I was reading the "My BIL is tacky" thread and it reminded me of something that happened to my wife and I years ago, shortly after our wedding.
I want to commend the original poster of that other thread, because she did the right thing to warn the guests up front that it would be a "pay for yourself" party. At least they knew what they were getting invited to!
A few months after our wedding I got a call from a woman I had known from the joint singles group from my church and several neighboring churches. (We had never dated, but we had attended a lot of the same social events and I considered us friends. She had brought her then new boyfriend as her guest to my wedding. My wife and I hadn't met her boyfriend before our wedding day.)
Anyway, a few months after our wedding my friend (I'll start calling her "Hostess") telephoned us and invited us to come to a birthday dinner she was having at a restaurant for her boyfriend. She did say something about wanting us to have a chance to get to know him better, etc. Absolutely nothing was said about who was paying for the party.
Well I just assumed that we were to be her guests. She never said a word about expecting us to pay, until after we got to the restaurant. After we were seated the waiter came over to take our drink order and said something about starting a tab for us. I just looked at him, in surprise, and about that time "Hostess" walked up. I said to her something like, "He's going to keep a tab for us?" And she just said, very matter-of-fact-ly, something like: "Yes. That way it'll be easy for you to settle up at the end of the evening. He'll be adding a share of Birthday Man's tab to everyone bills, too, since we're all treating Birthday Man for his birthday."
My jaw dropped. I was so surprised. This was the first we had heard about being expected to be paying guests. My wife and I had brought a nice present for Birthday Man, but we had no idea that we were expected to pay, too. Neither one of us had stopped at the bank to get extra cash. Neither one of us carried ATM cards back then. But I quickly decided that I didn't want to make a scene, so I just turned to the waiter and said, OK, we'll pay you with our Visa card, then. He replied that no, this restaurant did not accept any credit cards! (No kidding! I never did figure out why they didn't take plastic.)
Well, I had a little bit of cash in my wallet, and my wife looked and it turned out that she had a little bit extra hidden in the bottom of her purse. We ordered about the cheapest items on the menu and only had one drink each. Turned out that we had enough cash, barely.
Never did get to know the Birthday Man better, though. It turned out that all of the other guests were Birthday Man's old friends, so he spent the evening chatting with them. My wife and I chatted with "Hostess" some and with Birthday Man's friends who were seated near us, and it was OK...
...except that it left an odd taste in my mouth. I sort of felt "used" somehow, by having it sprung on us without warning. If the "hostess" had just said, "I cannot afford to throw a birthday party for my boyfriend, will you come help pay for it?" my wife and might have come anyway, but at least we'd have known what we were getting in to.
OK, my last paragraph was unkind. If she had just said up front that it was Dutch Treat and that everyone would be chipping in for her boyfriend's dinner... then we'd have known.
My wife was put out about the surprise aspect of it, too. She hadn't wanted to go all that much, but was wanting to be kind to an old friend of mine...
What do other people think?
Was it rude of "Hostess" to have not explained what kind of party it was?
Was it reasonable of my wife and me to feel surprised and "used"?
Does this kind of surprise happen often to people? (I don't remember it ever happening to us again!)