Charging Your Friends for Friendship, Falling in Love with a Hilarious Racist, and Other Questionable AdviceS

Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions to caity.weaver@gawker.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."

OK, So this is something that happened a few years ago and has split the opinion of my friends ever since.

I went to Columbus, OH to see friends for Halloween 2007. After the trip was planned, I booked a meeting for the Friday morning I was scheduled to be in OH, with the idea that I could write off my travel as a business expense. I should note, I am in Chicago, so we decided to drive. I volunteered to drive so I could claim travel mileage.

Long story short, no one chipped in gas money and it sort of bugged me. I wouldn't have accepted it since I was getting mileage money, but it would have been nice to get the offer.

One side thinks an offer should have been made, out of courtesy, because I drove. The other side says: "NO, technically, you didn't pay for gas either, so why should they?" Fair point.

I feel like it was a dick move on my friends' part, to not at least offer to chip in. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

Congratulations on recently marking the 5th anniversary of The Time Your Friends Did Not Pay for That Thing You Also Did Not Pay for. Five years is the "wood" anniversary. How did you celebrate—by asking your friends to nail you to a cross? I bet they refused, because they're fucking selfish. Memorial recreation of the battle it is.

Just to restate this: you're not angry because your friends cheated you out of money by carpooling with you on a fun (lol jk) vacation to Columbus, Ohio. You are angry because they selfishly denied you the chance to be magnanimous. Have any of your friends ever allowed their dog to become lost so that you could find it, return it, and then decline the reward money? If not, that's rude. Have they ever offered to pay you for the pleasure of enjoying your company, just so that you could smack their outstretched fiver onto ground and say "Nonsense! We're all friends here!"? If they haven't, they are literally monsters that have yet to master the niceties of human social interaction.

I'm going to go ahead and guess that the split in the opinion of your friends breaks down like this: on one side—the side that thinks your pals should have at least offered to pay for the gas, out of politeness—there's you. On the other side—the side that says they had no responsibility to pay for something you volunteered and also were not paying for—there's every other person you have ever told this story. A lot of strong opinions here. Will the two sides ever reach a resolution, or will you continue to be a crazy person forever?

It is not okay to harbor a 5(+) year grudge against friends because they failed to offer to chip in for the car gas that you also were not chipping in for. You've already gamed the system by getting work to pay for a trip you were going to take anyway. Must you now advance to Level Two and game your friends into thinking you are the world's kindest, most generous person? If this is the kind of perceived slight you continue to stress about a half decade later, they probably already know you're kind of a dick sometimes. Game over.

You don't mention what the sleeping arrangements were like in Ohio, so it's unclear whether you crashed at a friend's place, set up shop in a hotel, or slept in your car in a hotel parking lot (gaming yet another system). If you crashed with friends, did you offer to pay them? Not in the form of a bottle of wine or a nice dinner (I do think that your friends might, as a group, have offered to cover your dinner one night as a thank-you), but in the form of cold, hard cash? Did you call your Ohio buddies up beforehand to ask about room rates and any available packages? Did you receive a AAA discount when booking?

If you and the rest of the Chicago crew ended up in a hotel, I hope (and trust) that the cost was fairly divided among the guests. If the hotel provided a continental breakfast, that would have presented another prime opportunity for your friends to offer to pay you for something you were already receiving gratis. If they didn't, feel free to incorporate this second slight into future obsessive remembrances of The Trip of Bad Feelings.

Here's to another 5 years of stressing over an inoffensive encounter between human beings who are friends.

My boyfriend and I make race jokes a lot. I'm black and he's white. We live in Canada so everyone's pretty cool with other races (discounting the province of Quebec because I don't know if they're being racist since I don't speak French). Our major conversation though is whether he's allowed to use the N-word. I say it all the time. I call him a 'bitch ass nigga' when he doesn't do laundry, I often use it as a substitute for the word 'people' (as in "Look at these niggas here.") or the classic, 'nigga, please.' I argue that he can't say it because he's white, male and privileged so it is actually racist when he says it. He argues that it's just a word and he never means any malice when he says it. (He also questionably argues that his people invented it so...but I think that's meant to be a joke.)

So: my white boyfriend uses the N-word as a joke. Is that okay?

Thatz not okay.

Here is a list of instances in which it is appropriate to jokingly refer to someone using a racial slur:

  • 1.
  • No, it is not okay for your white boyfriend to get into the jokey habit of referring to black people (even if it's just you, his favorite black person) using the N-word. And, even though it seems you love saying it (you note that you "often use it as a substitute for the word ‘people'" – just like the racists who coined it did!), perhaps the most effective way to get him to stop calling you the N-word is for you to stop calling him the N-word. (Then he stops being "the guy who throws his girlfriend's jokey insults back at her" and starts being just "the guy who calls his girlfriend the N-word.")

    You say your boyfriend "argues that his people invented [the word]" so it's really his to throw as he pleases, and add that you "think that's meant to be a joke." I don't think your boyfriend is actually trying to offend you by calling you the N-word. I agree that this argument is most likely intended as a joke. And isn't that the hallmark of great comedy? When you can't tell whether something is 100% a joke, but it does touch on centuries of racial suffering?

    My dad, who is black (My Black Dad), doesn't throw around the N-word. But even if he did, that would not give my mom, who is not black, license to use it. If we heard my mom using it, my dad and I would both be offended. If you heard my mom using it, maybe you would be offended too. (Maybe you would want to date her because she's got such good jokes. Life is messy.)

    Because your and your boyfriend's use of the N-word has already become qualified as "joking," I'm guessing he probably won't be persuaded to stop by anything I write here. After all, this advice is all geared toward people who are "actually racist," whereas your boyfriend is a professional comedian who calls you the N-word. Just in case, though, here is a line just for him:

    I would break up with my boyfriend if he called me the N-word. Please stop calling your girlfriend the N-word.

    If you guys are scrambling for something else to call one another, try "sweetie." Try "you little fool." Try your names. There are so many things you can call one another other than the N-word.

    My only request is that you don't adopt another racial slur as a pet name in its place.

    Submit your "Thatz Not Okay" questions here. Image via Shutterstock.