The Year of the Superfluous Guest by Deb Tish

Last year was officially the year of the superfluous guest. What does this mean? If someone is throwing a wedding, bar mitzvah, christening or anniversary party of any kind, and they’ve never met my husband or me, we’ll get an invitation.

The sad part is that the band, go-go dancers, appetizers, flowers and truckloads of money spent…it’s all lost on me. I’d rather be sitting on the couch swiping crumbs between the cushions.

At one recent wedding my husband said we “had to attend,” we seriously felt like crashers. Four hundred people and we knew the stepbrother of the groom. We were seated behind a pillar with the hosts’ ex-maid. Not their current maid. She had a better table.

Here’s how it usually comes about…

My husband picks up the mail and dumps it in a heap onto the kitchen counter. Yet again, a square envelope with smirking script lies atop the pile.

“Ah.” Every time, he opens it with a smile. He won’t realize we don’t want to go until the week before the event. Then he’ll really realize it when we have to write yet another check without knowning how to spell the recipients’ names. “We’re invited to Jordan and Sabina’s wedding.”


“You know my drycleaner/client/bank manager/childhood chum? It’s his brother’s lawyer’s nephew. Jordan.”

“Forget it. I don’t want to go.” It’s early in the conversation, but I probably have tears in my eyes here.

“We have to,” Steve will say. “My drycleaner/client/bank manager/childhood chum is very sensitive. He’ll be destroyed/crushed/offended if we don’t go.”

“Has your drycleaner/client/bank manager/childhood chum ever met Jordan?”

“Probably not. But only because Jordan was raised in Nebraska. Only moved here recently.”

“Just say we have a prior engagement. It’s perfectly reasonable to have a prior engagement.” Especially when people dole out invitations like they’re going to get a big whopping gift out of it. Wait. They are going to get a big whopping gift out of it.

“No. This one we have to attend. I’ll tell you what. Go this one time and you can have the week off.”

“From what?” I think I know, but want to be sure.

“You know.”

“Gimme two weeks and we’ll talk.”

Fast forward to the joyous reception. Not knowing a soul, my husband and I will stand in the lobby, clutching drinks.

“This is fun,” I’ll say with a hopeful smile.


“What table are we?”

“Uhh…” A momentary diversion while he pulls the place card from his pocket and squints. This will be the only moment we don’t look like losers. (It’s possible we’ll repeat this move several minutes later. Just for show.) “Table five.”

“Table five? Usually we’re table eleven.”

“Well, this time we’re table five.”

“Hm. Go figure.”


You all know what will follow.

Hours of excrutiating speeches.

Probably a spill on my dress.

A video guy forcing us to say something cute to Jordan and…Serena?

A pretend conversation with the stranger seated beside you–every word of which you cannot hear because you’re seated beside the band’s speakers.

And finally, finally, a fake phone call from the kids to validate your sneaking out before eleven and me trying to convince Steve that next time we’ll have a prior engagement. He might even agree…until the next square envelope arrives.

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5 Replies to “The Year of the Superfluous Guest by Deb Tish”

  1. Thats so funny! My husband and I are the same way only reversed. I’m the one asking him to go and he’s the one begging for us to stay home. I’m always worried I will hurt someone’s feelings by not going but in truth several time I don’t even think they knew we were there.

  2. “Two weeks off!” Ha! Nothing like a little negotiation …

    I am like you – I prefer not to go. My husband wants to go, usually for the free food and a chance to dress up. He doesn’t get that THAT’s what stresses me out (“I have nothing to wear!”). Plus then we have to find a babysitter and right now the handful of babysitters on the island have cornered the market, so our “free food” usually ends up being somewhere around $60. $60 for a night out with strangers and small talk (or more, if I have to find a damn dress).

    I like Patricia’s excuses – Pat, can you come up with a couple for me? I’d use yours but I don’t have a boat!

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