Author Topic: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."  (Read 11282 times)

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circlekiller

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How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« on: December 11, 2013, 09:31:03 AM »
I'm in a sticky situation and not sure how I should have responded.  I work in the legal field and our holiday party is approaching.  The event is on the same night as my brother's holiday party.  My brother works in a blue-collar, predominately male industry and as such, they are holding their party at a "guys" place.  My party, otoh, will be held at one of the area's most elite country clubs and dress is black-tie.   I was talking to my brother and I mentioned I was going solo this year as my +1 is hosting a charity event the same night.  My plan was to just put in an appearance at my work event, then head over to his event.

My brother came up with this "brilliant" idea that he would go to his event with his bff, since it would be more fun to go to this type of place with another guy. He wanted me to take my SIL to my event (my guess is so he wouldn't feel guilty about taking his friend instead of her) and had told her about it before asking me.  So he came by last night and told me this.  He put me in a bad spot and I'm not sure my response was the best.

A little background, I'm frankly embarrassed to be seen out in public with my SIL.  She's a good person, but she dresses horribly.  Like so bad, men have come up to her and propositioned her thinking she had 'services' for sale.  This happened in Wally World (that she told me about indignantly) and another time in Target (that I witnessed).  Even when she's not letting it all out, she'll wear jeans with holes in butt area (no underwear), torn shirts, she always looks sloppy and trashy.  It's the same with her hair and makeup.  Her hair is always a mess and she cakes on the makeup, complete with either bright red or super dark (sometimes black) lipstick.  Over the years, I've tried as tactfully as possible (as has my mom) to subtly show her different styles.  Several times we've gone to MAC and had our makeup professionally, or when we are shopping, tried to encourage her to try different (more age-appropriate) clothes on, etc.  My brother has, on several occasions, just pitched some of the worst articles of clothing.  In fact, one time I was over there and she came out in said butt jeans and he just went over, grabbed one of the holes and finished ripping out the butt so they could no longer be worn.  I've known SIL for about 15 years, and have since accepted that's just how she wants to look.  Not my spouse, so not my problem.

However, there is no way in Hades I would ever take her to a black-tie event, especially with work colleagues.  Not to mention, my SIL has had a drinking problem in the past and both the work event and charity event have open bars.  So when my brother brought up that he had invited SIL on my behalf, I hemmed and hawed that it probably wasn't the best idea considering her struggles with alcohol in the (recent) past.  He then tried to argue with me that she's "been good lately" and I should give her another chance.  He just wouldn't let up, even though I tried to make a point that just because she was doing good, didn't mean she should be put in a situation like that.  He kept arguing and finally I said I didn't want to hurt either his or her feelings, but I was concerned she didn't have anything appropriate to wear.  He got huffy and said something like, "fine, don't take her then" and left.  I felt really bad and sent him a text that I really didn't want to hurt either him or her and to please just tell her I had already asked someone else.  Had I not been taken by surprise, I would have just said that from the start but he caught me off-guard.

I feel bad and my brother is now being cool towards me.  Is there a better way to have handled? I know this will come up again and next time I want to be prepared.  Thanks e-hellions. 

Betelnut

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 09:34:19 AM »
I would blame your work and say that it is a professional event (which it is).  No one but spouses or SO are invited.
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cwm

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2013, 09:39:36 AM »
I would blame your work and say that it is a professional event (which it is).  No one but spouses or SO are invited.

Or you could go with "Sorry, that won't be possible. I've made alternate plans." He doesn't have to know that your alternate plans are to go alone.

The problem was that you weren't firm upfront. You didn't start with a No, you started with a But. Basically, your initial argument was "I'd take her, but..." giving him room to counter everything you said. And the more reasons you bring up, the more he can defend her and get it into his head that you would take her if all these conditions were met.

Have fun at your holiday party, if nothing else!

SCMagnolia

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 09:44:32 AM »
Can you say something along the lines of "oh, I appreciate your suggestion, but I'm afraid she really wouldn't have a good time.  There's always a lot of shop talk and I'm sure she'd find that heart-stoppingly boring."

Or tell him that you're going to go to your party just to make an appearance, because after all, it IS for work and you gotta do what you gotta do, but that you were planning to skip out early and meet up with friends/go home and clean the litter box/spend the rest of the night contemplating navel lint, etc etc.... 

