Dear Captain Awkward,
I hope you can help me with coming up with a script for an awkward conversation that needs to happen. Here’s the situation:
My husband and I (!!!) got married (!!) on Saturday. It was amazing in every way except for one—we made a guestbook for people to sign. The guestbook was a photo album of us and we had pens for people to write their best wishes for us in it. Most people wrote lovely things, and a few people cracked some funny jokes in it that I know we will enjoy looking back on. One person, however, was immature enough to draw a penis spurting cum all over my husband’s face. In our wedding guestbook. That our parents and grandparents are going to look through, and our kids one day (should we be so lucky).
We have a witness to the penis-drawing act, so we know who did it, and I can’t say I’m surprised. Husband and I would like to tell this person how the penis-drawing-on-his-face made us feel; namely, that it hurt our feelings that she did this and it made us feel that she doesn’t respect us. It makes me regret that we invited her to the wedding, but I’m trying not to think about that since it’s in the past and I’m still trying to maintain my zen-bride mentality which has served me well so far. Husband is closer to this person than I am but I am the more confrontational of the two of us, and he has more to lose in the confronting, being closer to her and to her partner, who is a particular friend of my husband’s.
Both this person and her partner have a pattern of hurting my feelings and then being defensive when approached about it by either of us. For this reason, we want to talk to her alone rather than to them as a couple. I’m advocating using the “state the feeling then let the other person talk” approach but I’m wondering what the best way to do this is: script? location? two-against-one?
Bukkake Guestbook Problem
I can’t…I don’t…why would someone do that?
Congratulations on your marriage! Also…WOW.
First, are you sure she meant to draw cum? It could have been pee. Ha! Still inappropriate and not funny!
For responding to the artist, I suggest something short and ice-cold. Since your husband is the closer friend, have him handle it, and yeah, go ahead and let it be confrontational. This script will work in person or by email, but may I suggest email? I mean, what are you really hoping will happen at that sit-down meeting? No matter what the person says, you’re still going to be pissed off. If you meet face to face you’ll be pressured to be all “It’s okay, we forgive you” at the end of the conversation when they re-enact their “pattern of hurting my feelings and then being defensive when approached about it.” Let her/them get as defensive as they want away from you while they read their email. Put it on her to seek you out and mend fences.
We were really happy that you were able to attend our wedding, but really unhappy that your gross, amateurish drawing in our wedding guestbook will be skeeving out our families for generations. If you were looking for attention, here it is! It’s not the good kind of attention, though, and I’m pretty angry and embarrassed for you right now. I hope you’ll apologize and explain yourself, and understand if (spouse) and I don’t get in touch for a while.”
In response, you’re going to hear some variation of “I didn’t do it,” “I was drunk,” or “Get a sense of humor already!” because obviously 100% this person thought they were being HILARIOUS and 95% they were a little drunk and didn’t think you’d be angry and the whole discussion is not going to make you less mad. So…maybe don’t get in touch for a while. You don’t have to be the bigger person or a “zen bride” – wedding’s over, baby!
44 thoughts on “#253: “This was not the FEELINGSART we were looking for.””
Ugh. What a jerk. On a practical note, though — surely there is a way to replace that picture so tacky guest’s oeuvre is covered up? I don’t usually believe in revising history, but sometimes a modestly placed fig leaf isn’t so bad.
I was going to suggest making a duplicate print of the photo at the exact size it appears in the album and pasting it over top the offending image. (I’m assuming it’s a photobook versus an actual album with plastic sleeves.) If there are any actually good things on the photo, trace them onto the new one.
If it IS a photo album with sleeves, cut out any nice comments on that photo, paste them on the back cover, and make a new copy of the photo for the album.
Someone with more art skillz than I might take a moment or 10 to transform that penis into a rainbow, and those drops into theoretical raindrops. OR! paste different photos over the offending elements. Just imagine them falling off in 50 years and everyone having a great big belly laugh, because by then who will care? But then, when it comes to weddings, I personally find everything that goes “wrong” to be the stuff you tell hilarious stories about. Like, did you know that my centerpieces didn’t have candles because my mom set one of them on fire in the reception hall? Accidentally of course! BIG fire, too.
