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How Not to Congratulate Your Ex on Her Wedding Day
August 5, 2010 6:26 PM   Subscribe

Hopeless romantic or selfish creep? Andrew Cohen writes an ode to the one who got away on the day she's to be married, and Lizzie Skurnick explains why that's not cool.
posted by ocherdraco (240 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, Andrew, you have made a mistake. You should have trusted your first instinct and sent her that banjo, instead.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:37 PM on August 5, 2010 [89 favorites]


When we met, back in the spring of 2005, I was nearly 40 and had been dating off and on for two years . . . Eleven years younger but already more mature than me . . .

Uh-huh. Lord love a duck, she dodged a bullet there.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:37 PM on August 5, 2010 [22 favorites]


And now this woman knows, once and for all, that she dodged a bullet.
posted by kookaburra at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


doh
posted by kookaburra at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2010


Inevitable XKCD link.
posted by Johnny Assay at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2010 [19 favorites]


Whenever somebody makes what he (or she, but it's usually a he) thinks is a grand romantic gesture, like taking out a full-page ad in the paper to profess their love, proposing on the Jumbo-Tron, apologizing for some transgression via billboard, or otherwise widely publishing some sort of pronouncement like this, I think, "Girl, don't fall for it." I'm cranky and cynical, but I've just come to believe that none of this kind of stuff is ever meant as a sincere expression of love, but rather to get the audience to root for you. You know, like in a chick flick. "Awwwww!" Manipulative and self-absorbed.

Did I mention I'm cranky and cynical?
posted by Gator at 6:45 PM on August 5, 2010 [44 favorites]


Is there really a question here?

Oh, well, I'll answer your assertion with a question mark anyway.

He is neither, or both, or both and neither. He used a happy moment for her to talk about his memories and her good qualities. Yes, he was a part of those memories, but is it possible to remember things we aren't part of?

Did he express regret? yes, but in broad terms? Did he cast blame? I didn't catch that; he wished her well.

So, he should feel guilty because she might have second thoughts? Is that what we're supposed to blame him for? All though Cohen accepts the blame for the break-up, like most of them we can assume that both played some part, and if she has regret on her wedding day, they weren't created by these words. They were there and, at most, the words focused them.

Romantic or not, the words were sweet and heart felt. So, he may be a selfish creep, but in writing this he showed only good feelings for an old friend.

(Now, as to Skurnick? Really. I'd avoid her. Romantically and socially.0
posted by Some1 at 6:46 PM on August 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can you imagine being Andrew's ex-girlfriend woman and reading that schlock? What possible good could it bring to her?

I really, really like Lizzie Skunick's take on it -- that the piece isn't about her, it's about him. So he learned that crazy love is not enough to make a relationship? Good on him. Don't bring her back into the craziness that she managed to escape, especially since she certainly suffered while he learned this lesson. WORST WEDDING GIFT EVER
posted by samthemander at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2010 [14 favorites]


The present I humbly send her today is this column; this public note, this irrevocable display of affection and support and gratitude; this worldly absolution from any guilt or sadness she felt between the time she said no to me and the time she said yes to him. No one ought to have to carry that with them into a marriage.
Wow! Wow. "Hey, I dunno if you are still feeling bad about what you did to me, but if you are, don't worry about it anymore." That doesn't strike me as particularly affectionate, supportive, or grateful. Lizzie Skurnick's response is outstanding and warranted.
posted by bewilderbeast at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2010 [35 favorites]


Someone should set these two up. They'd make a cute* couple.

*For certain values of cute.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, publishing, on her wedding day, a rundown that frames the lady's virtues almost entirely by how well she treated you falls somewhere between inconsiderate and catastrophically narcissistic.
Seriously. His ex's wedding is not about him.
posted by lullaby at 6:48 PM on August 5, 2010 [13 favorites]


So, he should feel guilty because she might have second thoughts? Is that what we're supposed to blame him for?

No -- for using her wedding day as an excuse to draw great big crayon pictures of himself and his feelings all over what's supposed to be a celebration for her. You know the kind of person -- he's got to be the corpse at every wedding and the bride at every funeral. I hope she didn't hear about the article before she came back from her honeymoon, but the internet being what it is, I doubt it.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:50 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


obligatory Onion link
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:52 PM on August 5, 2010


All I could think of after finishing the second article was, What a bitter, bitter bitch. No wonder she's still single after twenty years of dating...

At first I thought this was a clumsy joke, with the pronouns reversed to make fun of Andrew or something. On rereading, sadly not the case.

Seriously. His ex's wedding is not about him.

This. I don't care how awesome he is or how much he misses her or anything else. The one and only correct thing to do on her wedding day is to send your best wishes and maybe a present. It's called being a grown up, and it's about as much fun as paying your taxes, but it's the right thing to do.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I felt very awkward reading his article. It was cringeworthy. It felt like something that a Ricky Gervais character would do. Except that he would probably set it to music and make a video.
posted by ob at 6:54 PM on August 5, 2010 [25 favorites]


We all do stupid, stupid things - poor Andrew Cohen. For all the unwitting (and lengthy) narcissism he just put on display to millions of people all across the planet, he just seems so all at sea about everything. Still, the response article was lighter and gentler and really just much nicer than I expected, or he deserved. So my mind is a little boggled at the people calling Lizzie Skurnick bitter or unpleasant. She's absolutely right.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 6:54 PM on August 5, 2010 [14 favorites]


I say he's grandstanding, and I say the hell with it.
posted by Kinbote at 6:56 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


A kinder colleague than I suggested that his column was the equivalent of Dustin Hoffman, in "The Graduate," running into the church to yell, "Elaine!" I humbly submit that his wedding day appreciation is in fact the equivalent of Andrew Cohen running into the church and yelling, "Andrew!"

Hahahahahahahahaha
posted by anazgnos at 6:56 PM on August 5, 2010 [39 favorites]


“Until almost literally his dying day, my dad would ask me about her. Near the end, almost exactly two years ago, I did not have the heart to tell him that we had broken up.”

Ack.

This is one of those letters that he should have written to make himself feel better, and then burnt immediately. Nobody else needs to read this. Hell, in a month Andrew will probably read the letter that he wrote only a couple weeks ago and cringe because it contains a ridiculous amount of information we don't need to know.

The absolute best thing that could happen is that this letter could pass completely unnoticed. More likely, this will produce unnecessary stress and gossip for the bride ("Hey, did you see that letter that Andrew wrote you? What do you think? What does the groom think?")

And WHY did he make it a column instead of just sending her the letter? Ack, ack, ack. I have written in defense of clueless-but-not-manipulative "nice guys," but Andrew's behavior is irresponsible and probably hurts the woman that he meant to wish well. Skurnick's response is entirely appropriate!
posted by anonymuk at 6:58 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Inevitable XKCD link.

God that guy is a dick.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:05 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


What part of "over" isn't he getting? All of it, I'd say.

As an aside, there is nothing whatever inevitable about an XKCD link. One of the biggest mysteries of the intertubes is why so many people seem to think that drek is funny. Can't draw, and aren't even slightly amusing? Become an internet cartoonist!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:05 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I promise never to mention my exes on the internet.
posted by benzenedream at 7:12 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


All I could think of after finishing the second article was, What a bitter, bitter bitch. No wonder she's still single after twenty years of dating...
Huh, after reading this comment, I read the second article. I was all ready for a psycho bitter bitch-fest, and frankly I was pretty disappointed. Honestly the article comes across as pretty reasonable to me. Her criticisms seemed pretty reasonable to me.
Inevitable XKCD link.
#420? I can't believe he didn't do a weed joke.
posted by delmoi at 7:13 PM on August 5, 2010


Yeah, it might bear pointing out that she doesn't actually use the words "selfish" or "creep" anywhere in the second article.
posted by Gator at 7:14 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Find a better way to say what you've got to say or don't say it here.]
posted by cortex at 7:16 PM on August 5, 2010


Wow, I wrote a heartfelt apology to an old girlfriend a couple years ago just to get it off my chest, but damn -- I had the good sense to not actually send it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:24 PM on August 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


Skurnick's response seemed like a pretty reasonable rap on the knuckles to me. Cohen's piece was in poor taste.

I mean, unless "article by person I broke up with at least two years ago published on my wedding day saying he's still in love with me and thinks of me every day and harbors wistful dreams of our own marriage and having children with me" was actually on the registry. Then I guess it would be OK.
posted by kyrademon at 7:26 PM on August 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Even if I had a wonderful woman to support me and help me grow into an amazingly deep motherfucker I would not be able to finish reading that man's column. And it was a column. Or a shaft. It was that man's shaft. In that man's hand. And that's private stuff.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 7:28 PM on August 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


Dude...can she return that gift somewhere? I think "toaster" would have been fine.
posted by Xoebe at 7:29 PM on August 5, 2010


How is this any different than the intimate privacies that Carrie Bradshaw shares in Sex and the City? (Or, ignoring fiction, that lovesick writers have shared for centuries?) I understand and respect that women get a lot of unwanted attention from men that is disruptive, and this writer's indulgence was selfish and had a couple TMI attempts to trigger guilt.

I think the boundary between just missing tact and being a creep, stalker or emotionally abusive is pretty similar to the hostile workplace idea: A sincere one-off should be acceptable. Anything after "stop" is not and anything that violates privacy or is threatening (like climbing a fire escape) is abusive. To be sure, we don't exactly know if this is a one-off.

As a society, our traditions make room for this kind of behavior, "speak now or forever hold your peace" and not to mention, The Graduate. And there's some recent (pop) psychology that says that "lost loves" have an enormous effect on most peoples' future relationships (http://www.lostlovers.com/). If this is what Cohen had to do to find peace, selfish or not, the positive intent should matter. In any event, he probably burned that bridge good and toasty.
posted by Skwirl at 7:33 PM on August 5, 2010


I promise never to mention my exes on the internet.

Oops. Do-over? Mulligan? Nothing?

Dude...can she return that gift somewhere? I think "toaster" would have been fine.

As someone completing online wedding registries for the first (last!) time, I would happily accept your toaster in exchange for an Andrew Cohen column that is all about me him.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:35 PM on August 5, 2010


This is really just my personal objection but hello -- "She did not give in or sell out or become one of those poor women of a certain age in New York who have put their careers ahead of their lives" -- what was that? In the trade, I believe this is called a neg...

No, it's an insult.
posted by smoothvirus at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is this any different than the intimate privacies that Carrie Bradshaw shares in Sex and the City?

Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional character, and her intimate privacies didn't really happen.
posted by frobozz at 7:42 PM on August 5, 2010 [31 favorites]


I think the boundary between just missing tact and being a creep, stalker or emotionally abusive is pretty similar to the hostile workplace idea: A sincere one-off should be acceptable. Anything after "stop" is not and anything that violates privacy or is threatening (like climbing a fire escape) is abusive.

"Stalker," "abusive," "violates privacy," and "threat" are also words that don't appear anywhere in the article. Or in this thread, for that matter, till you mentioned 'em.
posted by Gator at 7:46 PM on August 5, 2010


How is this any different than the intimate privacies that Carrie Bradshaw shares in Sex and the City? (Or, ignoring fiction, that lovesick writers have shared for centuries?)

It's not different - that is equally narcissistic and creepy.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:49 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


No one has posted Cohen's response to Skurnick yet? Oh, it's classic. My favorite part:
The first time I read your piece I was upset. The second time I read it I realized you've spent the last 20 years or so looking (and failing, evidently) to find someone or something in a relationship.
Stay classy, Andrew.
posted by muddgirl at 7:56 PM on August 5, 2010 [23 favorites]


What the fuck is she talking about with the "Barren promontories!" bit? Is that a quote from something?

Also this bit makes no sense - "If we're the maid of honor, we don't stagger up the aisle drunk and puke in the gladiolas because we slept with the best man last night".
posted by w0mbat at 7:57 PM on August 5, 2010


Carrie Bradshaw is a fictional character -- Candace Bushnell is not... There are plenty of examples of writers who write about their love lives either via fiction or non-fiction.

"Stalker," "abusive," "violates privacy," and "threat" -- These were alluded to in the examples, specifically the allusion to the dude who climbed the fire escape.
posted by Skwirl at 7:57 PM on August 5, 2010


Oh, good grief.
posted by Gator at 8:00 PM on August 5, 2010


That guy is so not ok, and now everyone knows. I read like half a sentence of it. You can't recover from such a public/published failure of discretion on the searchable internet. But... I guess he's already given up.

His editor must've been like "oh, so moving from the legal analysis beat to the pitiful beat... ballsy career move for an award winning journalist. Let's do this."
posted by nutate at 8:02 PM on August 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


What the fuck is she talking about with the "Barren promontories!" bit? Is that a quote from something?

