Raising the Tone: Etiquette for Resentment and Bachelor Parties -The Toast

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defargePlease send your etiquette-based questions to advice@the-toast.net, subject line: “Ms. Proprietypants.” The archives can be found here.

I am a big-time, semi-professional knitter (once I sold a thing I made), and have built up a reputation among my friends for making really cool handknit things for my friends who have kids. I enjoy doing it, usually. Recently a friend of mine told me that she is pregnant. We were very close friends in college, but I have distanced myself from her a lot in the last few years. There are a bunch of reasons, but the main one is from almost ten years ago and related to someone who was really mean to me in college. When it happened, I didn’t feel like I had to explain to my friend why I was hurt by her, and it would be silly for me to tell her now. But for the better part of a decade, resentment has been building up inside me, and I don’t want to give her something I made for her poop factory. If I don’t give her something, though, it will be perceived as a slight by her and our mutual friends. Do I suck it up and make her something anyway?

Now is the moment of truth! Are you friends with this person or not?! That’s really the only question here. You refer to her as “a friend” when introducing her role in the sordid yarn (zing!), but you’ve been resenting her for ten years re. godknowswhat and sort of seem to relish the idea of slighting her via exclusion from your Mini Knitwear Klub. It’s hard to discern the true nature of your relationship, and/or what she thinks exists between you. If you have been in the business of acting like you two are galpals, get over the collegiate meanness and knit her pipsqueak a damn lobster suit. If not, then don’t! But absolutely don’t go around pretending she’s your friend, which worryingly seems to maybe be your MO now; I get the sense you guys act like friend but you’d like to take this opportunity to show her that she means nothing–nothing!–to you. That’s very bad. If she is not a person whom you value, it’s not like you need to freeze her out next time you see her on the street, or pour a drink on her head at the next housewarming party you both attend, but really, why would she be confused?

A quick quiz: Do you guys hang out? Do you call each other to talk about problems and to make plans? Then you are friends, regardless of your seething resentments. If you don’t do these things, no problem–you’re not friends! If you do these things but you don’t want to anymore, then you’re long overdue for a slow fade. If you don’t like her, it’s bad manners of you to be leading her on–people ought to know where they stand with friends, enemies, and frenemies.

Perhaps the answer is that she is a friendly acquaintance, but not a friend? If so, I don’t think she’ll be bugged out by the absence of even a “really cool” worsted receiving blanket (is that a possible object? I am just throwing together all the knitting words I can think of). Likely she is freaking the fuck out about her impending dramatic lifestyle shift, not formatting spreadsheets with which to track her anticipated shower gifts. Finally, while it’s true that I don’t know you or your friends, it strikes me as unlikely that your other friends are as concerned with whom you honor by bestowing your purled delights as you are. The answer you are probably looking for is that no, you don’t need go out of your way for someone with whom you have no real relationship. But I also suspect that you need to work on conducting said relationships with greater emotional transparency–you should be aiming for the transparancey of, say, this loose-knit sweater.

Also, don’t call anyone a poop factory. Name-calling is rude, the moniker itself is gross, and besides, everybody poops. Even you.


My BFF is getting married to his longtime boyfriend. I am wicked happy for them, especially as I have become good friends with his fiancé, who is a really cool dude, and sometimes socialize independently with him. The thing is I want to throw a bachelor party for my BFF (nothing gross, just a fun and tasteful evening) but it feels weird not to invite his betrothed, a.k.a. my good friend, seeing that I would never NOT invite him to a fun and tasteful evening that involves his significant other and many of our mutual friends. Should I stick to my guns and throw the bachelor party as if it adhered to traditionally gendered heterosexual bachelor party situations? Should I throw 2 bachelor parties for my 2 friends?? Is gay marriage laying bare the ludicrous edifice of wedding rituals???

To answer your questions in the order in which they appeared: no, no, and yes. This situation lays bare with ravishing precision the sheer gooniness of many of the rituals that have come to be associated with the ringing in of a modern marriage.

Do not throw your friend a blowout party from which his beloved other is excluded. When you typed all that out, it sounded off, right? Because it is–that’s why you emailed me! This is not to say that everyone has to fraternize with their better halves all the time, or that all social occasions MUST include significant others (most invitations should leave the question of inclusion or exclusion up to the couple, but that’s another q for another day). Nor is it to say that Ms. Proprietypants does not enjoy a louche night out with the ladies–she does! But she prefers such fun to happen organically, rather than systematically reinforcing oppressive social norms. If you are really dead set on showing your boy that you think he’s worthy of a metaphorical night at Scores, your politest bet is to pitch the bachelor party as a reunion of friends dating from his pre-committed life partner days. Otherwise it is just odd and faintly mean. If that’s not quite the almost-all-inclusive, penis-straw sipping extravaganza you had in mind, then you may wish to consider talking to his betrothed about your plans. You will then put him in the awkward position of having to be like, “No, totally, you should totally do that, I don’t mind in the least, have FUNNNN!!!!” but at least you will have paid lip service to the silliness of the whole shebang, the misplaced slathering of gender all over all elements of life, and the weird idea that once you get married you are no longer fun and palsy. Whew. Now I must go take a shower.

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