But all the friend-handling stuff is right on. Congratulations!
I totally missed the fire! See, I’m wedding-oblivious.
The issue isn’t really the album, it’s that oblivious-friend-is-oblivious and needs to be told in a way that she can’t weasel out of.
Oh totally the friend thing is the meat of this. I’m sorry “friend” thing; forgot the quote marks. The “friend” was 100% out of line and wow. WOW. But in my FIX-IT frame of mind, I kind of wish I had a picture of the offending doodle and then we could brainstorm ways to transform it into something non-offensive. Like along these lines: http://inkarttattoos.com/tattoo-blog/clever-cover-up-tattoos-after-the-break-up/
Wow. LW, I think you’re absolutely right (and awesome) to keep reminding yourself not to let this person ruin your happy day (congrats, by the way!), but all I can think is WTFYOUGIANTASSHOLEIWANTTOSMACKYOUREPEATEDLYINYOURSTUPIDFACE.
I would normally say this is a bridge-burning situation best handled by email of the type the Captain drafted, but the situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that the person who did it is the partner of a good friend of your husband’s. I would hope that your husband’s friend (if he/she knows what their partner did) would be embarassed and upset by their partner and would get in touch with you guys to apologize, but even if he/she doesn’t get the issue now I could imagine a situation in which talking it out could salvage the friendship. If this is a friendship your husband wants to maintain, I think you’re more likely to get to that place by him sitting down with his friend in person (without you or the drawer there) and telling the friend that although it may have been intended to be funny you were both really hurt and upset by it. Even if they thought it was funny at the time, any friend worth keeping would understand and would sincerely apologize to both of you. If that’s not the reaction, either because the friend is defensive or because he/she has an issue with you, then I think you and your husband should consider a mildly pornographic guestbook to be a happy reminder of how you cut your losses by ending this friendship.
This is so well-reasoned and polite, so if the LW is committed to the high ground this is really sound advice.
I just Tweeted this also – My ability to sugar-coat things was never all that great, but lately it’s eroded entirely and I sense the blog going in a very “Make SHUT THE FUCK UP, not peace” direction. At least it won’t be boring?
Not always a bad thing. It’s kind of like Yo, Is This Racist. Sure of course, in the world sometimes you choose to make compromises, keep the peace, for all kinds of reasons. But! Sometimes people (hi!) can get so invested in “fixing” and that fallacy of “if only i could explain it right, you would inderstand and be different,” that it’s really useful to have someone say “actually it’s ok not to be/stay friends with everyone you’ve ever met.”
Reiterating that Captain’s WOW. People continually astound me.
That said, I love the suggested script and the recommendation that you can let go of your zen-bride mantra. Kudos to you for getting through a big, chaotic and potentially stressful (but also fun and yay!) experience with aplomb, but you are 110% allowed to be unhappy with this person and to express that without sugar coating.
I vote for sending an African Violet…with actual cum on it.
Violet, yes. Other… not so much.
Oh my God. I just can’t even. What. Why.
Poor You LW, here are some Jedi-hugs if you want them.
No further advice to add, but just “HOLY CRAPPE! How could somebody do something like thatte???” It doesn’t surprise me when people do shitty shitte for self-serving reasons that further their own agendas, but this is just so gratuitous I can’t even comprehend what was going through the artist’s mind.
My (then new, now ex-)mother-in-law was estranged from her parents but we invited them all to the wedding anyway. After the grandparents signed our guestbook she went back and scribbled their names out.
Certainly not of the same caliber as LW’s guest, but still. People suck.
When i was writing obituaries for a living, people routinely tried to write other family members out of the obit. Sometimes we’d have to negotiate between dueling obituaries, and I once had to gently encourage a bereaved child not to put into actual physical public large-circulation print “and a second wife and several other children” (no names) in the list of survivors.
Oh my word. It’s like they thought, “Hey, this ‘losing a parent’ thing really sucks, but you know what could make it even more shitty, awful and painful? Kicking off another major round of family feuding!”
