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Backstabbing Friends with Influence

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Dear Annie: My friend "Nina" just broke up with her boyfriend of five years. We are here for her, trying to help in any way we can, even though we think she is out of her mind for doing this.

One of our friends has been telling Nina lies about the guy, saying he has been talking about her behind her back. I have never heard him do this. All he has ever said is that he loves Nina and doesn't understand why she broke things off.

This friend has a reputation for being dishonest. There have been fights about this before. She has backstabbed Nina twice in the past, yet Nina always turns to her when she thinks her world is collapsing. Nina has told me that she doesn't trust this woman, but they continue to act like sisters.

I care a great deal about Nina, but at what point does a 40-year-old woman grow up? Maybe Nina needs to have her life blow up in her face so she gets a clue. Is there anything I can do? — A Real Friend

Dear Friend: Not really. Nina knows this woman lies to her, and yet she is willing to break off an otherwise good relationship over it. We think Nina does this on purpose. It provides an excuse for her to sabotage her relationships and be miserable. Either she doesn't believe she deserves happiness or she likes creating drama. Tell Nina you care about her and want her to be happy, but she is going to have to do some work to get there. Suggest counseling, but don't hold your breath.

Dear Annie: The other day, we invited a couple out to lunch as our guests. However, my wife and I were upset when they ordered appetizers without asking us. We never order appetizers, because we watch our diets and feel the dinner provides plenty of food. Also, since we were paying for it, why would they order something we ourselves didn't order?

We kept our thoughts to ourselves but would like to know whether this was proper.

— Feeling Exploited

Dear Exploited: Guests should always take their cues from the hosts. If you did not suggest appetizers, they should not have ordered them on their own. However, as hosts, you cannot insist that your guests share your food preferences in a restaurant. It would have been gracious of you to ask whether they would like to order appetizers, provided you could afford to do so.

Dear Annie: I'm writing in response to "Worried Family in Illinois," whose brother is addicted to drugs. This tugged at my heart because I'm dealing with that very problem in my own family.

While it's true that a person needs to be willing and ready before rehab will truly work, the key is giving your loved one an opportunity to get clean long enough to think clearly. There is a law in my area that most attorneys don't even know about called Casey's Law. It allows you to file a petition against the addicted person. If adequate proof is shown that the individual is not capable of making good decisions, the judge can rule that the person has to get help. My loved ones are doing wonderfully, and even though it will be a lifetime commitment, they now have a chance at a life. — From One Worried Family to Another

Dear Worried: Thank you. Casey's Law is currently available only in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. It requires filling out a petition for involuntary treatment. Information and copies of the petition can be found at caseyslaw.org or Operation Unite (operationunite.org/treatment/caseys-law) at 1-866-908-6483.

Annie's Snippet for Earth Day (credit E.B. White): I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

44 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - Nope. Nothing you can do. Just be there for her when her life does blow up in her face. If you are, indeed, a real friend. Good luck to you!

LW2 - Did you also keep track of how many drinks they had? Or were those free refills, so you didn't bother? If you are such a cheapskate, do not invite other people to restaurant meals.

LW3 - I am not an attorney. I wonder what it takes to prove that a person is not able to make rational decisions, so that she/he can be forced into involuntary treatment.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ariana
Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:01 PM
I think, if you can't afford to pay for a couple of appetizers when you invite somebody to lunch, you shouldn't invite them to lunch in the first place.

Comment: #2
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:14 PM
LW2: Yes, it was bad manners to order appetizers. A good guest will order gently unless the host makes it clear that anything goes.

So rejoice that it was just lunch, and not dinner and drinks. You learned that these folks are inclined to take advantage, so you know not to host them again. But your lasting and somewhat extreme bitterness over appetizers is not a good look for you. If you can't take it, stop offering to buy.
Comment: #3
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:34 PM
* * * * PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT * * * *

LW3 refers to the first letter on 6 February 2013.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Miss Pasko
Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:38 PM
Re: LW2 – It was awfully nice of you and your wife to invite a couple out to lunch, as your guests. I seldom accept such invitations, instead to suggest with great enthusiasm that we pay our bills separately – if only to avoid the situation that you have written about, that upset your wife and you so much that you needed an advice columnist to tell you that your feelings are justified.

It is never fun to eat the same way as another couple, the same amount, the same cost, and ohhh, should I get coffee after the meal, or is that too much? Too much stress on the guests and too much stress on the hosts.

Now, if you could afford a meal for four without tallying up the bill as the meal goes on, and tell your guests to order whatever they wished, and mean it, then go for it. Otherwise, you did no one any favours by the invitation. People order differently, maybe your “guests” generally have lunch as their “big” meal of the day, and eat lightly for supper. The necessity of “asking” permission if they may order an appetizer reduces the guests to timid children – I am sure that is not what you intended. So what should they have done? Waited until after you paid the bill, then stated that they were still hungry, so they would stick around for a bit?

