This week, I have been meditating upon this year's version of Prom Wars, or at least the three cases that have come to my attention. The best known would probably be that girl in Mississippi whose case led to the cancellation of the prom, the ACLU, court cases, private proms invented and reinvented, and in the end her attendance at a fake prom with seven attendees while the real prom, about which she had not been informed, was held elsewhere. Her family were supportive if not particularly enthusiastic, and she did apparently get some television time out of the whole debacle. Then there was the boy in Georgia whose school caved almost at once, but whose father kicked him out of the house and is no longer proud of him on Facebook. Finally there are the two boys in North Carolina. One was called to the principal's office, asked if he had bought his prom ticket yet and if he really intended to bring his boyfriend, and then given one or two rather silly-sounding reasons why same-sex escorts were disallowed. His mother called the principal within a day or so, and after a very short conversation the policy was rescinded.
It would be a mistake to speculate that opposition to these young people is centred mainly in the South. Northerners of that sort of lack of charm just have a cleverer way of opposing us. My own high school was too small to hold a prom, and, even if it had, I'm sure I could never have brought A.C., B.C. or either of the J.M.s. But it is heartening to study the photographs of the new crew, see that the rising generation has greatly improved prospects and hope that they have the same look when the digits of their ages are reversed. They make their own case far better than I could, and those Social Worker types who would deny them what everyone their age ought to have and would put them into more conventional appearing couples no longer fret me.
For this week's letters, I shall simply provide the LWs with some recommended reading.
L1: Now, this letter filled me with joy. It would be almost unsporting to cross-examine LW1 on the delight she takes in swooning over the phrase "first love" and I shall let that sit. One might speculate that the death in question is not the actual physical death of her (swoon) First Love. My best guess would be that she might have to kill off her love for her (swoon) First Love to maintain her marriage - but does she really want to maintain her marriage? Despite the joy this letter brought me, I cannot raise a good swoon either way.
My own form of Psychic Flashes is to say something for apparently very little reason and it then happens. The best example of this was in the postscript of a letter to a friend. It was written about a week after John Lennon died, and predicted the month and year of the death of Karen Carpenter. I was shown the letter about ten years ago, and there was no reason for the idea just occurring to me, but there it was.
But now for why L1 makes me happy. Dear LW1, I get to tell you that you absolutely must read Oscar Wilde's story, "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime," an especial favourite of mine for years. A young man on the brink of marriage visits a fortune-teller who sees something terrible in his future. At last, Lord Arthur is told that it was seen that he will commit a murder in the future. Scared to death that he will murder the woman he loves, he tries to get the murder out of the way by attempting to kill off one and then another of his elderly relatives. Sadly, he does not succeed in these endeavours. Still refusing to marry before the murder, Lord Arthur is in despair when he meets the fortune-teller and kills him (I think by throwing him off the bridge).
So tell or don't tell; it matters little. But do write again after the divorce. Or shouldn't I have mentioned that?
Moral: Sometimes life shows us what will happen and sometimes what we shall make happen.
L2: An interesting letter, this. I feel inclined to a lengthy cross on the exact nature of the formation of the pappa's second connection. As the son is only six and there is a new child, there might be no real overlap between the two relationships, or there could be a good deal of causation in play. I remind myself of Sir Henry Clithering in "The Herb of Death" when he tells Mrs Bantry that, if she later reveals that the estate of the fiance of the murdered girl in the story she tells is heavily mortgaged, he will claim a foul. LW2 makes no mention of the start of her relationship or its proximity to her boyfriend's divorce - perhaps she is being careful to avoid any such mention. If there is more there than she reveals, perhaps there is a lingering residue of guilt that might be having the good effect of what respect she can bring herself to show the boy. I find I must ascertain a few more facts before being able to pronounce on LW2's character.
I shall refer LW2 to Ibsen's "The Lady from the Sea," as an example of the beneficial effects of a stepmother once her own issues are resolved.
The plight of the poor boy is rather worrisome, and there's really no solution. Maybe if LW2 is really lucky, it will all turn out like the *Cracker* episode *True Romance* with a third dog chasing after the same bone, only Woman #3 will kidnap the boy and do away with him. I almost wish the poor boy could be adopted by a family that wouldn't see him as a bother or a weapon or anything but himself.
Any credit LW2 may gain for wanting to change her own feelings (if she really does) before marrying pretty well evaporates in her terrible timing. It almost sounds as if on some level she's trying to drive a wedge between father and son by making the boy the reason to delay the marriage.
I'd only tell her to replace in her comparison between his son and her son the word IF with the word WHEN. And she should write again after the divorce.
Moral: Nothing is so unfashionable as last marriage's child.
L3: I can top LW3's story with a novel by Martyn Goff, *The Youngest Director*, in which the protagonist is appointed to an executive position in his company, only to be told almost at once that studies have proven that the married executive is happier and therefore a better worker, and accordingly he is expected to report to the director of personnel with his marriage lines within the year. When he does not marry within the year, and indeed forms a relationship of a different nature, he is knocked out of the company by the machinations of his mentor, who played by the rules despite similar inclinations.