My grandmother left a classy will in which she pointedly didn’t leave anything to my mother (her daughter-in-law) who had argued with her, while parcelling out her jewellery on a sliding scale of “who has disappointed me the least” to the other daughter-in-law and granddaughters. If it has taught me anything, it is that if you want to be remembered well by those you leave behind, don’t use your will as a final “screw you”.
Guessing you remember her the way she lived, at least. Daaaaaaaaaang, what a pain.
First. Wow. Just wow. What a douchenozzle. I mean who does that?
You are well within your rights to do a confrontation or a good old fashioned shun of this person. If your new husband (congratulations!!!) wants to keep up a friendship with this chick’s partner, he can still do that without putting you in the same room as this woman. I personally would send this woman an email letting her know that she’s pissed me off and why. I mean, defensive or passive-aggressive remarks aside, I think she’s made it pretty gosh darn clear that she doesn’t like you guys.
As far as the offending drawing itself, depending on the type of paper/quality of photograph and type of ink, you may be able to use a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol to get at least most of the ink off (test an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t fade the photograph). If you can fade it, then an artistically minded person can draw over it with a kitten shooting lightning bolts or a rainbow with butterflies or Superman crying… you get the picture.
I don’t think it’s necessarily the case that she doesn’t like them. Just that she thought it would be Funny in a case when, in fact, it would be Not Funny.
That doesn’t mean she hasn’t done anything wrong, of course.
I think it boils down to kind of the same thing, from my perspective, simply because this person’s actions speak a lot louder than any title of supposed friendship does. The only difference between people who don’t like me and a friend who does mean shit to me is that I’d know to have my guard up with people who don’t like me, and a supposed friend doing this would come as a nasty surprise. “Guess what, I have a really mean sense of humor and I’m going to use it ON YOU because I find that hilarious! Don’t you totally want to continue hanging out with me?” Unless LW and her lovely new husband also play rough in the humor department and speak that language fluently– and that doesn’t sound like the case– this is a situation where the answer is probably NOPE!
LW, Congratulations on your wedding! And, honestly, I think your original guestbook idea was utterly cool. (my husband and I bought a pokey notebook from staples and left it someplace random and useless before the ceremony.)
I am a major fan of the Captain’s proposed script. And I hope you’re able to do something with the mangled page. (I’m throwing out a vote for Thor-throwing-lightening-bolts, but I’m no artist).
Nothing I can add in this comment is all that original, but I wanted to pass on congrats and condolences. I don’t know why tasteless nasty radioactive f*&kedup-edness happens at weddings–some did at mine, too. Sending you good wishes for a graffitti free future.
It’s possible that you could have a book conservator remove the page and replace it with a non-graffitt’d copy. Or if removing the whole page isn’t an option, they could adhere it over the jerkassness (technically you could do that too; but professionals are good if it means enough to you/you can afford it).
Just wanted to say ugh for your guest and high five for you letter. Your desire for zen definitely comes through. I hope you attain and maintain it and this lady is much less involved in your life in the future. Good luck!
My brother in law did this in my wedding book. Luckily we were just able to rip out the page, but it was still obnoxious. My mother had a chat with my sister who passed it along to her husband. I share this so you know you’re not alone. There’s one at every wedding – ugh!
So now my head is reeling not from the previous feeling of “There is someone in this world who would DO this?” to “There are TWO someones in this world who would DO this?” I mean I just don’t even…. still, what an interesting conversation that must have been.
It’s actually more common than you think! I had to reprint a portrait shoot once for a couple who had the same issue. (I think the culprit was a young cousin.)
After the email goes out, why have anything to do with the ‘artist’ ever again? If your husband wants to maintain his friendship with the artist’s partner he can do that by meeting partner for lunches or something without the artist. Any future couples events you have: they are absolutely not invited.
Firstly, congratulations on your marriage! And I snorted with laughter at your pseudonym!
What a truly childish and inappropriate thing for someone to draw in your wedding guestbook! I can’t imagine why any grown up would do this… unless this woman has body-swapped with a 13-year-old boy in some kind of wedding-based Freaky-Friday-type scenario (did anyone make a wish to an ancient artefact at the rehearsal dinner?). Which I guess could be the explanation… 🙂
I think how you tackle (no pun intended) it, depends on what you want from the result. If it’s to state how her “artwork” made you feel and you don’t care about the consequences for your friendship with this couple, then fair enough – send them a burn email or have a face-to-face confrontation where you tell them exactly how stupid and immature it was.
