DEAR MISS MANNERS: A female friend and I went out nightclubbing one evening several weeks ago, and I drove. In the past, we have normally left to go home around 11:30 p.m. At 11:30, I told her I was ready to go.
She informed me (after four to five glasses of wine) that she was not ready to leave. I told her I was serious and wanted to go home. She repeated that she was not ready.
Next, I told her that I was going to the car and would meet her there, hopefully very soon. Thirty minutes later, I was still waiting for her in my car. I went inside and told her that I would be leaving, and that if she wanted a ride, to please follow me to the car, and that I was very angry.
She came to the car, but started in on me, suggesting I was not acting rationally and was being unreasonable and so on. She told me that the decision to go home should be a joint decision. I basically told her she was lucky I had not left her there and driven home.
This friend of four years has not contacted me or apologized. I think I was more than nice and no longer consider this woman my friend.
GENTLE READER: Your offer of a ride -- and your friend’s acceptance of it -- bound you both, in differing ways, as companions for the evening. She owed you the duty of a guest to be grateful and accommodating; you owed her the duty of a hostess to show an interest in her comfort -- and also to see her safely home.
This required compromise seems to have been lacking on both sides. But while the obligations may have begun the evening as more or less equal, they began to lean more heavily in your direction as your friend’s ability to stand up straight became compromised.
Assuming your friend was not wholly incapable of independent action after four or five glasses of wine, it would have been enough for you to ensure that she had an alternate way home, either by checking that she had cab fare or by asking around for an alternate chauffeur. This would, Miss Manners notes, have discharged your own obligations without either inconveniencing you or losing you a friend.