DEAR ABBY: My son was married last month. Before the wedding, he asked me if I would contribute financially to the reception. I offered to pay for the drinks, and he and his fiancee seemed appreciative. The bride's parents are divorced, but they, too, have each contributed several thousand dollars to the reception.
A few days before the wedding, my son informed me that the total cost of the beverage bill came to nearly $3,000. I wrote a check for that amount.
My son's bride told my wife that there would be some extra charges, so I telephoned the accountant at the hotel to get the exact amount. The accountant informed me that there were no extra charges, and the total bar bill was less than half the amount I had contributed. My son refused to discuss the matter, so I sent the invoice from the hotel to him and his wife two weeks ago. Since then, there has been total silence on their end, and it looks like a cold relationship is developing. My wife says I should forget about the extra $1,700, since they probably needed the money for other expenses. I maintain there's an ethical issue here that shouldn't be swept under the rug. What do you think? -- CHEATED FATHER/FATHER-IN-LAW IN WISCONSIN
DEAR CHEATED: I agree with you. There is the ethical issue of honesty. You were right to let your son and his bride know they couldn't "pull the wool" over your eyes. Their silence indicates their embarrassment and probably an inability to repay the money.
Write a note telling them you'll accept payments on the installment plan. Then bill them every month until they have paid off the debt.