I think it is a reference to the bit from Hamlet: indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory....
posted by enn at 8:07 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


No matter what my romantic future holds, I know there will be no retreat from the standards she has set. Like the song says, surely someone will one day dare to stand where she stood.

Mmmhmm... after posting that publically I'm sure the babes are just going to be lining up to play second banana to the lost love of his life. Talk about shooting yourself in the dick.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:14 PM on August 5, 2010 [22 favorites]


Eh, somebody wrote something on the internet. So what?
posted by rebent at 8:21 PM on August 5, 2010


Eh, somebody wrote something on the internet. So what?

So did you! Hey wait, I'm doing so too! Oh shit, turtles all the way down! Next, someone else is going to say something on the internet! When does it end?!?!
posted by marble at 8:27 PM on August 5, 2010 [17 favorites]


He was just slightly pathetic but sincere. I've written plenty of notes like that and his was much less annoying I'm sure.

She was somewhat right about his being self-absorbed but more importantly she was terribly sloppy and not funny at all. Her 'Don't' guide (which contained no Donts) is a prime example of Snark writing: maintain something is wrong because it reminds you of something bad, drop a lot of pop culture references, vague handwaving sarcasm, paycheck. It's lazy (as lazy as accusing someone of narcissim before blithely telling your own pointless story about an ex) and meanspirited and so boring it's infectious and now I'm bored writing this too and zzzzzzzzz
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:28 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also this bit makes no sense - "If we're the maid of honor, we don't stagger up the aisle drunk and puke in the gladiolas because we slept with the best man last night".

She's saying that no matter what your issues are, you don't bring them into the middle of someone else's wedding. The engaged couple is at the center of the wedding; everyone else, even the maid of honor and best man, are peripheral and need to be at least minimally polite about it.

I understand and respect that women get a lot of unwanted attention from men that is disruptive, and this writer's indulgence was selfish and had a couple TMI attempts to trigger guilt.

I think the boundary between just missing tact and being a creep, stalker or emotionally abusive is pretty similar to the hostile workplace idea: A sincere one-off should be acceptable.


The problem is not that he is a dude writing to a woman. The problem is that he did the written equivalent of walking into the middle of her wedding, jumping up and down screaming "Look at me!", and then pulling down his pants and taking a dump on the priest's shoes. It's just simple bad behavior, and it isn't allowed socially, despite "speak now or forever hold your peace." If you know that the groom is a bigamist, speak up. If you are just jealous that someone else is going to be getting to have hot monkey sex with the bride tonight, shut the fuck up.

And his response to the criticism? Holy crap, what a fucking weirdo. You just know that his ex is doing cartwheels of delight on her honeymoon knowing that he is out of her life.
posted by Forktine at 8:28 PM on August 5, 2010 [12 favorites]


The first time I read your piece I was upset. The second time I read it I realized you've spent the last 20 years or so looking (and failing, evidently) to find someone or something in a relationship.

Which is... no different then him.
posted by delmoi at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Talk about shooting yourself in the dick.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:40 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was just slightly pathetic but sincere. I've written plenty of notes like that and his was much less annoying I'm sure.

Did you publish them in the paper on the day of your exes weddings?
posted by rtha at 8:42 PM on August 5, 2010


I bet this guy already has a couple rough drafts in progress of public letters he's going to write on the event of her being divorced, widowed, or the birth of any children and their milestones.
posted by Drastic at 8:44 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Imagine Andrew Cohen at the reception, delivering this column as an uninvited toast.

Yeah, that's why it's really uncomfortable-making.
posted by fatbird at 8:47 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:50 PM on August 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Broken person does broken things.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I know guys like Andrew. He thinks that he's telling this woman how wonderful she is and how happy he is for her, and any attempt at pointing out "hey...it's her wedding, perhaps not the best time" is met with "You don't understand."

I wonder if there's a better way to curb this sort of benign narcissism and "nice guy" behavior. The intent of the letter is good ("I want to express how grateful I am for her having been in my life"), but the actual outcome is reeks of entitlement. Why couldn't he have simply written it or talked it out with friends, and not posted it as a wedding present? Is there a compassionate way to get people to acknowledge their own entitlement? Because Skurnick's response, while apt and true, didn't work.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:59 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


fRom hie email ...

I won't embarrass you further (than you've already embarrassed yourself) by responding in public to your shrewish little column. I took down the Tweet because I realized it made me appear to be like you-nasty and hostile and spoiling for a fight. That's not me.


Wow. This guy really needs to learn when to shut up.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:02 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Cohen's response wasn't very classy but I also don't think it's classy to publish email correspondence without receiving permission. This whole story is just ugly.
posted by anonymuk at 9:04 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


In fairness, for all that he was rude and inappropriate to publish that letter, watching an ex move on, get married, have kids, etc, is really fucking hard, and the internet has made it way harder. With Facebook and email updates and all the interconnectedness of online life, you are way more likely these days to know that your ex just had the best sex of his/her life, or is heading off on a great honeymoon, or their baby just started walking.

It wasn't that you never knew any of that before, but it came in small pieces, intermittently, and was buffered by more distance. Now you can know instantly, and if your ex is a person who puts their life fully out there online, it can take some active effort to not see it.
posted by Forktine at 9:33 PM on August 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I realized it made me appear to be like you-nasty and hostile and spoiling for a fight. That's not me.

Yeah, it is. Deleting a tweet doesn't change who you are!
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 9:48 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, interesting to note his response is so similar in tenor and tone if not content to the dozens of "crap guy emails" written by borderline-psychos on Jezebel's website. Bullet dodged indeed.
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 9:50 PM on August 5, 2010


"Cohen's response wasn't very classy but I also don't think it's classy to publish email correspondence without receiving permission."

I've never understood this ethic. Sure, if you are having a conversation that is mutually understood to be private that's one thing. But if someone sends you unsolicited insults in email because he's too cowardly to do so in public, publishing it strikes me as the perfect antidote and well deserved.
posted by Manjusri at 9:53 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


It wasn't that you never knew any of that before, but it came in small pieces, intermittently, and was buffered by more distance. Now you can know instantly, and if your ex is a person who puts their life fully out there online, it can take some active effort to not see it.

If you're still carrying so much of a torch for your ex that you have to use your political (web) magazine column to talk about her, maybe you should stop following your ex around on the internet and finding out what she's up to, particularly for values of you that equal Andrew Cohen.
posted by immlass at 9:55 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there's a better way to curb this sort of benign narcissism and "nice guy" behavior.
OK, hivemind. We all know that this flavor of "nice guy" isn't nice at all, and that there's something else at play. Can we put our heads together, coin a new term, start a meme or something? Because hot damn, we all need a better, faster shorthand for "Look, you're being 'nice' but not really nice because your niceness isn't really nice..."
posted by verb at 10:03 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lizzie Skurnick is totally right. Andrew Cohen makes me throw up in my mouth a little.
posted by davejay at 10:03 PM on August 5, 2010


OK, hivemind...

Well, the "nice guys" often complain that the girls they want date "jerks". And, ultimately, "nice guys" (as opposed to actual nice guys) are really just passive aggressive fuckwads who are too afraid to express themselves (for fear of rejection) until they're guaranteed to be rejected for reasons that are not technically their fault. So the line between the two types is really just whether they're the kind of jerks who are letting it all hang out (no fear), or being passive-aggressive and meek (from fear.)

It'll never catch on, but since so many jerk stereotypes also apply to frat boys, I'm gonna start thinking of "nice guys" (again, as opposed to actual nice guys) as "scaredy-frats."
posted by davejay at 10:07 PM on August 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


also, reading metafilter for the last several years has truly made me realize I was an even bigger -- but at least not passive-aggressive -- jerk when I was young than I thought I was. looking back, I'm glad I was at least fearless about it.
posted by davejay at 10:09 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


now stuck in my head: "It's like AaaaAAAndrew CooOOOOOOOOOhen...on your wedding day..."
posted by davejay at 10:11 PM on August 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


One of the biggest mysteries of the intertubes is why so many people seem to think that drek is funny. just because they don't like something, they have to attack other people that like it.

I mean, seriously, can't we just accept that not everybody enjoys the same things, and not everybody laughs at the same things?

grar grar grar
posted by davejay at 10:16 PM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


I now feel slightly more justified in being quietly awful towards exes and simply not broadcasting it everywhere.
posted by adipocere at 10:18 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Manjusri: "Sure, if you are having a conversation that is mutually understood to be private that's one thing. But if someone sends you unsolicited insults in email because he's too cowardly to do so in public, publishing it strikes me as the perfect antidote and well deserved."

It's not your right or responsibility to cure his cowardice. Privacy shouldn't discriminate between assholes and good people. It's the same principle as "I don't like what you're saying but you should be able to say it."
posted by anonymuk at 10:21 PM on August 5, 2010


I want to live on a farm one day, a farm filled with horses and wireless connections where I can write. And now, thanks to her, I know exactly what I want and need in a partner who might just want to get there, too.

1. How many 'wireless connections' do you really need? More than one? Why fill a farm with them?

2. Horses are a lot of work.

3. What you'll be needing in a partner is someone who can muck stalls, feed/water, turn out, bring in, drive a tractor and hold livestock for vet and farrier. This will allow you to write and use your wireless connections.

Oh -- and those potential partners aren't reading your column in Politics Daily. Try Horse & Hound or Chronicle of the Horse.
posted by grounded at 10:40 PM on August 5, 2010 [15 favorites]


OK, hivemind. We all know that this flavor of "nice guy" isn't nice at all, and that there's something else at play. Can we put our heads together, coin a new term, start a meme or something?

Well, Charles Dickens came up with a good example of such a character in Uriah Heep. Perhaps calling them "Heeps"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 PM on August 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


What rankles is that he's really trying to make himself feel better about his ex's wedding, but he's cloaking it in a mantle of selflessness and affection which seems mostly, if not all, counterfeit.

"This is for her."

No, saying "this if for her" is for YOU.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:43 PM on August 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


Privacy shouldn't discriminate between assholes and good people.

There'd probably be a lot less hostility in many such communications like this if more people recognized that the instant that they hit send send on a email they'd better damn well be prepared for the possibility of having their words displayed for all the world to see.

I'm sorry, but unless I have specifically agreed not to publish an unsolicited communication from you, it's best to assume that I might. Any expectation of privacy you might entertain in your mind about a bitter, misogynistic diatribe you've chosen to send out into the world is entirely without foundation. My inbox is my property, do do with as I deem fit, not a toxic waste dump.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:51 PM on August 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


I can't help but wonder how well the groom enjoyed this "gift".
posted by The Gooch at 10:59 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


davejay: '...Since so many jerk stereotypes also apply to frat boys, I'm gonna start thinking of "nice guys" (again, as opposed to actual nice guys) as "scaredy-frats."'
EmpressCallipygos: 'Well, Charles Dickens came up with a good example of such a character in Uriah Heep. Perhaps calling them "Heeps?"'
I love you both so much. "Heeps" and "Scardey-frats" also gives us a nice casual vs. formal variation...
posted by verb at 11:09 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if scaredy-frats ever get the heepy-jeebies.
posted by davejay at 11:35 PM on August 5, 2010


Man, Cohen is a dick. Skurnick's response is great. Just the right balance of funny/serious, and not even unnecessarily harsh.

OK, hivemind. We all know that this flavor of "nice guy" isn't nice at all, and that there's something else at play. Can we put our heads together, coin a new term, start a meme or something?

I think it really has to be "nice guy", since that refers to "nice guys finish last". I think capitalizing it works, though. Like this: "We all know that this flavor of Nice Guy isn't nice at all..."
posted by equalpants at 11:44 PM on August 5, 2010


EmpressCallypygos: Heep, Yes!
posted by honest knave at 11:47 PM on August 5, 2010


I couldn't even read his column without physically flinching - I'd start reading, find a creepy bit, flinch and go "ew!" and then skip to the next paragraph, and repeat.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:32 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not your right or responsibility to cure his cowardice. Privacy shouldn't discriminate between assholes and good people. It's the same principle as "I don't like what you're saying but you should be able to say it."

Since when is email private? I thought everyone knew those could get forwarded everywhere.
posted by delmoi at 12:47 AM on August 6, 2010


Man. I nearly lost my mind with rage on my wedding day because my uncle had the balls to get inconsolably upset about the fact that his name was inadvertently left off the seating card. I can only imagine how furious I would be if someone wrote a letter like this for me or my fiance and sent it to us directly, to say nothing of publishing it on a website. It's incredibly selfish and thoughtless and an incredibly efficient way for Cohen to wipe his ass on your ex's happiness. I know there have been a couple of people chiming in to ask what the big deal is, but if you have learned anything from this thread, please know that this type of thing is not ok, and following the urge to do this kind of thing will make you seem like a lunatic.

