Ask Amy: The better man is upstaged by the best man

Dear Amy: I’m a 28-year-old man. My best friend from childhood, “Kenneth,” recently got engaged.

I couldn’t be happier for him.

Kenneth has decided that I won’t be his best man in the wedding. His future bride’s brother, “Bart,” will be.

When he told me about this, I was a little hurt; although I quickly got over myself. I know that his wedding is not about me.

Then, a few weeks later, Kenneth and I went out to dinner.

We all laughed and joked and had a wonderful time, until Kenneth made a joke about me being the “best man” but Bart the “better man” (because he had chosen him over me).

I laughed a little to play along, but honestly this hurt me deeply.

Kenneth and I have talked many times about what a jerk Bart is.

He’s rude, ungrateful, spoiled and entitled. He is also a womanizer.

I tried to forget about this silly remark, but it has now been repeated several times, not just by Kenneth, but by other members of the bridal party.

Even though it’s always said with a laugh and meant as a harmless joke, it bothers me more and more.

I just chuckle along because I know this wedding isn’t about me and I don’t want to cause any sort of drama.

The wedding is still several months away, but I don’t know if I can take hearing this “joke” anymore. Am I overreacting?

Or should I privately mention this to Kenneth?

I know he didn’t mean to hurt me, but I’m not even quite sure why he made the joke in the first place.

Do you think this is something worth discussing with him, and if so, how should I approach it without causing any drama?

Or, again, am I just overreacting?

— Bothered in the Bridal Party

Dear Bothered: There is no need for you to continue to second-guess your own reaction to this comment. It was fairly tasteless and unkind the first time you heard it, and it is not improving with repetition.

My instinct is that “Kenneth” is trying to paper over the fact that he passed you over for the honor of being his best man, while still acknowledging that he did so — “owning” it with an unfunny pun.

I assume that as time goes by, you might actually be relieved not to be hosting this friend’s bachelor party. (Talk about dodging a mojito!)

I suggest that you confront this by playing “dumb.” You could say to Kenneth: “This best man/better man thing. I don’t get it. What’s that about? I mean — are you trying to tell me something?”

And then — you wait. He will sputter and guffaw. When he’s done, you can say, “Well, it’s not really funny, it embarrasses me, I don’t like it, and I wish you would stop.”

Dear Amy: My husband and I married on Christmas Day. He died on a Memorial Day weekend eight years later.

Despite the passage of time, this remains a difficult season.

What makes it extremely hard is the forced cheerfulness of the season.

While I try to smile and respond in kind, it’s exhausting.

Being chided by strangers for not exhibiting the proper holiday spirit is frustrating. Demoralizing. Depressing.

I don’t want the charity of strangers or to try to graft myself onto someone else’s family gathering; I find serenity in being alone. I just wish I could get others to stop forcing their interpretation of Christmas down my throat.

All I want for Christmas this year is for others to remember that this is a difficult time for so many people in this country, from the working poor to the homeless who will crowd into shelters and soup kitchens.

So please don’t insist others join in your celebration, and please don’t label that woman in the checkout lane a “Scrooge” for not being “full of good cheer;” you have no clue what struggles she may be going through.

— Still Grieving in Jacksonville, Florida

Dear Grieving: Letting people “be” is a gift we can all give one another.

Dear Amy: I was interested in the question from “Estranged Sibling,” wondering about sending a braggy Christmas letter to an estranged brother. Thank you for encouraging this person — and others — to lay off the boasting.

— A Fan

Dear Fan: I enjoy simple factual accounts of where and how people are. I especially love photos of kids, elders, and pets.

Privileged people get to live in their privilege every day. That should suffice.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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