“I’m so happy for you!” and I was. I meant it, truly I did. My friend had announced some fantastic news and as this made her happy, it also gave my innards a rosy glow. This rosy glow then turned to a slightly pale glimmer and then faded all together, leaving in its place a feeling of mild dread and resentment. My good pal had just got engaged and suddenly I’m cursing her fiancée for finally popping The Question.
I’m not the jealous type and harbour no secret lustings for her soon-to-be ball and chain so why the sudden change of heart regarding my chum’s fabulous good fortune? I’ll tell you why. Being happy for people is very, very expensive.
It happens to us all. We hit a certain age and suddenly engagement rings start flying off the shelves and landing squarely on the digits of our nearest and dearest. What this means is that we have to join them in celebrating their fortuitous union.
“Great”, you may think. “I love a good party and an engagement is a tip top excuse to get all jazzed up in my hottest outfit and neck a few cheeky beverages. I’m SOOOO happy for my fabulous friend”. Fun is had by all.
You’ve selected a tasteful engagement present (tasteful translates into “expensive but they’re worth it and I don’t want to look like a scab”), paid for your share of the meal at the latest Michelin starred restaurant and popped Champagne corks in some uber-trendy nightclub. You’re really very happy for your beloved friend and your work here as happy reveller is done, right? Wrong. Now you get the invite to the stag/hen party.
Stags and hens have obviously decided that they need to wheedle out the weak and disloyal from their band of followers. Perhaps they have decided that there won’t be enough room for two sets of friends now that ‘I’ and ‘Me’ are becoming ‘We’. They need to know that you’re in it for the long haul – literally. No longer are a couple of bottles of vino at the local boozer acceptable, no, you are cordially invited to shell out your entire savings on a long weekend to Italy/Las Vegas/the Moon!
Not so bad, I hear you say. You can stretch to a long weekend somewhere hot, you just won’t have a holiday of your own this year and it is all to celebrate the happiness of someone very dear. This will of course require you to buy another hot new outfit as everyone has seen the one you already own. And a new swimming costume. And a plane ticket, a hotel, oh and someone’s had the great idea of the whole group clubbing together to get another tasteful gift and that someone also had the great idea of organising “fun” wedding related games for you all to play and can you please contribute towards that and to the kitty for the over-priced cocktails in the numerous karaoke bars you’ll be dragged round. And for a stripper.
Still happy for your friend. Just.
The wedding. At last, the big day is here and you get to enjoy a free dinner and everyone’s favourite part of the nuptials, the free bar!!!!
Oh, hang on. First you need ANOTHER new outfit and this time you have to make sure it’s cerise and lime green, even though you never wear cerise or lime green and aren’t likely to wear it ever again but your so called friend and her partner in bliss related crime have insisted on a theme. God only knows what theme requires you to dress like a bad acid trip.
You need to buy yet another tasteful gift. Your blushing bride-to-be and her delightfully refined hubby have helpfully registered a list of gifts that looks suspiciously like something Michael Jackson or Elizabeth Taylor would have written to Santa. Well, it is her big day and you still kind of like her and she’s only going to do it once, right? Please, dear god, say she’s only doing it once!
What’s this? The wedding is being held at a castle in Scotland? How fabulous, how grand, how… the hell are you supposed to stay over night? It’s ok, there’s a hotel nearby that has availability and it’s only the same price as a month’s rent for the one night.
“Happy for you” is getting hard to say through teeth so gritted that the enamel is audibly cracking.
The ceremony was beautiful and you were even moved enough to squeeze out a solitary tear as the
nauseating selfish witch friend said her vows (for richer, for poorer, indeed!) and now you can all head to the free bar for a good old fashioned knees-up. Except the couple-who-are-being-deleted-from-your-address-book have decided to save some money (the cheek) and it’s a cash bar and curly sandwiches!
The dust has settled, the besotted couple went on their honeymoon which, thankfully, they didn’t ask you to share with them and all seems to be getting back to normal. You stay home at nights for the next few months trying desperately to work out ways of describing a cerise and lime green outfit on eBay so that some chump will take it off your hands (“Carmen Miranda‘s granny’s nightdress” probably isn’t going to shift it), and stuffing your 37 page credit card bill down your knickers in a bid to keep warm since your heating has been cut off, but thank goodness this whole expensive business of being happy for your “friend” is over. You’re just about ready to start speaking to her again when the postman arrives.
Oh joy, more
expensive bloody happy news. The honeymoon obviously went well, you’re invited to a baby shower!