In short, Cohen can chomp my knob, for he is a knob chomper. Verily, he is the knob chompiest (where's The Whelk when you need 'em?)
posted by orville sash at 1:08 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh god. This reminds me of the all-time best/worst post-breakup thing I ever got ever. Year after the breakup, at the end of an hour of friendly conversation.

(Note: Io is a dog. The "other one" is also a dog, who is rather pleasant for a terrier.)
Me: say hello to Io for me
Him: I will pet her...and hit the other one, but I will refrain because her constant destruction of property and antisocial attitude and beautiful eyes sometimes remind me of how I think of you
ha ha ha
but true
......!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:32 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually happened to click through and read that column on July 31, and walked around for several hours thinking that Andrew Cohen's ex was Chelsea Clinton.
posted by taz at 1:57 AM on August 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


Heh, it's a small world sometimes. Great column cousin Lizzie! Very happy to see you on the blue.
posted by mosk at 2:19 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since when is email private? I thought everyone knew those could get forwarded everywhere.

I do, most people do. I have always seen email as more akin to a postcard then some sooper-sekrit classified corporate document. I don't write shit I don't want others to see on postcards either.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:58 AM on August 6, 2010


Do none of you actually stay on good terms, and in contact with, your exes?

Regardless of what happened between Andrew and his ex, I find everyone else's reaction the most bizarre part of this... Every single one of you talking about this being "all about Andrew" have committed the exact same error - You write about yourself, reading your own relationship failures (or even successes) into either what he wrote or into Lizzie's commentary on the same.

And we all do that. You will never, in your entire life, write anything that doesn't qualify as more about yourself than your overt subject.
posted by pla at 4:16 AM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do none of you actually stay on good terms, and in contact with, your exes?

Well apparently on Cohen's ex's wedding day, he wasn't at the wedding to give his unrequested drunken toast. That might imply something about the state of their terms.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:50 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm very surprised at the negative reactions to the Cohen article; having read both through twice I'm still rooting for Cohen, mostly because I think much of the awkwardness, the apparent self-absorption comes from trying very hard to keep the bride's identity secret. And yes, his timing could be improved (but I doubt that the bride is reading Politics Daily on her wedding day, if at all).

Skurnick's column is just mean spirited and says more about her (none of it pleasant) than it does about Cohen. And publishing the content of his email? Not nice.
posted by ceri richard at 5:28 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm on good terms with most of my exes, and not really in touch with a few, although not because we hate each other or anything.

You will never, in your entire life, write anything that doesn't qualify as more about yourself than your overt subject.


Perhaps, but I'm never going to publish it in the paper on an ex's wedding day, either, while pretending that it's "for" them or "about" them. Talk about dishonesty. Or delusion.
posted by rtha at 5:31 AM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, human interaction should never make anybody feel uncomfortable ever. Because that is the very worst thing that can happen in the world, to embarrass yourself and others

What ever
posted by eeeeeez at 6:08 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're still carrying so much of a torch for your ex that you have to use your political (web) magazine column to talk about her, maybe you should stop following your ex around on the internet and finding out what she's up to, particularly for values of you that equal Andrew Cohen.

Oh, definitely, I agree. My point was more general, that things have changed, maybe more rapidly than we are ready for. In ye olde days (ie five or ten years ago) you had to actively dig and look if you wanted to have that "rolling around in broken glass" feeling from knowing an ex's activities. And if you moved to another city, your chances of knowing anything dropped a lot. Now, with feeds and batch emails and photo tagging and all that, it can take a startling amount of effort to not be aware of the details of that person's new life.

Do none of you actually stay on good terms, and in contact with, your exes?

I am in touch with several. That doesn't mean I'm automatically so self-absorbed or would write something like that (or publish it) on their wedding day. Trust me, it can suck to watch an ex who you aren't quite over move in with someone or get married. It's no fun at all. But you suck it up, maybe get drunk or whine to your friends, and you carry on.
posted by Forktine at 6:12 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


having read both through twice I'm still rooting for Cohen

I'm genuinely curious: What ends do you think Cohen's column served? What are you rooting for him in regards to?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:14 AM on August 6, 2010


You know, I've been to a few weddings of people I used to date. And there's a huge, unspoken rule that everyone seems to know: DO NOT MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU USED TO DATE. DO. NOT. MENTION. IT.

Smile, cheer, toast, get teary-eyed at the flower girl, but shut the fuck up. Bring a good gift. Hug them both. Bring a date if at all possible, or at least flirt with the cute bridesmaid. But shut the fuck up. Everyone that knows your history is going to help you with that, no matter how socially inept. It's the rule no one has to talk about, because it's as common-sense as "do not jump off of high places if you wish to remain alive." This is the best day in someone's life, and if you're going to be anywhere near it, you'd better do everything in your power to keep it going well. That goes for internet columns, too.

TLDR: Christ, what an asshole. If you think this behavior is okay, please never attend any weddings ever.
posted by honeydew at 6:19 AM on August 6, 2010 [13 favorites]


To recap: "I, I, mine, I, I, I, I, I, me, I, me, me, I, I, me, I, I, I, I, I, me, I, I, I, me, me, me, I, I, me, I, me, I, I'm, me, me, me, I, me, I, I, I, me. I, me.
I, myself, me, I, me, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, me; I sound like a sap. I, I, I,
On her wedding day, I, me, me, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, me, I, I, I, I,
I, me."
posted by Floydd at 6:20 AM on August 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


This comment from his original article is just offensive -

"She did not give in or sell out or become one of those poor women of a certain age in New York who have put their careers ahead of their lives"


And the hostility in his email response to Skurnick was...wow. He wasn't kidding when he said his ex-girlfriend was more mature than him. Of course, he's set the bar pretty low.
posted by victoriab at 6:32 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is there a compassionate way to get people to acknowledge their own entitlement?
Yes! There are! But they're not nearly as satisfying as aggression and snark. Really good diversity facilitators have this down to an art so subtle that you wouldn't know that it's happening. The Color of Fear has a really poignant example of this, but it's not a movie that you'll find easily or cheaply.

It also really, really helps to have a relationship of respect with the other person in question, which isn't really something you can do on an average blog. Anyhoos, one model for changing entitlement is RISC. (http://ask.metafilter.com/115384/The-Downside-to-Litter#1656309)
posted by Skwirl at 6:39 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Selfish creep" all the way. After trudging through Cohen's piece, I can't imagine it existing without Skurnick's crisp & clutch rebuttal. What a bloated moron.
posted by electricsandwich138 at 6:45 AM on August 6, 2010


For those of you in favor of cutting this guy some slack, let's say it's your sister's wedding day. Her ex publishes a column like this in the local paper.

Do you tell her, Well, hey, Candace Bushnell does the same thing! Do you tell her that human interactions are messy, and it's good she's being reminded of this? Do you say to her, So what?
posted by rtha at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get why she would feel guilty about turning down his proposal. She didn't want to be married to him. She wouldn't feel guilty. She would feel pity for him, not guilt.

And it's never cool when someone you don't want wants you. He sounds creepy and not healthy. So I can see why she turned him down and went for someone else.

It's kind of weird that he even thinks she would feel guilty.
posted by anniecat at 6:52 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait - where is this email from Cohen posted? Hyperlink anyone?
posted by electricsandwich138 at 6:53 AM on August 6, 2010


That second article was so poorly written it made me want to jab pencils in my eyes and pour correction ink into my ear canals. What in the fuck is this crap?
This is really just my personal objection but hello -- "She did not give in or sell out or become one of those poor women of a certain age in New York who have put their careers ahead of their lives" -- what was that? In the trade, I believe this is called a neg, and it is exactly as successful as anything called a "neg" should be. Is this something you dropped as a hard sell on her? It's not surprising, then, that it's not you she's marrying. And if it's you projecting -- and ding ding ding on that, my dear sir -- why don't you get busy marrying yourself and stop worrying about the single women who aren't marrying you? We want you to know how our hair smells, and we are legion.
This is really just my...
This is my. This is really my. This is just my. This is really just my. This is really totally just so my. This is really just so totally just my STOP FUCKING STOP STOP STOP FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

but hello
You need another ten or fifteen Os, and it should be in italics. But hellooooooooooo!

[word] -- [word]
LETTER—MDASH—LETTERNOSPACEGODDAMMIT.

It's not surprising, then, that it's not you she's marrying.
Oh COME ON. It's like the urge to use the cliche is should come as no surprise was so strong that she just had to resort to a double-negative.

And if it's you projecting -- and ding ding ding on that, my dear sir -- why
Pencils. Stabby pencils.

It's like people can't write simple goddamned paragraphs without requiring the expertise of a fucking editor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:58 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's on Jezebel, electricsandwich138.
posted by Floydd at 6:59 AM on August 6, 2010


From the perspective of the groom, I can imagine few things more blatantly rude and disrespectful than having my bride's ex write her a glowing love letter, particularly one published so publicly, on the day of our wedding.
posted by The Gooch at 7:04 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I say he's grandstanding, and I say the hell with it.
Grandstanding. I've been looking for that word ever since I found a poem on an ex's website all about our torrid affair and the ensuing torrid breakup, written several years after everything was over. And in installments! I mean, I suppose writers have license to do such things, right? People write about their experiences and publish biographical details all the time--like I'm doing now--and it's their right to do so. But, yeah, publishing something like that, whether it's in a national publication or your small-time blog, strikes me as being more about self-aggrandizement than artistic expression.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:05 AM on August 6, 2010


Because that is the very worst thing that can happen in the world, to embarrass yourself and others

Well, I get that you're using sarcasm and all, but for some of us that really is a pretty awful, horrible thing and we lie awake at night worrying about it - have I embarrassed myself or someone else? Is everyone going to secretly think I'm a loser or an asshole? No one really wants to be my friend - they're just putting up with me because they're polite, obviously. (And you know it's not true, you know it's social anxiety talking, but there's always that little voice in the back of your head...)

So, if I were Andrew Cohen's ex and I'd read that on my wedding day, I'd probably be red-faced and nauseous, hands shaking, hating myself for ever having had the bad judgment to date him, and dreading the inevitable string of conversations I'd have to have with anyone who knew it was me (and going over and over those imagined conversations in my head, wishing I could stop thinking about it but simply unable to get my mind out of that rut).
posted by marginaliana at 7:08 AM on August 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Grandstanding. I've been looking for that word ever since I found a poem on an ex's website all about our torrid affair and the ensuing torrid breakup, written several years after everything was over. And in installments!

Oh god the poems. I never thought about it as self-aggrandizement, but I'll take that interpretation.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:09 AM on August 6, 2010


I can't believe people are defending Cohen in this thread. Do y'all think romantic comedies are realistic and healthy depictions of relationships too?
posted by kmz at 7:15 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


For those who still don't get it, here's what Cohen did: He waited until a day that is explicitly about celebrating the love two individuals have for each other, and he stood up and yelled really loudly 'JUST SO YOU KNOW THAT PERSON THAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT USED TO CARE A LOT ABOUT ME SO THAT MUST MEAN THAT I'M VALUABLE TOO RIGHT' because he couldn't stand that people were talking about her outside of the context of her past relationship with him.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:19 AM on August 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


I also wonder why she had to stick up for him to her family, friends and colleagues repeatedly. He must have been a jerk in person. I mean seriously, if your colleagues are like DTMFA, then he must have been really weird.
posted by anniecat at 7:20 AM on August 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get defending this guy. He didn't have to publish it. As far as exes are concerned, whilst it's fine to have a good relationship with some exes, I think most people have an ex that they will never speak to again. That's fine. It's not like you're a lesser human being because you're not all pally with ever ex you've ever had. And if they get married, you preserve your dignity and self-respect and shut the fuck up. Or, wail over a drink with a sympathetic friend. Publishing your self-congratulatory ramblings on a political website is way down on the list of "things to do when an ex gets married to someone else" only a little above harming their pets to prove your love.
posted by ob at 7:25 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


hi marginaliana - I'd probably be red-faced and nauseous, hands shaking, hating myself for ever having had the bad judgment to date him

I think everyone would like to avoid that, certainly I would. But it happens anyway.

The point is that human relations are a minefield. They sometimes explode for no reason at all and they continue to hurt people years after the war is over.
posted by eeeeeez at 7:27 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, I suppose writers have license to do such things, right? People write about their experiences and publish biographical details all the time--like I'm doing now--and it's their right to do so.

