Q: Dear His Lordship,
I’ve been in a relationship for some months now, and I feel as if I’m going out with not one but two people. My girlfriend can’t help mentioning her ex-boyfriend on more than just a daily basis. She invokes him in almost every situation and context.
I adore her. But I didn’t count on being wed at the hip to her ex. To make matters worse, he is now dead, so anything I say is like stepping on sacrilegious ground.
How do I bring her down to earth? And date just me?
Odd One Out
A: My Dear Third Wheel,
It saddens me to say that this is one situation that will not improve over time. It may possibly. But the chances are that the Ghost of Her Ex Past will hover above you both for some time to come. Rent Rebecca and you’ll empathize with the plight of Joan Fontaine vis-à-vis the dashing Laurence Olivier. (On the other hand, for a cinematic dose of an amicable apparition, try The Ghost and Mrs. Muir with the loving phantasm of Rex Harrison).
I invoke the art of film for good reason. Your third-party presence is the sort of stuff that movies are made of. Unfortunately, these types of Gordian knots are not easily
undone. Even though you infer the two were not wed, he died a natural death and that they had no children between them, the ex obviously has an Of Human Bondage hold on her to this day. She is clearly invoking his memory when there is no provocation, whether you and she shared a night out or when you are both are enjoying a night in under the Frette. Let us hope she has not uttered his name while you are both having an intimate tête-à-tête. Darling, there is a limit to such behavior.
Your self worth is far too important to tolerate such behavior. The unwanted company of a spectral third party will only make you feel diminished, no matter the recourse. You can shower her with empathy and love or bicker about the Ghost—but this is no Casper, some friendly ghost who has the best interests of the two of you at heart.
Your beau has spooked your relationship with an ethereal being. Regretfully, she can’t realize it is now incorporeal and thus appreciate you in full. I am afraid your being with her will only spur her (and “Him”) on. Give her the so-called requisite space. Let her appreciate you in full. You needn’t be so solicitous.
You are better than being in the shadow of some illusion. Do know that your sad dilemma is not all that uncommon. But it is time to free yourself of this virtual reality. It is up to him to do away with the hocus-pocus and live in the moment: you.
Q: My Dear Lordship,
I was recently invited to a sit-down dinner at a friend’s place in Bridgehampton. Before the dinner, I took a slight disco nap. When I woke up, I’d slept through the entire evening, my feet still ensconced in my new neoprene Libby Fitzgerald Sea Star Beachwear espadrilles. I had duly RSVP’d “Yes”—now I find myself being treated as a leper in a colony of all my very bestest and closest friends.
What’s one to do when you oversnooze?
The Somnolent One
A: Dear Sleepy Head,
Sweet dreams were not made of these. You snooze, you lose. Too bad it’s no longer the heady days of Xenon or even the Swamp so your disco nap could have at least heeded some hedonistic pleasure.
The RSVP is not to be taken lightly, an impermissible practice among many these days. “Répondez s’il vous plaît” (“Please reply”) yes or no is simple courtesy on your part. It is a must. Your host is graciously asking if you are indeed coming. So please: Reply. And reply promptly. And if you reply in the affirmative, make no mistake: it is a commitment. Particularly in the case of a placement dinner.
If you opt not to attend in the end, it had better be for a good reason—anything from a death in the family to an unforeseen injury. Inform your host immediately. Due to the inexcusable rash of no-shows these days, your absence may well take on the noxious whiff of the so-called “better offer.”
Do not take advantage of your host’s largesse. Children, dates and houseguests are not allowed to tag along in your wake without an invite that reads “and guest” (which still doesn’t excuse toddlers under drinking age). In the case of one’s houseguest, you can sound out the host early on and explain your dilemma.
He of the Manner Born can see many of you frowning at the prospect of not bringing along a date. As Groucho Marx would say, these are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others. Yes, there are of course exceptions: say, if you are engaged or have been together for a lengthy amount of time and the host wasn’t aware of your lovebird status.
As for you, our poor Nap-ster, your best bet is the truth. And forgiveness. (Forgive me, hostess, for I have sinned.) And pray your host is both gracious and good-humored. With or without the Brunello Cucinelli throw you had delivered by hand.
Illustrations by Gary Hovland.