DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am disabled and do my grocery shopping once a month when my Social Security check arrives. My best friend brings me to the store, takes her half of the list, loads the groceries into her car, and then carries them into my house.
She is a wonderful human being and I love her and appreciate her help. I always give her gas money and take her to lunch on shopping day.
Because she's so good, I like to take her to decent restaurants, where she invariably orders the most expensive thing on the menu. If there is a shrimp dish costing $24.95, be certain she will order it. I generally get something in the $8 range. While I have to agree to the venue, she usually picks the restaurant.
What can I do? While not poor, my husband and I have the occasional struggle to pay a bill or two. Because of my disability, we have very little discretionary income.
Am I being a wuss? Should I just tell her I cannot handle this tab? She knows my circumstances, and I guess I always just hope she'll consider them. I really do love her very much, and she's very good to me, but these lunches are breaking the bank. What can I do?
GENTLE READER: Take her out to an indecent restaurant.
No, wait, that's not quite what Miss Manners meant. She only wanted to point out that since you are the hostess, you may choose the restaurant. It is true that a lady is supposed to order from the middle of the menu, but since your friend does not, you should take her to a place with a more reasonable top line. Or take her out to a luxurious tea or breakfast.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who has gotten into the habit of phoning me from the gym while she is actively working out on a piece of cardio equipment. These are not urgent communications, and there would be nothing lost in waiting a couple of hours to get in touch with me.
Fortunately, I have yet to pick up the phone for one of these calls, but instead, I get literally breathless voicemail messages that are hard to listen to and just plain annoying. Moreover, I am always irritated when I'm at the gym within earshot of a fellow exerciser on his/her cell phone and don't relish the idea of being the person on the other end when my friend commits this same inconsiderate act.
My question is -- would it be petty of me to request that my friend NOT call me while she is in the midst of her workout? And, if not, would it be going too far to mention, in addition, that talking on the phone is rude to others at her gym?
GENTLE READER: You have already solved most of your problem by not answering the telephone. If the messages annoy you, you can tell your friend that you naturally hung up when you heard heavy breathing, not dreaming it was she. Or that you couldn't understand the message.
It is only when you want to go beyond solving your problem to reforming others that Miss Manners worries about your venturing into rudeness.