SarahKatKim & I are to hosting Reverb throughout 2016 as a way to share writing prompts and providing a space for writers via our Facebook group. In December of each year, we host a prompt-a-day to provide structure and a way to close out the year.

Holiday Eats // What dish do you look forward to each year at the Christmas party?  Share the recipe if you can!

I have told some version of this story before, but it bears retelling: Most people in my family think I cannot cook.

This is untrue, but my real skill is letting them think I cannot cook so at family holidays, I do not have to lift a finger. This played out most recently at Thanksgiving, where I voiced my preference for the Traditional Thanksgiving Vegetarian Lasagne, and crowdsourced recipes on social media. After selecting one, my mother and I went to Whole Foods to buy the ingredients, got into the Traditional Holiday Argument at the checkout stand, and went home to prepare it in advance of the main event. Since we spend our Thanksgivings in the mountains, some of the foods must be prepared in advance to save on prep and cooking time due to limited oven space.

As I anticipated, my mother cooked the entire lasagne. I did not do a thing except to make a suggestion here and there and throw shred cheese at a casserole dish when the time came. This was by design. While I am a competent and perhaps even a good cook, the myth circulating in my family is that I am rubbish at all things domestic, so expectations of me are sub-basement low. For many years, I found this insulting, and now, I find it hilarious and I find every way possible to shirk domestic duties because people expect so little of me.

With that context in mind, for many years, I used to host dinner parties where I would slave away over every detail – perhaps to compensate for my family’s low opinion of Me as a Traditional Woman. I would make fancy hors d’oeuvres and some kind of well-planned main dish. Now, when I have friends over, it’s more likely that someone insists we just order in Thai food (which, frankly, is awesome by me). But for years, I would have parties, and people would skip over all the fancy stuff and insist I make…chilli dip.

The dip came about as a variation on something a friend of my mother’s used to make – I made it once as a joke to complement a “cheesy foods” party I was hosting. There were piles of fancy cheese, and a brie en croute, and then this terrible dip. The dip is nothing more than a can of canned chilli and a brick of Velveeta melted together. That’s it. My mother’s friend served it with meat chilli and Fritos – since I don’t eat meat and I hate Fritos, I used veggie chilli and Scoops.

No one ate my fancy canapes. People ate two Costco-sized blocks of Velveeta that night. I was left with two pounds of Prima Donna Gouda that went bad in my fridge. It has been at least ten years since the first time I made chilli dip and I am still angry.

After that, at every party; every holiday – Meredith, can you please make chilli dip? Can you please melt together two horrible things in a microwave safe bowl and bring us some chilli dip, and bring it right here?

The indignity.

This is all to say, I really dislike holiday foods. I will grudgingly make you chilli dip if you ask me nicely. But wouldn’t you really rather I make something less horrible?

Or maybe we can just Seamless some Thai food instead.

This is the seventh in a brief series of posts. Here are the firstsecond, and thirdfourthfifth, and sixth.

It is early June, and I am finally off crutches. People ask me how I am doing, and I tell them I am great. Normally, I am much more circumspect, but when you have been on crutches for an extended period of time, walking unassisted is a terrific feeling.

I am having dinner with my friends Strand and Sam, who babysat me the day I came home from hospital. They are to be married at the weekend, and I have offered to babysit their dog, McGee, during their honeymoon.

It is a perfect night – New York is outdoing itself with the weather this season – and we meet at a burger joint in our neighbourhood, which Sam calls Hipsterburger. We have burgers (veggie for me) and beers, and I try to refrain from giving marital advice in advance of their nuptials. I am a Know-It-All; I know it. Maybe it’s part of being a lawyer.

Sam and Strand met on Tinder, which fascinates me because I went on maybe three internet dates and found the whole thing to be a horrifying sociological experiment. But I had met my ex-husband before smartphones; had ended another longterm relationship immediately before getting together with Andrew, so the last time I had dated was around the time Google was invented.

It wasn’t easy getting to this point, Strand confesses, There were a lot of broken phones from throwing things at each other.

I kept having to go to Rainbow and buy new ones, Sam laughs.

This statement, in particular, makes me chuckle, because only on the Upper East Side do you find young couples who still have land-lines; where throwing the phone is done in the classical sense. These are My People.

Strand begins to tell me about their first date; how she met Sam for coffee and he was so taken with her that he lost his composure. How they moved from coffee to lunch, which was where things got interesting. Sam tells me: I got a text message asking how the date was going, so I excused myself and I replied. Except I told my buddy, “She’s smokin’ hot; it’s going great” and after I hit SEND, I realised that I’d just messaged this to Strand and not to my friend.

