A Mean Trick

Dear Madame Olivia:

I have been seeing a really nice guy who I understood from the get-go came from Money.  It never seemed to get in the way, especially as I do have my own career and resources, and quite frankly I have enjoyed going to nice restaurants and plays with him and in fact we seem to be getting more and more serious.   I even took him home to meet my parents.  Well, a sister of his was getting married and he invited me.  He told me that it was to be at a farm, and that dress was to be casual.  I took him at his word and wore a sundress and sandals, nice but definitely casual.  On the morning of the wedding, he showed up at my door in jeans and a nice shirt so I thought all was well.  As we got nearer to the farm, he stopped for gas, went into the men’s room with his messenger bag, and came out dressed in a very fancy suit and tie!  I was shocked.  I felt not only underdressed but like we didn’t go together.  When we got to the thing, people were dressed as if at the Kentucky Derby, silk suits and big hats and Christian Leboutin heels.  I felt like the chambermaid.  I put on a good face but I was furious with him and have pulled the emergency brake on our relationship.  Am I wrong?  He thinks I am overreacting.

Humiliated in Hartford

Dear Humiliated:

First of all, as Madame Olivia has said repeatedly, she does not permit the word “overreacting” to be used by women in her presence.  This is an ancient patriarchal term that denotes lack of understanding of the basic lexicon of authentic feelings.

Secondly, though Madame Olivia would like to put a good spin on your boyfriend’s actions and chalk them up to innocence as to fancy dress, since you say he “comes from Money,” he knew perfectly well what the dress code would be, “farm” or no farm.  It really does feel like sartorial sabotage, and moreover a really mean thing to do.  If this is the SINGLE example of passive aggression, or more correctly hostility, on his part, then you might consider giving him a second chance, though even there you’d have to think carefully.  If, however, this is one of a number of weirdnesses related to social convention (does he condescend when you choose a lesser wine? etc), then you would be in for a very bumpy ride indeed, and pulling the plug is correct.

Perhaps you were more seduced by the wealth than you thought.  In that case, how wonderful that you woke up before you married the Prince.  All best wishes to you, chérie.  Madame Olivia can see that you have a good head on your shoulders and knows that you will make the right decision.

Madame Olivia

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