Monday, December 17, 2007

Friendship is Friendship, But Accounts Must be Kept

Ah, friends and money! The stuff that nightmares are made of. It seems that no matter how hard you try, the "friends and money" thing always pops up. Let's review, shall we?

Our attitude towards money is simple... "Sometimes ya got, and sometimes ya don't" We're luckier than a lot of people, we "got" more often than we "don't". We live in a nice home in a nice area, we have one "nice" vehicle and one "all-purpose" vehicle, we travel when we can and we give what we're able. We try to be honest with money. While our finances aren't dinner table fodder, if you ask, we will more than likely answer your question (broadly, rather than specifically). Money is such a large issue in so many peoples lives, I (we) believe that honesty and forthrightness on the subject is a way to leave it in the background. Acknowledge the subject and move on. When it comes right down to it, having a few bucks is nice, but the universe is really not impressed. The universe is more interested in you, not your wallet, and, no matter what you have, someone out there has 10 times more (unless you're Bill Gates....). So, it's not hard to imagine that when the "money demon" arises from the depths of hell, we're a little surprised...

It all started several years ago, slowly, at first. Our friends (let's call them X and Y shall we?) went on an inexpensive vacation with us. They were slow to pay their share of the cabin we all shared. Eight months later (I said they were slow) I asked Himself to broach the subject with Y. Perhaps they needed our help, and I'd hate for us to be those people that stick their head in the sand when things get tough. Y was apologetic with Himself, however, X called me later on to inform me that all Y did was yell at her when all she'd done was forgotten to write a check. Oops!

Then there were the tickets to a fairly expensive show. We asked them, before we ordered the tickets, whether they wanted to go, and told them the price. They accepted, enjoyed the show, and took three months to pay for the tickets. I said nothing during the three months, X is seriously sensitive, and there was no way I was going to be responsible for another X versus Y conundrum.

Vacation cabin this past fall?? They paid their share of the cabin before we left. But, then there was the "supply" run. You know, that trip for groceries, lunch goodies, snacks and the like? Um? Yeah....they paid for the mustard. And we will not even discuss the living situation. Suffice it to say we've booked separate cabins for our next adventure.

Our most recent issue? Hard to find tickets for a popular comedian. Not expensive, really, just seriously hard to come by. I score the tickets, five of them, Himself, myself, X, Y, and their friend Z. Everyone is pleased. The comedy club has a minimum (most of them around here do) so cocktails and snacks are ordered by all. The bill arrives toward the end of the show, X takes it, puts in some money, and hands the bill to me. I check the total, count whats in the folder and I tell Himself a flat dollar amount to put in. I was hoping Himself wouldn't look, because some serious shortage had taken place. Suffice it to say, we paid for half the bill and all of the tip. And, he looked. As soon as the house lights went up, Himself wished everyone a Merry Xmas and excused himself to go get the car, leaving me alone....with our friends.....and the giant gorilla in the room. Gah! Z ponies up his ticket money on the spot. X looks at me and says "Well, if you need it I can give you the cash now, or I'll just write you a check after the holidays" Now just what am I supposed to say to that? If I say I want the cash, I'll feel like I'm taking their last dime. If I agree to the check thing, I'm just giving the gorilla a banana. I go with the banana. The devil you know rather than the devil you don't.

So here we are. Himself is mad, I'm sad, and we are kind of avoiding our otherwise wonderful friends. Oh, and did I mention I'm also sitting on more tickets, for another expensive show, which Y told us to get? Yeah, there's that....

I have to admit, I have no clue how to solve this, or even how to broach the subject. The feeling that one is being taken advantage of is a hard feeling to shake. We try to look at it from different angles, try and talk ourselves into believing that we are better people for being generous, but it's forced generosity and no matter how we look at it, we resent it. Then there's the sadness that comes from realizing that your friendship is not all that you believed it was. (or is it?) Then there's the whole guilt thing, because, really, we should be better people... I don't like to tally up anything, but there is a balance that exists among friends, and the older I get the more I'm convinced that it needs to be maintained. The big questions is, how do you fix what's out of balance????

1 comment:

ISO(In)sanity said...

Ohhh...we have the same thing!

Our one married couple friends LOVE, LOVE LOVE to do the, oh, let's just split the tab, even though her husband always get the most expensive steak, AND moreso, he drinks 5 drinks for every glass we have.

One time at the pricey local restaurant, I nabbed the bill quick, calculated ours first, made sure I was covering tip etc, then said..."here's our part" and they had no choice but to pony up the rest. She seethed for about 3 weeks, but now she calculates "adult beverages" seperately at least! I'm not going to bicker over 2 bucks here or there, but an extra 25-30 in liquor? Once, twice fine...every stinking time?! Heck no!

It hurts, doesn't it, when you feel like the corner bank? And you are paying to be their friends? We almost lost couple above over it.

They wonder why we digress from going on a trip with them...