However, if you want/need to maintain some kind of civil relationship with the culprit’s partner, then you probably need to take a slightly less confrontational approach. In that case, I’d suggest your husband sits down with her partner (as they are the ones who are close friends and have more to lose from a falling-out), and tells them that however funny their partner might have thought it was to draw a penis on his picture, this was your wedding guestbook that you will keep for the rest of your lives together and show to your family. You are both completely unamused, felt your day had been tarnished by it, and will have to try to replace the picture in the book. You feel an apology is called for from their partner.
I think a suitable gesture from the, ahem, “artist” would be to offer to pay for the page to be replaced in the guestbook, plus a sincere apology to both of you and a thoughtful gift to make up for the hurt and inconvenience.
If you don’t get any satisfaction from either of them, then ENGAGE ZEN BRIDE MODE and try to put it behind you. The drawing reflects badly on the person who drew it, not on you, and everyone who was there will know that – you have been nothing but classy throughout.
I love the many suggestions for how you can fix the photo in the guestbook and hope one of them works!
I felt more American Pie than Freaky Friday with this guest’s behaviour. And, while I did enjoy the American Pie movies when I was a teenager, actually having a friend like Stifler would probably suck.
I definitely agree with the Captain’s advice that your husband do the confronting, LW, even if you’re usually more confrontational and he feels a bit uncomfortable talking to his friend about this. If this guest’s partner actually values your husband’s friendship, they’ll likely be more receptive to a comment from him than from you, especially if they have a history of hurting and then dismissing your feelings. The Captain’s email is pretty perfect, I think. I can sort of see how maybe this guest thought she was just being hilarious and didn’t think about how it might be gross or offensive, but if she and her partner get defensive or offended after you call them out, and this causes a rift in their friendship with your husband, that’s their problem, and not something you should feel you need to fix.
I just. . .WOW. Holy fuck.
The Captain’s advice is very, very good. My first instinct would be to . . .er, *not* use my words. Which is bad, very bad. This kind of disrespect makes me see red.
I tend to not be confrontational, because when I do confront someone I get all HULK SMASHY but in this case I think it’s actually warranted. I do like the idea of your husband saying something to her partner (since it’s their friendship). If his friend wants to stay with this horrible, disrespectful woman, that’s on him, but I am absolutely on board with there being no relationship with them in the future. If your husband wants to see his friend, great–he should do so separately, away from you, since his friend *also* has a pattern of disrespectful, hurtful behavior and defensiveness when told it wasn’t okay. Given their behavior (being hurtful to you and then defensive when called on it, pattern of disrespect AND this cherry on the shit sundae), I’d say cutting them out completely would be the healthiest thing. They may not like it when they realize they aren’t invited to parties and get togethers or whatever, but them’s the breaks. At this point, fuck their feelings.
How very tasteless. I know the real issue is the “friendship” but still: maybe you could scan the page, photoshop out the rude, crude, socially unacceptable bit, print the expurgated version, and put it back in over the rude one?
What an inconsiderate FUCK. I can’t even begin to figure out the chain of logic that would lead someone to think “Hmm, I’ve thought of something that would show the most possible disrespect of these lovely friends of mine and their wedding and their hard work in creating a hand-crafted item, so clearly I should do that! And yes, this is a very funny idea that everyone with a sense of humor will find hilarious and there should not be any repercussions for me ever!” Just, holy hell, there is NOTHING IN THAT THAT MAKES SENSE.
The Captain is better on this sort of thing than I am, so I am pointing up at the top of the page and saying “that, do that, go with that.” Beyond that, I just wanted to say:
If these people have a pattern of hurting your feelings and then being defensive about it, then at some point– if not now, then after some later incident– your husband (eeee, congrats! isn’t it fun getting to use that word?) gets to do some serious thinking about how much insult to him and to his wife is worth dealing with in order to enjoy the benefits of friendship with these folks. (Note: I’m saying that he has to do the thinking on this because you said he’s closer to them than you are. I’m willing to bet you’ve already done some thinking on this, in moments where you are not feeling the zen.) This is the kind of horrifying personal math that sucks, no question, but clearly this sort of stuff has happened before, it’s happening now, it will inevitably happen again, and you and your husband are the only people who can finish the equation.
