It is my birthday in just over a month.
Every year for the past 11 or so, I have had dinner with 4-5 friends on or about that day. Some people have been coming virtually every year, some friends have been lost, some new ones gained, and so on.
Last year, which was my 30th, I had a truly bad evening. There were 11 of us, of whom:
'A' apparently wanted to meet us at the bar after dinner rather than for dinner, but did not bother telling anyone that, so we waited at the restaurant for half an hour
'B' and 'C' were delayed and met us after dinner, however, despite both owning functioning cellphones they were incapable of phoning me, the other guests they knew, or the restaurant, to tell us not to wait for them, and in the end we ordered without them
'D' wanted to spend the evening with her boyfriend, who had been invited but elected not to come, so as soon as dessert was done - whoosh, off she went leaving a £20 note behind.
'E' and 'F' thought I should have held the dinner in London, where they live, which is 85 miles/150 km from where I and six of the guests live. 'G' lives equidistant between here and London so did not mind either way. 'H' also lives in London and said it was a trifle inconvenient but not to worry - but she is my cousin.
'E and F' told me at some length how inconvenient it was - they have come in previous years and stayed either with me or in a B & B - to which I responded 'Well, if it was really so terrible, you could have said you were not coming'; apparently this was mean and childish.
J and K behaved perfectly well. As did H and G, come to think of it.
This cast a new and unwelcome light on my relationship with these people. I still see them on occasion, but generally either after work (so I am already out), or at a large social gathering. I am not nearly as close as I was to any of them.
So, the next birthday is approaching. Frankly, I do not want to have dinner with any of these people (J and K have moved abroad, I can see H when I like, and G has moved somewhere 4 hours away so she cannot just come for dinner). As it is a Friday, I plan to have drinks with work and then go for dinner with L, another friend who missed last year's debacle as she was away on business.
You would have thought, given that last year apparently nobody wanted to come, that no-one would mention the matter this year. However, I am now getting emails asking whether I have anything planned. I suggested to one person that 30 might have been a good point to give up birthdays til 40, but this met with a belief that I must be joking.
Suggestions? I have thought of several myself, but they seem to either sound angry or self-pitying.