Long story short, don't invite guests unless you can afford to do it without stressing… period.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jenna
Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:12 AM
LW1 - There is nothing much to be done for Nina other than to let her know she'll be there for her if she needs her. Nina seems to know what her so-called "friend" is like and chooses to remain friendly with her in spite of it. Sooner or later something will probably happen that will change her mind about that, but until it does the LW will just have to leave it alone.
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LW2 - I don't ever invite someone to be my guest at a restaurant unless I'm willing to pay for whatever they order. As a matter of fact, I always tell my guests to order whatever they like. If you aren't willing to do that, then you shouldn't invite them. That being said, it would be nice if the guests asked their hosts if they minded if they ordered something "extra" like appetizers, specialty drinks, or dessert. But if your budget doesn't allow for the extras, then you shouldn't extend an invitation.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Kitty
Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:34 AM
LW2: Yes it is rude to order appetizers. To all here, why can't the guest who is being treated not pick up the extras like apppetizers or alcoholic beverages that add up the cost of the meal to twice or four times more than what it was suppose to be. That is being respectful of the host who is kind enough to pick up your meal tab therefore you don't have to pay out as much. I've found that too many people take advantage no matter what it is.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Kath
Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:51 AM
LW1 - Nina has told you that she can't trust this woman so she knows she's a liar. Who knows why she keeps going back to her. A lot of times, 'friends" like that liar have a way of keeping people in their grips. Nothing you can do but be there for Nina. If you try to come between the two of them, drama will start and you don't need that.

LW2 - I disagree that they should've asked your permission before ordering appetizers. When you invite someone out, you really shouldn't put restrictions on things. I mean, it's polite to make sure you don't order the most expensive thing on the menu and/or rack up a heck of a bar bill but you shouldn't feel that you can't have an appetizer or some dessert. If you can't really afford to invite someone out and pay for some appetizers, then you shouldn't invite them.

A friend of mine used to ask her boyfriend if it was okay if she got something extra while they were ordering. For example, if the server asked, "Would you like to add the salad bar for an extra $1?" she would ask her BF, "Is that okay?" Her BF finally said one day, "Please don't ask me if it's okay. I feel like people think I'm some controlling jerk and that you have to ask my permission for things. When I take you out, you can order whatever you'd like. I don't mind."
Comment: #8
Posted by: Michelle
Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:06 AM
LW1, you are all waaaaaaaay too involved in Nina's affairs. Find another channel to watch. The Annies are right that Nina probably just loves the drama, and all you're doing by acting like a bunch of 8th grade girls is feeding into it. Stop being so obsessed with Nina and her latest episode, and find a new hobby.
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LW2, wow, I would say you and your wife are both jerks and control freaks if your scenario weren't so darn laughable. Just what were you planning to do if they HAD asked you for "permission" to order an appetizer? Lecture them on how they should watch their diets and that in your never-to-be-humble opinion they should find enough food in the meal?
.
Hint: You need to learn that you don't invite people out for lunch if it's beyond your means. To many people, who also watch their diets and are not fat pigs, "lunch" (or dinner) at a restaurant may include any or all of soup or salad or an appetizer beforehand, an entree, dessert, coffee, and possibly even a beer or a glass of wine. Were they supposed to ask you for "permission" before they ordered a cup of coffee at the end of the meal, or were they supposed to guess that you and your wife don't approve of caffeinated beverages? Were they supposed to ask you "permission" for how much they could spend on an entree?
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If you "only" wanted to treat them to the entree portion of a restaurant lunch, you should have stated that upfront, or better yet, offered to treat them to something you COULD afford, like coffee and dessert or heck, drinks and appetizers. But to invite them to "lunch" and then become upset, and unbelievably, sign your name as "Exploited", because they ordered something that is commonly considered by many as a part of lunch--means you're the ones who erred on communications, living within your budget, and being a gracious host who knows he or she should budget and expect to pay for all parts of a guest's meal you've invited to treat.
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However, I don't think the cost is what's got your tight-waddys in a bunch here. How much did these appies set you back? $10? $15? Hardly enough to break your piggy bank. I think what's really got you and your wife in a twist is that you see "treating" people as the ultimate power trip. You get off making people feel grateful and beholden to you, and you love to think of yourselves as holier than thou people who are generous and kind and too superior to eat appetizers--even though you're keeping a running tally of who owes you what. Nothing would make you feel better, in fact, than having a guest grovel to you, asking for "permission" to order that appy--which you would then generously grant. I think your real problem here is these guests didn't play your game. They didn't ask permission, and they're not kissing the ground you walk on for buying them a $5 appetizer.
.
My advice would be to thank these people for allowing you to treat them to lunch, because seriously, if this situation has you feeling upset and exploited, I'm surprised you have anyone else who is willing to put up with being your friends at all.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Jane
Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:20 AM
My daughter always asks if she can order an appetizer ... then ends up with a doggie bag. I think it's rude. If you don't have room for the food, don't order it.
Comment: #10
Posted by: melinda
Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:57 AM
LW1--"Maybe Nina needs to have her life blow up in her face so she gets a clue. Is there anything I can do?" Yes, you can keep your nose out of it. What happens between 'Nina' and her boyfriend or her other friends, regardless of their motives, is not your concern. Sure, you care about Nina and want her to be happy but ultimately it's up to Nina to evaluate information that comes her way for credibility and then make decisions that are right for her. If Nina is such a hot mess that she'll believe other people's lies about her boyfriend and summarily dismiss him after five years without first examining the evidence or hearing his side of things, then that says something about the strength, or lack thereof of their relationship. You're not privy to every detail of Nina's life or her relationship so my advice is to grab a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show from the safety of the sidelines. None of this is your problem.

