Hello Claire,

A few months ago, my husband and I both lost our jobs within weeks of each other, and we haven’t been able to find new ones. We have had to significantly cut our budgets, including selling our large, lovely home for a cheap rental apartment. Needless to say, we are in a tough spot financially. On the other hand, we have a couple with whom we are close friends, and they recently came into a large amount of money. They used this money to buy a huge, beautiful mansion in the best part of our town. I want to be happy for them, but I find myself plagued by jealousy and a bitterness that keeps me from wanting to spend time with them. How do I overcome this envy and truly celebrate the successes of our good friends?


Green-Eyed Gal

Sweetest Green,

I am profoundly perturbed to hear of your present pecuniary problems, you dear little loaded baked potato, though I am pleased by this opportunity to demonstrate my particular proclivity for alliteration – delightful! But truly, I am terribly troubled by this turn of events (I trust you are thoroughly enchanted by now, yes?). Now that I have buoyed your spirit so completely with this sorcery of words, I must sadly counter it with some unfortunate #realtalk. Though I appreciate the tender-hearted benefit of the doubt you have generously granted your so-called friends in this situation, I find it superbly suspicious (smiley face) that they just happened to stumble into their good real estate fortune at the same moment you and your husband are sweeping the dusty remnants of your upper middle class life into the unfavorable dustpan of short-term rental properties. They are clearly flaunting their probably illegally-acquired wealth in a conscious and pointed effort to inspire the very envy we are addressing right effing now! But fear not, my precious potato, I have a plan to help you cope with their basic bitchery. You see, people who have recently moved into a new domestic dwelling tend to have self-celebratory gatherings called “housewarming parties” – I’m sure you even had one yourself, pre-destitution. Anyway, this particular party is the perfect opportunity to enact your hard-biting, long-lasting revenge on these schmucks for daring to be more successful than you at any given time. As is the social expectation, you will feel pressured into bringing a “housewarming present” to the “housewarming party” – now, you and your husband would likely be exempt from social judgement should you not choose to bring a “housewarming present”, on account of being poor and all, but do not exercise that exemption (save it for later use, like a baby shower or charity event)! Start saving up all of your spare change and Dave and Buster tokens, and right before the party, go to your local florist. Select the ugliest, hardiest cactus you can find/afford and purchase it. Fashion a bow out of old newspapers and stick it on the pot (I would put in a how-to link from Pinterest, but I myself can afford lovely fabric ribbons, so that really doesn’t interest me) – accent the present with a handwritten card, preferably mis-spelled to evoke extra pity. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, you are to give this to your friends as their “housewarming present” – but don’t just hand it over and make a beeline to the buffet to stuff cocktail shrimp and queso fundido into your pockets for later. No, no! Give it to them with a big, proud, vulnerable smile! As you place it lovingly into their hands, make a big deal out of the type of cactus it is, implying that this is a rare and sought-after plant that must be celebrated and cherished. If you didn’t catch the name at the florist, just make something up – J.K. Rowling is a good source for fake names. For instance, you can call it the Imperius Cruciatus cactus (it’s a double burn, because you’re basically giving them a Voldemort plant – fools!). You could also perhaps layer in some subtle hints that it was extraordinarily expensive. Or, if subtlety is not your forte, you can always work the price into casual conversation. I would suggest valuing it at $450, because anything less than that is the high-end of normal, but anything more might be considered pretentious. Or in your case, implausible. They will be so touched by your selfless generosity in tough times that they will have no choice but to display Plant-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in their otherwise flawless abode, attracting jeers and mockery from their classy friends and neighbors and acting as a constant reminder that they are ungrateful, insensitive Muggles who should always put your needs ahead of their own!

Mischief Managed!

Cordially, Claire