Dear Annie: We're a group of about 10 over-60 high school friends who get together for brunch or dinner annually around Christmastime. "Ronnie" will always make the reservations, send out the details and grab the check. She'll simply divide for the number and ask everyone for that amount.
This most recent dinner, there were nine of us. The bill, before tip, came to $360. Many in the group had a drink, some ordered a second one, including top-shelf brands. Most had dessert. I don't drink much, and I'm not into dessert. I ordered an entree that cost $17. We were each asked to pay $55. Needless to say, when the check is split, those who spend the least get taken advantage of the most.
This time, I did express my displeasure to Ronnie, but she quickly shot me down. Nobody else said anything.
Look, if it's only a few dollars, I'm OK with easier math for everyone, but not when my share gets more than doubled. Mind you, I'm doing fine financially, so that's not the issue. I would never ask someone to pay more to subsidize my drinks and dessert.
Any thoughts on how to handle this for next year? I'm tempted to drop out or even say I'll only attend if we ditch the check splitting. — Split the Bill
Dear Split the Bill: I would bite your tongue and not say anything. It is a yearly occurrence, around the holidays, with friends you've known for at least the last 40 years. Much like giving birthday and Christmas presents, look at this dinner as a kind gesture from you to your friends because you enjoy their company. As finances are not your concern, weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Is saving $40 worth losing the memories you'd gain from attending the meal? Let this one go, and focus your attention on the joy of being with your friends who you have known for so long. What a gift.
However, if this advice drives you nuts, you could always ask for a separate check. But don't be surprised if your friends start calling you Scrooge.
Dear Annie: I was sad to read the letter from the woman in the long-distance relationship whose boyfriend of 14 years failed to remain in contact with her. I feel lucky to say that this pandemic has made my long-distance relationship of four years — between Indiana and Florida — even better.
Before, I would spend one week a month down there. But I don't want to travel yet — especially to high-risk areas. We may not see each other physically, but we have worked to maintain communication. We actually talk more now.
I'm not running around like crazy, so I have time to carry on a decent conversation. We met halfway over the July 4 holiday and both agreed that visit was better than my monthly trips. We were able to spend quality time together because he wasn't working.
I'm hopeful that things will go back to "normal," but until then, we are making the best of the situation. It really depends on what you're willing to put into a relationship. — Stronger in a Pandemic
Dear Stronger in a Pandemic: Your letter brings up a good point. If you want to make something work, then you make something work. If you don't, then you can always find excuses as to why it can't. While the distance is certainly challenging to you and your boyfriend, you have been committed to making it work and, like anything in life, we get what we put in.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]