Talk About a Complete Outrage!

"I can't believe this is happening! It's a living nightmare! Why me? WHY ME?"
“I can’t believe this is happening! It’s a living nightmare! Why me? WHY ME?”

I’ve gotten lazy about posting – typically, I really need my dander to be gotten up to generate sufficient energy to bash out some screed. Well, today’s NY Times Style section – the section which typically gets me almost as riled as the Op-Ed and Business sections – really outdid itself, with this piece on the terrible scourge of people not receiving wedding gifts. I mean, sure, chemical warfare in Syria is pretty bad – but can you imagine not receiving a wedding gift? Have you no sense of decency?

For that matter, Ms. Kaas Boyle can also recall, in elaborate detail, which guests relished the five-course dinner at the ornate Rex Il Ristorante (now shuttered), and still failed to give a present.

Nineteen years later, it still irks her.

Nineteen years! NINETEEN YEARS! IN ELABORATE DETAIL! She is still holding a grudge because someone couldn’t buy her some tchotchke to gather dust in her house? I’m the first to admit to be being petty and mean-spirited – but this gal makes me feel like I’m the Dalai Lama!

And get this from Jodi R. R. Smith, an “etiquette expert in Marblehead, Mass., and consultant for the wedding industry” [Ed. note: “wedding industry” is a deeply depressing phrase for so many reasons]:

The way Ms. Smith sees it, it’s acceptable to confront those guests who have failed to send even a token. The best way to do so is with a delicate, in-person conversation. “You tell them that you’ve been writing your thank-you notes and realized that you haven’t written one to them: it’s an ‘I’ statement,” she said. “Then you let the other person talk. Either they’ll say: ‘What are you talking about? I gave you the serving platter off your registry.’ Computer glitches happen. You can then say, ‘I’m happy to follow up.’ If they look at you like deer in the headlights, count to the beat of three and move the conversation along to a totally different topic. Then you wait and see if the gift card shows up.”

She is no expert in etiquette if she thinks that “it’s acceptable to confront those guests who have failed to send even a token.” In fact, I’d venture to say that the word “confront” would never appear in any discussion of “etiquette.” And while it may indeed be customary to send a gift to newlyweds, it is never an obligation – NEVER. There is never any circumstance where one is required to provide someone with a gift. And to inquire as to why one hasn’t received a gift is possibly the grossest interpretation of etiquette I’ve ever heard.

Let’s take a lesson from actual etiquette expert, Judith Martin a.k.a. Miss Manners:

Etiquette is a little social contract we make that we well restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.

Of course, on top of just the all-around foulness of the whining greed-heads in the article, I can’t help but trot out the fact that most states in this country still outlaw same-sex marriage. My sister and her partner of over a decade just announced that they are headed to the Santa Fe County Clerk’s Office on Tuesday, now that a judge has found that discriminating against same-sex couples who wish to marry is, in fact, unconstitutional in New Mexico. Like most same-sex couples who have been waiting years, even decades, for the opportunity to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex married couples, I can state pretty much unequivocally that my sis and sis-in-law are not concerned in the slightest with from whom or even whether they receive any wedding gifts.

Now, not sending thank you notes? Well, that’s a different story…