Women seek way to ex­clude obese friend

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360BETS - cAroLYN hAX Tell Me About It is writ­ten by Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post. Her col­umn ap­pears on Tues­day, Thurs­day and Satur­day. E-mail her at tellme@ wash­post.com.

Dear Carolyn: My wife and five of her fe­male high-school friends (from sev­eral decades ago) have, in re­cent years, held a re­union, ro­tat­ing among the ladies’ homes around the coun­try. One of the friends, “Angie,” is dan­ger­ously obese. She has at­tended past re­unions, but has groused, grum­bled and been a se­vere drag on the ac­tiv­i­ties of the oth­ers.

This year, the host­ess has said she will not in­vite Angie. The ladies all ba­si­cally like Angie, but no one is ea­ger to have her be a damper on the get-to­gether. (One or two of them live near Angie and see her once a year or so. My wife keeps in touch with her by phone ev­ery month.) Angie is putting not-so-sub­tle feel­ers out about this year’s re­union, and the hot topic among the oth­ers is how to tell Angie she’s not in­vited.

She will al­most cer­tainly find out, and no one wants to lie to her, least of all my wife. In my opin­ion, the bur­den is on the host­ess.

Any sug­ges­tions for my wife and the oth­ers? They can’t dance around this for­ever.

— Ricky

Dear Ricky: Maybe Angie’s grous­ing put a damper on past re­unions, but I find it hard to be­lieve that a con­spir­acy to com­mit cru­elty will get this year’s fes­tiv­i­ties off to a lively start.

I also find it hard to be­lieve that none of these “ladies” has thought for a moment what it must feel like to be Angie. Imag­ine if your wife, for ex­am­ple, knew that it was re­union-plan­ning time, but wasn’t hear­ing from any of her friends? Imag­ine if her ques­tions about the re­union were point­edly not get­ting an­swered? What if your wife were obese, and there­fore most likely the tar­get of a shame cam­paign ev­ery time she stepped out in the world? What if her safe havens — friends who gen­uinely liked her — sud­denly be­came hos­tile? What if the only rea­son for that were her weight?

Granted, negativity is a buz­zkill from the svel­test of sources, and if these friends just don’t like Angie and her agita road­show any­more, then, sad as the story will be, they’re cer­tainly en­ti­tled to start leav­ing her out — prefer­ably by blow­ing up the an­nual re­union en­tirely, and re­con­sti­tut­ing in some other, less for­mal way af­ter a de­cent amount of time has passed.

But the way you lay it out, these friends don’t dis­like her heart, they merely re­sent that her bulk lim­its her, and con­se­quently their, abil­ity to en­joy many ac­tiv­i­ties.

If true, that ab­so­lutely screams for a more com­pas­sion­ate so­lu­tion.

Cer­tainly the friend clos­est to Angie — your wife, it seems? — can make her­self known to the host­ess as a con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor to the ex­clu­sion in progress.

That friend can also men­tion to Angie that she seems to spend more time com­plain­ing at these re­unions than she does en­joy­ing them, and gen­tly draw her out on ways to se­cure her con­tent­ment. Even if it in­volves ask­ing Angie, in the nicest pos­si­ble way, to put up or shut up, a tweak to the agenda has to be bet­ter than a high-school-style, girl-group slap to the face.

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