I have a rather distressing and slightly off-colour dilemma and I need some genuine advice.
Recently I held a Christmas party the night before Christmas Eve for a close group of friends who hadn’t yet left to travel home for the holidays. Several of my invitees were tardy confirming their attendance and were listed as ‘maybes’. It was a casual courtyard picnic so I didn’t mind, I just made lots of food to cover the ‘maybes’.
A few maybes changed their answer to ‘not coming’ on the day of the lunch, so, as I had made so much food that I didn’t want wasted, I cast the net wider and posted an open last-minute invite to my modest group of friends and acquaintances on a social networking site, hoping to add a few hungry mouths to the abundant spread, which I happily did do. Again, it was a very casual do.
However one man who was a ‘friend of a friend’ who I had never met in person expressed his interest in attending. I will call this man ‘Tom’. We had chatted online before and I while admired the work Tom did with our mutual friend, we had disagreed on some issues during discussions online and I was a little surprised he wanted to come along, especially to a small picnic where he knew no-one. But after all it was an open invite and in the spirit of the season I told Tom to come along, warning him that it was a small group of friends he would be joining.
Tom turned up on time and graciously brought me a delicious dessert to thank me for hosting, which was very lovely. He joined my friends and seemed to socialise well with them, and although one or two noted that he was ‘a little strange but a nice guy’, everything was fine.
That is until later in the evening when we played a game of ‘pass the parcel’. Part of the fun of the way we play the game is that not everybody wins, and some win multiple times, and of course some of the gifts are entirely ill-suited to their winner. We always have a hilarious time and the jostling and gift-envy is part of the fun. Bear in mind these are all trinkets priced under $5.
When the parcel came to Tom, he opened it and received a kitsch lip gloss meant for a female winner. We all had a laugh and he graciously gave the gift to one of the girls in attendance, I will call her Susy. He did not have to do this. I even took care to ask him if he didn’t have a female friend or relative to give it to, but he shrugged it off and let Susy have it.
However later in the game when the parcel stopped at Susy, she received a ‘second’ gift of a small box of chocolates. She was chuffed and we all had a laugh at her success. Tom seemed uncomfortable however. ‘I want that back now,’ he said to Susy of the gift he had given her. We all laughed, assuming he was joking – as Sally had already used it! However Tom grew visibly upset and reached out and took the lip gloss. He rolled it over in his hands, looked at it, put it down in front of Sally again, and then took it away again. Sally looked to me with surprise and I shrugged. What could I say? He was acting strangely and if he really wanted it that badly he could have it! Finally he angrily placed the lip gloss in front of Sally and asked, ‘Where can I buy one of those?’ I told him any drug store, and he folded his arms and huffed. I assume he wanted Sally to either give back his prize or swap, but frankly I didn’t feel it fair to change the rules of the game for this grumpy man who was making everyone uncomfortable over a two dollar trinket!
The rest of the evening went smoothly, and when it was winding down and several people were leaving, Tom asked ‘his lovely hosts’ (my partner and I) – which was very sweet of him to say – if he could use the bathroom. The picnic was held in our apartment’s courtyard so when someone needed to use the bathroom we would run them into the house and unlock the door, and the relock it when they were done with the bathroom. A fussy system but as we live in the city we felt it best to lock and unlock the door ourselves to ensure it was secure. Plus we were running back and forth to the house for ice and cold drinks all through the evening so people tended to just come along when I fetched something. Imperfect, but our friends are used to this as we often entertain in the courtyard.
I offered to let Tom in to the house and went to look for some candles as he used the bathroom. Five minutes went by, then ten, then finally fifteen. I had a pretty good inkling of what was happening in the bathroom after the large meal we had all shared, but was absolutely aghast. I now couldn’t leave or interrupt to give Tom the keys to lock up himself when he was done.
My partner came in looking for me when twenty minutes had passed. ‘He’s still in there!’ I said. ‘What do I do?’ At this point we started worrying that something had gone wrong in the bathroom or that he was passed out.
Finally Tom emerged 20-something minutes after he had gone in and I quickly busied myself in the cupboard. ‘Ah there are those candles, finally!’ I said. He laughed and we walked him back out. To our surprise, Tom collected his things. ‘I just came back out to say goodnight to you all,’ he said, wished everyone well, and left.
A quick visit to the bathroom after he left confirmed my concerns – he had made it very unpleasant for the rest of my guests and I used a fair bit of Febreeze to get it to a reasonable scent. I was mortified and disgusted!
At first I thought Tom was embarrassed by his bathroom adventure and left in haste, but it seems not. He posted dozens of photos of the event online that very same evening, ‘tagging’ or naming us all in them and making ‘funny’ comments.
I now do not think Tom was embarrassed at all, just the kind of brute who saved himself looking for a bathroom on the way home (he could have gone to the bar just metres from my apartment entrance) and ‘made himself comfortable’ in our bathroom before the drive home.
I am disgusted and shocked that someone could behave this way at a stranger’s home while they were entertaining! It wasn’t some mad party either. Certainly none of my friends would do this unless nature made it absolutely, unavoidably necessary – and I know them all very, very well. The fact that Tom was in there so long also makes me think he could have waited till he left to ‘relieve’ himself, which makes me even madder.
A week later, when some friends and I were very casually chatting online about perhaps getting together for New Year, Tom butted in with, ‘What time? I’ll be there.’ I simply ignored him. He did it again on New Year’s day when we were making plans to visit a friend, let’s call him Greg. ‘Look’s like it’s party at Greg’s house! I’m free!’ he wrote. He had only ever met Greg very briefly at our party! I deleted the whole conversation rather than deal with Tom.
And there lies my dilemma. I want to remove Tom from my ‘friends’ list online and have nothing further to do with him rather than have to dodge his attempts to crash every party I casually mention online. However my partner feels that would be very cruel and would hurt Tom’s feelings, leading him to assume I disliked his personality rather than something he did. He even suggested I be honest and tell Tom that I was offended by his bathroom adventure, and that is why I am deleting him! That seems extreme.
What shall I do? I know you will advise that I no longer make party plans in a public social forum, but I find it incredibly convenient and normally only friends are involved. I have a very small list of online friends, most of whom are genuine friends, but some, like Tom, I mistakenly added thinking they were closer to a mutual friend than I had assumed. I usually delete people like this but Tom has slipped through and now it seems I am stuck with him and his nasty toilet habits. 0102-12
Isn’t the purpose of a bathroom to provide a private repository of bodily effluents and gaseous effluvia? Where did you expect a guest to do this? While you were eating in the courtyard? I very much doubt that Tom planned a pre-meditated assault on your bathroom. (“Hmm, I think I’ll have beans for lunch just so I can create the most odious gas known to man tonight.”) The kind hostess recognizes that sometimes people have epic bowel movements and they graciously cover for their guest with ample applications of air freshener. As the saying goes, “Sh*t happens.” To everyone. May some future restaurant manager or hosting friend be as equally kind to you when your turn comes. And it will. Just live long enough.
As for Tom inviting himself to your parties, stop discussing your parties in public which you knew I’d tell you anyway. What he doesn’t know about, he cannot invite himself. Slowly freeze him out of your social circle which, in a few months, will make it easier to quietly delete him from your friend list.