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Malcolm in the middle ages

My fianc and I are having a costume wedding. We thought having everyone dress Renaissance/medieval would be a fun alternative to stuffy black-tie. The problem is, my fianc wants his brother to be his best man, but the guy simply refuses to come in costume. How can I get over the resentment I feel toward his brother for not wanting to fully participate in our wedding? Maid Marian

It's no surprise you long for days of yore, when it was much easier to get the peasants to follow orders. Unfortunately, like most people these days, you only got engaged, not coronated. All you can do is hint how pissy you'll be for the next 50-some years if you don't get your way which, as a motivational tool, doesn't have quite the same punch as the power to flick your scepter and screech to the palace guards, "Off with his head!"

It's your party, and you'll make him dress like Friar Tuck if you want to! Well, that's one way of looking at it. But, look where it's gotten you. Suddenly, what should be a celebration of love is degenerating into petty infighting over who wears the pants in the family and if they can demand the rest of the clan wear knickers, curly-toed shoes and tights.

Ask yourself what really matters: whether your wedding is the epitome of medieval accuracy, down to guests who smell like they bathed once (back in 1434) or whether everybody feels included. ("Well, having a historically accurate wedding, of course!") If that's how you see it, you're probably feeling relieved you're marrying your fianc, not his stuffybutt brother. Um, not so fast. You don't just marry a person, you marry into a person's family which means you're vowing to spend at least part of the rest of your life with everybody from the groom's brother to his flatulent Aunt Frieda.

In other words, it would behoove you to stop stamping your feet and insisting everybody meet your needs and start smiling and inquiring about theirs. But, wait, isn't this supposed to be your wedding, that "most important day of every girl's life"? That thinking is not only vomit-inducing, it's what gets the mother of the bride chasing the mother of the groom with one of those spiked balls on a chain typically, over life-and-death issues like whether the centerpieces should be calla lilies or bud roses.

Shift your priority from getting married to being married, and your wedding could be a training ground for compromising for the greater good a skill you'll be needing frequently once all the jesters and serving wenches go home. Consider that there just might be people out there (your fianc's brother, perhaps?) who are horrified at the prospect of appearing publicly in, say, green control-top leggings and pointy elf ears, and worse yet, having their paunchy elf self preserved in your wedding album for posterity.

Maybe now would be a good time to tell the brother and other guests you'll have period hats and masks on hand, but all that really matters is that they're there, stifling their snickering the best they can I mean, sharing your special day.

How can you get over the resentment you feel toward the fianc's bro for not dressing up? Well, about the same way he'll get over the resentment he feels toward you when he's up there in a suit and tie looking like he's trying to sell insurance to the sheriff of Nottingham.

By the light of the silvery moon

A guy I have a crush on flirts with me, but it's taking him forever to ask me out. It's his birthday next week, and I want to get him a present to help our relationship go one step further something romantic, sweet and cute that won't freak him out or anything. Do you have any gift ideas for $35 or less? Stumped

Banks used to offer prospective customers a free toaster to get them to sign up for an account. It is tempting to follow their lead. The problem is, a guy who gets a present from a girl he barely knows is likely to be creeped out; that is, if the girl's lucky. If she's not, he'll be the kind of guy who has the attitude, "Sure, there are some things money just can't buy, but thanks, I'd love an iPod!"

If you must shop, definitely get something "sweet and cute that won't freak him out" something that you couldn't possibly give him: A Hello Kitty bikini, $27. Three pink plastic cell-phone charms, $7.50. A lavender "I enjoy being a girl!" baby tee, $20. The understanding that real relationships don't start with the tag line, "For everything else, there's MasterCard"? Priceless.

Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, No. 280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com).

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