Total Perspective Vortex
What really happened to Trillian? Theories abound, but you can see what she's really been up to on this blog. If you're looking for white mice, depressed robots, or the occasional Pan Galactic Gargleblaster you might be better served here:

Otherwise, hello, and welcome.
Mail Trillian here<

Trillian McMillian
Trillian McMillian
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Women, The Internet and You: Tips for Men Who Use Online Dating Sites
Part I, Your Profile and Email

Part II, Selecting a Potential Date

Part III, Your First Date!

Part IV, After the First Date. Now What?

"50 First Dates"

Don't just sit there angry and ranting, do something constructive.
In the words of Patti Smith (all hail Sister Patti): People have the power.
Contact your elected officials.

Don't be passive = get involved = make a difference.
Find Federal Officials
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Find State Officials
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or Search by State

Contact The Media
Enter ZIP Code:

or Search by State

Words are cool.
The English language is complex, stupid, illogical, confounding, brilliant, beautiful, and fascinating.
Every now and then a word presents itself that typifies all the maddeningly gorgeousness of language. They're the words that give you pause for thought. "Who came up with that word? That's an interesting string of letters." Their beauty doesn't lie in their definition (although that can play a role). It's also not in their onomatopoeia, though that, too, can play a role. Their beauty is in the way their letters combine - the visual poetry of words - and/or the way they sound when spoken. We talk a lot about music we like to hear and art we like to see, so let's all hail the unsung heroes of communication, poetry and life: Words.
Here are some I like. (Not because of their definition.)



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11/17/13 12/1/13 - 12/8/13 12/15/13 - 12/22/13 12/29/13 - 1/5/14 6/29/14 - 7/6/14 9/14/14 - 9/21/14 9/21/14 - 9/28/14 10/12/14 - 10/19/14 11/23/14 - 11/30/14 12/7/14 - 12/14/14 12/28/14 - 1/4/15 1/25/15 - 2/1/15 2/8/15 - 2/15/15 2/22/15 - 3/1/15 3/8/15 - 3/15/15 3/15/15 - 3/22/15 3/22/15 - 3/29/15 4/12/15 - 4/19/15 4/19/15 - 4/26/15 5/3/15 - 5/10/15 5/17/15 - 5/24/15 5/24/15 - 5/31/15 6/14/15 - 6/21/15 6/28/15 - 7/5/15 7/5/15 - 7/12/15 7/19/15 - 7/26/15 8/16/15 - 8/23/15 11/6/16 - 11/13/16 6/24/18 - 7/1/18

Highlights from the Archives. Some favorite Trillian moments.

Void, Of Course: Eliminating Expectations and Emotions for a Better Way of Life

200i: iPodyssey

Macs Are from Venus, Windows is from Mars Can a relationship survive across platform barriers?
Jerking Off

Get A Job

Office Church Ladies: A Fieldguide

'Cause I'm a Blonde

True? Honestly? I think not.

A Good Day AND Funyuns?

The Easter Boy

Relationship in the Dumpster

Wedding Dress 4 Sale, Never Worn

Got Friends? Are You Sure? Take This Test

What About Class? Take This Test

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Far Away, There Was a Really Bad Movie

May Your Alchemical Process be Complete. Rob Roy Recipe

Good Thing She's Not in a Good Mood Very Often (We Knew it Wouldn't Last)

What Do I Have to Do to Put You in this Car Today?

Of Mice and Me (Killer Cat Strikes in Local Woman's Apartment)

Trillian: The Musical (The Holiday Special)

LA Woman (I Love (Hate) LA)

It is my Cultureth
...and it would suit-eth me kindly to speak-eth in such mannered tongue


It's a Little Bit Me, It's a Little Bit You
Blogging a Legacy for Future Generations

Parents Visiting? Use Trillian's Mantra!

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Mod Hair Ken

Caught Blogging by Mom, Boss or Other

2003 Holiday Sho-Lo/Mullet Awards

Crullers, The Beer Store and Other Saintly Places

Come on Out of that Doghouse! It's a Sunshine Day!

"...I had no idea our CEO is actually Paula Abdul in disguise."

Lap Dance of the Cripple

Of Muppets and American Idols
"I said happier place, not crappier place!"

Finally Off Crutches, Trillian is Emancipated

Payless? Trillian? Shoe Confessions

Reality Wednesday: Extremely Local Pub

Reality Wednesday: Backstage Staging Zone (The Sweater Blog)

The Night Secret Agent Man Shot My Dad

To Dream the Impossible Dream: The Office Karaoke Party

Trillian Flies Economy Class (Prisoner, Cell Block H)

Trillian Visits the Village of the Damned, Takes Drugs, Becomes Delusional and Blogs Her Brains Out

Trillian's Parents are Powerless

Striptease for Spiders: A PETA Charity Event (People for the Ethical Treatment of Arachnids)

What's Up with Trillian and the Richard Branson Worship?

