Advice Column Reader: My Mom Wants Her Dead Parrot to Be the Theme of My Wedding

Source Dear Prudence,

My mother had a beautiful parrot for over a decade until it died five years ago. Ever since then, I’ve gotten a monthly update about “Polly.” (Think: “It’s raining today. Polly always loved the rain,” or “Happy Halloween, missing Polly.”) I understand my mother’s sadness at losing her pet and try to be supportive without letting our entire conversations be about Polly. My father chooses to do “whatever your mother needs” to grieve, which means their house is basically a Polly shrine and discussion of getting another pet is forbidden.

My fiancé and I plan to get married next summer, and my mother has already insisted someone mention Polly during my wedding. Originally, she wanted Polly mentioned in the formal speeches and among the family pictures at the reception, Polly-themed dessert and favors. I put my foot down and said my wedding will not become a bird funeral six years after the fact. My father told her she needs to tone down the Polly demands and told me I should do one small thing (he suggested Polly’s photo incorporated into my mom’s mother-of-the bride corsage). My fiancé privately laughs about the whole thing and says we should just elope anyway. I’m leaning toward eloping just to avoid dealing with my mom’s bird grief on a day that’s supposed to be about the love I have found with my fiancé. What do you think? 

—Not a Bird Funeral 

Dear Not a Bird Funeral,

I'm glad you asked. I would've preferred you asked me instead of Prudence, but whatevs. I'm here for you.

Here is my advice. Don't waste your breath trying to reason with your mother. That shipped sailed, left the launch pad of sanity, slipped the gravity of Planet Normal, flew to the Insanity Nebula in the Cray-Cray star cluster of Galaxy Unhinged and will not be coming back. The crew abandoned ship. She is out there where the buses don't run and won't be home for dinner. You'd have a better chance of having a rational discussion with Polly. 

What I'm suggesting instead is that you lean into this. Push in all your chips and let it right on mom's hand of lunacy. Don't fight it, embrace it. Like Immersion Therapy where they take someone who's afraid of snakes and put a bunch of snakes on them. Your mom wants the world to obsess over a dead smelly piece of poultry that had a brain the size of a watch battery. The only way to break her out of it is to go so over the top even she gets embarrassed. 

She wants Polly mentioned in the speeches, make all your vows be about nothing else but a bird that died six years ago. Make is sound like you're marrying the damned thing. She wants Polly themed desserts, serve baked stuffed parrot for an entree. She wants a photo of Polly in her corsage, walk down the aisle in a gown made of parrot feathers. Spend the entire reception on your hands and knees sobbing uncontrollably like a North Korean after Kim Jong Il died.

As a matter of fact, for the price of a beer I'll get any one of about 20 guys I know and we'll do this by heart for the mother/father dance. 

Trust me, we don't need to rehearse. We know it by heart. 

This will not only cure your deranged mom through the power of public shaming, it'll guarantee your marriage will last. Because an guy who can get through a wedding like your mom wants will be with you forever. 

Old Balls