Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shades of Gray

Sometimes I wish I saw the world in black and white. Like George W. Despite the fact that he is the leader* of the free world, life is so much simpler for him. There is right and there is wrong. There is very little else. With the world being black and white you know exactly which side you are on and how to react. You know who your enemies are and who your friends are (or at least you think you know) and there are clear and defined loyalties. But the world is not black and white. And my life is certainly not black and white. It's a whole heck of a lot of shades of gray and those varied hues make my life difficult.

The current gray issue is my niece's birthday party. Most of my family will be there - including both sets of parents who at least get along at a distance. It's tradition to get together at my sister's for frivolity, food, and drink (lots of drink). My niece does not yet know that birthday parties usually include people of the birthday celebrants own age so she thinks it's great to have 20 somewhat drunk adults hanging out at her house. My sister also throws other parties throughout the year that my siblings and I are invited to. It's the way we bond.

Friendster Guy is an only child and does not have this sort of relationship with his relatives (I would guess few people do). He's never been to one of these parties and we had intelligently determined that he wasn't quite ready for the Disney World trip because that's a little too much togetherness. At the same time I really want him to get to know my family. After all, when you think about it, he's sorta my family now too. These sort of gatherings are how the bonding happens. Especially since we're not spending Thanksgiving or Christmas together because he is working. Unfortunately, he is also working the night of this birthday party. But we'll get to that in a moment.

Adding a level of grayness is the fact that my X was invited to the party. If the world were black and white I would tell my sister not to invite him. It's my family after all. However, my X is good friends with my family and has known and loved our niece since before she was born so I can't exactly cut him off. I am a nice person after all (damn it!). The real kicker is that not only is X going but so is X's new girlfriend (X's NGF). She must really be smitten by my X because I can't imagine that "Please come to a birthday party with my ex-wife's family" was high on her list of favorite invitations.

My fear is that my family will come to know X's NGF more than they will know Friendster Guy. I really don't want to be a pain in the ass and beg FG to go or be a bitch and tell my sister to uninvite X's NGF. If the world were black and white, things would be so much easier.

FG is trying to get the time off somehow and I really appreciate that. But we did have a moment last night where I felt bad for even asking. Group events aren't exactly his cup of tea and neither is using vacation time. I don't want him to go if he doesn't want to. But the only way to get used to being there is to go. Of course it's going to be uncomfortable if he doesn't really know my family, but that's why I want him to get to know them. In all honesty, my X used to complain about it too, and now look, I can't fucking get rid of him.

I don't want FG to go because X's NGF will be there. I want him to go because it's a way to get to know my family and my family to get to know him. So far all they know is that "he seems nice but is very quiet," which is true but was also true of all my siblings' significant others until they started getting to know each other. Hell, it took me three plus years to hold a conversation with my brother-in-law. And I still haven't really talked with my step brother's wife and she was at Disney World with us.

Friendster Guy is a little more black and white than I am and he pretty much thinks that I should tell my family that we're not going and that X and X's NGF can represent us at the gathering. It puts me in an awkward position because on the one hand he's right, it is pretty shitty to have to share my family with my X and especially X's NGF, but with the grayness it's not so simple and it stresses me out. My loyalties are being stretched. In fairness, FG is trying really hard to get the time off but at the same time he doesn't exactly seem too happy about it and I feel bad about making him do something he doesn't want to do. I love FG. I love my family. I feel a little trapped in the middle right now trying to make everyone happy while also making sure I'm happy.

I'm sure it will all work itself out, even if I have to go alone. I'm not dreading the event itself although I'm fairly certain FG is. If nothing else I will be happy to see my niece and share in her day. Unless she decides to bond with X's NGF and then all bets are off. I'm gonna have to open up a can of whoop ass. Or at least I'll want to.

I'm too freaking nice.

* or at least figurehead/puppet

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