I think it was rather ballsy of him to suggest she go with you to what is likely a very conservative event, especially given the fact that he KNOWS how she will likely present herself.  And I have a feeling that is precisely the reason he is trying to pawn her off on you and not take her to HIS Christmas party.  I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that going to a "guys" place with his BFF would be more fun.  I think it has a whole lot to do with the fact that he knows how his co-workers will react to her being trampily dressed. 

Which makes me wonder why he thinks YOUR co-workers would be a more fitting crowd....   

Say no.  Stick to your guns and your original plan and DO NOT feel guilty.  This is a work party and there are some things you just CAN NOT do unless you're in business to commit career suicide.

SamiHami

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 09:47:37 AM »
Pretty nervy of your brother to just assume he can decide who you are going to take without even asking you first. This would have been a great opportunity to use "Sorry, but that just won't be possible," and possibly a reminder that he doesn't get to decide things like that for other people. He can ask, but he cannot demand.

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NyaChan

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 09:48:29 AM »
Yeah, telling him that it was about her drinking, well no its about her clothes and so on was probably not a good idea.  You had a much better reason that was more polite to use - this is a work event and very formal and the plus one was meant for introduce a spouse or significant other to the firm, not to just bring a companion.  You could have even gone as simple as, "Oh no, that would come off as weird at my office to bring a relative." or  "The plus ones are supposed to be for spouses or long-term partners."

Since you've already had the conversation and revealed close to the real reason, I don't know what you can do except to either wait for your brother to thaw or to apologize and say you didn't mean to offend.  Then you can explain the more polite reason why you can't take her.

YummyMummy66

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 10:02:07 AM »
At this point, there is not much you can do.  You have apologized.  I would not do so again.

This is your work Christma party.  It is a black tie event. 

You know how she dresses and how she drinks. 

This is a disaster in the making.

The only reason your brother is upset is because he now has to back out of the invitation that he made to his wife on your behalf because he did not want to take his wife to his Christmas party, but rather his best friend. 

Hmmm...I have to wonder why he would rather take his best friend than his wife to his work party?   Could it be for the same reasons that you have?   I am thinking so.


z_squared82

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 10:08:23 AM »
Should it happen again, I also say blame work. My friend usually takes one of us friends to her company Christmas party. My friends have no taken to looking at me like I should take one of them to my company Christmas party (since Iím now single). I flat out told them it would be inappropriate for me to bring anyone other than a significant other. We have such a small firm, it would just be awkward to be the only single person who brought a friend (the only other two single people never bring anyone). So Iíll be going stag.

circlekiller

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 10:30:59 AM »
Thanks ladies, I don't want to lie about not being able to bring another person other than a significant other but I do like the "I've made other plans" line.  It just caught me completely off-guard.  Yes, there have been incidents with her behavior at his events in the past.  She's is touchy-feely when she's been drinking which has lead to multiple arguments with them in the past.  I remember one night she showed up at my house when I had three other friends over.  They had gotten in a fight because she had been drinking and was trying to give one of my brother's friend a back massage.  Said friend asked her to stop because it was making him uncomfortable.  She didn't and friend ended up leaving (and telling my brother why) which led to said fight.  So she's shows up because she wanted to blow off steam I guess and I'm the closest option (only person she knows that lives in walking distance).  She's relaying this story, slurry drunk, and demonstrating on one of my friends and my friend turns around and says she finds that inappropriate as well.  When the other two people agreed with her, and I said something to the affect that they've had the same argument before so maybe she should keep her hands to her herself, she flounced out of my house.

Another time I was going out to a nightclub event that she really wanted to go to as well.  Very reluctantly I allowed her to come with me.  She proceeded to get ridiculously annihilated and spent the majority of the evening at the bar talking to an ex-boyfriend.  After about two hours of this, I said it was time to go.  Then she doesn't understand why I don't want to take her with me anywhere, and I don't want to say anything to my brother because I certainly do not want to be in the middle of their relationship.  I try to keep my distance as much as possible from the entire situation.  My brother has tried to run the guilt trip of how she doesn't have a lot of friends and she's stuck at home all the time (she doesn't work), but I'm beyond caring.  As to the no friends situation, when he brings that up, lately I've just been honest and said I can understand why.  My spine has gotten stronger so the "but she's family" doesn't work on me anymore.  I'm sick of that entire situation.