"Screw the French and their politics, give me their cheese!"

Mail Trillian here

Trillian's Guide to the Galaxy gives 5 stars to these places in the Universe:
So much more than fun with fonts, this is a daily dose of visual poetry set against a backdrop of historical trivia. (C'mon, how can you not love a site that notes Wolfman Jack's birthday?!)


Alliance for the Great Lakes

Hot, so cool, so cool we're hot.

Ig Nobel Awards

And you think YOU have the worst bridesmaid dress?

Coolest Jewelry in the Universe here (trust Trillian, she knows)

Red Tango

If your boss is an idiot, click here.

Evil Cat Full of Loathing.

Wildlife Works

Detroit Cobras

The Beachwood Reporter is better than not all, but most sex.

Hey! Why not check out some great art and illustration while you're here? Please? It won't hurt and it's free.


Kii Arens

Tim Biskup

Jeff Soto


Get Fuzzy Now!
If you're not getting fuzzy, you should be. All hail Darby Conley. Yes, he's part of the Syndicate. But he's cool.

Who or what is HWNMNBS: (He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken) Trillian's ex-fiancé. "Issues? What issues?"

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Smart Girls
(A Trillian de-composition, to the tune of Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys)

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Smart girls ain’t easy to love and they’re above playing games
And they’d rather read a book than subvert themselves
Kafka, Beethoven and foreign movies
And each night alone with her cat
And they won’t understand her and she won’t die young
She’ll probably just wither away

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

A smart girl loves creaky old libraries and lively debates
Exploring the world and art and witty reparteé
Men who don’t know her won’t like her and those who do
Sometimes won’t know how to take her
She’s rarely wrong but in desperation will play dumb
Because men hate that she’s always right

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
Don’t let them do puzzles and read lots of books
Make ‘em be strippers and dancers and such
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be smart girls
They’ll never find men and they’re always alone
Even though men claim they want brains

Life(?) of Trillian

Tuesday, January 06, 2009  
So I got pressured into joining the online social networking phenomenon Facebook. Ugh. I can see your eyes rolling. Mine, too.

There are some cool aspects to it. I mean, you know, generally it's okay. I guess. I'm not looking to amass hundreds or thousands of friends or re-connect with a girl who was my canoe partner at camp when we were 9. In fact I'm striving to keep my friend list small and personal, limited to real-life friends, colleagues and family. And an occasional band. Bands have seized upon the marketing potential of Facebook and post their release and tour info on Myspace. So. You know. There's that.

But there's a lot of stupidity, weirdness and immaturity, too.

My first encounter on Facebook was with a Friend Collector. You know the type. The person, a colleague, a coworker, the guy who works at the 7-11 on Sunday mornings when you buy the newspaper, who says, "Hey! Are you on Facebook? I'll look you up, dude!" And they do. And they send a friend request. And you look at their profile. And they have 4,341 friends. Remember the Pokémon craze? Kids were nuts about collecting thousands of character cards. When those Pokémon collecting kids grow up they become Friend Collectors on Facebook. You might know him, kind of, but you're not really his friend. You're just a number, helping him on his quest to amass "friends," increase his number. It's harmless, he's harmless. And every now and then he might actually send you an email or post an interesting photo or share something useful.

One of my real life and on Facebook friends recently became engaged to be married. I am not especially fond of his fiancé. Since they started dating I’ve seen him exactly four times. See what’s happened here? The new chick arrives, I lose my friend. I’ve been through this. I know it happens. It sucks, but, such is life. Especially when a friend chooses to date someone who is a domineering, controlling, insecure topper. But, for reasons beyond my comprehension, my friend has decided to marry this woman. He seems very, very, very happy and so when she issued the ultimatum that if she didn’t have a proposal by the end of the year she’d leave him (and then started leaving photos of engagement rings around his apartment) he jumped at the “opportunity” to ask her to marry him, she spent some time “thinking about it.” (Yes, after issuing an ultimatum and leaving photos of rings around his apartment she had to “think about it.” Huh? Does anyone understand this behavior? Could you explain it to me?)

Okay. Now they’re engaged la la la happy happy. I know she’s seen me on Facebook via our mutual friend (her now fiancé) but hasn’t sent a friend request. Nor have I sent her one.

I liked that mutual moratorium. It felt like we had an unspoken agreement.

Well. The day she decided to accept my friend's proposal she sent me a Facebook friend request. Awww crap. I don’t want to be her friend. Isn't it enough that I have to be friendly with her in real life? Do I have to carry the charade over to Facebook, too?

I don’t want to make my friend a monkey in the middle. He’s very in love and very happy and I’m happy for him. I will make nice with her in real life. I will go to the wedding, I will even buy them a nice present. In time I hope I will learn to see what he sees in her, learn to like her. I want to like her.

