DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband and I go out to dinner with another couple, he thinks it’s petty either to request separate checks or to calculate afterward how much each couple owes. He believes the check should always be divided equally, and this is what we do with most friends.
The difference in price between what each couple orders is usually only $10 to $20, meaning that the couple who spent less only contributes $5 to $10 for the other couple’s food.
However, we are friends with one other couple who has always declined to pay for more than they ordered (for the record, my husband and I have always been the ones to order more), and my husband has always grumbled afterward to me about “Tony’s” stinginess.
Last night we had dinner with them, and my husband and I ordered $40 more worth of food and drinks than Tony and his wife. When Tony calculated how much they owed, my husband got angry and confronted him, saying that these calculations had always annoyed him, arguing that paying a little extra is the cost of going out with friends.
I don’t think friends are obligated to subsidize my husband’s and my appetizers, wine, dessert, etc., especially not when it’s $40 worth. Also, I think it’s OK to request separate checks.
GENTLE READER: This problem is likely to solve itself when you find that you are the only person left willing to go out for dinner with your husband.
Funny how his idea of polite sharing always seems to work in his favor. Miss Manners notices that he is not paying that “little extra cost of going out with friends”; he is charging them for the privilege of going out with him.
It is true that it would be petty to grudge the cost of offering hospitality. But this is not the case in a restaurant, where it is agreed that each of you is buying a meal. There is nothing unfriendly about requesting separate checks, which would be a good idea if you want to have any friends left.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Recent wedding-planning discussions have gotten my friends and me thinking about the new rules for wedding gifts.
Most couples of my generation (that fuzzy one between Gen Y and the millennials) have been living together for years, or have been on their own long enough that a wedding registry is seemingly pointless -- just a way to fill one’s already-cramped apartment with more junk.
However, since there is something deeply ingrained within us, asking for cash often comes off as either greedy or crass. What are some ways to avoid the confusion, hurt feelings and duplicate blenders?
GENTLE READER: The way to solve both these problems is to realize that giving and choosing wedding presents -- or, as you think of them, junk -- is up to the prospective donors, not the recipients.
Miss Manners considers the fact that couples often get married fully outfitted to be a good reason to drop the custom, rather than to devise other ways to extract money from guests.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)