Dear Miss Manners: Unfortunately, I think I may have discovered a phenomenon that is even tackier than cash bars at wedding receptions.
Apparently, some restaurants have begun offering a service called a “half-open bar” to customers who wish to hold private parties. This means that the hosts are allowed to select a set number of “VIP” guests, designated with visible wristbands, who are allowed unlimited free drinks. The rest of the guests must pay for their beverages.
I’m not necessarily faulting the businesses that have made this service an option; they are hardly forcing anybody to participate. I am, however, trying hard to quash my uncharitable feelings about the hosts who would employ such a service. As for how this sort of thing reflects on the culture as a whole, I am completely at a loss for words.
You, however, rarely are. Thoughts? Can civilization put the kibosh on this nonsense? Are we too far gone?
Gentle Reader: Although she is not quite ready to give up on civilization, Miss Manners admits that what has happened to hospitality is an evil portent.
In secular society, as in many religions, the willingness to share sustenance freely, even if one has little, is a test. Those who turn others away are in trouble, even if the visitor does not turn out to be a deity in disguise.
However, Miss Manners does admire the modern efficiency. What you bring to her attention is a method of insulting guests by making them pay to be entertained, while at the same time making it clear that the insult is personal rather than general.