You, Me, and (Whoever) Makes Three
Bringing Extra Guests to an Occasion, and Asking About STDs
I was recently invited to the handfasting ceremony of some old friends. They know that I am polyamorous. The invitation was addressed to me, and “guest”. Right now I have two primary and equal partners. Can I ask the bride if it’s okay to bring both?— Threesome
First, check with your two darlings and see if they are even both available on the handfasting’s date. Ms. Alternative is not unfamiliar with the difficulties of scheduling polyamorous families, and odds aren’t bad that one of your partners may already have a circle jerk or a piano recital to attend on the same day, which would easily solve the dilemma.
But it’s also dodging the problem a little, so Ms. Alternative will address it after she briefly indulges herself with a bit of ranting about handfastings and weddings.
Many of us modern, alternative folks deplore the “institution” of marriage, for reasons from legitimate complaints about its legal status to simple newfangled snobbishness. However, someone else’s special occasion is not, repeat not, the time to air these views. It is a time to congratulate the happy couple (or quintuple) and wish them well in the future, and to remember that you were invited to witness their ceremony and attend their party because they enjoy your company. If it truly offends your morals to have anything to do with such an occasion, politely decline the invitation, sans rationale, and see if you can find it in your heart to remain friends, or even send them a gift or a card. (And for gods’ sake, do RSVP! And in a timely fashion!)
Also, these events can be expensive. It is often considered okay (although best to ask first unless the invitation specifically give permission) to bring an extra partner, friend or housemate or three to a party, provided that enough beer, chips and lube are brought to provide for the extras as well. However, unless the wedding is rather informal, there is probably some catering involved, even if it’s only the wedding-cake with three Ken-dolls in dresses on top. If the hosts are paying for all the food, then every extra person means an extra fee to the caterer or pizza boy, and it’s a bit much to ask, especially if the event is being paid for by the people who the occasion is honoring.
So, if you’re set on bringing both your people, try asking first. And don’t ask the bride! The honored people are probably shockingly busy with other things. If you happen to have heard of a maid of honor, father of the groom, bride’s submissive, or wedding coordinator who is taking some of these duties away from the blissful ones, try to contact them first, and apologetically ask if you may bring another guest. Bearing in mind the aforementioned catering costs, don’t make it difficult for them to say no. And if they do happen to have room for your two since Uncle Billy won’t be making it from Idaho after all due to his last-minute knee surgery, thank them profusely (and buy a generous handfasting-gift, and help clean up after the reception).
If it’s just not possible to include both your beloveds, sit down and talk with both of them about your dilemma. You may decide to go alone, or some compromise may be reached where you take one to the wedding and the other to the opera the next week. Good poly-persons understand that these things happen sometimes, and if you make sure that neither partner feels neglected, a good compromise can be found.
How can I find out if someone I want to bump genitals with has any STDs?— Germphobic
These days, the only way to be absolutely certain is to ask to see a recent copy of their test results. (Ms. Alternative knows of some sex-positive households where the members proudly frame their latest clean bills of health and hang them in the entryway, but not everyone can be so foresighted.) And even that’s not foolproof, since (as I’m sure you already know) some things won’t show up for a few months.
Ms. Alternative Manners is a biker-jacket freak lady who has dedicated herself to the advocacy of good manners. She teaches that politeness is to human interaction as lube is to sex. It may not be strictly necessary, but it makes things a great deal less painful, more comfortable, and more fun, especially for large groups, first meetings, unusual situations, and special occasions. You can send her questions for this column at advice (@) freaknation (dot) com.