There is a certain amount of "date a writer at your peril." Can you imagine how Joan Baez felt in the two or three years post-Dylan? Not that this creep is Dylan. Please don't find any subtext in my comment giving Cohen the credit of artistic license that Dylan gets by virtue of being a good writer, at least. Out of context, Sad Eyed Lady is still a good lyric.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:29 AM on August 6, 2010


The point is that human relations are a minefield. They sometimes explode for no reason at all and they continue to hurt people years after the war is over.

Right, but my point is, there are certain situations that are especially mine-filled, and weddings are one of them, which is why our society has developed an extensive set of rules for how to behave in those sorts of situations. Cohen broke the rules (Rule #1 - it's not about you, the ex/friend/mother-in-law. It's not about your relationship with the couple, individually or together. It's about them.).

Maybe he knew that rule and broke it because he thought "Ah, but I am different! My relationship with this woman is special and wonderful and everyone will want to hear about it. I am breaking this rule because I know best what will make this woman happy on her wedding day." Maybe he didn't know the rule and didn't bother to ask anyone (I think this is almost as asshole-ish as possibility number 1, because even if you don't know anyone you can ask, it's not like there aren't a bajillion wedding etiquette books out there, and internet advice sites, and so on. There's no excuse for not researching.).

I guess my point is - this situation is not an unmarked field with no indication of where the mines are. This situation is a field with a whole bunch of red flags saying "Danger: Landmine!" and a set of instructions about how to avoid mines, which you can read before you enter the field. But he charged right on in anyway.
posted by marginaliana at 7:43 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just for the record, I do not defend what he did. But this whole "he is a creep" schtick I think utterly fails to account for the fact that THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE DO. It's the OTHER kind of behavior, the level-headed, "mature" parting of ways, that is WEIRD*.

And, but - yes - how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would.

* statistically speaking
posted by eeeeeez at 7:45 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would.

Normally people do this by virtue of growing up.
posted by Ouisch at 7:57 AM on August 6, 2010 [16 favorites]



Just for the record, I do not defend what he did. But this whole "he is a creep" schtick I think utterly fails to account for the fact that THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE DO. It's the OTHER kind of behavior, the level-headed, "mature" parting of ways, that is WEIRD*.

And, but - yes - how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would.


Because if he really loved her, he wouldn't have been motivated to be a weirdo. What he really loves is himself, and he doesn't even question it. Sounds like a narcissist.

I think, also, when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, you go see a therapist and sometimes the therapist says, "Write a letter to the person you lost." Not, write a letter and use it as your column so everyone else can see it, including friends of the bride and groom and the general public.

He didn't even think about what effect it would have on people, which is why he's a creep.
posted by anniecat at 8:00 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


hi Ouish - Normally people do this by virtue of growing up.

No. This is a normthat describes how we would like people to behave, and it tries to do this by ridiculing the people who do not behave in this way, but it does not describe the behavior of actual people.
posted by eeeeeez at 8:08 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is how it's done, people.
Stumpy,
Thank you for your graceful action in forwarding my pantaloons to my fiancee, together with an inventive account of how you came by them, sundry calumnies about my early life, and what appears to be a forged letter purporting to be from my lawyer and alleging certain passages betwixt me and him.

Doubtless you will have heard that there has been a breach between De Coverley and myself. I wish you to know that this is merely temporary in nature and anyway has nothing to do with your slimy machinations, your repulsive toad. The fact is that, despite Lumsden daily urging me to seal our union, I have decided to continue my stage career for a while, seeing no reason to exchange the triumphs of my art for a domestic setting just yet. This and no other led to my estrangement from Lumsden - which, I reiterate, will pass. Despite all your efforts, my hold over him is complete and I will yet be Lady De Coverley.

Nevertheless, I shall not forget the bad turn you have attempted to do me, and whether as Duchess or doyenne of the stage, I intend to exert all of my powers to effecting your complete and utter destruction, you maggot. If a single day goes by without my having done you some disservice I shall account it a day wasted. Good breeding and an innate compassion for the sickly and malformed prevent me expressing all that I think of you, so I shall just content myself with saying that it is my dearest dream that you may one day be brought to see yourself as others see you - a shambling, misshapen wretch who would be pitied rather than despised if he only had the sense to keep his loathsome gob shut for two seconds at a time instead of continually bombarding the town with failed epigrams and onion breath, a ridiculous kobold who giggles like a demented schoolgirl and apparently lets his blind, palsied mother cut his hair for him, a capering buffoon who glides about a dancefloor with the tranquil grace of an epileptic being devoured by termites, a squat, slobbering troglodyte with sausage fingers whom any woman would rather die of pleurisy than suffer herself to be touched by, a coarse, blunt-thumbed hobbledehoy who lights up a room like a rumour of smallpox, a dank-souled misanthrope with mouldering feet whose appearance at any social gathering is as welcome as the first signs of canker in the fur of a much-loved pet, a malign excrescence in ill-judged apparel whose very elbows cause infirm persons to weep with revulsion, a festering goblin with a soul of pus and the skin-tone of a scrotal sac, an animated pile of goat-puke in a badly-fitting frock-coat whom people fling themselves into middens to avoid, a waddling little arse-burp with the spirit of a slug-breeder and alarmingly hairy ears, a forlorn, twisted, Rumpelstiltskin figure with the social polish of a puddle of monkey-jism and eyebrows like deranged voles. Really, why do you not make an end to yourself? Your life must be as much a burden to you as it is to others.

More in sorrow than in anger,
Clarissa
posted by notyou at 8:10 AM on August 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


hi anniecat - Because if he really loved her, he wouldn't have been motivated to be a weirdo.

I really don't see how that follows at all? What do you mean?

He didn't even think about what effect it would have on people, which is why he's a creep.

A creep is someone who does not think about the effects on other people? So little children are creeps? I guess that holds, sometimes...
posted by eeeeeez at 8:11 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do none of you actually stay on good terms, and in contact with, your exes?
I am in touch with several. That doesn't mean I'm automatically so self-absorbed or would write something like that (or publish it) on their wedding day. Trust me, it can suck to watch an ex who you aren't quite over move in with someone or get married. It's no fun at all. But you suck it up, maybe get drunk or whine to your friends, and you carry on.


I gather (rightly) that most people think Cohen moved from narcissist, even from lovable regretful loser narcissist to total dick when he published this on her wedding day. Now her wedding is not the story but his column. That is what was intended. He also intended to do so in a way that preserves his sense of plausible deniability. He sent the happy couple this "gift" but he also telegraphed the message, "You see how much of a sporting loser I am. Am I not just wonderful? How could this bitch leave me 'but I am really happy for her because I am such a mensch. That's just who I am.'"

Skurnick's column is just mean spirited and says more about her (none of it pleasant) than it does about Cohen. And publishing the content of his email? Not nice.

That too, she trucks in tired old "Men are from Mars" stereotypes which are usually cover for "Men are such caveman assholes." which Cohen is, but Cohen is because Cohen is a narcissistic passive-aggressive asshole, not because his 23rd chromosome pair is XY. You wouldn't know that from her column. It is a tired misandronyst mishmosh that calls him out more for his gender, rather than his deed.

I don;t know much about Politics Daily - but if they are both contributors, is it possible they have had a history. I don't mean a romantic one, but perhaps nasty e-mails back and forth about a story, whether politics daily picked up one writer's story or would have had not the other writer started a back-office campaign to spike it? Seems a lot of personal venom there.
posted by xetere at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The point is that human relations are a minefield. They sometimes explode for no reason at all

This is not a "whoops, I accidentally stepped on a mine." This is a "I spent the weekend building the mine, then planted in front of the church on her wedding day, then jumped on top of it so it would explode." There is absolutely a reason that it exploded, and he caused it.

No one here is denying that human stuff is messy. What you seem to be denying is the reality that acting like an adult is also a normal human thing to do, since there are millions of humans who feel pain when a still-loved ex marries someone else and yet manage to not wreck the day of the person they still love.
posted by rtha at 8:16 AM on August 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


hi notyou - that's hilarious!
posted by eeeeeez at 8:17 AM on August 6, 2010


And, but - yes - how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would.

...You can go nuts over breaking up with someone without publishing a sorta creepy, narcissistic column on the internet on their wedding day.
posted by lullaby at 8:20 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right after getting married, I received very long heart-wrenching confessions from two of my closest male friends telling me that they were in love with me and had been for years.

Seriously, guys. Don't do this. Send a garlic press or something, but keep that shit to yourself. It's really awful to hear that you didn't have the nerve to tell me that you were in love with me until it was stated as a regret - that when you had the chance to do something about it, you couldn't bring yourself to any kind of action, but once it was too late, you all of a sudden had to tell me about it. It didn't make me feel flattered or any better about my relationships - it just made me feel bad and all kinds of weirded out that these men were only capable of expressing emotion when there was absolutely nothing to be gained from it, that it was a totally consequence free statement for them. They got "catharsis" or whatever - I got really uncomfortable.

I can't help but wonder how well the groom enjoyed this "gift".

Yeah, when my two friends unburdened their souls to me, my (now ex) husband felt like unburdening his stomach upon them. Not pleased at all.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:20 AM on August 6, 2010 [14 favorites]


But this whole "he is a creep" schtick I think utterly fails to account for the fact that THIS IS WHAT PEOPLE DO

Indeed. And this is why we call people who do this kind of thing "creeps."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:21 AM on August 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


One learns, as one matures, that one's actions have effects upon others. Sometimes - as in the case of the letter writer here - those effects may not be the desired ones.
posted by catlet at 8:22 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A creep is someone who does not think about the effects on other people? So little children are creeps?

That's pretty much the point, right there. A child doesn't understand boundaries, personal space, appropriate behavior, how their actions affect others. An adult should. Most adults do. When they don't, there are consequences, such as getting called out for their behavior, getting avoided by other people, getting fired, getting dumped, getting turned down for dates/jobs/opportunities, etc. This is how the world works.
posted by Gator at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


Indeed. And this is why we call people who do this kind of thing "creeps."
Heeps, people. Heeps.

Of 'Scaredy-frats.' Come on, we can do this.
posted by verb at 8:25 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


hi rtha - there are millions of humans who feel pain when a still-loved ex marries someone else and yet manage to not wreck the day of the person they still love.

You are right rtha. His intention to publish this as a column is... baffling. That the editors let him print this is amazing. It's pathetic and laughable. I hope it didn't wreck the bride's day. Yes it would make anyone feel uncomfortable, and awkward, but it is also very funny, and it makes a great story to tell for years to come.
posted by eeeeeez at 8:26 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


but it is also very funny, and it makes a great story to tell for years to come.

Kids, the reason we had to legally change our names and social security numbers is so mom's creepy ex-boyfriend wouldn't be able to look her/us up. He has a weird idea about boundaries.

Cohen strikes me as the kind of guy who would seek vengeance by trying to marry his ex girlfriend's daughter. He seems so out of touch with how normal people act.
posted by anniecat at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2010


A great story for him to tell, perhaps. I doubt that it will be something that the bride wants to remember.
posted by catlet at 8:34 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right after getting married, I received very long heart-wrenching confessions from two of my closest male friends telling me that they were in love with me and had been for years.

Jesus fuck, that's horrible. I admit I've done stupid and shitty things in my relationships, but I was in my teens or early twenties. I'm assuming those guys and Andrew Cohen are older but apparently not wiser than that.
posted by kmz at 8:35 AM on August 6, 2010


it is also very funny, and it makes a great story to tell for years to come.

For anyone involved, this is less a "Some day we'll all look back on this and laugh" situation and more a "Some day we'll all look back on this and say 'Let us never speak of this again.'"
posted by octobersurprise at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2010


And, but - yes - how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would.

There's going nuts in the "man, I am internal mess right now, this has really fucked me over emotionally" sense, and I think that's, yes, something close to universal for serious breakups (granting even there significant degrees of variation in amplitude and timbre of any given person's internal wail).

Then there's going nuts in the "I will now act like an ass in a public way" thing, which, no, that may be common enough to be a recognizable thing that happens, but it's not some sort of automatic play. There's no Get Out Of Jackassery Free card, there's no double-coupon discount for that shit on account of the human condition.

You do something shitty on account of a breakup and I'll understand where you're coming from but I'll still call it a shitty thing to do.
posted by cortex at 8:38 AM on August 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


hi anniecat, catlet - yeah, maybe I'm reading this wrong. There's really nothing great about this even as a story.
posted by eeeeeez at 8:39 AM on August 6, 2010


it is also very funny, and it makes a great story to tell for years to come.

I take it you watch a lot of chick flicks, like I mentioned upthread?