LW2--Um, I'm sorry but just because you invite someone to lunch or happen to be footing the bill doesn't give you the right to police what your guests eat or impose your own dietary habits onto your unsuspecting dining guests. That you're irritated that your guests had the temerity to order what they wanted is beyond the pale. Your guests ordered an appetizer because they were hungry and they wanted something to munch on while they waited for their meal. If your dinner guests had ordered one of everything on the menu or the most expensive dish I might see where you'd have something to be nonplussed about; that however didn't happen. If you can't handle your dinner guests actually eating at dinner, then don't invite them out or make it clear that you're a cheapskate and that whatever they order beyond what you specifically approve is on their own tab. If you do that though, don't be surprised if people in your social circle are mysteriously "busy" every time you issue an invitation.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Chris
Mon Apr 22, 2013 5:36 AM
The "Nina" middle school girl drama reminds me of that great line from "The Godfather." "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Sounds like that's what's going on with Nina knowing that this "friend" is a liar and dishonest but confides in her anyway. Better to let the "friend" who is trecherous think you're a friend than an out and out enemy - at least that's how the thinking seems to go. LW1 should just leave the theatre. This whole thing is too ridiculous for words.

Totally second Chris on the sentiments about the cheapskates who offered to buy lunch. Of course it turns into a power and permission struggle with people like this.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:09 AM
LW2 - Sorry, if I had been invited out for lunch, I would have assumed that, within reason, anything I wanted on the menu was fair game. What would you have said if they had ordered both an app and dessert? As others have said, if you can't invite someone and give gladly of your heart, then don't invite them.
Comment: #13
Posted by: TracyR288
Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:10 AM
What is it with the people who think it's exploitative to order appetizers when you're being treated? "Taking your cue from the host" means not ordering the market-price lobster if they're having a small salad. But no one should think it's good manners to try to control a guest.
Comment: #14
Posted by: trinx
Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:33 AM
LW1, it does seem like your friend enjoys drama, or is a self-sabotaging person (to scuttle a long-term relationship on the word of a friend known for her lies). There may be other things going on as well, but still, it's her life, not yours; if the drama is getting to be too much for you, perhaps disengage for a while and spend time with friends who are a bit more "together". And feel free to let Nina know why, too. Perhaps if she realizes that melodrama that might have been riveting in high school is tedious in adulthood, she'll be less inclined to keep creating it.

LW2, count me firmly in the camp that thinks the LWs, and the Annies, are dead wrong. A friend you ask to join you at a restaurant should not have to act like a timid sycophant nervously wondering if the host will be angered by every particular food choice. That's stuff and nonsense. You invited them out, if there were any restrictions, you should have said something at the outset. The meal wasn't about what YOU eat or YOUR eating habits, but about your friends as well. For you to be so upset suggests that you aren't a particularly good friend to these people nor should you ever offer to do that again -- from now on, go dutch, or go without friends. (PS, taking friends out to a meal is a gesture of generosity, but there was nothing generous about your reactions to their choosing to eat an appetizer).
Comment: #15
Posted by: Mike H
Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:56 AM
Re: Melinda

So, just say "no" when your daughter asks if she can have an appetizer, if it bugs you that much.

LW1 - Did you say 40, or 14? Look, some people are just always in the middle of some emotional storm or other and there's nothing you can do to fix it. In fact, these people tend to gravitate towards those who make it worse. Stay out of her business - there is nothing you can do. If she complains, just give non-committal answers ("well, that's Nina for you") and/or find some more mature friends.