YummyMummy66

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 10:52:37 AM »
I was thinking while in the shower, (do some of my best thinking that way, lol) and I think your brother found the perfect excuse not to take her to his Christmas party by inviting her to yours.

Because it does not matter whether you are blue collar or white collar, her state of dress, her makeup you describe and over abundance of drinking, etc., any work related party would like at her in the same way. 

And your brother has to wonder why she has no friends?   Does she wonder about this or even care? 

I could get past the dress to a point, (if her butt cheeks were showing thru jeans at my house, she would be asked to leave and come back with appropriate clothing), and the makeup.  But, the way her drinking gets out of hand and the way she behaves is not acceptable.  And it seems that she does not get that by when coming to your home, she did not hear what she wanted to hear, that she was right and her husand and friend were wrong. 

It is not up to you to address these problems with your SIL, nor is it up to you to help her get friends.  That is for her husband to talk over with her. 

yokozbornak

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 11:02:18 AM »
It sounds like your brother is trying to pawn his problem off on you, and he's mad it didn't work.  He will get over it or die mad.  I am sure he's worried that she's going to get drunk and hit on his co-workers so this was his attempt to pre-empt the situation. I would tell him to deal with his own marital problems and leave you out of it.  He told his wife about your party first because he figured he had backed you into a corner and you wouldn't say no.  Don't feel guilty about hurting his feelings.  He was trying to manipulate the situation and it backfired on him.

MurPl1

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 11:03:00 AM »
I'm actually wondering why your description of your brother being blue collar and your assumption that a male-dominated business would have their event at a "guys" place.  Honestly, that has no bearing on your question and is actually very condescending.

My husband has been in construction for 30+ years and never has the holiday party been anywhere but a banquet hall or hotel.  Now that we own a construction business, much smaller, the parties have been held at a steak house.  (white table cloth NOT peanut shells on the floor).

I handled the holiday parties for a manufacturing company of 125 people, all but 15 were men.  Again, held at banquet halls and hotels.

And I cannot figure out for the life of me what a "guys" place is.  That says strip club to me.  If it's not, then what on earth could it possibly be?

Honestly, I have to suspect your tone in telling your brother may have come off as judgmental of him as well as his wife.

yokozbornak

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 11:10:21 AM »
I'm actually wondering why your description of your brother being blue collar and your assumption that a male-dominated business would have their event at a "guys" place.  Honestly, that has no bearing on your question and is actually very condescending.

My husband has been in construction for 30+ years and never has the holiday party been anywhere but a banquet hall or hotel.  Now that we own a construction business, much smaller, the parties have been held at a steak house.  (white table cloth NOT peanut shells on the floor).

I handled the holiday parties for a manufacturing company of 125 people, all but 15 were men.  Again, held at banquet halls and hotels.

And I cannot figure out for the life of me what a "guys" place is.  That says strip club to me.  If it's not, then what on earth could it possibly be?

Honestly, I have to suspect your tone in telling your brother may have come off as judgmental of him as well as his wife.

I don't thinks he is making an assumption about it being held at a "guy's place" because he is in a male dominated industry since she seems to know where it's actually being held.  I was imagining a place like Dave & Buster's or even a sports bar.  They don't cater exclusively me to men, but I know a lot of guys who go there to hang out with their buddies while my female friends and I wouldn't really consider going there for a night out.

Zizi-K

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2013, 11:18:35 AM »
I'm surprised you even treated his suggestion seriously. It's a work party for goodness' sake and it would be weird to take anyone but an SO. I would have treated it like a joke. You allowed your brothers guilt trip to work. Shake it off and firmly put the kibosh on his ridiculous suggestion.

Kaypeep

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Re: How to say, "You can't come because of how you look."
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2013, 11:20:19 AM »
"I feel bad and my brother is now being cool towards me.  Is there a better way to have handled? I know this will come up again and next time I want to be prepared.  Thanks e-hellions. "

The best way to handle any unexpected request is to say "I'm not sure.  Let me check and get back to you."  This buys you time to prepare the best and most appropriate answer.  So practice saying that, and you'll be more prepared for next time.

As for your brother, if he brings up this issue and tries to make you feel badly, I would say something along the lines of "I find it ironic that you're trying to make me feel badly for not bringing your wife to MY holiday party, one which she wasn't invited to in the first place, whereas you seem to have no problem not bringing her to your own holiday party, which she WAS invited to.  I think the egg on the face here is yours, brother, and not mine."