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 (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
My friends and I meet up frequently after work at a place that serves beer by the pitcher. One member of the group never pays her share - there's always some excuse. As a result, we eventually switched to buying individual pints. Yes, that's more expensive, but at least we don't have to subsidize a freeloader.
She's not poor, by the way. To me, she's always seemed like the kind of rich girl who shop-lifted in high school.
In any event, this woman keeps grumbling about the change. My friends say she'll eventually stop coming altogether, or actually start paying for her own drinks, and there's no reason to be openly confrontational. I think that honesty is the best policy, and want to tell her exactly why we changed. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
If you all have decided, as a group, that you are okay with this friend hating you all and never hanging out with you guys again, then you are free to tell her that her long con is busted.
People who exploit group-ordering situations for their own benefit are the most selfish kinds of selfish people. They're selfish because they don't want to pay for all the food and drink they plan to enjoy. They're selfish because they have no qualms about putting a damper on spirits, which inevitably will happen when the designated “banker” tallies up all the honest friends' contributions and realizes the table is still $20 short. The mood sours fast as people begrudgingly start putting in more money, because—although one member of the group always fails to realize this—it is illegal to leave a restaurant without paying for the food you have consumed.
The idea of splitting the check is that everyone pays the same amount because everyone ordered about the same amount. It wasn't devised as a system to make it easier to trick your friends into paying for your extra drinks.
Now. People who are bad friends when it comes time to pay for food can still be perfectly fine friends in situations that don't involve monetary transactions. Their penchant for mischief is probably indicative of a fun personality. They certainly believe they are bringing something unique to the table, which is why they don't feel bad about charging you a tax for their company. Hang out with these pals at free events and be sure to hook up with them in the event of a post-apocalyptic social collapse, for they have already learned the life skills necessary to thrive in the shadows.
Decide how much the group values your friend's company before you alienate her by blurting “You're a thief and we all know you're a thief and we all conspired against you to thwart your thieving, you washed up dirty dog thief.” If you want to continue to enjoy (but not pay for) her company—she's shoplifted your heart!—just say something like “We kept coming up light every time, so it's fairer this way. Also, cute watch. I have one just like it that I was wearing a second ago. May I have it back?”
If her incessant complaining about the new drinks policy threatens to overpower the group conversation, wow—you are oddly committed to remaining friends with an awful person. Consider instituting a BYO policy, which might appeal to her cheap nature. Resist your instinct to have everyone smuggle hooch in flasks, because you know which pooch is going to try to mooch hooch? This gal.
What I suggest is this: Commandeer the restaurant bathroom and turn it into a pear brandy distilling closet. Hang a sign on the door reading “Bathroom Out Of Order” and make all the R's backwards so that it looks like a little kid wrote it (I don't know why, but this feels important to my vision). Take turns discreetly slipping in for a snifter. Devise an elaborate system of alerts so that the product may be concealed at a moment's notice if necessary. This will be a great bonding activity for the honest friends, because nothing brings people together like running an illegal operation and nothing tastes sweeter than the liquor you make yourself, except maybe the beer Becca FINALLY pays her share for, which will never happen.
The important thing to realize is that confronting your friend will not cause her to admit to her skimming or pay you guys back all the money she owes. There's an excellent chance that she even believes she's in the right here (“But I didn't have caaaaash!”). All it will do is sour her on your friendship forever. No one likes to be called a thief, especially a thief.
My girlfriend and I just moved in with each other. She put up an old picture of her and her friends, and at a glance and even from a few feet away, she looks EXACTLY like my ex. It's uncanny, and even my buddies who've seen it agree. I'm over my ex and not a big fan of hers anymore, so I don't want to think about her every day but it's hard not to with this prominent photo. They don't even look that much alike, it's just a terrible weird coincidence. Should I tell the love of my life the truth and ask her to take it down? Can I "accidentally" break it? Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Breaking the photo is out of the question, as you know. For one thing, breaking a picture frame doesn't destroy a picture. It destroys a picture frame. If you want to destroy a picture, you'll have to resort to more permanent measures.
Woops! That picture of you that I loved fell off the wall and bounced into a fire! That I started in our kitchen! Our kitchen is on fire!
Furthermore, unless it's a very old picture, odds are good that it exists somewhere in digital form.
Your computer also bounced into the fire! Crazy day here. Earthquake or something.
It's unreasonable that your girlfriend can't keep pictures of herself with her friends around the house just because you have a type. And to ask her to get rid of this specific picture because you believe it's a horcrux for your old girlfriend will cause her to have negative associations with a photo she likes enough to frame.
Look, baby. I understand this is a memento of fun times with your friends. But every time I see it, I fall into a Proustian reverie thinking about what might have been, and writing the alternate history of my life.
What you should do is stop thinking “This is a picture of my girlfriend looking just like my ex-girlfriend” and start thinking “This is a picture of my girl friend.”
Also, who walks around their house gazing at the photographs, anyway? Do you have amnesia? Are you worried you'll start thinking the ex is your girlfriend again?
One thing we must establish: Did your buddies say that the picture looks like a photo of your old flame unprompted? Or did you ask them specifically “Doesn't this look like Erica?”
Did you pull the picture off the wall and bring it to dinner as your “'date' haha but seriously doesn't this look like Erica?”
Do you keep it in your wallet so you can pull it out on the fly and ask people's opinions?
Your kids are cute but, man, doesn't this look like Erica?
This is a neat shop but you know what's not 'shopped, this picture of my girlfriend, doesn't she look like Erica (a less hot version)?
If the resemblance bothers you to the point of action, you may not be as over your ex as you protest you are. You may even start seeing her face in everything: a coffee ring on the counter; the pattern of browning on a grilled cheese; her LinkedIn profile as you comb it for clues for her current activities.
Thanks for taking down that photo, babe, but please don't type so quickly. Every time I see you being proficient at Microsoft Office, it reminds me of my ex.
If you truly feel you cannot rest until the picture has been removed from sight, pitch it as a joint design decision. Explain to your girlfriend that, if you don't hang up the certificate, it's like the dog never even finished advanced beginner obedience training, and this is simply the best spot for it. Have another photo of her framed and present it as a gift.
Why don't we put it...here? And you can move this other photo onto your nightstand!
Now she's not taking down a photo because she resembles someone else in it. (For the record, “You look so much like...” is a nice thing to say about people who are related and just about no one else. People don't want to look like other people.) She's putting up a new photo because she has a thoughtful boyfriend who gives gifts.
You could also just learn to live with it, like I have with the framed photo of a strawberry that my boyfriend keeps on his bureau. (It drives me nuts because it looks just like a guy I used to date. Just kidding! It drives me nuts because it's a framed photo of a fucking strawberry.)