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Carolyn Hax: Drop excuses, go to event for friend

Sun., April 15, 2012, midnight

Dear Carolyn: I have a group of friends from college, and we are quite close. One of them pursued a career while the rest of us balanced career and family ambitions. She was recently named to the board of directors for a major nonprofit that she has supported for a long time. She was thrilled, and I was thrilled for her.

Last week, my husband and I were invited to a $100-per-plate benefit for her nonprofit. Since we would also have to purchase new clothes and a babysitter, this event is a bit out of our reach at the moment. I RSVP’d no.

Yesterday, my friend told me she was hurt I wasn’t attending and asked why, because this nonprofit is important to her. I told her it was simply too expensive. She was quiet for a moment, and then told me she attended wedding showers, my wedding, baby showers, three christenings and numerous birthday parties for my kids (this is true). She told me that after all that, it would mean a lot if we could attend a function for her.

I was floored by this. Is she “bean counting”? Also, isn’t she still able to have all those events in her honor should she choose?

Finally, those costs were spread out; a $25 gift here and there is different from a $500 expense in one evening.

Attending this would not be impossible, but it would be very difficult. My husband thinks we should make a $200 donation and not attend the event. Is this a fair compromise? Do I even have to compromise? – Friend’s Benefit

Yes, at a minimum. I suggest you do better, though: Apologize, then assure her you’ll scrape up your pennies and go.

She’s right, and your defensiveness says you know it. “Bean counting”? “A $25 gift here and there”? “We would also have to purchase new clothes”?

Holy excuses, Batman.

What your friend has rightly pointed out is that she waved your flag again and again and again – and asked you to do the same for her exactly once.

And you begged off on an inconvenience. She’s not scorekeeping, she’s exposing your bias.

You and I both know you can arrange a babysitting swap with another family you know, or call in a favor.

You can pull a Scarlett O’Hara and wear the curtains.

That’s what friends do when it’s time to come through. They don’t say, “Well, if you find a husband, I’ll buy you a vase.”

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