those!"
And I said that she should have called me, how instead I was left on my own and ended up breaking my toe and she didn't even notice. How I didn't get to do anything and I couldn't afford the trip as it was.
I told her I was sorry I was getting upset, but I felt like I had a right to be. I was tired of being treated so badly. I told her she expects too much of me and it's not fair. I told her that I couldn't stand how pretentious her other friends act and the things they say. I told her I just wanted to get some coffee and go home. I was tired of everything.
She looked at me like she might laugh, like the way I was acting was ridiculous to her. I guess she felt frustrated that there was nothing she could do to make things up to me, even though she kept trying to hug me and was saying these patronizing things like, "but you're the bestest friend in the world," etc. Like saying that stuff was going to help.
Like I said with the bachelorette party, more defusing of situations.
But c'mon. I'm not a kid. That kind of stuff wasn't going to work with me.
Then she turned and walked away and I said, "Wow, well I'm glad you think this is funny."
She said she didn't think it was funny, that she was just mad that I was so mad. And then she gave me this look that said it all: "I should have known you would do this to me."
She didn't actually say that out loud. But she was still so caught up in herself and being the center of attention that she was going to get angry at anyone or anything that got in her way.
Even if it was her best friend, saying, "Stop hurting me."
* * *
I soon realized that I really had no appetite and needed to just get out of there. My friend's husband's parents walked over to me and started to hug me goodbye ... I guess they could tell that something was wrong and wanted to help. I told them I was just going to go with them to the front desk because I needed to leave soon anyway.
I didn't even bother with saying goodbye to my friend or her husband. I gave a casual wave to everyone else at the table.
* * *
The next 13 hours were very difficult. It took about that long to get home due to lots of flight delays. By the time I got home, I lashed out a bit at my boyfriend, regretfully, and couldn't believe how angry I still was.
A few days after getting home, I decided to send my friend an email. My boyfriend was almost as angry as I was about everything that had happened and didn't really want me to, but I felt like I had to communicate with her. I felt bad for getting upset the way I did and for leaving without saying goodbye.
I wrote all of that in the email and said I hoped we could repair our friendship.
But I also said that I didn't regret any of the things I said in Jamaica because they were true.
A couple days after that, I got an email back from my friend. She had come back home and was very angry with me for "ruining her wedding and ruining her bachelorette party," she said. She said that when I left like that, it only gave her "sad memories" of her wedding, when that is supposed to be the most important, happiest day of her life. She said that all they could talk about on their honeymoon was me and how I was.
She also said that she needed me, of all people, to keep my emotions to myself. That nobody else had any complaints and when she asked them if she had been selfish, they said no.
I had mentioned in my email to her that part of my frustration was that I felt that she would not do a lot of the things I did for her and her wedding. She said that wasn't the case in her email back to me, but I know that's not true. How could she when she is that high-maintenance? Plus, I have reasons to believe that due to other experiences with her over the years. She barely ever comes to things if I have other friends there and once left on the morning after my birthday party without even telling me. She had come to visit me in New York and said she felt uncomfortable because she was the only guest without a boyfriend there.
So how would she be able to handle something like that in another country at my wedding if she couldn't even handle it at my birthday party?
A day after I got her email, a postcard arrived in the mail from Jamaica. She had written it to me, and it said in this very monotone voice that she wanted to thank me for helping so much with the wedding.
Now, how does that postcard make sense after her angry email? It was sent after I left Jamaica. So basically, it was just a formality.
And that was only the beginning of the obvious paradoxes in her behavior ... or maybe it was just the first time I knew to look for them.
* * *
I emailed her back and said it saddened me that she thought I ruined her wedding. I said I couldn't see how I had done that when really I had done so much to help her and had only gotten upset two times, and reasonably so.
She wrote me back and said she was annoyed because everyone kept asking her how I was instead of how her honeymoon was.
Apparently I was still stealing her thunder.
* * *
I eventually told her that I needed time to think about things before talking to her again. I thought that maybe she'd get out of "wedding mode" and return to a more recognizable version of herself, and then talking to her wouldn't be so fruitless.
So I was surprised when she called me on Christmas, saying she missed me and hoped we'd start talking to each other again (like she was angry with me for doing that to her). She said she wanted to know how things were going with my work in yet another monotone voice. She showed no emotion at all in the message. Not to mention the fact that she was violating what I had asked for -- for her to leave me alone until I was ready to talk.
I sent her a text message and said I couldn't believe she could be so angry with me for "ruining her wedding" and then calling me on Christmas and leaving me this totally unemotional message, like things were suddenly OK.
The last thing I wanted to hear on a holiday was her voice. I was trying to be happy, not upset.
