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The Construction Worker & the Farmer – What do Emma and Conflicted in Chicago have in Common?


Tea:  English Breakfast with a Splash of Milk
Music: Erik Satie: 3 Gymnopedies

Quote:  What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense and all his merit Mr. Martin is nothing more,) a good match for my intimate friend! Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man whom I could never admit as an acquaintance of my own! You are not just to Harriet’s claims. Emma by Jane Austen


Dear Erica,

My best friend just got engaged and I don’t know what to do.  Her fiance is nice enough, and he treats her well, but I just don’t think he’s good enough for her. I don’t mean to be a snob, but he’s a construction worker, and she’s in her third year of a Phd in Comparative Literature. He, and most of his friends, did not even complete a college degree!  What do I do?  Do I tell her what I think?  Should I try to get her to break it off?


Conflicted in Chicago


Dear Conflicted in Chicago,

You clearly haven’t read Jane Austen’s book, Emma, or you would know you need to mind your own business.  Need I remind you how much mischief Emma caused when she persuaded her friend Harriet Smith to break off her romance with Robert Martin because he was a lowly farmer! In life, so much comes down to how things affect us, rather than others.  In her snobbery, Emma did not approve of her friend associating with a lowly farmer because she felt it reflected poorly on herself. Be careful that deep down you are not thinking of the embarrassment to yourself, rather than for your friend.  If she doesn’t care that he does not have a college degree, why should you?

Hopefully, snobbery is not your fault, but a deep loyalty and affection for your friend.  The simple truth is that no man is ever good enough for a friend, especially a best friend.  He might be a doctor trying to save sick orphans in Africa, and you’d still think he wasn’t good enough for her.

Unless you know for certain that he is abusive, cruel, or unfaithful it is always best to keep your mouth shut.  Only the participants in a relationship know what each person contributes.  Perhaps your best friend’s fiance has not read Dante or Proust, but he can cook the best chili in all of Illinois.  (I know what you are thinking, and good chili does not seem like a deal breaker to me either, but there are people in this world with a real weakness for chili.)  Anyhow, my point is that just because he does not suit you, it does not follow that he will not suit her. We do not all have the same taste in men, just as we do not all have the same taste in tea.  If I cut out every person who does not serve milk with their English Breakfast tea(shocking yes, but it does happen), I’d be alienating a whole segment of society in the same way that you will alienate your friend if you deride her future husband because he does not live up to your standards!  Remember those are your lofty standards, not hers, and if she is happy with him, lowly construction worker or farmer that he may be, you should be happy with him as well.



1 SUMMER LOVING { 04.18.09 at 1:19 pm }

Conflicted in Chicago should be glad her friend has found someone that is nice to her. She is obviously in love and there’s not much her friend can do about that. Can’t help who you fall in love with.
He might of not finished a degree, but that means nothing to what kind of person he is. Maybe there was a reason why he didn’t finish. Different influences in life can effect someones choices. Maybe his home life wasn’t the greatest, maybe he is better with his hands and in the end you just got to do what makes you happy. He’s happy by the sounds of it and so is she, have you asked yourself that same question?
Life’s too short to be a snob!

2 Elizabeth Khuri Chandler { 04.20.09 at 5:45 pm }

Dear Erica,
I think your blog is fabulous! And I love the tea selections…one more thing in common besides our exciting fathers…you’ll have to come over for a cup sometime!

3 Joe Wilder { 04.27.09 at 2:32 pm }

Conflicted in Chicago. Your best friend’s engagement shouldn’t interfere with your relationship, though you’ll need to exchange quantity for quality time. No, you won’t be able to call her at 3 a.m. just to chat and go grab a latte, and you won’t be able to spend the amount of precious time with her that you cherish so much currently. That being said, don’t let a little enviousness and fear on your part interfere with your best friend’s romance. Support her in every way possible, but always, always stay out of the relationship, unless of course there is even a hint of mental or physical abuse. That’ll do.

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