But. Do I have to be her friend on Facebook simply because she's engaged to my friend? And if not, how do I decline her invite without coming across as a bitch? How do I avoid creating an issue with my friend who’s stuck marrying this crazy bitch?! (Really, I want to like her. But right now she’s still in crazy bitch territory.) Is there a way to decline a friend invitation without hurting the person’s feelings? I resent the Friend Hijacking. She assumes that because we have a mutual friend that we are automatically friends. Or, in her specific case, now that she’s marrying my friend she and I are friends by default. She’s hijacking her fiancés friends on Facebook. Friendjacking. Ewwww. That’s not a good term for it. Let’s stick with Friend Hijacking. Sending an unsolicited friend request to someone solely because you have a mutual friend in common.

Funny how for the months they’ve been dating, and our little icons of each pop up on our mutual friend’s Facebook page, she’s never made a move to request my friendship, but now that they’re engaged she’s all over his friend list like ill fitting underwear. “What’s your’s is now mine,” apparently.

In softer moments I think, “Hey, she’s just being nice, she’s just trying to bridge the social gap between my friendship with her fiancé.” And in many other cases, cases of normal people, people who are less domineering and opportunistic, that would be the case. I would gladly accept a friend request from most of my friends’ spouses. Friends who are married to people I actually like in real life, that is.

The thing is, this woman is the type of woman who takes these things very seriously. She is not going to just let it drop. She will nag me, nag him, nag nag nag about it until it becomes A Thing. “Why won’t Trillian accept my friend request? She’s a mean bitch,” she’ll snark at my friend. She'll assume I'm jealous because I've been harboring some secret crush on her fiancé. (I haven't, ever, thought of him "that" way.) He’ll be put in the middle of something really juvenile and pointless.

I’m resisting her friend request because I made firm choices to stop being so darned nice to everyone. I’ve been trying very hard to be more assertive and say “No” when I want to say no. Always being polite and agreeable has done nothing for me and in some cases has worked against me. That “too nice” thing kept coming up when friends (yes, even my friend, her fiancé) would try to gently give me advice about work and dating. “Trillian, I know you’re sincere, I know you’re not a doormat, I know you don’t take crap you don’t deserve, I know you will not let anyone take advantage of you, I know you can chew up and spit out people with one sentence if you want, but you can come across as too nice sometimes. Until people get to know you, really know you, you seem very polite and super nice. Nice people don’t always succeed at work. And guys hate it. Look at all the crazy bitches who are married to great guys. Guys don’t like women who are too nice. They like crazy bitches.” So dammit, I’m not going to be so nice. I will not be too nice anymore. And Facebook, and this whole stupid friend request thing is a great way to assert my “I am not too nice” attitude. So my friend's fiancé is going to have to wait until I decide how I want to proceed. I know, I know. It's stupid Facebook. Accept her friend request and move on with my life. I will. I will.

But, just when I get all hopped up high on assertiveness and self righteousness, someone I barely know sent a friend request. It’s someone via work – not a client but a colleague of a client. There are professional consequences. Okay, whatever, whoppee, we’re friends on Facebook, now. Look at us, we’re networking. I know this person and met them (once) in real life at a work-related event. Then this person started sending me all kinds of stupid “requests” for virtual drinks, monkeys, iq tests, etc. Ye gads. Sure, some of them are kind of cute, little day brighteners. But this person is incessant. Nine, ten of these things a day. And no, it’s not just me. Based on his profile page he does this to everyone he befriends on Facebook. Remember the character Ned Ryerson, the insurance salesman in the movie Groundhog Day? This guy is a Ned Ryerson. And again I stress, I met him once in real life. I barely know him. But you know, okay, whatever, goes with the territory. (I knew I’d hate Facebook.)

Then he crossed a line. I didn’t know the line existed, I didn’t grasp the Facebook boundaries…he “suggested” a friend for me. Yes. A person I met once in person has suggested a friend for me. The suggested friend is someone I may have met at a work function a couple years ago. But I’m not sure. She doesn’t seem familiar. So now there’s this “suggested friend” reminder hanging there. I really don’t want to befriend the person he suggested.

Why? For many reasons.
1) I don’t actually know her.
2) My guess is that the suggested friend feels the same way I do: This guy stepped over a line, crossed a boundary. And now he’s thrown me in a socially awkward situation.
3) There are people “out there” who take Facebook waaaaaay too seriously. She may or may not be one of them but I don’t want to open a can of worms with someone who is possibly a work-related acquaintance.


If I decline the friend suggestion I look like a bitch.

If I accept the friend request I force myself on the other innocent victim, the suggested friend.

It’s bad enough to be put in the situation of declining a direct friend request.

But declining a friend suggested by someone else? That’s a whole new level of bizarreness. That’s why I call this a Bizarre Friend Triangle. The other person, the suggested friend, will most likely be relieved that I declined the “invite.” But, there might be an element of, “Hey, what’s wrong with me? You don’t wanna be my friend? You’re that Ned Ryerson jerk’s friend but you won’t be my friend?”