At that point, Sam wondered whether he should even leave the bathroom, or if he should just quietly slink away home.

I came out, and I told her, “Look, don’t be angry. I just accidentally sent you a message meant for my friend.” It’s not bad, but I just want you to check your phone and not be mad at me.

Strand, for her part, pipes in, I thought he was sick or something had happened. But once he told me what was going on, I decided to keep toying with him. So she refused to check the message on her phone and continued enjoying her lunch, while Sam sweated it out, until he finally begged her JUST CHECK YOUR DAMN PHONE!

She saw the message and said the feeling was mutual. They’ve been together ever since, Sam’s track record with phones notwithstanding.

I laugh, because I love a love story.

We finish our dinner in the beautiful evening, and begin the slow, short walk home. It is strange to me that I am at this moment in my life: Watching the girls who I advised as their collegiate sorority adviser now getting married and having children. These girls – Strand! – were 18, 19 when I met them, and I was a fresh-out-of-Georgetown newlywed posing as an adult. I do not feel any older, but time must be passing.

The clearest hallmark of this is that during the week of my surgery, I received an email from my ex-husband. He knew Strand only as one of the college girls I advised, who would occasionally dog-sit for us. Andrew and I had not spoken in a long time. He is remarried; is a father. Of the contentious issues in our marriage “Why Can’t Meredith Act Like a Normal Wife” was a favourite of his.

He had been with his law firm for over a decade when he switched jobs and made partner in April. I found this out via a LinkedIn blast. It was unfathomably weird to me that the sacrifices I had made early in my own career – the late nights spent waiting for him, and the arguments about his paralegals – had inured entirely to his benefit. I was notified of the culmination of my efforts only because of an algorithm.

I was wondering if you’d like to attend a panel discussion on Brexit, he asked in his email.

I waited for a day, then replied, It looks like a great event but I’ll be overseas.

And that was that. I did not say Congrats on the new job! I did not tell him how lovely it was that those college girls he had once complained about were now successful grown-ups; did not reminisce about my late night drives to Staten Island. I did not tell him that I had just had another surgery or that he had been wrong about all those arthritis drugs he’d wanted me to take for my own good.

During our marriage, my complaint with him was that we were always striving to achieve only his dreams; his complaint with me was that I was perpetually in motion – always in some airport or another. In an odd way, it is comforting to know that, despite all that had happened, neither of us has changed much.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with helper dogs: Seeing-eye dogs. Therapy dogs. Service dogs. I had this sense that helper dogs like Labradors, and Golden Retrievers, and other such majestic, helpful breeds could save the world.

But I didn’t personally know any such magnificent dogs. My parents were not Dog People.

I remember being small and asking my dad how blind people drove.  I assumed that being a grown up meant you drove – end of story. At the time, I had also probably just met my first seeing-eye dog. So my father told me, with a straight face, that blind people had the dog sit in the front seat and bark out the directions: One bark for “turn right;” two barks for “turn left;” a yelp for “this way to Grandma’s house,” and so forth. And I remember thinking – Brilliant, I want a dog just like that when I grow up.

I shudder to think of the number of times I repeated that information about seeing-eye dogs throughout my childhood.

But this story is not about helpful dogs. This story is about lightbulbs.

On Saturday, I was at home doing all sorts of domestic things that get lost in the shuffle when you’re terribly busy during the week – like changing the light high above the bathtub in the master bathroom that had been burnt out since I’ve lived in my apartment. (Which, in my defence, required more effort than anticipated, including Sugru, a ladder, and multiple trips to Rainbow Hardware.)

At some point in the afternoon, I got a message from my friend John, and after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him whether he had plans for the weekend. He responded that he planned to go out on a jazz club crawl in the West Village. This was intriguing to me. He then posed the same question to me: What do you have on this weekend?

Without thinking, I replied, I’m changing hard to reach lightbulbs.

I immediately regretted my honesty, and I said as much, because I still have some dignity, and didn’t want to be seen as a) The Biggest Loser on the Upper East Side (which I might have been), and/or b) angling for an invitation to join (which I was). But John is a nice person, and his reply to me was some variation on You should join me doing cool people things instead of changing lightbulbs!

