I have a distant relative, let’s call her Daryl, who sucks. (Daryl is Anne in my post Jack and Die, Anne . Daryl seemed more fitting.) Daryl missed that class that we all took on being socially acceptable in front of guests. The one about being nice, clean, and generally thoughtful. I don’t know when and where this class occurred, but someone please sign her up for the night class. She’ll deliberately call your boyfriend by the wrong name, brag about her prescription drug use, bring a stoned guest to the dinner party (there’s a time and a place for reefer, and it’s not in front of your terrified new sister-in-law), and struggle with volume control.
My grandmother’s words echoed in my mind. “You don’t have to like everyone. You just have to be nice.”
Being gracious in the face of Daryl is a struggle, one that usually involves wine-to-mouth therapy, which makes being gracious even more difficult. I managed without hitting her. That’s all anyone could really ask of me.
A few days after the Daryl incident, I was reflecting on how the other guests behaved in the face of Daryl’s douche-baggery. Again, no one said anything except me, and when I did speak up, forks dropped.
“I see you’re having trouble with your alphabet,” I said to Daryl. I could hear the thoughts of people around me screaming, “CASSIE! DON’T!”
“What do you mean?” she squawked.
“Well, ‘Zach’ is pretty far from ‘Josh,’” I said, in reference to her calling my long-term boyfriend by my ex’s name. My ex from high school. FIVE years ago.
“Yeah, but they both start with J,” Daryl shoveled a bite of cornbread into her mouth.
“No… No they don’t.”
I didn’t have to say anything else. The table erupted in laughter. Apparently, this was a common problem for Daryl. “Remember that time you thought ‘coin’ started with Q?” said one of the guests.
And the world kept on turning.
Was I tasteless to call Daryl out in front of everyone?
No. In fact, I believe it would have been in poor taste not to say anything. How do you think you would feel if your partner didn’t stand up for you in front of her family?
If someone is rude to your partner or spouse (by calling him the wrong name, or suggesting that they’ve never met, despite your dozens of encounters) you need to speak up. You don’t have to say anything more damaging than “I see you’re having trouble with your alphabet,” but it would be a bad-partner move to let that coast.
Does your mother refuse to make vegetarian-friendly meals for your wife? Does your sister pinch your boyfriend’s butt when no one’s looking?
Sorry, buddy, you’re the one who needs to put this to rest. Tell your family members to kindly knock it off. Don’t rake your Darling over the coals.
I don’t know if I’m using that expression correctly. I don’t care.
Happy New Year, Team.