And yes, I might actually like the suggested friend. But now she thinks I’m friends with the Ned Ryerson jerk who suggested her to me and so I’m tainted with his jerkiness. Truth be told I’m kind of thinking that about her. She’s friends with him so, well, is she like him? Will she incessantly send me a ton of stupid stuff and make friend suggestions for me like he does? I mean, they are friends.

More likely, like me, she’s an innocent victim. Too polite to decline his friend request and now caught up in some virtual weirdness.

But one of the weirdest types of Facebook friends is The Justify Your Like friendship. You work with someone, or have a friend who brings her sister along whenever you go shopping or out for drinks. You don't dislike the coworker or friend's sister, but without the occurrence of work or a mutual friend you wouldn't know each other. Probably don't have enough in common to be friends, but you work together or you're friends with her sister (or whomever) so you're friendly when you are together. And she is either a Friend Collector on Facebook or she's a lot more into making it a "real" friendship than you are. Or she's trying justify your mutual interest or friend. I'm guessing her thought process is sincere enough, "Hey! Trillian's friends with my sister on Facebook! I know Trillian! We're friends! Right? We're friends, aren't we Trillian? We could be better friends! We'll get to know each other better if we're friends on Facebook!" Maybe. Maybe that happens. But it's a little too forced for my taste. It's different from a Friend Hijacking. You actually know this person and are on friendly terms with them in real life, you even like them, you know, well enough to share a laugh in the breakroom or offer an opinion on a scarf when shopping with a mutual friend. The thing is, if a deeper friendship is going to develop, it will develop in real life. If that hasn't yet happened, becoming Facebook friends isn't going to push it over that edge. Facebook just becomes a way to prove you know each other and are friendly. "We're friends, see? We're on each other's Facebooks!"

And thus I unlocked the key as to why so many people have a bazillion friends on Facebook. The social awkwardness that makes it easier to just accept a friend invitation. Friend Collectors. Friend Hijacking. Bizarre Friend Triangles. Justify Your Like. There’s a level of social weirdness that goes beyond anything we encounter in real life. Some people, I’ve learned, take the whole thing really, really seriously. Others, like me, try to make the best of it, try to have some fun with it, and are not there to amass hundreds or thousands of friends. I prefer to live my life in real life, not virtually. It is a convenient way to keep up with friends and family. But I’m really surprised by the people who take it seriously. Too seriously.

And there’s weirdness on Facebook when your dating. Do you add the person you’re dating to your friends? If so, when? And who initiates it, who makes the friend request? And what about break-ups? Is break-up by defriending an accepted form of cowardice break-upping? Even easier than an email or text or simply ignoring the person you want to break up with, you just de-friend them on Facebook. Voila. Deed done.

Is the ultimate break-up insult to defriend someone on Facebook? I don’t think so. I think it can get worse.

Public besmirching of the person is a bad thing, very, very bad thing, but I’m sure it happens a lot in break-ups. I have a friend who is in a midst of a nasty divorce. The ex is all over the place online posting venomous details and lies about my friend. All of us have de-friended the ex, but the crap the ex is spewing is really awful. It’s become tedious and no one pays attention to it, but still…it’s there. Meanwhile, my friend has remained dignified, quiet and above the ex’s juvenile style of nonsense, hoping a non-response will quiet the ex. Instead, so far it has only provoked the ex to more frequent and more hostile attacks online. Their divorce is playing out online and it’s embarrassing and hurtful. We all keep quietly looking away, pretending not to notice in an attempt to spare our friend some pride. But. It’s there...everyone knows it’s there. And along with the house, the cars, the air miles and the pets, they’re arguing about who gets the Facebook account in the divorce.

And, here’s a question: Let’s say you dated someone three years ago. It didn’t work out, but you were both above the stupid “let’s be friends” idiocracy. Now, three years later, you’re not harboring any longing for them, but you do wonder what they’re up to, you might even sincerely hope things are going well for them. Do you open Pandora’s Box? Do you search them on Facebook? If you do, what if you find them? Then what? How long of a look at their Facebook page is too long? Does anything more than five minutes constitute stalking and put you in psycho ex territory?

Is it ever okay contact an ex via Facebook? In doing so you automatically admit that you were thinking about them and bothered to search for them online, which puts you squarely in stalker territory. Maybe your intentions are purely surface level curiosity. But put yourself in the place of the other person involved. They’re just going along with their life, all snuggly in their Facebook world of friends and relatives and then, one day, out of nowhere a friend request appears from someone they dated three years ago. Cue the Psycho shower scene soundbite. I know that soundbite because I’ve heard it in my head, twice in the past few weeks. Men I went out with once, years ago, have requested to be friends with me. Trust me, there was no hesitation, I did not falter in my assertiveness in saying no.

