Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, James Hamblin takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Dr. Hamblin,
My brother and his fiancée are planning to get married next week in California. I just assumed they would postpone it or have a small gathering, but as it turns out they’re going through with the 150-person wedding and local authorities are allowing it. I still don’t even feel comfortable going to a grocery store, so I can’t even imagine going to a large wedding and reception—even though everyone has been told they’ll have to wear masks. Oh, and they want my 3-year-old son to be in it. I feel like I could’ve said no, but that would’ve made me feel really bad and I didn’t want my relationship with his soon-to-be-wife to be affected going forward. Their decision is fully theirs to make, but it puts me and all other guests in a very awkward and potentially unsafe position. What do I do? Or say?
San Jose, California
This is an unfortunate situation to be put in. You’re being forced to choose between feeling irresponsible and afraid, and feeling unkind and paranoid. At least one clear, universal lesson can be learned here: Don’t put people in this sort of position. Actually, two: Just because local officials haven’t forbidden something doesn’t make it safe. Legal can’t be mistaken for wise.