Sounds Like a Plan: Pop-music advice from the mind of MARK BLANKENSHIP

| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:12

    Dear Mark, Is it my place to give my friend a heads up that his girlfriend of five years has cheated on him numerous times? Normally, I would do it to help the guy out. Only problem—she’s my best friend. Do I owe him this, even though I could risk losing one of my best friends?

    Do you know Anberlin? It is an alt-rock band that mitigates its snottiness with soaring pop hooks. You know, like Fall Out Boy with a side of Daughtry. Or Paramore, except with a male lead singer.

    Anyway, its new album New Surrender is really good, and it’s got this song called “Blame Me! Blame Me!” that relates to your question. The second verse is especially apropos, when Stephen Christian sings,

    And we could stare all day At problems that won’t go away Silence is pounding, silence is pounding You’re wearing me down

    He’s talking about his girlfriend, but you’re in the same situation: Since you know your best friend is cheating on her boyfriend, you’re trapped in this awful silence. You’ve realized that staying quiet will have serious consequences.

    But I’m talking about the consequences for you. If you hold on to a secret like this, it’s going to “wear you down,” as the song says. If you don’t speak up, you could feel increasingly uncomfortable around your friend and her boyfriend and that could make you resent both of them.

    However, it’s not your place to insert yourself into their relationship. You can’t really know what it’s like between them, and you can’t presume to know what’s best. All you can do is take responsibility for yourself.

    So talk to your best friend. Tell her how her actions are affecting you. Since you know about her indiscretions, her affair is causing you stress, and it’s forcing you to quietly lie to her boyfriend every time you see him. Since you guys are close, she’ll probably understand why that sucks.

    After that, it’s her move. Maybe she’ll realize she needs to talk to her boyfriend. Maybe she won’t. Either way, try to respect her independence without ignoring what’s right for you. If that means backing away from her for a while, then so be it. Keeping yourself in a toxic situation isn’t going to help anyone.


    Dear Mark, I am planning my wedding and have been fighting with my mother constantly about details—from the guest list to the flowers. How can I make her understand that it’s my wedding too?

    Boy, I can relate. I haven’t gotten married (New York won’t let me), but I have wrestled with my mom over her place in my life. When I went to grad school, there was this whole blowout about whether or not I’d be hanging a novelty license plate in my bedroom. I’ll tell you all about it if you buy me a margarita (frozen, no salt).

    For moral support, check out the Lucinda Williams song “Side of the Road.” Addressing a boyfriend, she sings, “You wait in the car by the side of the road... I wanna know you’re there, but I wanna be alone.” In other words, she wants to keep a person in her life, but she wants that person to trust her. She can take 10 steps away and not be gone forever.

    Just like my mom, I bet your mother is sad to see you changing. No matter how much she loves your future husband, no matter how proud of you she is, she’s also losing her child to the world of adulthood. A marriage is our culture’s surest symbol that kid has grown up. 

    Try to be sympathetic, but don’t let her run the show. You’re right that your wedding is ultimately about you and your husband, and you deserve to celebrate it however you like. To compromise, try drawing some distinct boundaries. Sit down with your mom, tell her how much you want her to be part of the ceremony, and then tell her she can be in charge of one or two things. Ask her what she’d like to oversee and then explain how important it is that she let you handle everything else. That way, she’ll know you’re making space for her, but she’ll also know where that space ends.


    Dear Mark, I’m thinking of moving to Brooklyn. I have been a Manhattanite for years, but I know I’d get more space for my dollar in the other borough. It’s such a hard move to make it over a bridge to see my friends. How can I overcome this stigma? —Signed, Feeling Desperate in the Financial District

    Hey Desperate, First of all, thanks for signing your question with an alias. I love that!

    But on to serious business: Times are tough, rents are high and Manhattan apartments get smaller by the second. Moving to Brooklyn makes a lot of sense. So don’t be afraid of the borough. I’ve lived in Park Slope for over three years, and I’ve loved every second of it.

    And you know who comes from Brooklyn? Jay-Z. And Pat Benatar. And Neil Diamond. We’re a cultural hotbed!

    Granted, your social life will change, but you’ll be fine. Just last weekend, I had a party at my apartment, and there were people there from the Upper West Side. And you’ll still go to Manhattan. Compromises can be made.

    Once you’ve made the move, I think you’ll appreciate the slightly more relaxed, slightly more spacious reality of Brooklyn life. You might be on the subway more—and God help us all on the weekends—but you’ll gain a new peace of mind. And possibly, a new appreciation for Neil Diamond.