Seriously, can you explain what you mean by this? Who would tell such a story? Why? What sort of pleasure or entertainment would be gained from it? "I once had a great love and when she married someone else, I wrote a wrist-slittingly self-absorbed newspaper column about it for all the world to see! Woohoo!"
posted by Gator at 8:39 AM on August 6, 2010


edit: yeah, maybe I'm reading this wrong
posted by eeeeeez at 8:41 AM on August 6, 2010


Grapefruitmoon, I know you're spoused many times over so it's way too late for me, but I had to tell you I've been in love with your posts for years.
posted by orville sash at 8:46 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


*hands orville sash a garlic press*
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:50 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Devils Rancher, there was a time when I was the first to favorite your comments, and I believed that you, too, would be the first to favorite mine. The way you favorited my comments was kind, genuine, and patient, and I truly felt that our mutual favoriting would continue on all the subsites. I still remember how you alone defended me in that MeTa callout. No poster before or since has made me feel as valuable and contact-worthy as you. I want to thank you, mostly, for saving me from my helplessness. So at last my comment today is sincere: I wish my most cherished and fondly remembered co-favoriter a happy posting life, a good posting life, one in which you favorite and are favorited by wonderful Mefites the same way you once did with me.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:56 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


hi Gator - nah, it's not a good story at all. Forget it. I just always say that.
posted by eeeeeez at 8:57 AM on August 6, 2010


kmz: All parties involved were in their early twenties. So, no, not older or wiser.

A creep is someone who does not think about the effects on other people? So little children are creeps?

That's pretty much the point, right there.


Assholes, actually. (According to Louis CK.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:00 AM on August 6, 2010


*hands orville sash a garlic press*

Waitaminute - if he's the one with regrets... then I'm the one who should be getting the effin' garlic press.

(Seriously, I don't have one. But I also don't have the need to press garlic on a regular basis, so it's kind of a moot point.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:03 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The order in which you read these posts is important. If everybody read the original by Cohen first, followed by Skurnick's screed, then all this hostility for Andrew the mannerless chump makes sense.

But for all you haters out there, take the time to re-read Cohen's article after you've been over-snarked by Ms. "I have so many desperate exes." He's really not doing that badly. Considering his state, he's pretty level-headed.

He's NOT running into the church and taking a dump on the priest's shoes: it's unlikely that anybody in that wedding will ever find out about some random blogger's post about a nameless bride. He's trying his hardest to be a man and find peace---this isn't a plea for her return, but well-wishes. Maybe one day he will believe it himself, but actions and behaviors can drive emotional reorientation.

So, good for him, but also I send my sympathies to the newly wedded couple, who will have to deal with this schlub through his son for the rest of their lives.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:06 AM on August 6, 2010


*hands shakesperian 2 garlic presses*

Give one of these to grapefruitmoon for me willya, and tell her good luck with whatshisname.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:07 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A creep is someone who does not think about the effects on other people? So little children are creeps?

Anyone who thinks little kids are not creeps has never spent fifty miles driving behind a station wagon with a stranger's child staring directly at them out the back window and waving the entire time.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


"And, but - yes - how, if you love someone, can you not go nuts over losing them? I would like to know that. I really would."

Because you want what's best for them and though you realize that it sucks for you, and that you will be somewhat miserable, it's not objectively horrible. No one got their limb cut off or their home set on fire.

So to summarize: empathy and perspective. (The first time it happens the vast majority of people lack perspective, which is to be reasonably expected.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2010


it's unlikely that anybody in that wedding will ever find out about some random blogger's post about a nameless bride.

Doubt it. I have found out about just about every stupid thing anyone has said about me online via a mutual friend or two seeing something and forwarding it to me.

It's a law of the universe. Anytime I write something about someone and think "Oh, they'll never find it..." I AM SO WRONG. I've pretty much learned to keep my yap shut on the internet unless I really want that person to know that they smell like bananas.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:08 AM on August 6, 2010


I mean, his column was full of pathos and good intentions, however misled. Lizzie Skurnick offered harsh and sarcastic condemnation, teasing, ridicule, and smug superiority. I know who I would rather be friends with.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:10 AM on August 6, 2010


So because he didn't show up and physically interrupt their wedding, he's "really not doing that badly"?

What an odd metric you use to gauge behavior. Have you been the victim of an inordinate amount of shoe-shitting?
posted by orville sash at 9:12 AM on August 6, 2010


Cohen strikes me as the kind of guy who would seek vengeance by trying to marry his ex girlfriend's daughter. He seems so out of touch with how normal people act.

The truly horrible thing is that this is being pitched as a sure-fire romantic comedy right now.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Collectively, a case study for night-school editing courses.
posted by diorist at 9:15 AM on August 6, 2010


Lizzie Skurnick offered harsh and sarcastic condemnation, teasing, ridicule, and smug superiority.

I don't see it. Here's how the piece started:
On Saturday, CBS legal correspondent and Politics Daily contributor Andrew Cohen wrote a heartfelt tribute to the love that got away on the occasion of her wedding to someone else.
She acknowledges that the missive was heartfelt. She also notes that it was entirely inappropriate. It seems to me that Skurnick can admit that both may be true, while Cohen and his defenders think that being sincere is a defense from being creepy or from being a jerk. It's not.
posted by muddgirl at 9:16 AM on August 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


This thread is awesome! I'm getting married in May. If some dude did this to us on our wedding day I would severely punch him in the dick.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Considering his state, he's pretty level-headed.

Dude they broke up like two years ago. He'd already been through a divorce, so it's not like this was the First Significant Relationship In His Life. He needs to get over it. This is incredibly unhealthy.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I mean, his column was full of pathos and good intentions, however misled.

You know that pathos is secret code for self-indulgent wanking right?
posted by edbles at 9:33 AM on August 6, 2010


I mean, his column was full of pathos and good intentions, however misled

I'm not entirely convinced this is true. To me it read like a thinly-veiled self-pity party, possibly posted with noble intentions at least in part, but with an underlying passive-aggressive agenda to tug on her heartstrings and make her shed a few tears of guilty sorrow over ruining the rest of his life by taking herself out of it.

The guy basically said:

...my son still talks about you (and the poor kid can't understand why you left)

...my dad died believing we were still together because the truth would have broken his heart (how could you?)

...I'm still in love with you (and I'll never have anything as worthwhile as you in my life ever again)

... but no need for you to feel guilty, sweetheart. You go on and get married and be happy (don't worry about me, I'll just sit here in the dark and treasure your memory...)
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:34 AM on August 6, 2010 [24 favorites]


muddgirl, I understand where you're coming from, but I do have to disagree about the nature of Skurnick's response. That first line does recognize the tribute as heartfelt, but it's lip-service. She also calls out Cohen by name, and implies he's "annoying," was "numbingly uncommunicative," and is trying to use the old "scorched earth" sympathy-getting trick. She calls his action "inconsiderate and catastrophically narcissistic." And mentioning how she's had so many exes try to get back in touch with her---and that they fall into "charmingly distinct categories"? Hmph.

I DO fault Cohen for attempting a public catharsis. That's creepy. And his wedding-day timing makes him a jerk. And I also agree with you that Skurnick has the right idea overall.

What I take exception to is how she handled it in this situation. She singled out her colleague, strung him up and made an example of him. She wrote:

A kinder colleague than I suggested that his column was the equivalent of Dustin Hoffman, in "The Graduate," running into the church to yell, "Elaine!" I humbly submit that his wedding day appreciation is in fact the equivalent of Andrew Cohen running into the church and yelling, "Andrew!"

That's a mean-spirited and personal attack, and it is bandying publicly that Cohen has MULTIPLE coworkers who are poo-pooing him behind his back. I'm sorry, but her behavior is just mean and unprofessional. She might be right in the substance of her argument, but in making this even more public, she shows judgment as poor as his.
posted by phenylphenol at 9:35 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: taking a dump on the priest's shoes
posted by ob at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2010


Metafilter: poo-pooing him behind his back
posted by ob at 9:36 AM on August 6, 2010


I'll stop now, but the poo talk was amusing me. So much better than thread shitting.
posted by ob at 9:37 AM on August 6, 2010


I'm getting married in May. If some dude did this to us on our wedding day I would severely punch him in the dick.

Thankfully no one wrote any letters. But after we got married, a couple of guys did the exact same thing to my wife as happened to GFM. I think a lot of guys (maybe thanks to all those crappy romantic comedy movies) live in a delusional world where it is somehow appropriate to spill your seed soul in front of someone who just got married. If it wasn't so pathetic there would have been some ass kicking going on, but really it was just sad and frankly emasculating for them.

These letters, however, are great. I'm about 99% sure they aren't real, but they are still fun to read. My favorite line:

My only concern, my little magpie, is lest your aristocratic patron should recover his wits and decide that he does not after all wish to bring into his family home a woman who must clamp her ankles in a carpenter's vise in order to close her legs fully, and cast you aside, friendless and outcast, once he has grown weary of your charms.
posted by Forktine at 9:43 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my head here's how the response would go:

"Dear Andrew

This is just like the time you borrowed my car and smashed it up and brought it back without fixing it. Then I got really angry because you smashed my car. Then two weeks later you said you forgave me for getting angry.

Really there's only one response to this.

Fuck you. Fuck you sideways. Fuck you with a hammer. Really, Fuck you."
posted by lumpenprole at 9:47 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Forktine. Probably not real (Augustus Merriman and Clarissa Beauwhateveritwas don't return any interesting hits).

Fun, nevertheless.

People who feel they need to write tell-all letters to recently married ones-that-got-away should read Love in the Time of Cholera, instead.

Or watch last night's episode of Parks & Recreation.
posted by notyou at 10:00 AM on August 6, 2010


She also calls out Cohen by name, and implies he's "annoying," was "numbingly uncommunicative," and is trying to use the old "scorched earth" sympathy-getting trick.

Except she doesn't call Cohen annoying or numbingly uncommunicative. By that point in the article, she's not talking about Andrew Cohen, writer. She's talking about Stereotypical Ex-Boyfriend. She is talking, not to Cohen or his ex-, but to every lady who's ever received a missive of this type from a man. She is, in essence, doing what Cohen did not have the presence of mind to do - re-framing the letter from the point of view of the receiver.
posted by muddgirl at 10:01 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


to every lady who's ever received a missive of this type from a man

I wonder if women are less likely to communicate these things directly, and more likely to, as experienced evidently by a couple of us in this thread, post multi-part poetic outcries to the web.

Neither is really cool. This is what journals are for, people.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:11 AM on August 6, 2010


He needs to get over it. This is incredibly unhealthy.

Thankfully no one wrote any letters. But after we got married, a couple of guys did the exact same thing to my wife as happened to GFM. I think a lot of guys (maybe thanks to all those crappy romantic comedy movies) live in a delusional world where it is somehow appropriate to spill your seed soul in front of someone who just got married. If it wasn't so pathetic there would have been some ass kicking going on, but really it was just sad and frankly emasculating for them

This isn't the first time I've heard of this kind of thing. There seem to be a few men who really like the idea of having a "one that got away" and talking about it and having some imaginary heartbreak/poetic thing happening. My husband's best friend claims to be in love with this girl from high school who is now married and has three kids. He talks about her wistfully even. All the years she was available, he never even bothered to talk to her, to contact her again, to go out with her, to do anything. I suspect it was because if she accepted him, she wouldn't be this amazing and mysterious creature that gives him a little bit of unavailability emotionally. (I was shocked to find out that this girl hadn't been married right away --- she spent 5 years in the same city, working, single and unmarried, and finally did an arranged marriage in India because she wasn't meeting anyone! When I questioned him about this, he said, oh, I was in another relationship, I was young and stupid, and I only figured it out later. How convenient for him and all the girls he goes out with that will never measure up to the love he didn't give to the one who got away.)

it's like having a girlfriend on the side, except that she's imaginary. The "If I could, I would" materializes after the possibility completely disappears or is forbidden, and relieves the man the burden of actually having to be proactive or be in a real relationship with all its thorns.

They love having a girl to hold up on a pedestal. Cohen is getting something from having her "get away." I pity the new women who come into his life. I'm sure they'll get a good dose of "I could never love you the way I loved her" and it seems he only loved her that much when she was getting married to someone else. If she hadn't gotten married to someone else, he wouldn't have written this and he wouldn't have called her the one that got away. I suspect he's being poetic and will continue to keep himself unavailable because he really doesn't want to be in a relationship with a woman who wants to be with him. I think I have an idea for how the relationship ended too. I don't know a lot of women that would just get into a relationship with a divorced man with a child without hard thinking, and then just up and leave especially if that small child is involved.
posted by anniecat at 10:13 AM on August 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


I suspect he's being poetic and will continue to keep himself unavailable because he really doesn't want to be in a relationship with a woman who wants to be with him.