This is an odd letter. We have the use of "I" once, and thereafter it is always we. Does LW3 have multiple personalities? The list is interesting, and not necessarily relevant to many of the employees of a small industrial-supply company. I suppose dandruff might reasonably be included on a Don't list, but that would seem to be covered under basic grooming, or very nearly. There is a difference between reasonably tended teeth and a "nice smile" as the presenter designated. I am very well acquainted with the owner of a small business who has very grey hair and is considerably overweight, but has always struck me as completely professional. The complexion point is not so simple. Did the presenter actually tell attendees, "You don't have a nice complexion," or was that just LW3 extending a line of thought? I've seen enough of a few unscientific studies to be willing to believe that there is something behind the claim that there is a preference for light skin tints over dark, though the extent might be difficult to determine. But what shines through is LW3's resentment. What is the first point mentioned? Expensive clothes. Now the presenter might have mentioned a presentable appearance, but LW3 doesn't, and resenting being unable to afford expensive clothes addresses none of the unreasonable points. Besides, workers for small industrial-supply companies rarely find it much to their advantage to look like graduates of *What Not to Wear*. Spa treatments *might* help with some skin conditions, but that seems rather tenuous, and since when does one require a gym membership to avoid being overweight?
I am of two minds about what to do. It is rather a pity that there was no direct challenge made to the presenter at the time - or was there, if she really told people to their faces that they didn't have nice complexions? It might be reasonable to present a list of the more questionable points and ask management to clarify that there will not be any such policies implemented along the line of the recent Japanese requirement of waistlines no larger than 33.5 inches. But on the other hand, just because the executives were nodding doesn't mean that they necessarily were taking anything in. Raising the question might put ideas into their heads. They might require dyed hair if anyone asks.
As anyone so resentful can hardly keep a husband for long, I'd like LW3 to write back after the divorce to let us know if she is still employed at the same company.
Moral: Don't throw sticks for sleeping dogs?
L4: LW4 obviously needs a sister named Joanie to keep saying, "You're terrible." So there she is, pressured into accepting a role in a wedding only to find herself surrounded by Bridezilla and the richer bridesmaids. The solution to her situation is obvious. She should shoplift dresses, catch the bouquet, see the groom SB1ing the maid of honour during the wedding reception, get her father's girlfriend to offer her employment as a sales repre - sorry, beauty consultant, have her mother make out blank checks to cash, steal twelve thousand dollars, and then, after the bride and the other bridesmaids have dumped her, join them at a popular and expensive holiday resort. Run away, tell hard luck stories at all the bridal shops in town, and then, for proper compensation, marry an athlete who needs citizenship - all to a soundtrack dominated by ABBA. THAT will show the bride! Or, of course, LW4 can just watch *Muriel's Wedding." Sorry to recommend watching instead of reading, but *Muriel's Wedding" is perhaps as good as a book.
As little fond as I am of Bridezilla, I am almost inclined to tell LW4 that she will learn a great deal more from the experience if she sucks it up than if she weasels her way out of it. She did not have the spine to tell Bridezilla where to get off. her attempt to decline was not strong enough to be able to withstand the horrific and blood-curdling circumstance that Bridezilla actually "looked as if she were [I refuse to type 'was'] going to cry" and doubtless the thought of actually having to have a free and frank conversation about her circumstances appeals to her about as much as Captain Brown's references in *Cranford* to his reduced circumstances appeal to Miss (Deborah) Jenkyns.
The friendship is not worth a moment's concern either way. Rather like Alice and the month of dinners at once, it seems highly preferable to go without Bridezilla's friendship than with it. But I fearfor LW4. She is clearly susceptible to the slightest pressure. If Bridezilla can do this to her without even having to shed a single actual tear, I would shudder to think of leaving LW4 alone with a skilled salesperson of handbags or shoes, let alone cars or jewelry.
It's not that it would be unreasonable for LW4 to claim that it would financially cripple her to be able to give the wedding the full and joyous participation that she would certainly get away with saying Bridezilla deserved. It's just that there are not so many clear opportunities to let oneself learn from a mistake. She can weasel out of this one. But the next mistake might be much more expensive. And anyone who will agree to expenses she can't afford simply over the appearance of possible tears in the near future probably needs to learn the hard way when the lesson is still relatively affordable. Going into debt for a thousand dollars is unpleasant, but LW4 will learn from the experience, and it probably will not break her. Getting into a habit of agreeing to incur large expenses and then backing out afterwards is perilous.
And of course, if I liked LW4, I could point out that maintaining her willingness to be in the wedding party but declining one or two of the numerous pre-wedding events on grounds of it being a choice between the event and paying the rent might well cause Bridezilla to deem her ungrateful and reassign the post of her own accord.
Moral: I shall now lose sleep wondering whether someone so tender-hearted as to agree to unaffordable expenses simply because a friend happened to appear to be on the verge of tears deserves to be liked sufficiently to be wished a happy way out of her travails instead of a stern lesson.