* * *
Two weeks later, I decided I'd better sit down and spell things out for her, explain to her everything that had transpired that eventually built up and made me go over the edge. It wasn't like it was just everyone leaving me behind in Jamaica .... it was a series of things, as explained in this post.
After I sent her a very long email and waited a week and a half with no answer, I gave up on her. In fact, the day after I sent the email, she sent 426 wedding photos to me, as if to say, "I don't care if you're still upset about this. These are more important." Also, she and her husband had taken to purposely writing my email address last in group emails.
People told me there's no way she would do something like that, but I knew that when she got mad at people, she had a tendency to get vindictive, so it was highly likely that she would.
When I still hadn't heard back from her, I decided I had to learn to give up on our friendship. I couldn't believe what kind of person she had become. I just was tired of it all. As one of my friends had put it, I felt sucked dry.
Finally, she called me and left a message, saying she wanted to talk about everything.
I emailed her and said I was still too upset to hear her voice and I'd rather she just email me back and address the things I'd written in my email. I had really laid myself on the line and wanted feedback. I wanted an apology from her or at least recognition of her part in all of those things.
Instead of writing me back, she chose to comment on one of my facebook photos, saying something to the effect of me not staying friends with people. She erased it 15 minutes after writing it, but I still happened to catch it. I have to believe that was not an accident.
I sent her a message on facebook, saying that if she was going to be that immature and try to write embarrassing things about me in a public medium like that, I was going to have to erase and block her profile. Keep in mind that she is 30 years old and acting like this.
She then emailed me back and said how nothing she could do was enough for me to forgive her and how I didn't "have the decency" to call her. She said how she had forgiven me and how we are like sisters, so I really should let this stuff go. And then she said how everything I was angry about was either not known to her or not under her control.
I wrote her another long email back. First I addressed the courtesy issue. Clearly, her waiting almost two weeks to even respond to what I had emailed showed a lack of courtesy, I said. And I had already explained to her that I did not feel comfortable talking to her on the phone.
I said how I wouldn't get angry with her for things that were not her fault or not in her control. That it wouldn't make sense to do that. Then I went into more explicit detail about all the things that were clearly in her control and how I'm actually concerned about the qualities I've watched her develop ... that she had become distant, dismissive, overly concerned with appearances, cold at times, pretentious, superficial. I told her that it was very hard for me to say all of these things, but I felt like I had to. I said I felt like I couldn't trust her. That she had told me once how she acts like a different person with everyone, and during the wedding process, I had finally seen how true that is. So how could I know that when she was with me I was even getting the real her?
At the end of that email, I was basically saying goodbye to her. I told her I hoped that everything worked out with her parents and that someday she could be honest with them and her husband, that she could be who she really is and love that person instead of focusing on surface things and constantly defusing situations just to try and make everyone happy.
She didn't get the fact that I was "saying goodbye" and she wrote me a very short email back, saying how she always wants to better herself as a person and she would take what I said to heart. She said again how she had forgiven me (I really don't know what I needed to be forgiven for, though) and how I should forgive her because of our lifelong friendship.
I emailed her back and said that this wasn't about forgiveness. It was about me protecting myself from how she is now. I said that she had made it impossible for us to have a lifelong friendship.
I guess that made her angry because she wrote me back and said it takes two people to do that. And that she was "worried" about me because she thought that I only had two best friends, and one of them was her. Then she actually said that I should take a look at the kind of person I've become and why my circle of friends has faded.
I was in utter shock when I read that. I couldn't believe what a bully she could be when she didn't get her way. For months, she was saying how great I was all the time, and now this? Was I only great when I was doing things for her?
I wrote her one last email and said I now had to block her from contacting me there as well. I said she must be out of her mind to think that I don't have enough friends. Really, she only knows one of my friends because she won't ever hang out with me when I've asked her to if other people are there. She doesn't show any interest in any of the people I spend time with, doesn't ask about them, so how could she even know who I talk to?
Then I told her that I was so relieved I wouldn't have to put up with her friends ever again. I told her she needed to grow up.
And that was that.
The next day, she left me a phone message. She was crying. She said that she was so sorry she'd made me so upset. That I'm the nicest person she's ever known and she had been a bad friend to me and I deserve so much better. She said that I should know her well enough that the thing she said about "the kind of person I'd become" wasn't true and she only said it because she was mad. She said she wished me all the best and was just so sorry.
I wish I could say I felt horrible for her when I heard it. It was a shame that she was crying. But at that point, I had been upset since the night before about the things she said to me. And I felt so confused about this complete turnaround.
It had really become like I just couldn't trust anything she said because the next day, she'd say something completely different. And she still had not acknowledged or discussed with me any of the things she did that made me upset. All she could say was this vague, "I've been a bad friend." It was like she still didn't even completely understand what she did wrong.
