Welcome to The 12 Days of Thatz Not Okay, a special holiday edition of a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Check back tomorrow for our next seasonal installment. As always, please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
I'm in the midst of a New Year's Eve dilemma. A very mid-level friend of mine recently ended her on again, off again relationship and has been reaching out a lot despite having made very little effort when she and the boyfriend were on again. Last week she asked me what I was doing for NYE and then told me if I planned a big night out she would really appreciate it and would definitely come. It appears she now appears thinks we are spending NYE, together and I am the party captain of her blackout ship for the evening. The last thing I want to do is plan let alone partake in some expensive night out with a friend I never see and am not particularly close with.
A small group of friends and I have since discussed going to a very low-key dinner and getting inappropriately drunk at the closest, cheapest and warmest dive bar within a two block vicinity.
This is not a great friend, we've seen each other maybe five times in the past year. I don't really want to invite her to dinner, nor do I feel like it's my responsibility to plan her NYE. I'm thinking of faking my own death to avoid having to deal with this. Or just not inviting her to dinner, is that okay?
Any time someone spins you doing them a favor as them doing you a favor, you are automatically allowed to decline that favor (the one they're doing for you!), regardless of the circumstances.
Fortunately for you, telling someone you would like them to do something ("Do me a favor and do me a favor…") is not a binding contract that forces that person to do it. I bet this woman would really appreciate a lot of things you might do for her, such as paying her rent, creating a fun and funky DIY art piece for her home, and installing the latest version of Adobe Flash software on her laptop. It's nice that she has consented to participate in the super fun New Year's Eve extravaganza she has requested you organize for her. How did you manage to convince her it was worth her time?
You are under no obligation to be the party captain of her Good Ship Molly-pop, or the conductor on her Alcohol Poisoning Express, or the nightwatchmen of her vomitorium. Even if she were a very close friend (and not "a very mid-level" used Hyundai Sonata of friends), you did not offer to coordinate her New Year's Eve plans. You simply existed in the world and she interpreted this as your volunteering to plan her nighttime excursions. (A good friend—or an effective manipulator—would have said "Why don't we plan something fun?" thereby creating the illusion of a team. You know what this girl is lacking besides New Year's Eve plans and a boyfriend? Game.)
Let's not forget that people who are determined to have an insane drunken blast on New Year's Eve are the worst kind of people. Any night that entails heavy drinking from individuals who don't normally spend hours pounding bellinis is bad news—particularly if there's a goal line for it, like "staying out till 12 a.m." or "lasting till the end of this parent-teacher night." These people's lives are governed by FOMO; even if they are out having fun, they will always be miserable. This in addition to the fact that, even if you weren't operating inside the pressure cooker that is New Year's Eve (fun times are usually not structured around a rigid universal countdown), "hard-drinking casual acquaintance who recently went through a breakup" is right up there with "shoplifting meth user" on the power rankings of friends nobody wants to go out with.
While I would advise against faking your own death (done right, that would require way more planning and money than just organizing a New Year's party), you absolutely do not have to invite her to dinner. If she inquires again about your plans, tell her a friend (a friend she doesn't know; your friend…Caity) is hosting a low-key intimate dinner. Given that she contacts you, on average, once every 2.4 months, you might luck out and not even receive a follow-up call.
If she's looking to get wasted and make out with a stranger, she will find a way to do it on New Year's Eve with or without your help.
Submit your "Thatz Not Okay" questions here. Art by Jim Cooke. Previously in 12 Days of Thatz Not Okay: 12 Bucks for Jim Fucking Beam; 11th Hour Bonus; 10 Dollars, Split Three Ways; 9 Christians Fretting; 86ing Grown-Up Christmas Cards; 7-ty Degrees Farenheit; 6 Times a Troll; and 5 Gold Rings.