Over our spur-of-the-moment sushi dinner, I tried to explain my frustration.
"But I'm not invited, see? And, well, I guess my feelings are hurt."
He clamped his chopsticks around a piece of his roll. "But you don't want to go, right?"
"Well, that's not the point," I said, mixing a pinch wasabi into my soy sauce. "The point is, I'm not invited, and she hasn't even said anything to me about it. No 'Hey, I really wish you could come to my wedding,' or 'If I wasn't over my guest limit already, I'd love to have you there.' Nothing." I picked up a piece of my own roll and dipped it into my sauce. "I mean, I work with her, for God's sake."
"So what? Just be glad you don't have to go. That means you don't have to buy a gift."
"That's not the point. I feel left out."
Talk of the wedding has been circulating my office for months. When I started my new job, my new coworker hadn't even begun to plan her June nuptials, save for booking the reception's location. "You better get on that," I admonished in my first few weeks of employment. "Get whatever you can out of the way as early as possible so you don't have to worry about it later. And some things take time. The dress, the fittings, all that stuff. Get it done now." And, so, she began. She updated me every day with her progress, asked for my advice with regard to the bridesmaids dresses, even brought her dress to the office after she bought it, just to show me her gown. She showed me the invitations, and had me address a few that the calligrapher had forgotten. "Would you mind?" she said, placing three invitations and three envelopes before me. "Your handwriting is so much better than mine."
And of course I didn't mind. I was happy to help. I love weddings. What girl doesn't? I was more than happy to go over menu selections, wedding etiquette, resurrecting the things I remembered from my own almost-wedding years ago to aid in any way I could.
And then I noticed that there was no calligraphied invitation in the mail for me.
It's become an elephant in the room for me. I'm sure she feels awkward about it, me not being invited. And, really, there's a perfectly good explanation for why I'm not on the guestlist, checking off whether I'd like chicken or fish on my RSVP card: Because I just started here six months ago. She didn't know me enough to invite me back then. But, then, she hadn't invited anyone until a few months ago. And then I realized that, since she and her brother (both of whom are my coworkers here in the office) would both be at the wedding, I'd need to stay here at work to hold down the fort. Understandable.
But still. To say nothing? It seemed rude to me, made me feel like the one kid in grade school that didn't get a coveted invitation to the popular girl's pool party.
"They're your coworkers," Billy said, his mouth full of spicy tuna. "Not your friends. Don't worry about it."
"But I do worry about it." I held my chopsticks so that the bite I was about to take hovered before my mouth. "I'm very sensitive. My feelings are hurt."
"But they shouldn't be," he argued, swallowing.
"Yeah, well, they are. And they don't want to mention anything about the wedding or the events the day before the wedding in front of one of our other guys, because he's not invited. But it's perfectly okay to talk about it in front of me? Oh, don't worry about Laurie's feelings. She'll be fine." I took an angry bite of sushi.
"I don't know why you let it get to you like you do." He shook his head, surveyed what was left of his roll. He pushed around some rogue grains of rice on his plate, considering his next bite.
I grabbed a sliver of ginger, took a tiny bit of it, squished the fleshy texture between my front teeth. In truth, I didn't know why it was bothering me so much, aside from the fact that I felt left out. He was right, I didn't - don't - particularly want to go; I wouldn't really know anyone there, and I'd probably feel out of place among the group of 200 who have all known each other since adolescence. I know there's no need for me to be there. But something about the fact that there was no apology being made for my lack of an invite was grating at me. "Maybe," I said, trying to formulate my thoughts into concise and accurate phrases, "it's just that it makes me feel like they don't like me. Like she, in particular, doesn't want me there. Maybe that's what hurts."
"But it shouldn't," he reminded me.
And something about the way he continued to blow off my gripes irritated me. I put my chopsticks down, looked at him. "But it does. And telling me it shouldn't isn't going to change anything."
There's this huge chasm between men and women when it comes to complaints. Men think you're telling them about your problems so that they can help you solve them. Women just know that you're not at all looking for a solution; you're just bitching. And they let you. On the other hand, if a man complains about his day, and a woman offers her advice, she's written off under the pretense that she doesn't understand, that she doesn't grasp the situation like he does. I don't offer solutions when Billy laments about his day. I offer "I'm sorry, babe," and maybe ask some more questions to get him talking. With my questions, I'm lancing the boil; him talking about it is letting it out. I just wish he would understand that I only need the same.
He tries, he does, to give me what I need when I just want to complain. But he can't fight his autonomous reaction to advise. I see him push it back, but up it comes without his urging. He can't help it. And I hate it. I do. I won't lie. It makes me want to clam up and not talk to him. But I can't keep myself from bitching, just like he can't keep himself from advising.
When you choose someone to be with, for any amount of time, you have to understand that there are some things that are never going to change. He will always be taller than me, he will always be charming, he will always make me smile. Those are good things. But, at the same time, he will always think he's right, and he will always offer me solutions instead of commiseration when I complain. And that will always drive me mad.
But you detest in other people the very things you detest in yourself. We butt heads, Billy and I, because we're both always right. We both want to be the boss of everything.
"Turn here," Billy said from the passenger seat as we left the parking lot after dinner.
"I know," I said, huffily, like a child. I flicked my blinker on to illustrate that I knew.
"Sor-ry," he said, laughing, throwing his hands up. "I was just trying to help. But no, you're Miss Independent. God forbid anyone try to help you."
"Hey, you can't stand to be told things you already know, either. So don't give me that. You're just like me."
He didn't say anything; He knew I was right. He just smiled at me and grabbed a hold of my hand. I couldn't help it; I smiled back, and laced my fingers through his.
He drives me crazy with that: Telling me what to do, what I should do. Sometimes, it just makes me want to scream. But I've heard myself doing the exact same things. And, anyway, I know, changing the things about him that rub me the wrong way would change the things about him that rub me in all the right ways. I wouldn't love him like I do if he wasn't exactly the man he is, Know-It-All and everything.
And he knows that.