DEAR CAROLYN: Help! My son and his lifelong friend have had a falling-out. My son was invited to be the best man at his friend's wedding, and started planning and securing clothing. The bride-to-be disapproved of my son for this role, so the invitation was withdrawn and the role of groomsman was offered instead. My son declined, said it's best just to come to the wedding but not be in the wedding party. Bride-to-be said he was no longer invited to the wedding. This friend was like an extra son to me — I cooked him more meals than I can count, took him on many trips with our family, coached his sports teams for years. Now it seems I'm invited to the wedding but my son is not. I have no idea what to do beyond urging my son to talk with his friend and get past this. Any wiser advice??
PARENT: I can't promise it's wiser, but it is from arm's length:
Your "extra son" is about to marry a controlling, abusive woman.
All the hallmarks are there. I am really sorry about this. There is so little either of you can do if the groom isn't ready to face it.
And it's going to be tough when he is ready. You just got a glimpse of how controlling the fiancee can be — vetoing his best man? — and how punitive when anyone presumes to push back. Imagine the fury and emotional hostage-taking he's in store for if he calls the whole thing off?
If you have a realistic opportunity to talk to him, then ask simply and calmly: "Are you OK? [Son] filled me in, and this doesn't sound like you." Give ample room — many beats of silence — for him to respond. If he demurs, then say he can talk to you any time. Any. Day or night.
Make no mention of the fiancee or your suspicions. Just talk to him as the "extra son" you still believe in.
If your son is the better one to talk to him, then I recommend that same, "You OK?" approach: Think friend-nurture, not self-defense.
I hope you all stay in touch in case he needs you, and that he wakes up soon to the screaming in his own head.
RE: WEDDING-ZILLAS: Could the son be the real diva here? There could be a good reason they rescinded the offer to him — maybe it was already offered to the bride's brother, say. Kinda lame, but maybe not unreasonable.
ANON 1: Nope, totally unreasonable. Because: Would you even consider disinviting a "best friend," even for having a "diva" moment?
And it sure sounds as if the son acted on principle, not tantrum.
We're speculating regardless, but the facts point to her as abusive.
RE: BRIDE: She's starting the great work of all abusers: estranging people from each other.
ANON 2: Like I said, all the hallmarks.
RE: BRIDEZILLA: This is a scary situation. The son may not be the only person demoted and disinvited. If this happened to my son, I think I'd send a nice card and check and my regrets.
ANON 3: Sounds right, thanks.
RE: BRIDE: I'd send the bride and groom a copy of "The Gift of Fear."
ANON 4: Just the groom. Thanks.