Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s confusing you.
This week we’re talking about what to do when a friend or family member is having a party or event that doesn’t feel safe during the pandemic. Do you try to attend while following safety protocols – wear a mask, stay six feet apart, stay outside? Do you decline the invite? Or do you take it one step further and tell the host that holding the event is selfish and dangerous? Have your own questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
My BFF is hosting a graduation party for her son in a couple weeks. It will be mostly outdoors, but there will likely be 30+ people there and social distancing will be difficult, if not impossible. Mask use in our area is 50/50 at best so that’s a crap shoot too. I know she’s counting on me to be there, and I don’t want to piss her off. AITA if we skip it?
Short answer: NO. You are not the asshole for skipping a party during a pandemic – especially when that party is dangerous and against guidance from public health experts.
Not only are you not the asshole, but quite frankly your friend is kind of an asshole for even considering a large party right now. Coronavirus cases are spiking all over the damn country. Even if you live in a location that is seeing relatively low numbers right now, that can change on a dime. No place is safe. Even worse, holding the event is putting a shit ton of people at risk. She is basically asking for her friends and family to be a story on the news. Like this family. Or this one. Or these folks. I’m guessing you don’t want to end up as a cautionary tale, much less deal with the devastation of COVID-19.
That said, there may be ways to deal with the situation without pissing anyone off. Though you would be perfectly justified in telling your friend that hosting the event is dangerous and selfish, chances are your approach will make all the difference. So my advice is to tread lightly if you want to maintain a relationship. For instance, you could come up with an excuse to stop by the event for just a few minutes, stay outdoors the entire time, wear masks, and keep as much distance as possible from others while you are there. Or you could send her the latest health recommendations and data on COVID-19 cases in your area, with a suggestion to postpone the party, in the hopes that she’ll come to her senses.
You could also suggest a SMALL, socially-distanced, outdoor gathering so that you can congratulate the grad but also protect each other. If she insists on holding the big, blowout bash, well… that tells you a lot about your friend as a person since she is willing to put the health and safety in danger in order to do what she wants. This is a painful realization, but you aren’t alone in learning that people aren’t who you thought they were. Challenging times have a way of bringing out the best and worst in others.
Bottom line: hosting large parties just isn’t safe right now. Period. You aren’t an asshole for declining the invitation. If you want to salvage the relationship, my suggestion is to do so gently with facts and data, so that your friend is less defensive. If you speak up, maybe you’ll change her mind about holding the part – and potentially save lives in doing so.