Here’s what I think: If you were the one who got dumped, my feeling is that you never, ever initiate contact on Facebook. If you were the one who did the dumping, maybe, maybe in very certain circumstances, it would be “okay” to contact the ex – though don’t expect a warm friend acceptance. And be prepared for what may come next: Either a scathing message they’ve been waiting to deliver to you for three years, or, an overly eager smiley emoticon heart laden response assuming you want to go out with them again.

People at work, my boss, kept insisting that social networking sites are valid and important. I didn’t, and still do not, agree. But I’m doing it, grudgingly. And yes, there are some good aspects – easy to keep in touch with friends, make plans with a group, share photos, get tour dates for bands. But so far I don’t see the big advantage of online social networking.

6:21 PM

Monday, January 05, 2009  
Help. Where’s Emily Post when you really need her?

2008 culminated in a love fest among people in my world. Four marriage proposals were made among my friends. Tis the season of jewelry commercials and ultimatums.

Yes. I remain the sole single person among my heterosexual friends. However I do have three friends who are divorced. I didn’t take glee in their divorces, in fact I felt their pain and I have grieved for their marriages. Two of those people were hurt, deeply, in their divorces. I’ve watched them suffer and stumble and forge new lives post-marriage. But in all three cases, they got up and got “out there” and dated, successfully. They kept their married mentality when they jumped into new relationships. I marveled at this. I tried to imagine myself acting the way they did on dates. Taking over, taking charge, bossing their date around as if they’d been married for 10 years and the roles were clearly established. I thought surely their dates would run, but, surprisingly to me their dates stuck around. And now they’re getting married. It will be marriage number two for two of my friends, and number three for the third.

This makes me feel weird: The #3 marriage woman was recently divorced from a starter marriage when HWNMNBS dumped me. She and I did some commiserating and crying on shoulders together. She met husband #2, married him, had two children, divorced him, and has now met and is engaged to the man who will be husband #3 all since HWNMNBS dumped me. Holy crap. I realize time is slipping by, life is whizzing along, but that timeline makes me feel…I dunno. Weird. It’s not good to compare lives, but given the timeline it’s an interesting contrast. Two women, two break-ups. One woman meets a new man, gets married, has two children, gets divorced and meets a third husband all the while the other woman remains single, love as elusive as it was in the treacherous days following the break-up. Yes, I was wounded, deeply, in that break-up. Am I over it? Yeah, as much as I ever will be over it. The wounds were deep. The scars remain. But. My divorced/remarried/divorced/remarried friend had some deep wounds, too. She's scarred. And now she admits she didn’t properly deal with them before jumping into her second marriage (and children) and regrets that she didn’t spend more time dealing with her wounds and scars from her first divorce before marrying husband number two. And yet here she is embarking upon her third marriage. And I just have to note this: We’re not kids, anymore, but we’re not old, either. Certainly not old enough to be talking about third marriages. Yet, here we are. Talking about her third marriage.

I don’t jump for glee when my friends announce divorces. I don’t think, “Yay! They’re single again! I have a single friend again!!!” Well. At least not at first, anyway. Maybe deep, deep down there’s a part of me that thinks, “Well, this sucks, divorce is sad. I hate that they’re hurting so badly. But, on the plus side, at least they have one single friend, they’re not lost in a sea of married people. And I get a new single friend…” But mainly I feel bad about the end of their marriages that once held so much love and promise for lives spent together.

The thing is, most of my friends who’ve divorced maintain a married mentality even after their divorce. They’re not really “single” again. Aspects of their outlook and impression of dating and the opposite sex remain “married.” So their approach to being single is different. I’ve decided to try to learn from their experiences.

I didn’t think I would want to employ their attitudes. They treat their dates as if they’ve been married for years. They use their familiar patterns of behavior. Yes, repeating the same “mistakes” they made in their married relationship in their dating relationships. They treat or react to their dates the same way the treated or reacted to their former spouses – in the bad times. I observed this and thought, “Hoooo, boy, they’re going to have a long road of discovery now that they’re single again.”

My divorced friends gave me new perspective on the divorced men I’ve met and dated. Coming out of a divorce people have a strong sense of what they don’t want. There have been arguments, hurt feelings, resentments, legal issues…they know why they got divorced and they do not want someone like their ex. I hear a lot of blame assigned. Usually to the ex-spouse. My friends know they were partially responsible for the demise of their marriages, but, they also feel what they learned about themselves is that they don’t want someone who shares the negative traits they dealt with during their divorce. For instance, one of my divorced friends is very, very laid back. Really easy going. His ex-wife was a perfectionist and a control freak. The two personality types complimented each other until things turned ugly and then they were not opposites attracting, instead they became incredulous to each other’s behavior and responses. My laid back friend still likes the perfectionist control freak aspects, he’s still drawn to that type of personality, but, he doesn’t like a perfectionist control freak who can’t deal with his laid back mentality. So this time around he thinks he’s met the right woman. A domineering woman who respects his laid back, casual sensibility. I hope he’s got it right, I hope she’s all he thinks she is. I want him to be happy. But. I am concerned that he’s marrying the “same” woman – the same personality type that went so horribly wrong in his first marriage.

