Dear Blake,

I recently celebrated my sixth anniversary of sobriety. I keep having the same issue pop up time and time again, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.

If I’m invited to dinner with a friend or a group, when the bill comes, someone usually suggests splitting it evenly between the number of people there. My issue is that my water and my salad come out to an average of $30, including the tip. Meanwhile, other members of the group order several alcoholic beverages, which in Los Angeles aren’t cheap.

The first time it happened, I’d had dinner with a friend and left the restaurant asking myself why my tab was $80 when it’s normally $40. What’s a polite way of expressing that I would like to pay only my portion of the bill? I don’t want to seem cheap, but fair is fair.

Signed, Howard
From Los Angeles, California

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Dear Howard,

I agree with you, that you should not pay any portion of someone else’s meals. So, I believe that you should do everything you can to show this is unreasonable, including dumping their hot plates into their laps. Here are some other ideas. Tell them that you’re fasting, so you can better deal with your animosity toward cheap insensitive losers. Or, bring a sack lunch to the restaurant and eat that in front of them. If they still expect you to pay a portion of the bill, literally laugh hysterically in their faces… as you get up and walk out. Or this idea. Show up late and sit at a table far away from them where you can’t be seen. Order your food, pay for it, and then act like there was a mix-up as you “finally notice them”, then join them and explaining that you already ate. And finally, this suggestion. You can have them suggest separate checks by doing the following. The next time you have dinner with this group, order enough that could feed you for days, and place what you don’t eat, in containers that you can dine on in the following days. Keep in mind, everyone at the table will be indirectly paying for your refrigerated meals, which means you will be getting a major discount. After this, anytime they see you walk in the restaurant, they’ll immediately demand separate checks. And to make sure that happens, always show up carrying a wide assortment of Tupperware. I hope this helps.