LW2 - "Taking your cue from the hosts" means that if they are ordering a $15 entrée and a glass of water, you probably shouldn't order the $100 surf & turf and a bottle of wine. But ordering appetizers is not unreasonable. What IS unreasonable is expecting your guests to watch you and wait and evaluate their every choice before ordering ("okay, I really want the chicken wings, but he didn't order an ap, so I'll just order the lasagna - but hang on, that plate is $17 and the one he ordered is only $14, but the one she ordered is $20, so maybe it works out. I'd love to get some wine with that but they ordered sodas. I don't like soda. Maybe if my wife and I share a glass of wine and some water it will average out. Not sure if I should save room for dessert, I guess we will wait till the end and see if they order dessert... Oh crap! He just ordered the vegetarian version of his plate - will he be offended if I get the meat lasagna?"). If you want to treat friends to lunch, you should be happy to treat them to whatever they want, within reason. Since you are not a gracious, generous host, either make it very clear up front ("we are going to have lunch at XX place on Saturday, please feel free to join - a bottle of wine is on us!") OR simply do not make the offer in the first place. Going dutch is perfectly OK - it will save you from simmering in anger and rage when your friends order some artichoke dip or whatever.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:03 AM
Further to LW2 - I will admit to having been irritated in the past when my FIL ordered beer, coffee and dessert when we offered to buy dinner (he has no money so there is no other choice). It kind of sucks when you're trying to live on the cheap (we were early 20s at the time, not swimming in money) and someone is all "oh I'll just order everything on the menu". But, you know, not the biggest deal in the world.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:07 AM
LW2: I guess I see the situation is not so much that they were being asked to pay for something they did not eat, but because they probably felt they were being "forced" to eat the appetizers that they weren't interested in eating. That is, even though they didn't say it explicitly, the guests perhaps expecting their hosts to help them eat the appetizers. (This based on the LW's comment "We never order appetizers, because we watch our diets and feel the dinner provides plenty of food.")

FWIW, I guess I would also be irritated if my guest ordered an appetizer, even if they didn't outright say, "Hey, help me eat these cheeseballs, fried pickles, breaded mushrooms, etc." There's just that unstated expectation that you MUST join in to be polite, to be a good sport and that the guest thought enough of you to order it.

That said, I suppose that unless you set the ground rules beforehand, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Pay the bill this time – it sounds like they did – and then next time, set the ground rules before going out. That is, "Hey, I'll pay for your entree and beverages up to X amount, but from there, you're on your own. This includes appetizers; if you want to order them and eat them, that's fine, but we don't eat appetizers because we're watching our diets." There's no misunderstanding here, and there's little chance that a guest takes advantage of one's hospitality by ordering a $75 meal the host didn't count on his guest ordering. (And yes, even at fine restaurants, there's plenty of good meals available for $30 or less.)
Comment: #18
Posted by: Bobaloo
Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:08 AM
LOL, Zoe!!! Your description of the thought train running through the dinner-guest's head is priceless! EXACTLY!
Comment: #19
Posted by: Jane
Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:28 AM
LW1 - It is safe to say that some people just do not learn. And some do thrive when they are in the midst of drama. I can understand the annoyance and concern but frankly - I would wash my hands of both of these women. They seem perfectly matched. The Ex-boyfriend needs to take this as his cue to RUN!

LW2 - Though I feel it was a bit presumptuous of the LW's guests to order an appetizer without consulting, I feel it was rude that the LW did not offer an appetizer. We treat our friends to dinner and always order appetizers. Perhaps we are too generous but we like to be gracious hosts. I think the LW needs to get over this.
Comment: #20
Posted by: Anji
Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:35 AM
Re: Bobaloo #18

"but because they probably felt they were being "forced" to eat the appetizers that they weren't interested in eating."

I really don't think so. First of all, there is nothing that indicates that in the letter. He explains WHY he doesn't order appetizers, but states they were upset because they were paying for it.

Second, have you ever been out to dinner with people when aps are ordered? Normal people don't just order a couple plates of appetizers and expect everyone to share. The conversation would tend to go like this: "Ohh, I really want the calamari, does anyone want to share it with me?" "I'll share the calamari with you if you want to share the onion rings with me!" "oh look guys, we can three appetizers for the price of two, do you want to do that?"

"There's just that unstated expectation that you MUST join in to be polite, to be a good sport and that the guest thought enough of you to order it."

That has never gone through my head at a restaurant. In these parts, everyone has their own food that is not shared by default. Sharing is not the norm, and is usually prediscussed. I am not saying this has never happened and is completely impossible, but it's FAR more likely that the truth is exactly what the LW said - he was pissed to have to pay for appetizers he didn't give permission for.

Otherwise his letter would say: "our guests ordered appetizers and insisted we share them, however we are watching our diets and think the entree is enough food. How do we politely turn away that is proffered with such insistence?" Which is a whole 'nother issue, but I don't think it's the LW's issue.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:39 AM
LW1 -
For some strange reason it would appear that Nina prefers being lied to, to the point where she'll trash a perfectly good relationship over it.

