DEAR AMY: Recently I was alarmed to see on Facebook that a few friends had attended a huge gathering where people were not following COVID safety guidelines. I have been meeting with friends (only outside) this summer, but as the weather cools, I am wondering if it will be safe to have a few people over for, say, a game night. Is there any polite way to ask potential invitees if they have been in any large, unmasked groups recently? Or should I just give up on a social life until a vaccine is available?
Careful in Colorado
DEAR CAREFUL: It is wisest to stay up to date regarding CDC and your state and local guidelines, which frequently change.
Your question, however, is about how to ask people a very simple, common sense, and straightforward question: "Have you been to any gatherings where you or others did NOT follow COVID safety guidelines and where you might possibly have been exposed to the virus?"
Given that people — even people you are close to — might qualify lying about this as a "social" or "little white lie," and given the quite irrational but human tendency to bend or dismiss the truth to avoid embarrassment, I don't think you can rationally expect a truthful answer to this question from someone who violated guidelines, medical recommendations, and plain old common sense.
In short, the person foolish enough to attend such an event and not voluntarily quarantine and be tested afterward — well, that person is also more likely to lie about it later.
In my opinion, it is NOT wise to host an inside in-person game night or other gathering until you have the "all clear." Parlor games, especially, usually involve sitting close together, touching and sharing cards or game pieces, and excited exclamations.
We who live with long winters naturally pine for ways to socialize through the chill, but our patience will be rewarded if we continue to do everything possible to stop the spread of this pandemic.
I urge you to look into playing games online with these friends. Classics like Monopoly, Risk, and Clue are all available to play online — and word games such as Scrabble and Words with Friends are fun to play virtually. Trivia games might be the best bet — and they translate well into the Zoom-age.
DEAR AMY: My fiance wants to invite "James," his old college buddy, to our wedding. James and I had a silly drunken fling prior to my relationship with my fiance (he knows about this and we have come to terms with it). Still, I regret my fling with James. What's more, I think he is a mean-spirited meddler. Years ago, he referred to me as "sloppy seconds" to my fiance. Is it unreasonable for me to say that he can't come to the wedding? I don't want to act like a Bridezilla.
DEAR HOPEFUL: You and your fiance each have the right to invite people from your individual list to your wedding. As obnoxious as "James" might be, my own perspective is that you simply not liking someone on your fiance's list does not justify eliminating him altogether. However, that "sloppy seconds" comment does put James in the invitation "red zone."
You and your fiance should talk about this. Why does he want to include James? Why don't you? Would James' presence at your wedding and reception ruin it for you? Would his absence at the wedding ruin it in some way for your fiance?
Having a point of view about who attends your wedding does not make you a "Bridezilla." (Let's reserve that term for brides who throw tantrums over trivial matters.)
If you sincerely conclude that you must eliminate James from your fiance's list, perhaps there is someone on your list that your fiance would also like to veto.
DEAR AMY: Thank you so much for publishing the question from "Starving and Fat." I've been struggling with my own eating disorder lately. When you said that the stress of the pandemic and the social isolation and job challenges has caused dormant issues to resurface, I decided to make an appointment with my therapist.
DEAR STRUGGLING: Recovery is an everyday triumph. Recovery from an eating disorder is especially challenging because it is impossible to eliminate and avoid the source of your biggest challenge, which is food. Relapse may always be just around the corner, but so is recovery. "Starving and Fat's" brave choice to reveal this has inspired a lot of people (like you) to seek help.