Why do I think this? Why am I such a snot about his happiness? Because they’ve only dated a short time when she issued the ultimatum: “Where is this relationship going? If you can’t decide if you want to be married by the end of the year I’m ending the relationship.” A few weeks later pictures of rings started appearing around his apartment. So, he went out, bought one of those rings and asked her to marry him. I dunno. I’m concerned for any relationship which is established via an ultimatum. If he’s happy, that’s great. And his affianced certainly got what she wanted: A marriage proposal and one of the rings to her exacting specifications. So who am I to judge? Everyone seems to be getting what they want in this deal.

Maybe I’m just awed and jealous.

I think about the divorced men I’ve dated and I can now see so much of my friends’ behaviors. These guys approach dating with a very different perspective than their never-married counter-parts. They want to re-create the good aspects of their marriage and avoid the negative. They equate the negative with behaviors exhibited during the divorce. The issue I take with this is that divorce brings out the worst in people. My laid back friend became a cowering, insecure, incapable wreck of a human being during his divorce. He drank, heavily, dangerously heavily, in an attempt to numb the demands his soon-to-be ex-wife was placing on him, and later, he drank and engaged in narcotic abuse to numb the pain of living without her. He’s a laid-back guy, yes, but he’s not a cowering, insecure, incapable wreck who resorts to alcohol and drugs to avoid life. It was a finite period of grief that saw him reduced to that guy. When he said, “Whoa, wait a minute, that’s not me, that’s not how I am, that’s not who I am,” he got back to being him again. But. The women he dated during that period…well…they did nothing but allow and even encourage his new persona. I see this same thing, now, in many of the divorced men I’ve dated. Minus the drug and alcohol issues, and with different personality traits, but absolutely I can see that these men were not quite themselves and were looking for someone with very specific qualities, traits which would enable and encourage their “new” personalities.

It goes back to my theory of personal evolution. And why I refuse to date anyone on the rebound. I might really like them, now, but that’s not who they really are. And I’m not who they really need for the long term.

So. Right. Here I am with four newly engaged friends. Three of them have been married before, one of them has been married twice before and it’s the first marriage for the fourth. The fourth, the never married, is a special case, we’ll set her aside for the moment.

The three divorced and newly engaged friends…I spent a ton of money on shower and wedding gifts for, and travel to their first marriages. I am happy for their new-found love and joy and I hope all the best for their future in their new marriages. I truly do. But. Um. How do I gracefully avoid spending large sums of money, again, for their marriages while still maintaining a joyous, happy for them attitude? If I “go cheap” on the gifts it will look like I resent having to pony up the money for shower and wedding gifts again. Which, yes, is exactly how I feel. Especially since in two of the cases the shower and wedding gifts I gave are being used and enjoyed by the ex-spouse. I bought Tiffany, flipping Tiffany wine glasses for one couple and does my friend even get to sip from them? Nope – the ex-spouse kept them in the divorce. So pardon my resentment, but it annoys me to think of the ex-spouse sipping wine from my wedding gift, in front of a romantic fire, with the person they were having an affair with behind my friend’s back. I know. I know. Let it go. Let it go. I have. But. If I don’t pony up the same level of gifts as I did in the first marriage it’s going to look like I’m skeptical about the longevity of this marriage. I have some concerns but that’s not why I’m dreading spending money on wedding gifts. The real crux of the issue is: I’m broke. I’m still single. I’m not the one enjoying the benefits of combined incomes. And, ahem, I’m still single. No one’s given me a bunch of presents I requested on a gift registry. These friends haven’t given me shower and wedding gifts, they haven’t bought dresses, shoes, plane tickets for my wedding. I have done all of that for them already, and now I’m expected to do it again?

I know, I know. That sounds so bitter, so resentful, so envious, so wrong. And truly, I don’t go around thinking that way. It only hits me when I log onto their wedding registries. Oh yes, in all cases the registries are already loaded and live – these people didn’t mess around. They were all engaged on or right before Christmas and they already have their registries chosen or in the works, with “save the date” announcement emails with convenient “helpful information” links to their gift registries.

Maybe that’s it, that’s what’s bugging me – the hasty grab for gifts. What about a few weeks, a month, perhaps, of basking in the glow of love and excitement for the future before requesting gifts? These women all received huge, expensive rings with their proposals. Isn’t that gift enough for a couple months? Shouldn’t that be more than enough “wedding loot” to hold them over for a few months until they start asking for more presents? And no, I didn’t misconstrue the intent of the announcement. Two of them used this exact wording, “Sally and Tom are excited to announce their engagement in marriage. Please save the date of June 27 to share our special day of uniting in holy matrimony in (city/state). Please visit our wedding web site for updates and details. Sally and Tom are registered at (links to stores). Engagement, shower and wedding gifts may be sent directly to Sally’s address noted on the registries.” Clearly they’re expecting engagement presents.

