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Feel Good Friday – Ke Kai O Kahiki

Why this video this Friday?

1. O’Brian Eselu’s halua won first place in the Men’s Kahiko (ancient hula) division in the 2009 Merrie Monarch Festival (basically the Olympics of hula) so you should acquaint yourself with a knowledge of the best of the best different cultures have to offer. This is about as good as it gets.

2. To expand your knowledge of other cultures. Hula was nearly wiped out and is enjoying a huge resurgence. Further, hula was originally the sole domain of men, often warriors, contrary to the stereotype that only women dance hula.

3. Not to mention that these men are mighty fine looking and dance very well.

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This is a bit of a long story; I’ll try to keep it as short as possible without omitting anything relevant.

I met my husband eight years ago. We were on a work trip, it was as if we’d known each other forever, and we just clicked. He took a transfer to my city six weeks later and we were engaged within five months.

My mom is a miserable person. She’s got a drinking problem and a (undiagnosed) narcissistic personality disorder. She’d left my dad for another man and was incredibly bitter at the fact that my dad moved on and remarried while her new relationship was unstable at best.

Now DH is a very attractive man and I’m pretty and I’m plus sized. My mom was absolutely convinced that this guy couldn’t actually love me and my then size fourteen hips. He must have been a shady character who was using me as a place to stay while he settled into his new city and found someone “better”.

Our engagement lasted two years and, during that time, my mom could never decide whether she wanted to be our biggest supporter or our worst nightmare.

I’d found my dress already and had put off buying it because I wanted my mom to see it first. She was in my city for another family event and she grudgingly agreed to come along if she could bring my aunt. Now my aunt was great! It turns out that my cousin had gotten her dress from the same shop and the same saleswoman and we had SO much fun! My mom suggested that I ask my aunt to help with my train once I’d walked into the ceremony and my aunt was thrilled! She threw her arms around me and happily agreed. And then my mom hugged me and whispered that there was “no f**king way” my aunt would come near my dress. Ummm what?

We’d decided to have a slight vintage theme to our wedding and people kept asking what they should wear. We’d made a wedding website with information about things to do in the city, places to eat, wedding menus, etc. After numerous “what do I wear” questions, we added an attire section. We basically said to have fun, wear whatever struck your fancy (as long as it’s not jeans and a t shirt hahaha). My mom threw a fit over this. Apparently her BF always wears jeans and denim shirts and he would be gravely offended if he knew that we had a “dress code”. A comment like that would make him feel personally uninvited. At this point, I knew this guy well and I don’t doubt for a second that he would have dressed appropriately. DH and I both tried to reason with her and explain that this was a semi formal, evening wedding. No one would be wearing jeans. We thought this was the end of it.

One day, about eight months before the wedding, my mom called to ask if DH had ever been bankrupt. I said no and asked why she wanted to know. She said it was just idle curiosity and ended the call. I called her back and asked again why she wanted to know and she said that it was nothing. DH and I were both a bit perplexed but we soon forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I got a text message from my brother demanding that I call off the wedding. According to him, I was marrying a liar. He refused to tell me what this was all about and insisted that I just trust him. DH called him and he told DH that he “had no respect for him at all”. All he would say is that our mom told him the truth about DH.

It turns out that my mom had found a website that allowed users to search provincial (Canadian) court documents by name. She’d found bankruptcy papers with DH’s name on them. When I’d told her that DH had never been bankrupt, she sent the full report that she’d actually paid for to my brother. Only she’d misspelled DH’s name in her search and the report she’d gotten was for someone else. We tried to explain this to her and she refused to believe us. We pointed out that he’s got a very common name and that, yes, the odds of someone in his former city sharing a similar name were high. She still didn’t believe us. I asked her why she hadn’t just come to me directly instead of playing games and involving other people and she hung up on me.

I’d put my mom on my cellphone plan ages before to help her save money and she didn’t realize that we had detailed billing. I began to notice odd numbers and I just knew she was up to something new. I ran the numbers in my system (I worked for the phone company). She was calling other men who shared DH’s name. I confronted her with all of this and asked why she was behaving so horribly. She explained that I’d acted like her BF wasn’t good enough and she wanted to show me that DH “wasn’t so great either”.

A few weeks passed and she sent a huge floral arrangement to my office for my birthday. She didn’t apologize but she asked to still attend the wedding and said that she would even stand in a corner in the back as long as she could see me get married. We forgave her and told her that she would be welcome. She told us not to bother inviting her BF because we’d insulted him terribly. Ummm OK. We’d go along and focus on having a beautiful day.

A few more weeks passed and my mom began to ask questions about my dad and his wife. Now they have a pretty awful relationship because my mom loves to antagonize my dad’s wife. My dad had made one request: that he and my mom not be forced together at any point and that he be able to keep his distance from her. I completely understood. We agreed that he and his wife and SD would sit in the front row on the “bride’s side” and that my mom would sit in the second row with my aunt. Our venue was tiny – four seats to a row and two rows.