No idea as far as this particular guy is concerned, but lots of attached guys think in these terms, too. Could be the sign of a dysfunctional personality, but it isn't necessarily so. Just oddly crossing paths in life, poor timing, and curiosity about what might have been. What's unhealthy isn't the phenomenon, it's how it is or isn't handled. This, obviously, being an example of the latter.

I don't think I've been involved with a women that I haven't asked "Is there one that got away?" Of the various answers I've received, it's never been "That's so weird" or "That's a guy thing."

Does it get used as an excuse by those who can't forge real relationships? No doubt.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:21 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


re: creeps. I always thought of "creeps" as insidious creatures, working out elaborate schemes in their darkened dens. Not as, well, exhibitionists who publicly humiliate themselves. What Cohen's piece reminds me of most is Kanye West's 'performance' at the MTV Awards. It's buffoonery. So it throws me off, seeing this guy labeled as a creep. Does the creep angle come from the sexual aspect that's involved?
posted by eeeeeez at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2010


re: creeps. I always thought of "creeps" as insidious creatures, working out elaborate schemes in their darkened dens. Not as, well, exhibitionists who publicly humiliate themselves. What Cohen's piece reminds me of most is Kanye West's 'performance' at the MTV Awards. It's buffoonery. So it throws me off, seeing this guy labeled as a creep. Does the creep angle come from the sexual aspect that's involved?

Not an authority, but I'm using "creep" because he's an exhibitionist dragging in and embarrassing another person who he claims to love who doesn't love him. Though he doesn't give her name, he's not just embarrassing her in front of the public (who will eventually find out her name) but most unfortunately, in front of her colleagues, friends, and family, and the groom's family, friends, and colleagues, who are aware of this woman's relationship with him. He's pushing himself into their wedding day story, to which he was likely not invited and causing her embarrassment. He's a creep and a jerk, though he's not being overtly jerky in his gallant send off, but he's being inappropriate. Now all the people who knew him as her ex and are at the wedding munch on his gossip. It may even upset the groom. It's not okay, and he is a creep for being self centered and not thinking considering how his actions affect the people he claims to love and care for.
posted by anniecat at 10:32 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've been involved with a women that I haven't asked "Is there one that got away?" Of the various answers I've received, it's never been "That's so weird" or "That's a guy thing."

Oh my god, this reminds me of something that happened in grad school! I'd forgotten about it.

I was once asked by a guy I'd gone out on a date with if I'd ever been in love. I hesitated because when I was twelve, I'd been convinced that I was in love with Robert Redford (we didn't have internet so I hadn't seen how he'd aged since The Way We Were) and I would meet and marry him when I got to the US eventually, and I wanted to tell the story to my date in a funny way, but the guy looked crestfallen a little bit, and I was horrified to realize that I was giving him the impression that I'd been pining over someone. When I said no, he looked like he didn't believe me. It signaled some kind of unavailability. He was all hesitant with me after that and later confessed that he thought I was being very innocent about my past (despite never having dated seriously before!) and thought I was involved with someone or pining for someone, which made him feel insecure, but I got him to marry me so it's okay.
posted by anniecat at 10:43 AM on August 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


I also don't have the need to press garlic on a regular basis

I am so sorry to hear that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't think that simply wondering if there was one that got away is weird, or necessarily restricted to guys; what-iffing is pretty human, I think.

It crosses into "weird" territory if you point at the one who got away on the day she or he marries someone else and shout from the rooftops that THIS! THIS is the one who got away! I forgive you for breaking my heart! Please don't feel bad anymore for ruining me for anyone else!
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


Many if not most men are taught from an early age that it is Bad and Wrong for them - as males - to have or to express any kind of emotion.

Later, some men learn that in fact it is perfectly ok to express emotions, and that not doing so is actually extremely unhealthy. However, since they are starting late - sometimes very late - they never reach anything approaching emotional maturity. And they make dreadful mistakes, such as this column by Andrew Cohen.

A lot of the hostility towards him both here and in the comments elsewhere seems pretty exaggerated. A little of it feels like it comes more from the old school position that no man should be expressing emotion - most of it is pointing and laughing at the emotional retard who has fucked up in public and doesn't even realise it.

The real villain of the piece is the editor who let the article run, not Cohen.
posted by motty at 10:52 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


A lot of the hostility towards him both here and in the comments elsewhere seems pretty exaggerated. A little of it feels like it comes more from the old school position that no man should be expressing emotion - most of it is pointing and laughing at the emotional retard who has fucked up in public and doesn't even realise it.

Frankly all of my hostility towards him is coming from the fact that I used to think the same way he does, but I got over it in high school, and he's in his 40s.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:00 AM on August 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's what I was thinking, motty. Some guys seem to think that, this being the Brave New Era of male expression, any emotion, or expression of any emotion, must be a good thing. (The rest of us just cringe when we think about things we did or said in junior high).

Though someone mentioned earlier also the "not having gone through this before" aspect -- I've been shocked to see a few apparently mature individuals flame out IRL because they get dumped for the first time -- at 30, at 35, at 40. Man or woman, the only differentiating characteristic seems to be that they'd just not gone through it before. They're like pre-Nexus 6 replicants; they have no experience with which to provide a cushion for their emotions. If this guy's been divorced, but it was his doing, yeah, doesn't count. *Boom*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:06 AM on August 6, 2010


That's not to excuse the behaviour, of course.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:08 AM on August 6, 2010


The real villain of the piece is the editor who let the article run, not Cohen.

Agreed. Being a conspiracy theorist, I have some suspicions as to the authenticity of this whole "controversy", but in general I guess it's best to assume that people on the internet aren't lying.
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on August 6, 2010


FWIW, my poem-writing ex was 45 when she blogged about us, 6 years after we broke up.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:11 AM on August 6, 2010


Agreed. Being a conspiracy theorist, I have some suspicions as to the authenticity of this whole "controversy", but in general I guess it's best to assume that people on the internet aren't lying.

Regardless of whether this particular incident is true, this has happened somewhere to someone.

I just keep remembering this Savage Love phone call where Dan Savage just yelled at this kid who was pining for "the one" at 21. And Dan said what everyone here's been saying, "You're not in love with her you're in love with the idea of having such a deep capacity to feel." And it actually seemed to snap the kid out of it.
posted by edbles at 11:13 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also don't have the need to press garlic on a regular basis

I am so sorry to hear that.


Slice it, chop it, roast it, eat it whole, or whatever, but for God's sake, don't PRESS it. Philistines!
posted by kingbenny at 11:29 AM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I also don't have the need to press garlic on a regular basis

I am so sorry to hear that.


Me too, actually. Getting home from work so tired that you fall asleep on the couch rarely leads to good culinary choices. I hope to remedy this in the future. Let's not talk about what my diet actually consists of, it's too depressing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:32 AM on August 6, 2010


If "press garlic" is a euphemism, than you also have my sympathy.

(If not, Costco sells these great big jars of minced garlic that I was skeptical of at first but have in fact turned out to be wonderful. Not suitable for roasting, but excellent for everything else)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:35 AM on August 6, 2010


re: creeps. I always thought of "creeps" as insidious creatures, working out elaborate schemes in their darkened dens. Not as, well, exhibitionists who publicly humiliate themselves. What Cohen's piece reminds me of most is Kanye West's 'performance' at the MTV Awards. It's buffoonery. So it throws me off, seeing this guy labeled as a creep. Does the creep angle come from the sexual aspect that's involved?

I think most people see "creeps" as individuals who ignore some social norms, but in a way that makes the subject of their attentions feel uncomfortable (unsafe, vulnerable, watched, imposed upon.)

Someone who wears strange clothes or forgets to brush their hair may be misreading norms, but they aren't a creep because they don't make other people feel bad. A creep is someone who tries to look down your shirt, or stalks you on the internet, or leers at you is a creep. But it doesn't need to be sexual. It's creepy to write deeply personal, passive-aggressive news articles about one's lost love on her wedding day because it's not just publiciy humiliating the writer but also the subject.

Briefly: Creeps are pushy. They make the object of their attentions and affections feel uncomfortable and imposed upon.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:36 AM on August 6, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm getting married in May. If some dude did this to us on our wedding day I would severely punch him in the dick.

Hey, me too! Friday the 13th, to be precise. I've already warned the betrothed that any attempts by the celebrant to inject unpreapproved god stuff will be met with a stiff, hooligan-style headbutt*. As she's received plenty of unrequited crushes** I suppose I should also prepare an arsenal of suplexes and submission holds just in case any Cohen-esque oversharing happens at the reception.

* having a pint in hand as we took our vows might be a little suspicious, so no glassing

** this may look awful and smarmy and egotistical and I hope anyone reading will interpret it in the most forgiving and charitable light. It is also true.

posted by jtron at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2010


(If not, Costco sells these great big jars of minced garlic that I was skeptical of at first but have in fact turned out to be wonderful. Not suitable for roasting, but excellent for everything else)

Yeah, I use smaller jars of minced garlic and feel my mother's eyes burning holes in the back of my neck every time I do. I AM SORRY I DO NOT HAVE TIME TO MINCE MY OWN GARLIC, MOM.

As for euphemisms... as stated, I fall asleep as soon as I get home. My life. Depressing. Etc. My life is also AWESOME, but in terms of cooking and euphemisms, it is sadly lacking.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:37 AM on August 6, 2010


Frankly all of my hostility towards him is coming from the fact that I used to think the same way he does, but I got over it in high school, and he's in his 40s.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on August 6


THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS. It always seems to set me a little more on edge when someone's being annoying or stupid in a way I recognize from my own past behavior; it's even worse when they're "old enough to know better."
posted by jtron at 11:39 AM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why did Politics Daily's Andrew Cohen highlight "poison" in his column to an Ex-girlfriend (updated)

I can't figure out why they would only highlight the word "poison."
posted by anniecat at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2010


hi Solon and Thanks - Briefly: Creeps are pushy

Thanks, that's a very good explanation. Are girls ever creeps?
posted by eeeeeez at 12:20 PM on August 6, 2010


Speaking of strange internet post-breakup connections:

A long time ago, I was dating a girl, and I done her wrong. Hoo, boy did I do her wrong. To her credit, she dropped me like a bad transmission, and we never spoke again. And in the months and years following the breakup, I realized that I was as wrong as wrong could be, and vowed that, if I ever saw her again, I would apologize for my wrongdoing. I also kind of figured I was safe, because I probably wouldn't ever see her again.

Well, fast forward more than a decade to this spring, when she friend requests me on Facebook. Oops. Now I was going to have to keep my vow to myself. But then I thought, shit, I'm going to look like a creep if I do this. We're both married (I very happily, and she just had a baby, so she's probably happy, too), older, very much changed. But that breakup had changed me, and I felt like I needed to tell her that. So I wrote her a very long message explaining the whole thing from my point of view and telling her that I realized what an incredible asshole I had been and that, as a result of that breakup, I felt like I had become a better person, or at least realized that I shouldn't be such an arrogant dick, or something.

So she responded, saying basically, thanks for the email, but you realize I'm taken, right? And I said yes, that I was taken, too, and I wished her well, and my message was the result of a vow I had made to myself a long time. Now, it all worked out, and we're Facebook-level, casual friends. But now, reading all this, I kind of wonder if I did the right thing.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:25 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't figure out why they would only highlight the word "poison."

It looks to be related to a spyware-ish thing called The Browser Highlighter -- see here. Looks like if somebody has The Browser Highlighter installed, and they copy and paste text (including the HTML) that includes that code, it will show up in the final page (if you view source on the page you can see the proprietary tags for it). It's probably nothing that Cohen or anybody else did on purpose, they were probably just copying and pasting the article for posting and accidentally included that screwy bit of code in the process.
posted by Gator at 12:27 PM on August 6, 2010


Are girls ever creeps?

Yes, of course. Girls are people, right? Girls can be pushy, right? They can make other people uncomfortable, right? Add those together, and you get capital-c-creepy with two X chromosomes. There are structural (eg less access to power and violence), physical (eg smaller), and perceptual (eg we associate "creepy" with "men") reasons why women are less likely to get labeled creepy, but trust me, they are certainly able to be creepy.
posted by Forktine at 12:29 PM on August 6, 2010


hi Forktine - right, I was trying to ask if the word "creepy" is applied to women, not whether they can or can not exhibit the characteristics that warrant the label. And if not, then what is word you would use to describe that behavior in women?
posted by eeeeeez at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2010


Right after getting married, I received very long heart-wrenching confessions from two of my closest male friends telling me that they were in love with me and had been for years.