Tell Nina's boyfriend about her willingly believing what she knew were lies about him and that, consdering she seems to care more about her "friend" than about anything else, he had a narrow escape. There is nothing more you can do. If Nina is willing to break a man's heart over this kind of sick little game, then she and her frennemy deserve each other, and so you should leave the two of them to their own devices.

LW2 -
"since we were paying for it, why would they order something we ourselves didn't order?"
Because they're adults who don't need to ask your permission?

Look. If you invite people for supper, then you can expect them to order whayt THEY want, not what YOU want. Whatever you "feel" about your diets and how big the plates are is not a universal criterion, and doens't become the yardstick for the rest of the world to go by.

Yes, the guests ought to take their cues from the hosts... up to a point. If they had gone out of their way to order all the most expensive items on the menu, it would have been tacky but, short of them taking advantage of you like that, you can't expect them to count pennies. If you can't afford to include appetisers without bitching, then you should stay home.

What's going on here is that you want to look like these big worldly people who gradiosely treat others, but you don't wanna spend. You're being petty. And cheap.

I'm sure your surly displeasure showed. Anyone who would pull a stunt like that on me, it would be the last invitation I would accept.

Comment: #22
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 22, 2013 8:46 AM
Re: Joannakathryn
As a matter of fact, it HAS been the last invitation I accepted form someone who pulled a version of that on me.

Now that I think of it, they remind me of this gentleman who took me to the restaurant and started telling me not to order this or that, that it was "too expensive". Now this was a family restaurant, hardly Helene de Champlain or the Ritz Carlton, and the man was comfortably well-off - nice pension, his own house and car plus the life insurance he had just collected from his wife's recent passing. He certainly could afford to pay 12 bucks instead of 8. It was the last time I went.

Isn't it amazing how some people manage to show you what cheap jerks they are, even as they're trying to put their best (club) foot forward? I never cease to wonder. :-D

@Melinda
Don't order extra stuff if your daughter's eyes are bigger than her stomach. (This wouldn't have been a problem with my own daughter, who was a bottomless pit) But this has nothing to do with the LW's situation.

P.S.: Have her blood sugar tested if she's always so ravenous when hungry, that she feels she could eat a horse - and can't. There may be a problem there.

Comment: #23
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:13 AM
LW1: Never mind Nina. Why are YOU friends with this backstabbing person?

Re LW2: Jenna (#5), good point. As I think about it, it does seem a bit silly to invite people out to a restaurant and then expect them to only order entrees "from the middle up," no appetizer, dessert, or drinks except water. It seems like a bleak and stressful way to socialize. Better to take them out to the local diner, Chinese, or a good burger joint, and let them order to their hearts' content. It seems more in keeping with being a good host.

Of course, a good guest should take cues from the hosts and not gouge them, but it's also bad manners to send a dinner guest away hungry, and the nickel-and-diming must put a strain on the evening.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Carla
Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:44 AM
LW!: I agree with a lot of the commenters here. Really, it sounds like the lot of you - Nina, lying friend and maybe even you - are all addicted to drama. This sounds like the kind of stuff I remember from Junior High School. Maybe it is a good thing that this poor guy has been dumped. I hope he eventually sees this all for what it is. Chances are that there are many 40-something year old women willing to have a mature relationship with him that doesn't involve her juvenile friends. And maybe once she's really, truly lost a nice guy who loved her, Nina will wake up as well and distance herself from someone who thinks it is fun to screw with her relationships. Sometimes it takes losing really big to fix things.

As for you: You can tell Nina that you care about her and will be there for her. But I'd also limit how far you let yourself get pulled into this. Nina is apparently happy with how things are. Are you really happy to keep listening to the same self-made problems over and over again?

LW2: Stuff like this is why I very rarely let anyone buy food for me. I don't want to deal with someone frothing at the mouth because I wanted to order a mixed drink. In some restaurants, the appetizers are the best part of the meal. (Example: I love me some Chili's Southwest Eggrolls). Yes, the guest probably should have asked if she could order extra stuff. I usually do. But why are you so bent up about it? Is it a money issue or is it (as someone mentioned above) that you and your spouse are control freaks who think everyone should eat as you do. If you were on a strict budget, you should have said so at the beginning of the meal or spoken up when they were ordering. Next time, go dutch. That way, people can order whatever they want.

Comment: #25
Posted by: Datura
Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:22 AM
LW2: Was this the first time you have eaten out with these friends? Do they always order apps, or was this the first time? If historically they haven't ordered apps, then I see your point-but a gracious host smiles, learns, and remembers for next time.
But...it makes me wonder how dinner parties at your home would be. Do you serve the main course with controlled portions? Do you not provide appetizers and drinks before dinner is served? What about dessert and coffee?
I agree with others that you are overreacting, and good friends should have some latitude. Please don't let this come between you and your friends. Life is too short.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Paige English
Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:33 AM
Re: Datura

Love those egg rolls too!
Comment: #27
Posted by: Paige English
Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:35 AM
Re: Zoe (#21)

First, as you can tell by my comment in #18 – "That is, even though they didn't say it explicitly, the guests perhaps expecting their hosts to help them eat the appetizers ... " – I went to great pains to say the LW did not explicitly say that he was asked by his guests to help him chow down.