My mom lost her mind when she heard this. Apparently this was HER day and she absolutely needed to sit in HER spot because I am HER daughter. She had been putting in all sorts of efforts to look “hot” and she wanted to be seen. We explained that my dad didn’t want to sit with her and that, since he was walking me in and he’d always been completely supportive of us, he was sitting there. End of discussion. She threatened not to come. OK. And then she relented. I explained to her that my dad would get the “good” seat (her words) at the ceremony and that she’d be sitting at the table closest to the head table at the reception.

A week before, she suddenly decided that her best friend absolutely must be in attendance. Our wedding was small but we could make room for one more. I rushed an invitation to her, changed the seating charts, made another wedding favour, etc. And then she also wanted her friend’s son to attend. Hmmm. This was a guy I’d grown up with and nearly dated. Apparently he still had strong feelings for me. But he wanted to be there so I and made more adjustments. And then found out that neither of them were even in town and would not be able to attend and my mom knew this already.

We got married in a large hotel. Most of our guests opted to stay there and I booked rooms for my parents. I specifically requested that their rooms be kept as far apart as possible. The hotel staff were great and they booked a room for my mom on the top floor and one for my dad and his family on the lowest floor. I didn’t tell my mom about these arrangements and I did tell my dad. He was very grateful.

We had arranged to have a large family dinner at the hotel the night before the wedding. DH’s parents and brother would be there as would my dad, his family, and my mom. Imagine my surprise when we walked in to discover that my mom and dad were sitting together and chatting! My dad’s wife looked upset and my dad looked awkward. Apparently my mom had arrived at the dinner early and had directed people where to sit. My dad and his wife thought that we’d overlooked something. I also discovered that there had been a problem with my mom’s room and she had desperately needed to be moved to another room . . . right beside my dad’s. She acted surprised but, after a few glasses of wine, she told me what she’d demanded from the desk staff. The list of requests she had (lowest floor, no corners, etc) made it nearly impossible to place her anywhere but close to him. Ugh. My dad’s wife was livid.

The day of the wedding, my mom disappeared to have a spa day to herself. OK. She refused to spend any time with me or my ladies while we got ready and opted to be alone.

I’d asked a BM who my mom knew and liked if she would help to keep an eye on my mom at the wedding. I also asked my aunt and uncle to watch out for her. She gave a lovely toast (and gloated that she’d gotten to speak before my dad did) and then proceeded to get absolutely wasted. She spent the evening loudly saying that my dad and his wife needed to get a room when they danced and hitting on our best man in front of his fiancé. Thankfully, they both just thought she was a hilarious, drunk cougar and didn’t take her seriously.

The next morning, she woke us up early to insist that we needed to get our gifts out of her car before she left. She had offered me a set of my grandma’s china and I was thrilled! At one point, she’d asked if I wanted two large pieces of framed art; one from her home and one from my grandma’s. I thanked her and declined because our home was small and they didn’t go with our decor at all. These were never mentioned as potential gifts. But lo and behold! She’d wrapped them and presented them as our wedding gifts! We couldn’t decline gifts, right? I didn’t know that gifting was a method of weeding out unwanted household items that were bought from the Home Shopping Channel a few years earlier; apparently one just calls them heirlooms?

Last year my mom’s antics proved to be too much and we finally needed to sever ties with her when she began drunk dialing me at work. Her response? She began prank calling us. We finally needed to ask for police intervention.

Thank you for letting me vent. 0417-18

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Years ago, my husband and I lived in a different state from his old roommate, “Lorne.” Lorne and his wife, “Karen,” had a toddler son (“Andy”) at this time. We corresponded from time to time via phone and letter (this was in the days before cell phones and the Internet). Of course, sprinkled into our correspondence was the occasional “we really must get together sometime.” We meant it, of course, but we also wanted to plan for it. They had other ideas. We had visited them at their home once, and had discussed inviting them to see us but hadn’t actually done it yet, as we were both working new jobs and had just moved into our apartment and weren’t completely unpacked.

So along comes Memorial Day weekend. We made plans to go out on a neighbor’s boat on Memorial Day; the rest of the weekend was to be pretty much devoted to just sort of hanging out together (we were newlyweds at the time). We didn’t have anything really planned except for the boat trip, but we were also not prepared for Lorne’s phone call on the Thursday before that weekend, announcing that he and Karen and Andy were coming to see us for Memorial Day weekend! We tried to tell them that we weren’t prepared for company, but they actually got offended that we didn’t express delight at their impending visit. So—they came.

First thing that happened was Andy met our cat, “Milly.” Milly had never seen a small child, and Andy had never seen a cat, so for a moment they just stared at one another, and then suddenly Andy started screaming. Milly ran and hid and we didn’t see her for the rest of the weekend. Lorne was angry at us for failing to tell them we had a cat—how dare we let our baby frighten his child!