Yep, that's the definition of a heep, right there: a jerk who's so scared of being rejected that he has to wait until the rejection is inevitable -- but not his fault -- before he acts like the jerk he is.

By comparison, I received a phone call once, out of the blue, from an old girlfriend of mine. We'd parted amicably years before when she decided to marry someone else, and she got divorced some time after I got married. The phone call came on the morning of her second wedding, just before the ceremony was going to start. She claimed it was accidental, then she told me where she was and what was about to happen, and how was I and my wife doing? I took the opportunity to tell her how excited I was for her and her fiance, and let her know that my wife and I wished her all the best. After all, it was her day, and if she happened to have a moment of "what if?" weakness, who am I to judge? Besides, equal odds that it was really just an accidental phone call.

But if I had been the one to make that phone call to her on the morning of her wedding, or if she'd done it to me on the morning of mine? Bad, bad stuff.

LETTER—MDASH—LETTERNOSPACEGODDAMMIT.

I feel terrible now. You must hate reading my comments.
posted by davejay at 12:36 PM on August 6, 2010


I think the problem with these letters is all the journey growth backstory thing. If these things read like, "Whoa. This thing you did way back when, it pulled me up short. Now I'm easier to deal with so thanks for hitting me with that newspaper. The fact that you didn't just put up with my bullshit, but called me on it has made a ton of lives better. I'm writing you this to let you know that you've been a positive influence on me.Thanks for doing that, have a nice life." They'd be fine. But there's this plea for acknowledgement of their growth that means that the author hasn't grown. They still seek the rejector's approval, which they have no right to. If you're going to write one of these you can't be looking for absolution, you have to be looking to tell someone how awesome they are and then walk away.
posted by edbles at 12:39 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


hi Forktine - right, I was trying to ask if the word "creepy" is applied to women, not whether they can or can not exhibit the characteristics that warrant the label. And if not, then what is word you would use to describe that behavior in women?

If a woman writes a missive about her ex on his wedding day, she is probably going to be called a "psycho bitch." "Creepy" is positively glowing compared to the things tossed at women for similar behavior.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


There are structural (eg less access to power and violence), physical (eg smaller), and perceptual (eg we associate "creepy" with "men") reasons why women are less likely to get labeled creepy, but trust me, they are certainly able to be creepy.

As the recipient of a long (and somewhat hostile) poem about myself and the girl and how I did her wrong, on my birthday about a year after we broke up, I can second this. I still remember having purchased a new car, and being at a stoplight, and seeing her cross the street, and thinking "oh I hope she doesn't see me in my new car, so she doesn't go where I live and damage it."
posted by davejay at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2010


eeeeeez: I think the common nomenclature is clingy.
posted by edbles at 12:40 PM on August 6, 2010


female creeps are called psycho
posted by anniecat at 12:48 PM on August 6, 2010


note: different girl than in my previous comment -- the one in my previous comment was actually pretty fantastic, even if my mother always hated her, heh
posted by davejay at 12:49 PM on August 6, 2010


Every single one of you talking about this being "all about Andrew" have committed the exact same error - You write about yourself, reading your own relationship failures (or even successes) into either what he wrote or into Lizzie's commentary on the same.

Lizzie's Rule number One was spot on: Write one fact about her. In that long paean to his lost love, the only way Andrew describes her is how she affected him and his family. She gave him confidence. She made him a better man. She gave him more productive. She made him less judgmental. She taught him patience. She made him feel desirable. She taught him to trust. She helped him define his dreams. And, by the way, she stuck up for him and she charmed his son. Do you not get that this is more of a love letter to himself? Look at how great he views himself and how much information he conveys-- really this could be a singles ad. She, on the other hand, is pretty amorphous. We know her age, that she is funny, and she lived far away. Honestly, she is just this side of a Stepford Wife or a Real Doll sex toy.

Sorry guys, I can't get behind the Heep= Nice Guy meme. Heep was an unctuous, fawning toady, yes, but I never got the idea that he considered himself a nice person; he only wears a thin mask of niceness which he soon drops when David figures him out. The real Nice GuyTM always fools himself-- he really does believe in his own niceness and never understands why girls don't fall in love with him. Heep would have been astonished if Agnes fell in love with him and he would have calculated the best way to use that knowledge.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:57 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


edbls, grapefruitmoon, anniecat - thanks.
posted by eeeeeez at 1:25 PM on August 6, 2010


So I wrote her a very long message explaining the whole thing from my point of view and telling her that I realized what an incredible asshole I had been and that, as a result of that breakup, I felt like I had become a better person, or at least realized that I shouldn't be such an arrogant dick, or something.

…But now, reading all this, I kind of wonder if I did the right thing.


The writing of it was important for you, and it's better that you did it than didn't do it. But the reading of it was likely not important for her. Better yet would to have deleted it. IMO.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:27 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The writing of it was important for you, and it's better that you did it than didn't do it. But the reading of it was likely not important for her. Better yet would to have deleted it. IMO.

This is similar to my thoughts. His grave faux pas, the one that reveals him to be an immature, self-absorbed heep, is NOT that he wrote the letter. If he would have written this letter and deleted it or set it aflame, I would congratulate him on achieving a positive healthycatharsis. I can't recommend highly enough the practice.

It's that he sent it to the world, and more distressingly, to her. Besides all the reasons stated in this thread, the act of publishing the letter betrays the spirit he attempts to put forth in the letter, and reveals that, for all his kind words, he still has a HUGE axe to grind with her.
posted by mreleganza at 1:50 PM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


I was trying to ask if the word "creepy" is applied to women, not whether they can or can not exhibit the characteristics that warrant the label.

“Creepy” is an interesting descriptor. I’ve noticed in a few previous threads that the possibility of being referred to as “creepy” has set both male and female MeFites into fits of defensive posture. (in the case of women, it was in the context of favouring/approaching younger men)

It’s curious, because there seems to be a general acceptance that you can’t please everyone, and there’s always someone who will think you are ugly, stupid, or foolish. But “creepy”?! You’re way off base, mister/miss!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:51 PM on August 6, 2010


Sorry guys, I can't get behind the Heep= Nice Guy meme. Heep was an unctuous, fawning toady, yes, but I never got the idea that he considered himself a nice person; he only wears a thin mask of niceness which he soon drops when David figures him out. The real Nice GuyTM always fools himself-- he really does believe in his own niceness and never understands why girls don't fall in love with him. Heep would have been astonished if Agnes fell in love with him and he would have calculated the best way to use that knowledge.
I ran this past my wife, whose experience in such matters (i.e., British literature) is much greater than mine. She concurred, and after some thought announced that Guppy, from Bleak House, would be perfect.

This is why I married her.
posted by verb at 1:52 PM on August 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


In that long paean to his lost love, the only way Andrew describes her is how she affected him and his family.

This is one-sided I'm sure simply because I'm a hetero male and so it's what I've been exposed to, but I've tended to find this version of praise/value ("I love what X does for me") to be a (shallow) female thing. In any case, it's a repulsive, self-centred thing.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:54 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


But now, reading all this, I kind of wonder if I did the right thing.

It's possible that you made her a little uncomfortable, but in your case, she's the one who reached out to you first with that friend request, right? And the important thing is that you handled it privately, just between the two of you. You may very well have come across as self-absorbed or beanplating or whatever in your note, I don't know -- from your description it sounds like it went over relatively smoothly. But the fact that you did it via email and NOT via an "Open Letter to the Woman Who Ripped My Still-Beating Heart From My Chest, But Don't Worry, I Won't Use Her Real Name" blog entry on a highly-trafficked Web site is what separates you from the Cohen-Heeps of the world.
posted by Gator at 1:56 PM on August 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


The writing of it was important for you, and it's better that you did it than didn't do it. But the reading of it was likely not important for her. Better yet would to have deleted it.

This is probably true, and it's probably a measure of her maturity and good grace that it worked out as well as it did.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:11 PM on August 6, 2010


I had an almost identical experience to vibrotronica.

I find it disturbing that so many people attribute maliciousness to his letter when it could easily, quite likely in fact, have been a sincere gesture.

Basically, he spends several column inches listing what a fine, decent, admirable human being she is. I can't find much fault there. I'm not sure I can defend the timing. I think that was a poor choice. Although I think I can understand the timing. You're getting married. Congratulations. Let me tell you what a fantastic person I think you are, and why I hope you're happy. Because you deserve it.

I'm surprised that practically no one in the thread has allowed that he was attempting to make a genuine proclamation of appreciation and praise, as ill conceived as it may have been. In other words, I think people could rightly criticize his timing and his social awkwardness. But I'm not prepared to question his motives. I think there is a lot of projection going on in this thread.

I also do not get the criticism of him not acknowledging her as an individual. Right towards the top he says "she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet". That's high praise for any person, and certainly not about the author. Repeatedly she is regarded as kind and loving, supportive, and fun. Should we all be so lucky as to be regarded this way.

I read this and instantly understood what he was trying to do. Did he do it clumsily? Yes. I think it's natural to feel embarrassed a bit for him, both due to the incredible intimacy of the information, as well as the socially tone-deaf execution.

But again, I don't see any maliciousness here. If someone thought you hung the moon, and expressed that you had caused them to experience profound, deep personal change, and had caused them to have some of the most enjoyable experiences in their life, how could you not be flattered?

This is exactly what it says on the tin: a proclamation of adoration, and congratulations, to the one that got away.

For those most critical: would you have given any quarter if the timing had been different?
posted by discountfortunecookie at 2:33 PM on August 6, 2010


discountfortunecookie, I think he was being sincere, but it was so tone-deaf and ill-timed that it still comes off as creepy.

Lots of guys that give girls the absolute creeps are very sincere.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:40 PM on August 6, 2010


I find it disturbing that so many people attribute maliciousness to his letter when it could easily, quite likely in fact, have been a sincere gesture.
Who is attributing maliciousness to the letter? Certainly not Skurnick. As I have stated, something can be both sincere and hurtful.
Basically, he spends several column inches listing what a fine, decent, admirable human being she is.
Really? I've read the column several times and I can not think of one trait that he listed, besides the fact that she's funny, and perhaps that she dazzles HIM. The problem is not that he praises her - it's that all his praise is centered around HIM. How she makes HIM feel. How she makes HIS DAD feel. How she makes HIS SON feel. How she changed HIS life. How HIS LIFE will not be the same without her. How she's "the one who got away" FROM HIM. Do you see the trend?
posted by muddgirl at 2:44 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


But again, I don't see any maliciousness here. If someone thought you hung the moon, and expressed that you had caused them to experience profound, deep personal change, and had caused them to have some of the most enjoyable experiences in their life, how could you not be flattered?

I just reread his entire letter, in case I was misremembering it. It was both narcissistic and tone-deaf beyond rudeness. It was not at all about how wonderful she was, and all about how he felt. It was an intrusion (and likely from a fairly unwelcome source) into someone else's moment.

For those most critical: would you have given any quarter if the timing had been different?

The timing was the worst, but it would still have been tone-deaf and self-centered any other time of the year.
posted by Forktine at 2:54 PM on August 6, 2010


Wait, I'm wrong - he did say that she was able to move to New York without getting hard (explicitely, she did not "become one of those poor women of a certain age in New York who have put their careers ahead of their lives"). So I guess I have to grant him that, although I don't think it helps his case.
posted by muddgirl at 2:55 PM on August 6, 2010


Although I think I can understand the timing. You're getting married. Congratulations. Let me tell you what a fantastic person I think you are, and why I hope you're happy. Because you deserve it.

"Dear Ex,

My best wishes to you on your wedding day. You are a wonderful person, and I hope your life is happy and full of love.

Signed,

Your Ex"

And not, you know, published in the paper. There are lots of ways to do this that express sincerity and appreciation without the bad timing and me-me-me of this guy's letter.
posted by rtha at 3:09 PM on August 6, 2010 [9 favorites]


muddgirl: All the comments attributing it to an exercise in narcissism on his part, to me, means it is not sincere and is rooted in some sort of maliciousness.

The primary motivation is where you have to decide: did he do it for her benefit, or for his own? If for his own benefit, then it is by definition malicious. If it was narcissistic, it is by definition for his benefit.

So yeah, you have to decide pretty early on where you believe he stands and what his motivations are. I choose to assume his motives were pure. I could certainly be mistaken about that.

I quoted a section where he said she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet. I think you are stretching on your interpretation of dazzling, and I don't think even a detractor could spin him calling her brilliant into any sort of negative.