Second – and this goes for everyone – I don't think this is a case of a LW being upset so much about the unexpected added cost to his bill; after all, appetizers typically don't cost that much extra (perhaps $4 for an individual, and maybe $8 for three or four choices, and BTW – if it is $20 or $30 extra, then that is one fancy place that I've never set foot in; and also, we don't even know if this was a 5-star restaurant or a sports bar they went to, hence my ranges).

I think if you were to ask him, he'd probably say he was alright (at least this time) with footing the bill, because it wasn't THAT much extra. I myself saw nothing from him that said he was upset with the additional cost in and of itself. He was upset because they ordered appetizers and there was – perhaps in his mind – an expectation that they also eat the appetizers, even if he and his wife didn't want to.

If it were about JUST THE COST, then I'd tell the LW pretty much what everyone else is saying here – sorry, bub, you treated them and they can order what they want.

"That has never gone through my head at a restaurant. In these parts, everyone has their own food that is not shared by default. Sharing is not the norm, and is usually prediscussed."

Perhaps in your parts, this is true – but here, while it is indeed prediscussed, everyone who is part of a party is presumed to be invited to join in ... particularly if it's a large tray of appetizers. (And they also split the costs, too.)
Comment: #28
Posted by: Bobaloo
Mon Apr 22, 2013 11:33 AM
I had to chime in about the second letter writter and the appetizers. I used to be married and my former MIL told me she wanted to pay for the rehersal dinner. She always cried that she was broke so I told her it wasn't neccessary since I knew of her situation but she insisted and said she could afford it so I gave in and said okay. That was a big, embarrassing mistake! She insisted it be in this hole in the wall pizza place. We got there and she started freaking out when people ordered sodas. She told the wait staff to put pitchers of water out on the table and then started yelling that anybody who ordered a soda or iced tea or anything else would have to pay for it themselves. She also ordered 2 large pizzas for 16 people. 8 slices per pizza so I guess we were only allowed 1 slice of pizza and some water? I was so embarrassed! God love my father, he ordered more pizzas, went around and told people to order appetizers or whatever they wanted and then he told my former MIL he would pay the difference. She complained for months about paying her share. I finally said to her "then you shouldn't have offered!" She shut up after that.
Comment: #29
Posted by: Little Cookie
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:12 PM
@Bobaloo, I dunno, man, I've eaten with friends all across the US and in parts international, and while sharing is often encouraged, it's never been mandatory. I think there's something else going on with the LW, and honestly I think it's that they were being a bit cheap and/or controlling. Or so self-absorbed that they didn't understand why their friends weren't reading their minds.

@Melinda, Ike and I regularly take home "doggie bags". We've found that most entrees nowadays are too large to eat at one sitting anyway, and since we do like some appetizers at certain restaurant, we save some of the appetizers and half of our entrees to take home and have as an easy lunch or dinner the next day. We figure we're getting two meals each for the price of one! So sometimes doggie bags can really work for you.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Mike H
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:18 PM
Re: Bobaloo

"I don't think this is a case of a LW being upset so much about the unexpected added cost to his bill;"

On the contrary, that is exactly what he's upset about. The proof is in the letter, from which I quote the following:

****

"my wife and I were upset when they ordered appetizers without asking us."

WITHOUT ASKING US. Meaning they believe they needed to give their guests permission to order appetizers. The implied end to that sentence is "without asking us if they could" and not "without asking us if we wanted to share."

"since we were paying for it, why would they order something we ourselves didn't order?"

That right there is pretty clear: the issue was that they were PAYING, not that the aps were ordered. If it is as you say, there would be no reason to even mention who paid for the meal.

Additionally, if someone was to share an appetizer, only one person orders it. You don't each get a half order of wing. One person orders one full plate of wings. So then why would the LW even expect to have ordered an ap, even if he knew his guests would? If his complaint was having to share these aps, it doesn't make any difference who ordered them and who didn't.

"would like to know whether this was proper."

I don't think it's a stretch to assume that the LW meant whether it was proper to order the appetizers on their dine, not whether it is proper to order appetizers to share.

Lastly, he signed himself "Exploited". Not "Stuffed" or "On a Diet" or "No Calamari For Me, Please".

****

"after all, appetizers typically don't cost that much extra "

Well, no. The LW is offended by the audacity of his guests, not the extra $10 on his bill. It's the principle of it (in his mind). Not the actual dollar amount.