A few hours later, I was showered and changed and on my way to the Village. As I was pulling up, I got a message:

Crazy stoned guy outside this place…

I greeted John and as we waited, a man threaded through the crowd, preaching crackpottery. Remind me when we get inside, there’s a story I want to tell you! John mentioned. I nodded, keeping my eye on our stoned friend telling his stories to the assembled jazz-lovers.

When the bouncer finally let us in, we snagged two seats about midway into Smalls Jazz Club. The crackpot had managed to get in as well, and I heard him behind us inside, telling a foursome about how he could confirm the existence of mermaids, who he found to be all lesbian bitches. He further assured the foursome that he wasn’t a homophobe, it was just science – he was a Marine Biologist who understood and had personally encountered/been severely assaulted by hostile lesbian mermaids in the wild.

The ceiling was low inside Smalls, and the atmosphere was perfect for a night of jazz and gin. We were watching the Fukushi Tainaka Quartet and sipping gin-and-tonics John had gotten us from the bar. Way better than domestic drudgery.

What story were you going to tell me? I asked.

The stupid dog ate another sock, he said. He had two labradors, one of whom had a habit of eating his children’s socks and needing to have them surgically removed.

So that’s like a semester’s worth of school fees in sock removal surgeries this year? 

Yep. 

He then called up a photo on his phone of the removed sock, which made me laugh. It was hard for me to reconcile the image of majestic, helpful labradors I had from childhood with John’s idiot dog.  But having already humiliated myself once that day, I opted not to try to make him feel better about it by offering up a story about how I once thought seeing-eye dogs operated by barking driving directions.

After the set had finished, we decided to grab dessert. John had once lived nearby, and I had lived in Tribeca and gone to grad school at NYU, and yet we still had to pull up Googlemaps to navigate to the sweet shop nearby. There was something oddly bittersweet about not being able to find our way unaided past the yuppified alleyways and storefronts where even the cheesy sex shops were upgraded from a decade before.

It was heady and strange, the feeling of walking through a past life. Andrew and I used to walk our dog Lilly up to the Village from our place in Tribeca on weekends; we’d have brunch, go shopping. But then I got sick and Lilly died, and a few short years later, we were divorced. Everything was different; little had changed in the Village.

But the walk was short and Googlemaps quickly got us to Sweet Revenge. There, we gobbled our way through a cupcake and a mini-cheesecake, laughing about the specifics of our night.

We parted ways after dessert, and I headed home to my own disobedient dog; curled up on the bathmat on the floor next to the expensive dog bed. The bathroom was ablaze with all four lightbulbs finally lit for the first time since I’d lived in the place.

As I put myself to bed, Roo trotted over to sleep next to me, bringing what I thought was his stuffed hedgehog along, but instead was a balled up pair of my running socks that must’ve missed the bathroom hamper when I’d stripped them off earlier. He didn’t do that very often, but occasionally, he would carry around a sock or two of mine, and I would find them thidden in his toy box under the legless Piglet stuffie that he’d once nicked from a baby gift I was wrapping.

I looked down at him, and sighed, and said aloud, If you even so much as think about eating those socks, you are a dead dog.

It didn’t dawn on me till later that sometimes, it takes trying to replace what seems like a burnt out light to find out that it’s broken at the stem and needs a more serious repair. And dogs will still be dogs, no matter how helpful they seem. That might have been helpful to know ten years ago in Tribeca.

That said, I’m still awfully glad to be a Dog Person. Seems much safer than being a marine biologist.

But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.
– Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

March 5th was my birthday, and that morning, I landed from sunny Johannesburg into snowy Paris.

Everyone loves the idea of Paris – Hemingway’s Paris – the very old city where you were young and you arrived at Gare du Nord with little else but a pocketful of francs and your schoolgirl French. Where you survived for weeks on the contents of your bulging backpack, and Orangina, baguette, and endless boxes of Petit Ecolier biscuits.

(It has been almost twenty years and I still cannot so much as look as a box of Petit Ecolier.)

I am here to break it to you: That Paris does not exist except inside your unreliable memories – and maybe never existed at all.

I had come unprepared for this trip.

I rarely travel with more than a carry-on suitcase, and this trip was no exception despite the tall order of multiple climates, countries, cities, and circumstances. But I had unexpectedly left 90F temperatures in Johannesburg and walked off the plane into subfreezing snowfall in Paris. My best-laid plans of wearing nothing more than a light jacket had gone horribly wrong and I was already mad at Paris again.