Because we didn’t have a lot of advance notice of their coming, we hadn’t really planned meals or activities or anything, but we did the best we could. Lorne complained about everything—he didn’t like that we didn’t have a guest room (we lived in a two-bedroom apartment, and one bedroom was basically an office). We didn’t have the kind of soda he liked to drink. On and on. Karen was paranoid about Andy—if he wasn’t directly in her line of sight, she panicked. Of course, Andy being a two-year-old, he was all over the map, and nothing untoward happened to him, but Karen just worried constantly. Oh, and lest I forget, our home was not child-proofed, so we got to hear about that as well.

We went out to dinner the night they arrived. When we entered the restaurant, the hostess smiled at us and said what hostesses have been saying forever: “Four and a half?” (referring to Andy). Karen snapped, “He’s not half a person, he’s a whole person! I hate when people do that!” The hostess, embarrassed, apologized and led us to a table. Karen felt the need to continue her rant about “half.” I get it, but seriously!

Karen and I did a little grocery shopping together the next day while the guys hung out and caught up. Naturally, Andy went with us, which was an experience for me as I didn’t have kids yet. I was not prepared for having to corral a toddler in the supermarket, but Karen refused to put him in the cart (“they’re dirty”) and she wouldn’t carry him because he was too big. I’m thinking she probably could have held his hand, but what did I know?

Anyway, we made the best of the weekend, and actually had a good time because we do like Lorne and Karen; we just weren’t prepared for a drop-in visit. We played some games and spent some time at the pool, etc. On Sunday, I suggested that we get some burgers and hot dogs, and go to the lake and cook out. That’s when it all went south. Lorne’s response to my suggestion? “Hot dogs. You guys got steak.”

True. When we went to visit them, at their invitation, we did eat steak that Lorne cooked on the grill. So what? How is that relevant? So I said to him, “First of all, we can’t afford steak. I’m sorry, but we can’t. Second of all, we were invited to your house. You guys just called and announced that you were coming. So, no, we don’t have steak. If you don’t want to eat burgers and dogs, just say so and we’ll find something else to do.” Or words to that effect. That irritated him, but we went ahead with the picnic and had a good time.

They left early on Monday morning, and we were still able to go to the lake with our friends. We still exchange Christmas cards with Lorne and Karen, but we haven’t actually laid eyes on them in ages. And have I mentioned that not once did they thank us for having them? Maybe that was because of my own rudeness about the steak, but who does stuff like this??? 0108-14

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Cringe-Worthy Graduation Greediness

About 20 years ago, my husband, kids and I were also invited to a high school graduation party because the graduate and one of my kids, my daughter who was also graduating from the same high school, were close friends, and we parents were long-time friends as well. Like the other submission, the graduate’s extended family was all invited and most of them came – they were a big, noisy, gift-giving, partying family – and my husband, kids and I were the only non-family members. The party was laid back, and we were having a good time.

The problem came after the food was served and the party nearly over. The honoree began to open the stacks of cards on the table; almost everyone had put cash or a check in a card instead of bringing a gift, and we had done the same. With a child about to start college, and more kids at home to pay for on our modest income, we had put $25 in the card – remember, this is two decades ago, so $25 was not a bad gift for a non-family member. This girl, old enough to know better, loudly announced the amount of cash or check in each and every card. “One hundred bucks, thanks Uncle X! Seventy-five from cousin B, woo-hoo! Wow, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY, thanks, granny!”

We were cringing. Our card was near the bottom, and we had to sit there and listen as amounts all much higher than what we gave were shouted out and sometimes, see the check or cash waved in the air in triumph. I looked at her parents; instead of discouraging her, they were egging her on, exclaiming, “Wow! Hey, that’s really a good gift! Thanks mom/uncle E/cousin D!” Second, third and step cousins gave a minimum of $75 each, and I knew these people; none were wealthy. Of course, that was their choice to give the amounts they did and none of my business to know how much they gave, or so I had always believed. However, did none of them realize that you don’t announce amounts? They all oohed and ahhed with each announcement, so it wasn’t bothering them, it seemed. When it came to our card, she was polite enough to say, “Twenty-five, thanks guys.”, but we were still glad when it was time to leave. We’d never seen our friends do that sort of thing before, but other parties we’d attended for their kids had been when the kids were young and it was all gifts they opened, not cash. When their other kids graduated high school, we always found a reason to leave just as the gift opening started at the end of the party. 0525-17

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PSA – May Is Melanoma Awareness Month

Etiquettehell.com LLC has, for years, been very supportive of various health awareness issues and charities.    Very often the issues we support have a personal connection to me or someone within my family or circle of friends. I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in September 2009 resulting in surgery for wide local excision of the melanoma and sentinel lymph node biopsy. Happily my melanoma was caught early enough that it had not spread. Since then PSAs on the Ehell forum has saved lives as people have discovered their own nascent melanomas. Early detection saves lives.

Be aware of your skin and if there is any doubt about an odd mole or coloration, have a doctor check it.   Much heartache can be avoided if skin cancer is caught early.

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