How to: Be “And Guest”

Often, we travel out of obligation. Weddings, funerals, family reunions–these are command performances. Sometimes, though, we travel out of other people’s obligation. Your significant other has to go to a christening, or your friend needs someone to lean on while her mom is in the hospital. So you go. I had one of these over the weekend–the dude had a wedding of some old friends to attend up in Rockford–and here I present some tips.

1) Act like you were raised right.

This is the time for all of your pleases and thank yous. This is the time for you to be prompt and be quiet except the places where you’re supposed to laugh or clap and to bow your head during the prayers no matter what you personally might be thinking. This is also the time to wear relatively conservative clothing and stay away from any conversations about politics or religion. Because somebody’s aunt will notice, and it’s not your aunt, which means that you aren’t the one who will get the brunt of her wrath.

2) This isn’t about you, part one.

No, Rockford wasn’t my first choice of vacation destination this weekend. (Although, to be honest, I lucked out–it was a very fun wedding at this cool brewery on the river with good music and good food.) But whether you want to go to this particular place or event is not the issue. If you want to be counted among the good people of the world–and maybe want this person to return the favor to you someday–then you’re going. And you’re not going to complain. You’re going to bring snacks and a playlist for the car ride.

3) This isn’t about you, part two.

You’re there for the other person. Be who and what they need you to be. If the conversation is going to be awkward, be prepared to step in and ask a few of the inoffensive new-person questions like How do you know the happy couple? and Did you have to come far? If it’s going to be a fraught situation, like a funeral, the fact that you may be uncomfortable with the emotions doesn’t matter. You’re there to listen and to hug and to cry with and get tea for and whatever else. Your feelings, however valid they may be and however much the other person may truly care about them, need to take a backseat for the moment. Don’t make snarky comments. Don’t whine. Just show up and be glad that someone thinks enough of you to want you to be the person by their side and try to deserve that as much as possible.