Paris was nothing but bad memories for me: Ex-husbands; ex-boyfriends; food poisoning; Roma picking my pockets; Frederic prattling on and on about how much more classically beautiful than me his first wife had been. It had gotten to the point where I’d begun to dread every trip to France. This trip’s sudden snowfall didn’t improve my view of the place.

(First world problems at their finest.)

On the morning of my arrival, I was meant to pick up a race number for a half marathon, and then I was to meet some friends for a late lunch. So I grabbed an Uber, and made my way out to the race expo at Parc Floral. I spoke my broken French to the young man who picked me up in a fancy Jaguar; marvelled at how little race security was in place at the expo; grabbed my number, then raced to the Latin Quarter to meet friends.

It was me and a motley crew of men who had come in from the US and UK. I had been promised a birthday lunch and wine, so we ordered racks and stacks of oysters and escargots and bottles of Sancerre to start the day. The seafood and snails were divine, and we quickly became Those Loud Americans.

Have you ever been a Loud American Abroad? The kind whose voice carries through the cafe, and the locals look at you contemptuously as they try to have their quiet, dignified lunches, like you’re a crying baby on a plane, or a horny young couple in a cinema whose necking blocks the view? We were that group of wine-soaked minor irritants to a restaurant full of French people on a cold March afternoon.

After a few hours, someone suggested we move along to another cafe, so we packed it in and headed down the Left Bank towards another picturesque spot. We traipsed across the cobblestones and down the alleyways, chatting and laughing about how simple and lovely it all was. We talked about life, and literature, and How Things Were. I felt light in the chilly afternoon, as my silly, long, schoolgirl hair swirled around me in the wind. If this was Paris After Everything, then it wasn’t so bad.

At our second stop: More oysters; more wine. A chat with an older American fellow with what sounded like a looted art collection and a passion for marrying younger women.

Finally, as the afternoon got smaller, we decided on a final stop before dinner. We stumbled past the Louvre on our way towards Le Meurice for an aperitif. (NB: The idea of an aperitif before a low-key dinner after an all-day pub crawl was borderline ridiculous, but after pub crawling for the better part of day, we didn’t have the mental faculties left between us to know better).

We arrived at the hotel into the middle of Paris Fashion Week festivities. The bar was closed for a private event, and the back room was set up for fashion buyers. One of my friends, insistent on his drink despite the fact that we had been rejected several times, finally approached the host and swore up and down that we were with the fashion event, but that he had to “impress the buyer” who had “grown tired of the free drinks” and wanted a lovely cocktail. He got us a table.

Pretend you’re a fashion buyer, he hissed in my ear.

Dude, I said, No way they are buying this. I am not even wearing make-up.

But we sat, and around came a beautiful bottle of dry champagne, which we sipped with delight before we were due for dinner just down the road. At the end of the bottle, I herded our group out the door. We met more friends for pasta, and another bottle or two of wine.

Towards the end of the dinner, the lights in the restaurant dimmed, and everyone began to clap and shout. Not understanding what was happening, I joined in the fun, until I looked up and saw that a cake was coming directly for me.

I laughed, and hid my head in my hands, then blew out the candles, and I thought how funny it was that in this very old city, where nothing was simple, I had unexpectedly discovered something new.

In her seventh ever blog post, all the way back in March 2003(!), the inimitable Andrea Scher wrote: “Maybe lists are like prayers.” What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?

I have lists everywhere.

Half-completed lists; half-written in American English; half-written in the Queen’s English; Half the items half crossed off. I travel so much and am married to a European and that is why I cannot get anything done and why I inconsistently insert a random letter “u” in words and occasionally replace my “z”s with “s”s.

I have personal lists; professional lists; household lists; holiday lists. I have lists dating back twenty years that are stuck inside old journals. I have playlists, and task lists, and outlines for conversations that were never had, and indices for arguments left unspoken.

The other night, I came across a grocery list tucked into a cookbook I had long forgotten. It was meant for a party I had hosted back in 2008. I used to host an ugly sweater Christmas party every year, and I did this for almost ten years until I moved house last year, and everyone got divorced, or got sober, or had kids. Those weird little parties I used to host simply weren’t as fun as they used to be once everyone spawned, and started Crossfit, found a Higher Power.

The party in 2008, though, was remarkable. I had come back from one overseas adventure and was soon off to another. My first marriage was in shambles – we were at that stage where we couldn’t have people over or socialise unless it was in a big group. Maybe you’ve seen this behaviour in the wild when you’ve observed sniping friends whose relationship has run its natural course, or attempted to diffuse divorcing spouses interacting in an enclosed space.

