Single with Turkey and Small Island

Illustration by Kate Feiffer

Bemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Trying to untangle a messy Island ethics or etiquette question? Send it to

Dear Nicole:
We invited a newly single friend to come to the Island and join us for Thanksgiving. Little did we know the newly single friend is less single than we thought and she wants to bring along the new man in her life. She may be over the old man in her life, but we aren’t, and we don’t feel comfortable hosting Mr. New, especially for a family holiday. I don’t think our friend will take it well if we say she can’t bring the new guy, and I don’t want to upset her, but I also don’t want this turkey at my Thanksgiving table. What should I do?
Confidentially Yours,
Mashed Potatoes

Dear Mashed:
Oh, dear, Mashed. Oh, dear. If I understand this correctly, you want to exclude somebody from your Thanksgiving table on the grounds that he is cherished by somebody you cherish. You have decided to reject him – apparently on principle. That principle outweighs the fact that your friend has found happiness; it outweighs the possibility that you could end up liking this guy; and saddest of all, it outweighs the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is all about gratitude (thanks), generosity (giving) and good-fellowship. If the Native Americans and the Pilgrims could all sit down in peace together, why can’t you sit down with your friend’s new man? “I don’t want this turkey at my Thanksgiving table” is sort of like saying, “All those hick Ag Hall  exhibits from the Fair don’t belong at the Fair, they belong at the Dumptique.” You want to destroy the core qualities of the event, the spirit of which is clearly lost on you.

Why this misanthropic attitude? You say you aren’t over her ex — do you mean you haven’t come to terms with their relationship being over? Guess what: it is over. What better way to make that real than seeing her with somebody new? Somebody who is devoted enough to her to forgo his own Thanksgiving plans and instead sit at a Thanksgiving table full of strangers? That is not an easy or comfortable thing to do. What a mensch! I like this guy!

So in case it isn’t clear, my answer to your question “What should I do?” is: get over yourself, and whatever pettiness is keeping you from embracing your friend’s joy, and invite the fellow warmly to join your table. Duh.
That’s my take.


Dear Nicole:
On the Vineyard it seems like everybody is either related, friends or acquainted with everybody else. You can’t hardly complain about somebody who’s upset you because the person you say it to is, well, connected somehow to the person you are complaining about. And, okay, I did it. I unloaded to a friend about somebody who wronged me. I had no idea there was a close personal connection. Now I’m getting the deep freeze treatment. How do I fix this mess I’ve got myself into?
Confidentially Yours,
Your relative, no doubt

Dear relative:
“Oh, man, let me tell you about XYZ, he wronged me!”

Much better:

“Remind me, is XYZ your cousin or your uncle? Neither? Oh, man. How do you know him again?”

Even better:
“Man, how ‘bout that rumor that XYZ’s been badmouthing your mother?  What did she ever do to him?”

That’s my take.