Yes I see the theme, but I do not read that the same way that you do. I think it is common to give someone praise by telling about how they have uplifted you, or helped you, or given you a reason to change for the better. This seems like a common western convention, from wedding toasts to eulogies, and I'm just not understanding (from anyone, not only you) why this particular form of giving praise is somehow offensive.

I mean, when they dedicate a new gymnasium to the retiring principal, they don't talk about what great penmanship he had, or how he balanced the budget and got rid of all the grafitti in the bathroom. They talk about what a great influence he was on the students, what he did in THEIR life, how he motivated THEM, probably with testimonials from those affected students telling their experience.

How is that form of praise at all offensive, disingenuous, or reproachable? I truly think people are barking up the wrong tree with this particular criticism.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 3:13 PM on August 6, 2010


The primary motivation is where you have to decide: did he do it for her benefit, or for his own? If for his own benefit, then it is by definition malicious.

I'm not sure why that is supposed to follow. You may be using a different definition of "malicious" than I am—I think that malice, narcissism, and thoughtlessness are three different things and personally reckon that Cohen is guilty here only of the last two, in the decision to publish in the first place at least. He can be self-regarding and terribly unthoughtful about the context outside his own personal view of the world without acting maliciously.
posted by cortex at 3:26 PM on August 6, 2010


Yeah, let's add "maliciousness" to the list of words nobody actually used, here or in the rebuttal column.

If for his own benefit, then it is by definition malicious.

That's...not in any definition of "malicious" that I'm familiar with.

I think it is common to give someone praise by telling about how they have uplifted you

Telling whom? Telling that person directly, privately, or Telling! The! World!...?

Here are a few questions to ponder: What is the underlying purpose of widely publishing a litany like this? What is the benefit of getting dozens/hundreds/thousands of (strange) people's eyes on this proclamation? What's the benefit to the supposed subject of the praise, as opposed to the benefit to the person shouting from the rooftops? Sure, the thought process on the surface is probably something along the lines of "I want EVERYONE to SEE how awesome she is," but looking deeper into the motivations, why? Why would you want that, especially in circumstances like these (you split up years ago, she's marrying someone else, TODAY, and you're not invited)?

To me, it's just like that time I saw a guy climb up on a table in a diner and start singing "I Think I Love You" to this girl he was wheedling for a date, which I guess is from some stupid romcom I didn't see, and everybody else in the diner was all, "Awwww, give him a chance!" If you're playing to an audience of more than just the one object of your affections, you're doing it wrong.
posted by Gator at 3:36 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Christ, so according to a chunk of the population this guy isn't wrong? The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess. And other cupcakes made of bullshit.

Self, self, self.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 3:53 PM on August 6, 2010


I quoted a section where he said she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet. I think you are stretching on your interpretation of dazzling, and I don't think even a detractor could spin him calling her brilliant into any sort of negative.

I would agree if he left it at that, as rtha's sample letter does.

But he says so much more than that, DFC. The nice thing about rtha's letter is it doesn't start off, "The great love of my life marries today and I am not the groom."

That, and similar statements extolling his undying love for her, how he will always wonder what might have been, and fondly imagine life as her husband, are beyond the pale in a "present" he is giving to her. She knows she is going to read it (he intends for it!), and he knows her husband is going to read it.

How comfortable would you be with that, as the husband? Not very, of course. And you see....I think he knows that. I think he would be quite pleased if he knew he was in the back of her mind, and his, as they walked down the aisle. I do assign malice to this letter.

I hope he does not sully their days with low-level harrasment. I could picture him showing up at their house at 11 at night (but not, like, 3AM! He's not crazy!), request an audience with her ("Privately?" he'll ask while glowering at husband), and then recite every loverly statement with some permanence attached to it ("You said, 'I'll always love you!' and "Huh! When we get married, I'll never let you watch the History Channel again' Remember?") she ever uttered, with the inference that she either owes him something or is a deceitful bitch.
posted by mreleganza at 4:06 PM on August 6, 2010


The nice thing about rtha's letter is it doesn't start off, "The great love of my life marries today and I am not the groom."

The way I see it, there are two alternate ways he could have approached this in a non-private manner. One is, provided he had maintained an active friendship with the woman (not just appear on her doorstop one day), share a draft with her, the way someone might say "I'd like to say this at your wedding; what do you think?" Needless to say, this isn't that situation, and this isn't that kind of letter.

The other way could have started off exactly with "The great love of my life [is getting married] and I am not the groom." That way is to anonymously post it, bereft of identifying details, as a thought piece on love and loss and (potentially not) moving on, rather than as a spotlight piece on the particulars of his emotions and his experiences.

There are lots of ways this could have been done well. He didn't choose any of them.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:35 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is that form of praise at all offensive, disingenuous, or reproachable? I truly think people are barking up the wrong tree with this particular criticism.

The praise is so effusive and personal as to be embarrassing. This is the sort of praise one wants to hear from one's spouse, perhaps, but not from somebody with whom one wishes to maintain a polite social distance. It's too intimate and presumptuous. It presumes she still cares what he thinks and how he feels. It presumes she has some guilt to bear, and needs his forgiveness and blessing to move on. It presumes she'll be comfortable with the knowledge that in his mind there is still a strong emotional connection between them, and that he imagines her having some sort of emotional reaction to his outpouring.

In contrast, rtha's short note above, perhaps jotted into a wedding card, would have been classy and sweet.

If my ex-husband wrote such a letter about me (hah!) I'd find it all kinds of uncomfortable and creepy. Why hasn't he moved on? Why, if he thought I was such a spun-sugar angel fairy goddess, did he do all those assy things that eventually drove me to break up with him? Why is he telling me this, what am I supposed to think, what reaction did he envision? Does he not realize that my new husband is twice his size and might not be particularly happy to have an old flame making overwrought declarations of adoration about his wife? Will I discover him lurking in my bushes next week? Is he having some sort of mental breakdown? Am I obligated to care if he is?

Seriously, the best gift my ex could give me is to be kind and civil when our paths cross, and allow me to believe that he's moved on to a happier life as I have.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:02 PM on August 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


she concurred, and after some thought announced that Guppy, from Bleak House, would be perfect.

Ooooo. Your wife is a genius, verb, and I totally concur with the Nice Guy call on Guppy, especially in regards to Esther's reaction to him-- Guppy was mightily puzzled why she didn't swoon at his offer of marriage.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:07 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


hi Durn Bronzefist - “Creepy” is an interesting descriptor

I agree. It seems to mean something like "not cool" as in, awkward to be around, uncomfortable, infectious or disease-ridden.

However to me it also has a connotation of malice - the intention to harm, capture or conceal.

Cohen's... thing... is transgressive, but this in itself is not the problem. Every significant interaction between people brings an element of surprise and uncertainty, and with that, discomfort. The question is whether the aim of the perpetrator is to confuse and discomfort the other person as a means to wield influence, i.e. whether someone uses another person's reaction (or imagined reaction) solely as a means to satisfy their own needs. That's creepy.

On the other hand, demanding that people conform themselves without exception to a flavorless, frictionless civility to avoid any discomfort whatsoever, well, that's creepy too.

This piece should never have been published. But the freedom to forge relationships requires some degree of tolerance for those who are at times foolish, uncool, and perhaps sometimes creepy.
posted by eeeeeez at 6:18 PM on August 6, 2010


to me it also has a connotation of malice - the intention to harm, capture or conceal.

I guess that makes sense from the context of the horror genre -- what is creepy is fear-inducing or unsettling in a way that provokes feelings of vulnerability. In that way, it isn't surprising that it might be applied to men more often than to women, nor that words expressing unusual dangerousness ("psycho", as suggested above) replace it when the genders are switched, as guys are less likely to use a word suggesting such vulnerability (oooh, I'm scared).

If so, that's a pretty heavy-handed term to use because it carries with it the implied threat of violence or similar danger. To say that someone is "creepy" does not imply the same as saying that person is a socially awkward goofball, I agree. For similar reasons, I think we stay clear of lightly calling someone "abusive" if all we really mean is "insulting" or "forcefully argumentative".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:06 PM on August 6, 2010


In a few more drinks, I'll figure out how Radiohead fits into this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:12 PM on August 6, 2010


phenylphenol: “That's a mean-spirited and personal attack, and it is bandying publicly that Cohen has MULTIPLE coworkers who are poo-pooing him behind his back. I'm sorry, but her behavior is just mean and unprofessional. She might be right in the substance of her argument, but in making this even more public, she shows judgment as poor as his.”

Some people ought to be forgiven for making particular things public. He, however, is a journalist, and a journalist on politics no less. It might have been somewhat mean, but if anybody on the face of this planet might be expected to be prepared for a bad reception, it's a political journalist.

Of course, it's insane this was published. He's a political correspondent? This guy? The second this hit his editor's inbox, it should've been deleted, and he should've been gently but firmly told that they were going to have to let him go because his work was getting a bit too 'personally involved.'
posted by koeselitz at 7:44 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, Cohen reminds me of my college ex-boyfriend's brother who held a very creepy torch for his ex for years. He had these mix tapes that had titles like "Bitch Fucked Me Over" and "God I Want You Back." Thankfully he never sent any of them to her or published his feelings in a political blog. WTF indeed.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 12:27 AM on August 7, 2010


Andrew Cohen is Centrifuge Guy. His ex is lucky to have escaped his orbit.

I would dearly love to see the thank you note written in regards to this "gift".

Dear Mr. Cohen,
NewWife and I thank you for your thoughtful gift. We've debated endlessly on the best use of this gift and spent several seconds of hard thought before realizing that the cat needed a litter change and what better cat pan liner could there be than your gift? I only wish we had a new puppy that needed potty training or a bird cage that needed a liner because those would also be appropriate places to use your gift.
So thanks for your gift. NewWife and I really appreciated it but not as much Fluffy does. In fact, I see Fluffy using your gift right this minute!

Best regards,
New Husband
posted by jaimystery at 4:32 AM on August 7, 2010


As I was getting ready for bed last night I thought of two creepy women: The Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction and the Jennifer Jason Leigh character in Single White Female.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2010


Just as I was writing this my husband chimed in. The two (three) creepy females he thought of first were Carrie (and her mother) in Carrie (after all they called "Creepy Carrie") and the woman in Play Misty For Me
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:48 AM on August 7, 2010


Where was this man's editor? His other columns are congruent with the website and his job there. No one should have let this run.
posted by sdn at 8:02 AM on August 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


If he were a stand-up-guy, he would have sucked it up, smiled, and sent flowers. This was a loser move that should be a signal to women: Don't date this self-indulgent douche-bag. Ever.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:23 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


My wife read this column in open-mouthed horror.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


> That the editors let him print this is amazing

At an editorial meeting I once attended one proposal was for an essay that would've made the writer look bad, and the writer clearly didn't realize this. Very bad. But in a way that would've been entertaining for the reader. The editor-in-chief thought they should run it, and "give her enough rope."

Sometimes editors are more interested in the readers, or in sales, than in protecting writers from themselves.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:14 PM on August 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Do none of you actually stay on good terms, and in contact with, your exes?

yes, and the trick to it is to never pull shit like this - you re-establish your relationship to each other strictly in terms of friendship, you don't dredge up things from your coupledom, and any romantic feelings or memories you have you keep to your damn self. You treat them exactly as you would treat any other friend.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:28 PM on August 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Staggeringly obnoxious and gross. What a tool.
posted by agregoli at 3:44 PM on August 7, 2010


And yet, with this comment,

"[,,,]If this is what Cohen had to do to find peace, selfish or not, the positive intent should matter. In any event, he probably burned that bridge good and toasty.[...]

We are reminded of a more famous Cohen -- Lenard Cohen, who has done more-or-less exactly this, several times, to great accolades.. Funny old world. [Take home message: This sort of thing goes over much better if you set it to music put music around it..]

posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 7:59 PM on August 8, 2010


Imagine Andrew Cohen at the reception, delivering this column as an uninvited toast.

So he's like Garth Brooks, but all his friends are on the internet instead of in low places?
posted by inigo2 at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2010


For artists, there is a measure of distance from any particular work - it takes time to produce, time which can separate the subject in Real Life from the subject in the piece; it is generally assumed by consumers that narrators and characters are not simple stand-ins for the artist, and thus the feelings expressed in a song are not necessary 1-for-1 representations of the feelings of an artist; and even with this distance artists are NOT given a free pass on douchy-ness in their art (like this awesome analysis of Rivers Cuomo). AND YET PART II when this sort of analysis does occur, there is an inevitable backlash that is like, "Dude it's just pretty music why do you take it so seriously?"

In other words, pretty much the exact reaction same reactions of some people in this thread...
posted by muddgirl at 8:31 AM on August 9, 2010


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