Everything in our house, by that stage, had escalated to a clattering rumble but had not yet fallen apart, as if the 6 Train were passing under our feet at all times. Rocking, rumbling, screaming into the din. Still…intact.  Otherwise, falling apart – it was 2008, the world was ending! – but the party had to go on.

My grocery list for that night included, inter alia:

Eggs
Puff pastry
Brie (round)
Flaked coconut
Vanilla frosting
Canned pears
Rum
Red wine
Makers Mark (?)
Sugar
Cigarettes
Popsicles
Ice
Tictacs

What was I even creating out of all that? I can make sense of most of the ingredients, but I get lost around cigarettes, popsicles, and tic tacs.

I look back through the photos of that night, and I marvel at who showed up; who was in the same room for one night only. It is completely incomprehensible to me now to see all these people together because they could only have existed on the same plane if it were The Last Night of The World.

We fit more than 50 people into our one-bedroom, Tribeca apartment. We were drinking, and dancing, and kissing under the mistletoe, and I was wearing shiny gold leggings that people commented on for years afterward. People were laughing and eating, and greeting each other like old friends, when half of them barely knew each other and were only connected through me.

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It was also the night of the first snowfall, which I realised when I stuck my head out the window at one point, and the flakes stuck to my halo of blonde curls. It was perfect, and beautiful, and if the world was never going to be the same ever again, that was exactly how I wanted Christmas to end: With everyone I knew from every moment of my life together in the same room; drunk on the mulled wine I whipped up each year and always made so sweet that everyone forgot it was filled not only with spices, but also, bourbon; and the first snow of winter falling in the background.

The party went until sunrise. The marriage lasted only a few months more. Most of the friends present have now moved away.

It was funny: I knew in my heart, the morning I made that grocery list, that it was The End. That the party was over before it had begun. I knew that the days of wacky excess and wildness were all at an end. I could’ve done the meek and mild thing when my ex and I began rowing over the groceries in the morning – I could’ve cancelled the party. I could’ve torn up the list; spent the evening in my sweats; accepted what was obviously fate.

There’s something so funny about struggling against fate, isn’t there? There was something so gorgeous, and pathetic, and wonderfully divine about successfully hosting a last party together as husband and wife. There is something sweet, and sad, and prayerful about my mediation on eggs, and puff pastry seven years later, knowing that the world ended, and that I survived.

The first time I had an artichoke, I was maybe 10.

My parents Are Not Artichoke People. I am not sure what qualifies someone as an Artichoke Person, but this is simply to say that artichokes were not a part of how I grew up. We were Transplants; expats; people who left the East Coast for sunnier climes, and so California cuisine baffled us at first: Guacamole – what the hell is that? Artichokes – are these even edible?

There were so many things about being a non-native Californian that confused me; us. As I kid, I struggled to lose that faintest trace of the garbage Philadelphia accent that makes my ears bleed to this day.

Say waterthe kids on the playground would instruct.

Wodder, I would reply.

Say nothey would taunt.

No? I would say, uncertainly – wondering how I was saying it wrong – with that terrible lilt on the vowel that even Mainliners can’t escape.

(To this day, my parents insist this linguistic travesty never befell me. To this day, my father still says talls, instead of towels, so what does that guy know?)

The first time I had an artichoke, I was having dinner with my aunt and uncle, who are not really my aunt and uncle, but are the people with whom my parents celebrate every major milestone and holiday. Our families are so close that I only know maybe two telephone numbers by heart these days besides my own and my office – my parents’ and my aunt and uncle’s. And my parents recently moved house and changed their phone number, meaning that in the event of an emergency, I’m limited to calling Carol and Sam.

The Night of My First Artichoke, my aunt was explaining to me how to eat the artichoke in the first place – how to pull back the leaves, and peel the edible skin off with my teeth. It was such an odd luxury for 10 year old me! What was this joy; this strange food that I could play with and eat at once?! I think we were dipping the petals in some kind of sauce, or pots of ranch dressing (ubiquitous on California tables), and generally enjoying our dinner, digging our way deeper and deeper into the mysterious veggies. It was just a typical night in Southern California.