For me, that person would have to be COMPLETELY AWESOME the rest of the time, the kind of person who makes me feel happy to be around them. If the person merely made me NOT feel bad 99% of the time, then actively made me feel like shit the other 1%, my equation would say, “Okay, it’s been swell, see ya.”
YES. This was such a giant red flag in the letter. Because it’s LW, who isn’t as close to this couple, asking for advice, it’s understandable that she needs guidance mostly on how to approach this particular situation. But if the husband were the one writing the letter, I’ve no doubt the advice would be more along the lines of “it’s time to go be alone in your most comfortable place and consider whether a friendship with someone who repeatedly and deliberately hurts your partner and then is defensive about it (perhaps sometimes in ways designed to deflect blame for the hurtful acts back onto the hurt party?) is worth preserving”.
Sadly I’m not quite as astonished as I would like to be that anyone would do something like that in a keepsake book at a wedding.
This was an evil act of malice. The person who did it may have been drunk, but drunk doesn’t make someone think “I’ll draw the groom getting bukkake in their keepsake book” – you do that if, on some level, there’s a desire to see both husband and wife humiliated. And that’s an ugly thing for a wedding guest to be thinking. What I would be worrying about is not just “They did that!” but also “And what will they do next” – if, in their minds, they “got away” with doing this.
I think there are two options here.
One is for husband to take photograph with drawing and have a sit-down face-to-face conversation with this person. (This works if, frankly, the husband reckons the friend is salvagable.) This is about making the person feel ashamed of what they did – and works if the husband feels he can keep this on a level, even keel on his own part. Need to figure out what husband (and you) want to make you both feel that the friend shouldn’t just become an ex-friend. And I don’t honestly know what that would be, but if it was me I would want to see that the person is ashamed of being – even drunk, even briefly – the kind of person who’d do that. Ashamed and wanting to change.
The other is to email the probably-soon-to-be-ex-friend briefly with notification that they’ve been found out – that you found the doctored photo, you know it was them who did it because they were seen. that you’ve been able to fix the vandalised page and this is what it cost you (dollars and cents) – but that you’re hurt and astonished, both of you, that this person would do something like that to you. Or whatever. (I hope you can fix the vandalised page – I agree a professional book restorer is probably the way to go.)
If the person does get back to you with a response, in reasonably short order, it should be with payment for the cost of fixing the book and with what you both judge to be a really sincere apology with real shame for having done it.
I;ve known too many nasty bullies in my life, but I do know that many people who aren’t ordinarily malicious can become so and do something on impulse which they genuinely regret. So I’d say: give this person the opportunity of showing genuine regret. But if they don’t feel regret, if they’re only sorry they got caught, if on some level even after they sobered up they still think that was a funny thing to do – well, then, I’d say that friend should become an ex-friend because you will never be able to trust them again and it could be seriously dangerous for you to do so.
The story of how they vandalised your wedding keepsake book and weren’t sorry for it should turn into one of those “funny stories” you tell about your wedding – not because it’s funny, but because that’s an acceptable route to warn other people you know that this is the kind of person that your ex-friend is.
Why weddings bring out the worst people, I will never know, but they totally do. People who are of a certain inclination will take your wedding as an opportunity to do all kinds of obnoxious bullshit–asking inappropriate questions, bringing randos to the event, and obviously, drawing dicks on the groom’s face in a keepsake book. I was not at all surprised to read that this happened to you, LW, but know that I feel you (not literally, that would be gross) and feel for you.
But! There is an upside. When weddings bring out the worst in people, it’s an opportunity for the weddinged-couple to get the fuck on the high road and love the fuck out of that high road. This kind of bullshit is primo opportunity number one to discover that the view from said high road is lovely and life-affirming. I think the Captain’s suggestion of what to write (via e-mail! please do it via e-mail!) to this person is the way to go.