Apparently somewhere along the way I missed the memo on engagement presents. I thought engagement presents were just nice little token gifts, something small and cute you send with a card to a very close friend or relative who is recently engaged. As in your BFF, your trusted coworker/confidant at work, your sister who’s always been there for you. I didn’t think the entire cast of friends, coworkers, colleagues and far flung relatives were “supposed” to cough up an engagement present – an expensive engagement present from the list of demands on a registry, no less. I usually send a card when I hear about an engagement. Even in cases where I didn’t think it was socially “required.” It’s just an nice thing to do. Even though I suck at dating and relationships, I am very pro-marriage and love and relationships. The sentiments on those cards are sent with my sincere best wishes. I do wish them the best in their future together. But unless I’m very close to one of the newly engaged, I don’t feel obligated to cough up an engagement present, in fact I would feel weird about sending an engagement gift to someone I’m not on very close terms with – it seems too intimate. When I got engaged I received a couple very sweet little tokens from two of my very closest friends. My mother gave me a nice wedding planner book. I didn’t expect any of those gifts and was surprised by them. I received several cards from aunts and friends around the globe. That was nice. But anything more, from anyone else, would have made me feel a little weird. An engagement gift from a friend’s roommate’s sister I met once would seem too intimate and kind of creepy. But now apparently, we’re all supposed to give: An engagement gift, a shower gift, a bachelor/ette party/gift, and a wedding gift.

I thought the “rules” for second (and third) weddings were different. I thought the gift grabbing was supposed to be more low-key the second (and third) time down the aisle. In fact, I thought it was optional – the option residing firmly on the gift giver’s side, not the affianced’s.

Do I wish my friends well in their engagements and up-coming nuptials? Of course, yes, I do. I am truly happy for them. It even gives me cause for renewed optimism. If those people can find love and marriage surely there’s hope for me. I will attend their weddings and I will buy them gifts because I want to send them into their marriages with new things to start their new life together. But the gifts on their registries are way, way, way out of my budget. Maybe if I hadn’t already spent a lot of money on shower and wedding gifts for them I would feel differently, but how many times can I be reasonably expected to shower the same friend with gifts from stores I can’t afford? He got Tiffany wine glasses for the first marriage, is it reasonable to expect me to give him Baccarat crystal for the second marriage? (He’s attracted to women with very expensive taste in home goods.) I don’t think so. Would it be nice of me to oblige and indulge them? Yes, of course. And if money were no object I would. But money is an object. I’m broke, barely making my mortgage payments. Buying any wedding gift is going to strain my budget. Buying engagement, shower and wedding gifts from these registries would put me into foreclosure.

But the problem is that by not obliging and indulging these repeat matrimonials I send the message that I don’t have high hopes for their marriage based on the outcome of the previous marriage. That I can’t be bothered to present them with gifts because I know how the last one ended and I’m not going to invest their future together.

Maybe I’m being too sensitive. That’s probable. But. This is a two-way street. These couples were equally insensitive in including gift registry information along with their engagement announcement. The grab for gifts sullied the whole “joyous occasion” aspect of the engagement announcement. These people are not content with sharing their happy news with the world (and I mean the entire world, they all have websites). They want to share their happy news with the world as well as their gift registries. The message I got loud and clear from all four couples was, “We’re engaged to be married! Send us the things we chose from very expensive stores and send them to this address.” Maybe if the registry information was sent separately, and at least a few weeks after announcing the engagement. But it wasn’t. They were one all encompassing notification. These people had to work quickly: They were engaged on or around December 25. By January 2 they had chosen items for their gift registries. That means within days of getting engaged these people raced online or to stores and started choosing the gifts they wanted to receive. I mean, that’s a week. Within a week of their proposal they were off on a shopping spree that will be funded by their friends, family and colleagues. Pardon my old fashioned decorum, but isn’t that just a bit hasty?

The problem is further compounded in my case: I’m The Never Married Friend. I’m the one most likely to be perceived as jealous, embittered and resentful of these second (and third) marriages. Other people feel the same way I do about the hasty arrival of the gift registries. But the other people rolling their eyes at the shameless gift grabs are married. So if they don’t oblige and indulge the couples with their requested gifts they’ll “just” look cheap and unsupportive. Me? I’ll look cheap, unsupportive and jealous, embittered and resentful merely because I’m single. It occurred to me that I have an obligation to The Never Married Friends of the world. I should be one of the first to oblige and indulge these newly engaged couples with their requested gifts to give us The Never Married Friends a good reputation. I should work to illicit this response from my newly engaged friends, “Trillian gave us silver olive forks as an engagement present, crystal water goblets for a shower present and two china place settings for our wedding and she’s single, Malory and Geoff gave us a $25 gift card from Target and they’re married! Sheesh! You’d think it would be the other way around!” That would be good marketing for the reputation of us The Never Married Friends, it would show that we’re not jealous, embittered and resentful of our engaged friends. Unfortunately one down-side of being single is living your entire adult life on one income. I’m not jealous, embittered or resentful, but I am barely scraping by financially.