"He was upset because they ordered appetizers and there was – perhaps in his mind – an expectation that they also eat the appetizers, even if he and his wife didn't want to."

Where are you getting that from? Quote me something from the letter that indicates that the LW is made because they expected him to eat the appetizers.

"but here, while it is indeed prediscussed"

Right. PREDISCUSSED being the operative word. No one buys a huge plate of aps as a surprise and gets mad people everyone else doesn't share.

Bobaloo, I could write a letter from someone who felt pressured to share an appetizer, and it wouldn't look ANYTHING like the letter in question.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:22 PM
Re: Mike H

Yay, doggie bags! If I am out with a group I will ask everyone (unless it's a business lunch or something) that if they aren't taking their leftovers home, that they can give them to me. Man, sometimes I can get 2-3 meals worth of food that way! The things people throw out.

I've often thought that poor/starving people should get to wait at restaurants to eat what the patrons can't finish. People would eat less because they know it's not going to waste, and hungry people get food that would otherwise go in the garbage. Obviously, there is no way to implement this but I've often thought about that when I'm struggling to finish my plate. Nowadays I PLAN to bring some home so it is easy to think: "the more I leave on my plate, the more I can eat tomorrow for lunch!" which usually ends up being a midnight snack.
Comment: #32
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:26 PM
Often, the appetizer and a small salad IS my meal.

I think the LW is more concerned about the price. As someone else wrote, it is about generosity of spirit in treating someone else to a meal.
Comment: #33
Posted by: MsMargB
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:40 PM
LW1: I have no idea why Nina broke things off with her boyfriend. Maybe she had reasons that the LW doesn't know about. I would ask Nina to lunch, sit her down and say, "You know that Trixie makes up lies to create drama, but you still believe her over your boyfriend. Why is that? Joe seems like a very nice guy who truly cares about you." Let that sink in, see what she has to say for herself, and then butt out.

LW2: This past Saturday, I invited two friends who celebrated birthdays this month to be my dinner guests. Two other friends came along as well. I insisted on picking up the entire check, which included appetizers and drinks. While I was in the bathroom, 3 of my 4 guests stuffed money into my purse - including the two birthday friends. I am blessed to have such generous friends. LW is a cheapskate.
Comment: #34
Posted by: PuaHone
Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:58 PM
Re: melinda-->>if you don't have room for the food, don't order it<<

I don't know what serving sizes are like where you live, but here, food at restaurants is served on platters instead of plates. If I ate everything, I'd be miserable.

Sometimes my husband and I will split an appetizer and on special occasions, dessert, but I nearly always get a to-go box and take home more than half the entree. Just last week, I ordered a cheeseburger, ate half of it, and then got two more meals off it at home.

We've treated our friends a lot over the years, and never once have we worried that they ordered something we didn't. Our son will sometimes order two appetizers if he knows we're paying.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:40 PM
Re: Joannakathryn

I actually understand what Melinda is saying though. If you're treating someone to dinner, your intention is probably not also to treat them to a snack later and lunch tomorrow. If you know that you can't finish an ap and a main course, it might not be polite to get both (it would depend on the occasion, and who is doing the treating as some people wouldn't mind). It's kind of similar to saying "I'm not hungry for dessert right now, but can I get a piece of chocolate cake to go?", which I would consider marginally rude depending on the circumstances.
Comment: #36
Posted by: Zoe
Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:09 PM
@Melinda -- good news: she's your daughter, and if she's still a minor, then she OUGHT to be asking for permission, and as her mother with a working brain who has seen that she never finishes her meal, you should just tell her, "no, you can't order an appetizer." But see, that's because she's your daughter -- she's not a guest you have "invited" out to dinner. The LW is writing about an adult couple they invited as their guests. Hosts don't tell guests what to order for dinner. Guests shouldn't have to ask what they're allowed to order. I'm hoping you see the difference between you exerting some control over your daughter and hosts trying to control their guests. Of course, if she's an adult on her own and she actually IS your guest, then that is different. But seriously -- you act as if getting a doggie bag is such a sin -- like your daughter is doing all of this on purpose in order to mine you for all you're worth. If, in fact, you believe that to be the case, then perhaps you didn't do such a great job of teaching your daughters manners.

@Bobaloo -- Not all appetizers are meant to be shared. Depending on the restaurant, it's not that uncommon for an appetizer to be something intended for just one person to eat, as opposed to, say, a platter of nachos. Indeed, when I go to a restaurant (whether with friends or just my husband and me), I often ask, "how big is this appetizer" and/or "it is enough to share?" Moreover, even when an appetizer that IS made for sharing is ordered, it's not like there's any unspoken pressure on every member of the party to partake of it. Many's the time when I've been out with friends when an appetizer has been ordered that is something I don't like to eat or simply don't feel like eating. When that happens, I simply don't have any. Should someone notice and say something like, "gee, Lisa, why aren't you diving into the gefilte fish platter I ordered for the table," I just say, "oh, but I know if I eat that I won't be hungry for my entree," or something like that. And I have yet to encounter someone who is truly hurt or offended if I don't join them in the appetizer. Most typically, however, as others have noted, when someone is ordering an appetizer that is explicitly to be shared, the person will first consult the table -- "hey, they have potstickers -- I LOVE potstickers -- if I order some, will anyone share them with me?"

