Guest List . . .
I'm not talking about his relationship with food, water, shelter, or his smartphone. I'm not even talking, necessarily, about his relationship with G-d. I'm certainly not worried about the average fella's relationship with reality or sanity. Nope. I'm talking about all the other relationships - the real ones, the ones with, you know, PEOPLE.
Take, for instance, trying to work on a "guest list" for a wedding. I'm going to say something impolitic and inappropriate and insensitive but, frankly, it seems that 80% of wedding guest lists are mandatory.
Parents, siblings, their spouses, nieces and nephews, and a handful of real, true friends that you can't imaging having a "moment" (positive, negative, or requiring bail money) without are all givens but not long after the thought of building out a wedding list gets really dicey, really quickly.
Let's talk work - Bosses? Yeah, sure. They have the power. Cubemates? Yep. They have to hear about all this crap anyway. Underlings? I mean . . . well? (deep exhale)
Then you've got your social groups (non-profits, religious communities, etc.). Clergy? Stands to reason. Executive Director of the group that does the work you so admire? Can't hurt. Fellow board members? Maybe all but that one f*cker who is only "here" because they like the "thanks" at the annual dinner. The dude you volunteer with but don't know his full name or "situation"? Sure. But you'll need to figure out his name. The person who sits in the pew behind you and always has kind things to say but you don't know them? I mean . . . well? (deep exhale)
So now you're looking at your "formers". This, to be clear, is a different breed because these are people that, once upon a time, were your GO TO people for getting drunk, getting stoned, getting crazy, getting work done, getting through Algebra, getting home for the weekend, getting through a rough spot. They WERE but that was "then" and this is "now" and they are "there" and you are "here" but you love them still and occasionally stalk their Facebook page so you're good, right? (deep exhale)
Now you're up to your current friends. And let me be clear on this one . . . here is how we define a "friend" - if you had just three dollars to your name and they needed four you would find that extra dollar somewhere and make it look easy because they would (not just in your hopes but in your knowledge) do the same for you. Or something like that. I'm almost 40. I have like six of those people in this life. Okay, fine, five. Four?
But then this is where things get weird. Let's say - for sake of discussion - this is your second marriage but your betrothed's first. And they are super excited for this and they also do politics and "nice" and "polite" and "enjoyed obligation" better than you do (if only because they do it at ALL). Let's say they are also in their home state and their 300 cousins are all "here" too. Let's say all this. Do you try to keep the crowd "even"? Do you try to have it feel like a mutual "thing" or is it okay if it feels more like "their" thing?
So you struggle. You hem. You haw. You deeply exhale. Repeatedly. Then, when you think you've lost the will to actually live (not hyperbole - you weren't there, you don't know) you snap in and BOOM you're populating out a list of guest that would actually make the floor cave in. You go from ten mandatories to 95 "yeses" and 40 more "maybes" and you start freaking out because you feel like you've caught "the fever".
But you calm down and realize this is life. This is how it works. The current friends are more numerous than you thought (and they all have spouses that are super fun to hang out with) and you realize that your formers may be "there" and you may be "here" but if they love you now the way they claimed to love you when drunk at 3 PM and waiting for another pitcher of beer that won't matter and you realize that even the person who only wants credit once a year probably enjoys a nice slice of fancy cake, and you understand that you should invite the President of the congregation if only because they are kind and warm whenever you meet them. You feel like your intern and her boyfriend will be vital to the event's success (if only so you can text them ten minutes before the ceremony and say "I need a soda the way I like it" and they will text back "I already have one for you and the blue sour balls you like when you get anxious.") and you are populating that list to the point where suddenly the one who "gets" it has fewer people than the one that "hates" it and you suddenly feel guilty about digging in on this list but these people . . . these people are vital.
These people are important. These people should have the opportunity to attend or not and they should have the knowledge that you NEED them there when they get the mailing with the nineteen pieces of cardstock and four envelopes and "forever" stamps and the explanation of where and how to book the "wedding hotel" rooms.
You've been lazy in your relationships but for one sparkling evening in the near future you're going to bask in the glow and love and support and presence of everyone you've ever valued and hope that they bring with them every hope and good intent they've ever had for you because you, curmudgeon, are going to NEED it.