I honestly have no idea if I was an absolute boor or if my girlfriend made a mountain out of a molehill.
One of my best friends, for the last 20 years or so, recently bought her first house with her new husband and they’ve enjoyed a veritable round-robin of friends stopping by to help with painting, spackling, renovating and cleaning. There is a convenience store right near their house and, more often than not, they will ask me to stop there on my way over to grab them a six pack of beer or wine coolers for whomever is there, which I am always more than happy to do. While I’m at the store, I ALWAYS grab myself either a large cup of tea or a large soft drink with ice. I like regular, Lipton tea and she is a fancy, flowers and herbs sort of tea drinker. I also prefer ice in my drinks and as they are usually drinking adult beverages, they rarely have ice in their freezer or, indeed, anything other than water in the refrigerator. These are things that we laugh about and she will tease me, occasionally, by buying a small box of “boring” tea and putting a note with my name on it in her pantry.
Last month, they were having a huge barbecue for family and friends as a ‘thank you’ for all of the help that they had gotten with the house. My kids and I had been over the night before to help move tables and get ready. When I left, I asked them if they needed me to pick anything up on the way over the next day and they said that they were all set. I was coming over early with some dishes that she had asked me to make and some that she had made but needed me to keep in my refrigerator as their garage fridge was full to capacity with beer, wine and flavored waters.
On my way, I phoned one more time and asked if they needed anything as I was stopping for tea and they asked if I could get chips and salsa. I asked if they wanted coffee and they did not. It was early in the day, before lunch time, so I picked up the chips and salsa, a large cup of tea for myself and then, realizing that they did not have any ice at the house, that I saw, I called and asked if they needed any. She told me that they weren’t serving any beverages that needed ice and that she didn’t have the freezer space for bags of ice, anyway. I grabbed a large cup of ice that I could stow unobtrusively in one of her freezers, paid for my purchases and went to their house.
Friend and Husband and 3 other friends of theirs and my kids and I unloaded my folding chairs and tables from the car, grabbed the refrigerated dishes and put them where they needed to be, finished setting up the tents and had about an hour to sit and chat amongst ourselves before guests started arriving. The day was surprisingly warm, around 80* or so, and everyone was enjoying themselves, immensely.
About 2 hours into the party, as folks were imbibing more and more, I decided to switch from wine to cola so that someone had their wits about them and so that I could drive home, later. When I ducked into the garage to grab my cup of ice from the freezer out there, Friend followed me to give me “scoop” about someone at the party that she thought I might like to get to know better. As she was talking to me, I opened the freezer, took the cup out, took the lid off and started to fill it with soda. Her eyes popped out of her head and she asked me, “What is THAT?!” Honest to goodness, I thought that there was a bug and I squealed. She pointed, again, directly at my cup and asked me, “You brought ice to my party?” in a very accusatory tone. I was confused but also sensed danger, so I very apologetically admitted that I had. She lost her marbles on me in the garage, accusing me of everything from not appreciating her hospitality to being a teetotaler when I should have been drinking like everyone else was. I was really at a loss as she was so incredibly angry with me, so I apologized profusely, left the half-filled cup in the garage and immediately left the garage to catch my breath.
Her husband found me out front, handed me the soda with ice and told me that he was sorry and that he should have warned me that she had been so nervous about the party that morning that she had started the day with mimosas, so she had a bit of a head start on everyone. He also told me that he had just sent his brother out for ice because folks wanted ice in their mixed drinks. Feeling better, I rejoined the party and had a lovely afternoon, leaving before the non-family-friendly part of the evening began. Both Friend and Husband thanked us for all of our help and Friend followed me out to the car with a giggly, chatty debriefing about the party. As I was getting in the car, she said, “I actually followed you out here so that you could apologize, again, for what you did.”
I’ve always known that she has an argumentative, aggressive streak and it’s part of my job, my ying to her yang, sort of, to keep her in check. I’d never, though, in 20 years, been on the receiving end of it and didn’t know what to say, so I gave her a kiss and a hug and told her to enjoy the rest of her party and call me in the morning.
She did call me the next morning. To yell at me, again, for bringing a cup of ice to her party. I apologized for upsetting her and pointed out that I had also brought tables, chairs, and food. She said none of that mattered in the face of my obvious denigration of her hostessing skills.
I’m very non-confrontational and find myself walking on eggshells around her, now, the 2 or 3 times that we’ve seen each other since then. Her husband called her out on the whole thing, as well, and they evidently had a house-shaking row over it as she doesn’t understand why no one understands how much I hurt her feelings with my cup of ice. She keeps making snarky comments about whether or not I’ll drink what she’s offering without “dressing it up” and I’ve asked her to please stop it and she responds that she’s just kidding and that I’m too sensitive.
It will all go away soon. It always does with her. But I’m really curious.
Was I totally wrong or is she as crazy about it as it seems? 0623-14
Even if you were wrong in bringing your personal ice, it’s such a minor infraction that a truly gracious hostess and good friend would entirely overlook it. It’s just not worthy of getting one’s etiquette nose out of joint. That is what good friends do, they see the faux pas and they cover for you, preferring to see the positive things a friend has contributed to the relationship instead of focusing on a minor slip up. Her behavior could have been dismissed due to her perhaps excessive alcohol consumption but the fact that she continues to harp on this the next morning and in following interactions between you both speaks volumes as to what it is she actually prioritizes as valuable. In her case, her reputation as a hostess trumped her friendship with you. I think you would be justified in cooling the relationship down a bit because maybe this is one of those epiphany moments many of us have when we suddenly realize that a long relationship is actually not very equitable or edifying.