And yes, it’s true, there is a pang or two of jealousy and resentment when I look at those registries. I’m contemplating buying expensive china for friends while I have exactly four matching plates, two of them chipped, that I got in a clearance sale at a discount store, and some mismatched other dishes I’ve picked up from reject bins. Why should I be expected to buy expensive gifts for people while I’m living my life getting by with mismatched, damaged, rejected goods?

Ahhhh, now there’s a metaphor.

And a lesson. In a perfect world we’d treat ourselves as well as we treat our friends. But as the marketing phrase goes, we don’t live in Perfect. We live in a place where there is social obligation and decorum. And oddly, that decorum dictates that we treat our friends and family better than we treat ourselves.

Everyone knows no one can love us until we love ourselves. And yet if we treat ourselves to the gifts we give our friends we’re deemed selfish. Let’s say I bought myself china priced at the cost of the china on my friends’ registries. Okay, I’d have matched, unchipped, perfect china. It would be nice to eat off nice dishes. It might even boost my mood and self esteem knowing that I have something nice, that I didn’t wait to get married to procure nice dishes. But if I spend money on china for myself I won’t have money to spend on my friends’ engagement/shower/wedding gifts. That would make me feel bad. Guilty. And would be socially frowned upon.

Imagine me giving my friends an inexpensive gift not from their registry. Then imagine my friends coming over to my place and seeing my new expensive china. Yeah. *Awkward.*

The bold, assertive, confident single person would do just that, maybe even flaunt their new china to their married friends. It would be the “fuck you and your bridal registry” heard round the world.

But us The Never Married Friends would suffer a huge blow to our credibility. That act would set us back years. We would be perceived as jealous, embittered, resentful and petty, cheap, selfish and rude. Everyone would say, “No wonder she’s single. She’s jealous, embittered, resentful, petty, selfish and rude.“

So I sacrifice my desires for theirs. In keeping with the lowly social perception of The Never Married Friend, I eat off chipped, mismatched, rejected dishes. And rack up credit card debt to buy my friends’ shower and wedding presents. It makes no logical sense, it's incongruent and silly. But, there's decorum for you. Want friends? Deal with social obligations like bridal gift registries.

I am, however, making a compromise. I am not buying engagement presents. I have sent cards offering best wishes. I spent around $5 each (postage and tax included) for cards. With four newly engaged friends, that’s an outlay of $20 so far. I was hoping to take a long weekend vacation this year. The announcement of these weddings is making me re-think that plan. I can’t attend all four weddings, buy engagement, shower and wedding presents and take my long-hoped-for long weekend vacation. I have to make choices: Attend the weddings and gift the affianced, or take my long weekend vacation.

This time around I’m keeping a spreadsheet on the expense outlay for these four friends’ marriages. I’m hoping the real bottom line will open some eyes to the expense of weddings and the strain it puts on budgets of the attendees, friends and relatives. I’m hoping the black and white reality of that strain will help people understand that The Never Married Friends are truly not embittered because their friends found love and marriage. We’re embittered because we’re expected to pay for gifts we can’t really afford, gifts which put a strain on our budgets and force sacrifices on us. We’re sad that weddings force us to put a price tag on our friendships. “Is Sally worth a $75 wedding gift? Is this marriage going to withstand enough years to justify a Cuisinart?” and “Hey, she gave me bath soap and body lotion gift set for Christmas and a weird towel set I suspect was a re-gift for my birthday and now she expects me to pay $80 for a butter knife for her?!” We don’t want to think these things, but after the warm wishes and enthusiasm for the engagement news dies down and the practical matters begin, it’s impossible to not think about the cost of friendship when you’ve got a friend’s bridal registry staring at you. And in the case of the apparent new trend, the warm wishes and enthusiasm don’t even die down – it’s “Hi! We’re engaged! Here’s where you can buy us presents!”

And because (with the exception of one) these are second (and third) marriages it should go without saying these are not kids, or young, inexperienced people who don’t know any better. They’ve been through this before with their previous marriages. I’m resisting using the word you’re all thinking. Starts with T and rhymes with whacky. These are friends. People I like. People, whom until a few weeks ago, I respected. I don’t want to go down this road over something my friends did. I want to believe their intentions were good, that they thought they were being helpful, or maybe they got caught up in the enthusiasm of an overzealous mother or mother-in-law to be. I’m making excuses for them. But you’re right. By appearances it starts with T and rhymes with whacky.

Maybe, just maybe, out there somewhere a newly engaged couple will read this and curtail their gift grab, lower their expectations and at least let the dust settle on that new engagement ring before sending out links to their gift registries.

12:26 PM

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