I cannot lie – meals in California can be idyllic. I recall so many nights in the blue twilight; eating out-of-doors with the smell of the food overwhelmed by barbecue smoke and chlorine. I remember the evening parties at my parents’ old house – people gathered in the foyer under the curving staircase, or sitting in the dining room at holidays where everything looked beautiful but smelled ever-so-faintly of cat piss because there was always a geriatric or angry cat in the house. There was a kind of comfort, and wide-openness, and informality there that simply doesn’t exist on the East Coast.

But I didn’t know that then. I was just 10, and I was eating an artichoke for the first time.  I remember, we were laughing, and eating, and generally having a good time.

And then it happened.

Someone – I think my aunt – pulled back a petal to discover a HUGE BUG. Like, fat green caterpillar-sized creature. Inexplicably, we all screamed, dropped our utensils and napkins, and ran from the table. The bug was obviously dead, having been steamed within an inch of his life. But this was no comfort to any of us. We scurried out of the kitchen and hid under the staircase, huddling like a bunch of proper idiots; half-laughing, half-crying because what if one of us had eaten a bug?

Eventually, we mustered up the courage to return to the table; chucked the offending artichoke; and finished up the dinner with something else.

Since that day, while I have been perfectly happy to eat artichokes in things, I’ve never really had the taste for plain, steamed artichokes ever again.

It is funny, to me, how fear conditions our systems. How we become afraid of one, associated thing and it makes us unconsciously afraid of everything related to a single incident, forevermore. Fear is in our DNA, I suppose.

Relatedly, I am getting married on Saturday, and for the months and weeks leading up to this event, I have had to coach myself into believing that one bad incident – one seeming failure – is not predictive of the future. I have told myself that everything is different and this will not be the same. Because it is not the same, and I know it, but we are slaves to our DNA, and biology is an awfully hard thing to overcome.

In other words, the what-ifs of one caterpillar consumption should not ruin a lifetime of artichokes.

So when the florist called the other week and asked about some final details, she said, What do you think about using purple artichokes in the arrangements if we can get them? We liked them when we saw them at the flower market, right?

And without even thinking I replied, Yes to artichokes.

Paul and I are getting married in approximately two months, and this is what people call crunch time. This also means that people around us are saying and doing all kinds of weird…stuff. Below, I briefly summarise some of the things that people are saying to me, and how I am responding…and how I wish I could respond. I am sure these things will be familiar to anyone who has ever been married. Ever.

1) The Fun Part

What people say: Only two months to go! How is planning going?

What I say: We’re down to the really fun part now!

What I mean: There is no such thing as “the fun part.” I am living a very expensive version of Hell.

2) Family Planning

What people say: So are you and Paul going to start a family right away? Are you guys already trying? What’s your timeline?

What I say: Oh, we’re still talking about all that!

What I mean: That you for your incredibly rude interest in my vagina. How is your reproductive tract doing? Do you think you want to have any more children? When was the last time you and your wife even had sex?

3) Plus 47

What people say: I noticed you didn’t invite our three kids on the envelope, so we’re just going to RSVP for the five of us. Also, what’s your childcare plan at the reception? We want to get drunk and dance, and Janie and Junior won’t go to sleep for a babysitter so it’s best that they just stay with us all night.

What I say: …

What I mean: Are you kidding me right now?

4) Plus Canine

What people say: Is the venue dog friendly? I noticed you didn’t invite Rover on the envelope, and he loves Roo so much.

What I say: …

What I mean: Are you kidding me right now?

5) Vegan Caveman

What people say: We noticed that your RSVP card didn’t specify menu choices and we only eat vegan, paleo, Bulletproof meals. What’s the best way for us to communicate our preferences to the venue, or will you do that for us?

What I say: I am sure we can work something out.

What I mean: How is that even A Thing?

6) Flora & Fauna

What people say: Can you tell me what flowers you’re having at your wedding? I have seasonal allergies, and I need an accounting of all floral products before we can decide whether we are attending.

What I say: I am sure we can work something out.

What I mean: Please stay home.

7) Benefits?

What people say: We are considering attending your wedding but we need to understand what’s in it for us…

What I say: (this is actually a real thing someone said to me, verbatim) …

What I mean: Kindly piss off.

8) Miss Manners

What people say: We want to attend, but we are not sure we can condone your second big white wedding. We will have to get back to you on this.

What I say: (this is another thing someone actually said to me) Please let me know either way before October 15th.

What I mean: Look, we’re getting married at a restaurant that’s quite difficult to book. If the taste of your moral victory is better than a free Michelin star meal, that’s your problem, not mine.

My only explanation for any of this is that weddings bring out the worst in people.