* * *
A week after all of that, my mother had successfully made me feel guilty enough about "abandoning" my friend that I sent my friend a text message, saying that I would be there for her if she was ever in an emergency, that I owed her that after all the time we'd been friends. But that I needed space and time away from her now and I hoped she could understand.
A couple weeks later, she sent me a Valentine's Day card. It said all these schmaltzy things, like how I'm a friend she looks up to and how great and wonderful I am. She hadn't actually written that -- it was printed in the card design. All she wrote was that she was thinking of me and that she knew I needed my space and time and she understood.
Isn't that almost word-for-word what I had said in the text message? She can't even show one ounce of emotion or creativity?
Which reminds me of the day in SoHo we spent shopping after her bachelorette party. That day I had said to her, "You know, I feel bad sometimes because I can't afford to buy you the kinds of presents all your other friends can or do things they can afford to do with you and I wonder how you feel about that." It was a very vulnerable thing for me to say. And she said in a very robotic voice, "Well, I've never been in that situation so I don't know how you feel."
And that was it!
After I got that card from her, I sent her one final text message. I said that I had worried for weeks about the bad things she said about me and now I get this card telling me how great I am and how confusing that was. I said it made me feel even more like I can't trust her. And that I am so tired of it and all I wanted was for her to acknowledge that she understands what she did and apologize for it. How otherwise, I had to stay away from her to protect myself. That I didn't want to, but I had to.
And that's the last time I talked to her.
* * *
As if the wedding at the courthouse and the wedding in Jamaica were not enough, my friend had a big wedding reception planned for February and I knew that there was no way I could go after all that had happened. So I didn't RSVP with the invitation I'd designed for her and in one of my emails, I told her I wouldn't be there, for obvious reasons. Now I'm glad that I didn't go. The other day, I came across a photo of her childhood friend on facebook and it was clear that it was from the reception.
This was through my boyfriend's facebook page because he never deleted her or any of her friends from his list of friends on there. All the girls had on glitzy evening gowns at this reception. I'm talking Academy Awards-quality gowns. Thank God I never had to go out and pay for one of those. There was no way I could have afforded it.
In the comments on the photos she had written things about the bridesmaids like, "The sweetest girls in the universe!" and "The glamorous angels!"
I hope for her sake, that is really true. Because in my experience with those girls, they are far from that.
It's a shame that her behavior, her deceptions, her desire to fit in with her husband and his wealthy friends at any cost ... even losing her parents and her best friend ... have led her down this road. It is so important to her that she has this high, wealthy status in life. I've researched values in her culture since everything that transpired, just trying to understand them more. And a lot of what I've found points to clear differences between their values and American values ... so much of it clarifies what she's become. I'm not saying that every member of her culture is the same way, just that it makes more sense how she could change so much. I'm just not sure how she could expect me to do the same.
And because I can't change to be like her, because I can't go on living and respecting myself if I allow people who "love" me to disrespect me so much, and because I don't think it's necessary to buy a stinking evening gown for a person's THIRD wedding ceremony, I guess I won't be called one of her "glamorous angels" any time soon.
The freedom I feel to be myself now is worth it.
It doesn't change the fact that I'm still in grief over it all though. Even writing this out, I still feel like I'm in shock over some of what happened. Over most of what happened.
The worst and most ironic part of it all was that when we took photos at the wedding, my friend made sure to instruct all of us not to post any of them on facebook. She was afraid that if any of her relatives saw the photos, they might get leaked back to her mother. She didn't want her mother to see her aunt in the photos because then she'd know how much she was being lied to. About everything.
But in the photos from the reception, guess who I saw? That's right, my friend's parents, posing for photos with her and smiling.
So all of that for nothing, I guess. They showed up for their daughter after all.
I still don't know what to make of that.
I'm curious as to what other people think about this. Comments are welcome. I'm sorry this is so long, but I feel so much better now that it's out of me. And I wonder if anyone has ever experienced something similar. It's so hard to be steadfast and stand up for what's right when it means hurting someone like this. And when it means hurting yourself.
This blog is basically a list of things people do that confuse or annoy me or just make me laugh in general. It's my own personal fashion magazine, including a classy magazine-editor photo (see above).
In addition to being a copy editor for Good Housekeeping magazine and Monkeybicycle Books, I have written for the Associated Press, Greetings etc. magazine, Delaware Today, Monkeybicycle Books, Vagabondage Press, and "Mountain Man Dance Moves: The McSweeney's Book of Lists."
In the past, I've copyedited for OK! magazine, Oxford University Press, New York Spaces, Ladies' Home Journal, and Dzanc Books; I've fact-checked for More magazine and Tango magazine. And I'm writing a memoir that has nothing to do with grammar or fashion.