I really think what the LW was concerned about was the cost, and possibly does see inviting people out as something of a power trip, as others have noted. I very seriously doubt this was about the "pressure" to partake of the appetizer. Keep in mind that in some restaurants, ordering a salad to precede your entree is considered an appetizer (and obviously not one that is intended to be shared by everyone at the table. My guess: the LW expected his guests to pick an entree (preferably something in the mid- to low-price range), one non-alcoholic drink (preferably one that would be refilled for free), and that would be it. He expected this because that is the way HE eats when he goes to a restaurant. Apparently, it has never occurred to him and his wife that not everyone eats the same way they do.
Comment: #37
Posted by: Lisa
Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:28 PM
@Bobaloo
"He was upset because they ordered appetizers and there was – perhaps in his mind – an expectation that they also eat the appetizers, even if he and his wife didn't want to."
You know, this is one of your typical Bobaloo-scenarios, where you go off on a tangent with no indication whatsoever that this is plausible. I'm glad you're a sports journalist, and not a crown prosecutor. You'd be coming off with some wild theories about motives! ;-D

Seriously now, like Zoe said, if this was about anything but money, it would have been written very differently and using different arguments. Little boyds on a branch they are, cheep-cheep-cheep-cheep!

Comment: #38
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:48 PM
Re Mike H #30
Of course, deliberately ordering more than you can eat so as to have leftovers for an easy meal the next day is a great plan ----- normally. But you don't do it on someone else's dime - that's Melinda's point.
As a host I would be prepared to pay for whatever a guest ordered. As a guest, I would feel that ordering anything beyond entree without being urged to order more smakes of "Yippeee! I get a free meal!" I wouldn't do it. But then too, I rarely order anything beyond water to drink in restaurants, only occasionally appetizer, and rarely dessert.
Comment: #39
Posted by: JH
Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:07 PM
Re: Little Cookie

What a great story!
Comment: #40
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Mon Apr 22, 2013 7:55 PM
Re: Zoe--It's really sort of a moot point, because the only people we ever treat anymore are my son and DIL, but since I nearly always get a to-go box, I'd rather my guests get one, too, rather than throw perfectly good food away. We've never had anybody purposely order a lot more food in order to take it home, but I do understand what you mean.

(When my son was growing up, we never had to worry about any kind of leftovers to take home. What I didn't eat, he'd finish.)

Unless there's something we don't know, that's not what happened to the LW anyway. As far as we know, they ate everything. I keep thinking of the old Carol Burnett, Tim Conway "Mizzus Whi-ggg-ins" routine.

We have a group that attends theater together every few weeks, and we always eat out first. We do separate checks. After seeing so much perfectly good and expensive food left behind, because we don't want to leave it in the car for 3-4 hours, I've started carrying an ice chest in our car so everyone can get take home if they like.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:09 PM
All: If the extra-cost appetizer was simply a small house salad – at many of the restaurants I've eaten at, they're included in the meal – then I'd be more inclined to agree with everyone that he's being cheap.

I'll admit, though, I don't know (nor do any of the rest of us) the format of the appetizers at this establishment and whether the guest was ordering them for just himself or – thinking he was being nice – as some courtesy to his host, that is, "Hey, I'm just being friendly."

That said, the next time the LW invites guests out, he either sets the ground rules off the bat (e.g., "no more than $25 or $30" for the meal; you pay for any drinks, appetizers, etc.; if we order appetizers, we'll decide together what we want and how much) or they go Dutch – that is, each person pays for everything, including tips. The latter may be the best way to go; this way, there's no confusion, no hard feelings, and everyone gets what they want. That's my official advice.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Bobaloo
Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:26 AM
Re: Joannakathryn #41
"(When my son was growing up, we never had to worry about any kind of leftovers to take home. What I didn't eat, he'd finish.)"
That was my daughter as a pre-teen and teen. I was seeing Mister Trinidad back then, and he was calling her "The Eatomatic".

Comment: #43
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:43 AM
LW1: The fact you use the words "one of our friends" means you have problems too. You have to help yourself first before you can be of any help to others.

LW2: Thank God you wrote to someone as idiotic as you. The annies advice yet again proves excessive inbreeding.
Comment: #44
Posted by: Diana
Wed Apr 24, 2013 6:54 PM
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