Two Sisters, Two Weddings, Too Much


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Christoph Niemann

My sister and I have both been in long-term relationships. She got engaged in February, and I in May. We are both planning weddings for next year. She picked her date, then I picked one two months before it. She is unhappy about this. She told me I should not get married within three months of her date, before or after, which blocks out six months of the year. But my fiancé and I want the time of year we chose. Shouldn’t more happy events make people happier?

KATIE, NEW YORK

So, I guess a joyful double wedding à la “Pride and Prejudice” — with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and Jane and Mr. Bingley — is out of the question.

Theoretically, you are correct: More happy occasions should make people happier. But “which occasions?” and “which people?” are the issues here. Assuming that you and your sister will draw primarily from the same roster for your weddings, bridal showers and rehearsal dinners, I doubt that a multitude of parties in honor of the same two sisters, within so short a window, will make people smile. No, they will probably make folks grouchy (and rue the day they befriended your parents).

I may be off base, but have you and your sister investigated the role that competitiveness and one-upmanship may play in your rapid-fire, dominoes-falling engagements and weddings? It may be coincidence, but I suspect not. Enlist a neutral third party to help you work this through. (By definition, that excludes your mother.) Think: shrink. It would be statistically crazy if no one in two bridal parties has one.

I recant entirely if either of you is planning a tiny, justice of the peace-type ceremony. Otherwise, do your best to negotiate a mutually acceptable calendar with your sister. Trust me: She will be more important to you in the years ahead than any wedding gala or anniversary date. (Personally, a six-month gap between weddings seems comfier to me, which may require everyone to shift dates. And a coin toss wouldn’t be the worst way to determine who’s up first.)

A Neighbor’s Rules

We moved recently to a quiet suburban community. Our next-door neighbor welcomed us warmly. Then we gave an open house for our new neighbors. After the guests departed, my husband and two of his friends began smoking pot in our backyard (behind a closed gate). Our next-door neighbor returned to retrieve an item she had left behind and discovered the men smoking. She took offense and told them that such activity was not welcome in the neighborhood. She has given us the cold shoulder ever since, even after I wrote an apology. I have lost sleep over this. What should I do?

ANONYMOUS

My doctor prescribed Ambien for sleeplessness; I suggest you visit yours. Who wants to be friends with such a judgmental neighbor? I give you credit for apologizing. (I probably wouldn’t have.)

But seeing that it didn’t work, move on. Lavish your attentions on the house across the street. Perhaps they will be more broad-minded in their friendship.

Missed Messages

I belong to a group that meets monthly to watch films and discuss them over coffee. Two years ago, an interesting woman joined us. A month ago, she had a bad accident and required surgery. I sent her a get-well card, and we exchanged several phone messages but never spoke. Eventually she asked if we could schedule a call. I replied, by voice mail, that I preferred not to book a phone date. I like to keep my schedule flexible. I tried reaching her a couple more times, but she stopped responding. Was I rude to refuse her request? Is she justified in being miffed?

ANONYMOUS

Do none of you have cellphones in this land where interesting-sounding film clubs thrive? You were not obliged to make a phone date with your club mate. But considering her hard-luck story, it would have been kind of you. (And it was only one call!) Reach out to her again. Apologize for feeling overwhelmed earlier and suggest three times when she will be sure to reach you. And please add “Clouds of Sils Maria” to your film roster. It is the best movie I’ve seen all year.

Waste Not, Want Not

I am a single fellow who eats out regularly with a small group of friends. We divide the bill evenly, even though I don’t drink alcohol or order appetizers. Invariably, there is a lot of uneaten food, including some that one of my friends orders “for the table,” that is never touched. I hate to see such waste. Would it be improper to ask: “May I take home the leftovers if you guys don’t want them?”

SAUL, SEA CLIFF, N.Y.

As children, my brothers and I could be counted upon to roll our eyes if our mother asked for a doggy bag. So tacky, right? Wrong! Now that I am an adult and responsible for my own meals, that leftover skirt steak tastes pretty good on an arugula salad the next day. Go for it, Saul. Perhaps your request will prompt your pals to order more modestly, too.



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