LaRue for the lovelorn: Know when to tell your friends to butt out

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2004

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Dear LaRue,

My boyfriend and I have been together for four years and, for the most part, are fat and happy with each other. Two months ago we had the opportunity to vacation in Mexico for a week. I was not able to go because of my work schedule but he went anyway. Then last month on my birthday he went out with his drinking buddies and left my birthday gift for me to open when I got home from work. Not the most romantic guy in the world, but that's OK by me.

It was a FABULOUS gift, by the way.

My girlfriends say I should be outraged by his behavior and he owes me big-time. I'm a little disappointed, but don't really see the big deal. What do you think?

- Birthday Loner

Oh, of course this reminds me of a boy I dated. Cliff was dopey, muscular and had beautiful eyes with a wicked case of perma-bake. He was seriously stoned every waking second of the day. He had no job, no future, no home, no hope, so of course I wanted to be his girl.

"But why," you may be asking, "would someone so smart, hopeful and wildly successful fall for a complete stoner-idiot? Dear God, why?"

Jump back Juneau, I'll tell you. He was friends with my neighbor, and the day after he met me, he showed up at my door saying the sweetest thing I had ever heard:

"Hey LaRue, why don't you make me one of them mean plates of spaghetti you're famous for. Oh, and by the way, can I use your razor? I gotta shave my legs." Don't ask.

He followed up those gems with, "Damn LaRue, you got a sexy nose," and "the cheese in the sauce is makin' me randy. In a good way!"

Wasn't he dreamy?

We spent three blissful weeks together - well, blissful until he stole all my bath towels and ended up in the pokey. Not because of my bath towels. Apparently, he was wanted by the police and was hiding out. Who asks these questions on a first date? No matter. I was young. Lesson learned. He was a good kisser. I digress.

I can see, Juneau, that you are still not impressed by Cliff. That's the point really. You don't have to be. He wasn't yours. He was mine. And until he stored stolen bike parts in my house and absconded with my can opener, he made me happy. That's all that matters.

Now birthday girl, if you're still reading, you don't have to justify the rules of your relationship to your girlfriends or anyone. I want you to repeat the following after me - make it your mantra - IT'S NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS. Easy to say, hard to do, yes? If we're lucky, our friends love us. They see our sparkle when no one else does, tell us we're thin when we feel fat, discreetly tell us when we have a booger hangin' from our nose. When they are good and true, they want what's best for us. They are wonderful, really. But, it is not you, Mr. Fat and Happy, and your girlfriends living YOUR life. It's just you. So when you're good and fed up with their well-meaning advice, tell them, "I love you guys. But I feel how I feel, and I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do. So suck it up, and let's go shoppin' for a new can opener." You can put it in your own words if you like.

Now that that is settled, let's get to the bottom of your question. You ARE ticked at Mr. Fat and Happy. By asking the question if you should be mad, you probably already are and want permission to be.

I don't know that I can give you permission.

Now hold on Juneau, I can hear the collective gasp, "But LaRue, what kind of insensitive lout doesn't know he is required by law to be with his lady-love on her birthday so he can tell her she looks pretty and/or younger than her actual age. Further, he is downright obligated to dance with her in the flippin' Mexican sunset as he looks deeply in her eyes and tells her she completes him! Everyone knows that! Have you gone mad?!" No, I haven't. And granted, most people like that sort of thing. Most people need that sort of thing. But maybe our birthday girl doesn't. Maybe, instead, our birthday girl just likes it when her honey crawls under the covers with her to laugh at their favorite TV show. What if she likes it when he tells her he loves her by cleaning the kitty litter, 'cause he knows she doesn't like to. What if she never has to guess, when she opens her eyes in the morning, if he's going to be there? What if she just knows he will be. I don't know about you, but I would take that every day and twice on Sunday over a short-lived vacation and one lousy birthday.

In the final analysis, birthdays, trips and gifts are all a nice vacation from reality, but what if what you have every day is just as good? What if what she has is real?

It may not come in a size that fits everybody. The trick is to know yourself. Know what fits you and thumb your nose at anyone who doesn't think it looks good.

Now, birthday girl, if you really are hurt by what he did, and it's OK if you are, tell him. It's possible he didn't know it was important to you. It's possible he thought he was following the rules you two had already established. If so, let him know how you feel in a calm way, and then give him a break. You two will probably laugh about it when you wake up in the morning, together.

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