Blake’s Advice Column
I am a teetotaler. As frequently happens when a group of friends share a meal together at a restaurant, when the bill arrives, one of the party will suggest, “Why don’t we just split it?” The rest of the group usually quickly agrees, but left out of the equation is the fact that the lone teetotaler did not participate in the round — or several rounds — of cocktails before dinner and ends up subsidizing the drinkers. If I squawk about it, I look cheap. If I don’t, I feel taken advantage of. Please advise.
From Helena, Montana
* * * * * * * *
I agree with you, that if you don’t drink, you shouldn’t have to pay. You also have to keep in mind that alcoholics are usually emotionally fragile after getting boozed up, and almost anything can upset them and reduce them to tears, especially the men. So, here are some options. You can have dinner at home before hanging out with your friends, and when you arrive, don’t eat or drink anything. And hopefully none of them will be stupid enough to ask you to chip in. Or, you can dine with them, but bring a laptop computer with a spread sheet that you update every couple of minutes, shouting out individual tabs, especially yours. How about this one? You can go to the restaurant ahead of everyone, warning the servers your friends that will be coming soon have a reputation of running out of restaurants and not paying. That will cause the servers to demand payment before giving them anything, which eliminates you from the equation. But if you want to avoid all the drama, simply do this. When the check finally comes around, grab it and total up everything, splitting the amount among them, giving yourself a free meal. And you shouldn’t get caught, because it’s a well established scientific fact, that lushes can’t add. I hope this helps.