Q. My husband and I went to dinner with three other couples to a nice, pricey restaurant. When the check came, we divided it, added the tip and put it with the check. One of the couples picked up all the cash and informed us they were going to pay the check on their credit card to earn mileage points. We were all taken aback by this! Is this proper to use our money for your own gain? (The check was not cheap.) I did make sure they gave the server her tip in cash. (I had to jog his memory as to how much it was) Please tell me what you think.
A. Technically, it was not improper, but their action created ill will among the rest of the group and appeared greedy and made you all feel that they were taking advantage of you. Therefore, it was distasteful. If they had said they didn’t have enough cash so would put the bill on their card and collect the cash from everyone else, you probably wouldn’t have given it a thought. Group outings where the bill is divided equally generally include problems — when one couple drinks more than the others, or one orders appetizers and the others don’t, or adds dessert when no one else is having dessert — making those who ate or drank less pay for the costs incurred by others. Your situation adds yet another level of difficulty to what is almost always an awkward situation. To avoid any of these potential problems in the future, simply ask for separate checks for each couple (but do call the restaurant in advance to ensure that it will accommodate separate checks) or provide a credit card from each couple and let the restaurant do the dividing.
Q. How do you eat a cherry tomato without squirting its juice all over?
A. When it is served as an appetizer, it’s best to pop it whole into your mouth. When it is served as part of a salad, eating it whole is still advisable, but if you prefer to cut it, then prick it with the tines of your fork to allow the juice to run out before cutting it with a knife.
Q. We are planning an adults-only dinner party and one guest we invited said she couldn’t come unless she brought her children. Other invited guests have children, too, and understood that their children weren’t invited. I told her I was sorry, but it really is an adults-only event. Now she isn’t speaking to me. Was I wrong?
A. No, of course not. If she declines if you don’t add her children to the guest list, that’s her decision and you would tell her that you are sorry, and will miss her, and hope you can get together another time with children. It is perfectly fine to plan a kids-free event and the decision to hire a sitter or not attend is up to your invited guests.