I would add, however, that this person may actually be retro-mortified by what she did, especially if she isn’t married herself and may not realize what a big keepsake deal a guestbook really is, and that for the sake of your new husband’s friendship with her partner, it is probably worth giving her an opportunity to apologize and make good on this shitty thing that she did. Can you get your husband to ask her, after you’ve sent this e-mail, if she would help getting a new photo printed or page made or similar? That way you have a twofer: you get to express your horror and anger, and she can’t blame CRAZY BITCH BRIDE for being SOOOO HUMOURLESS because your husband, who is closer to her, is also not pleased with the situation. The brilliant thing about srs partnership is that you have someone on your team who can help advocate for you/your coupledom in crappy situations.
Regardless of how it plays out with the offender, my guess and hope is that, someday long in the future, you will look on this and laugh. Yes, you want your wedding day to be perfect. Yes, it sucks that this shithead went full-throttle on your keepsake. But you’re married! And the journey starts here–it doesn’t end with the last page in the guestbook.
I’m getting married in 16 days(!!!) and I’m imagining what I would do in your shoes, LW. I think I would follow much of what has been recommended by the Captain and the Awkwardeers, but I would leverage the Awesomeness That Is My Mother and her ability to make people feel Very Small Indeed. I’m just imagining my imposing mother appearing on the artist’s doorstep, keepsake book in one hand, bottle of rubbing alcohol and Q-tips in the other, then calmly sitting with pursed lips while the artist vainly attempts to remove the bukkake. But, I really enjoy revenge fantasies, and rarely carry them out.
I want to pay to have your mom on retainer. SRSLY.
WHAT IS THIS I DONT EVEN
I am simultaneously enraged and shocked into numbness for you, LW. i am with everyone who said there’s “inappropriate behavior that sometimes unfortunately happens because [drunk]” and then there’s “intentionally and deliberately doing something out of bounds with no regard for the outcome” (or worse – WITH regard for the outcome and doing it anyway)
smash the captain’s advice and i hope you and husband make her feel like the petulant child she evidently is.
A wedding is not your high school yearbook. That is all.
I really appreciate all your advice, and especially the Captain’s. Thank you! I resolved not to worry about this for a bit and enjoy our mini-honeymoon without letting this get to me. I did some artful cover-up with various paint-pens and now the bukkake is replaced with artful hearts around our heads. You can only see the original intent if you really look carefully and know what you’re looking for. So that is good.
Meanwhile, at the same time that I was writing this letter to the Captain, Husband asked a friend for advice on the situation…and our hurt and upset made its way back to the Artist. She wrote me a note on her own steam (apparently) saying that her partner had told her how upset and hurt we are by her drawing and that she hadn’t meant to anger or offend anyone and that she is really sorry.
I’m not writing back to her at the moment because (a) not thinking about this right now and (b) I want to think about what I/we want to get out of this, and yay! email gives us that luxury. But I think something along the lines of the Captain’s email script is still appropriate. Yes, she apologized, and I’m glad about that. But it still hurt me and my husband directly and I want her to know that it wasn’t just offensive, it was more than that. I need to think more about what the end-goal is for me.
Anyways, thoughts on this new development are welcome and I will keep refreshing this page to re-read all your comments and advice from before.
Also? LET HER SUFFER. She deserves to twist in the wind a bit for what she did.
“Meanwhile, at the same time that I was writing this letter to the Captain, Husband asked a friend for advice on the situation…and our hurt and upset made its way back to the Artist. She wrote me a note on her own steam (apparently) saying that her partner had told her how upset and hurt we are by her drawing and that she hadn’t meant to anger or offend anyone and that she is really sorry.”
She didn’t mean to anger or offend? What the heck DID she mean to do, then? (Please, Penis-Drawer, don’t say “it was a JOKE”! Even if bukkake is a joke in your particular friendship circle, the wedding guestbook is NOT the place to express that!)
Good for you for not writing back to her at the moment. Take your time Not Thinking About It Right Now and enjoy being married!!
She “hadn’t meant to anger or offend anyone”? I wonder what she thought the response to her drawing would be.
I think your idea is a good one, and that you should still use a version of the Captain’s email script, just so you’re able to express how hurtful her actions were. I hope you take your time and enjoy your honeymoon first, though! The email can wait.
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