I’ve been reading these stories for the past few months, despite the fact that I rarely involve myself in social situations where etiquette-related issues may occur (though I guess that might indicate that I’m quite rude myself, but I digress), so I never really expected to be submitting anything here.
Several months ago, I moved to Beijing to work with a company that brings native English speakers to other countries to teach English. The company always brings in new teachers in “batches” of ten to twenty. Someteen foreigners, with varying levels of Chinese, and two weeks to find apartments (and roommates), figure out how to get around, go through training, etc…it’s a unique situation that basically forces bonding, so even though we all ended up at different schools around the city, it still seems like we’re somehow related. We all moved in with one or two other people from our group.
Anyway, this Christmas, my roommate Laura decided to throw a dinner party for Christmas Eve, inviting some of her friends from work and one of the other girls from our batch. Since it’s our apartment too, my other roommate Stacy and I were free to attend, and Stacy invited some others, including Luke, a guy from our group that we hadn’t seen in a long time. For most of us, this was the first Christmas when we would be unable to visit our families, so we wanted to spend it with our little foreigner pseudo-family.
This was by no means a Martha Stewart affair, but we still put quite a bit of work into it – Stacy and I decorated and cleaned the apartment and bought fresh fish and vegetables for the dinner. Laura, despite the fact that she had to work BOTH Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, prepared a home-cooked meal for 12. Most of the people at the party wouldn’t be big drinkers, but Luke was, so we bought some beers for him.
Now, at the very last second, Luke’s roommate Andrew invited himself to the party. Andrew had always been very likable before, so we overlooked this and asked him to please bring some more alcohol to contribute to the party. Luke and Andrew arrived early, with nothing. Laura having to work that day meant that it took a while to get dinner started, and Andrew began making little comments about the party being boring. He also seemed highly impressed with himself for having learned the Chinese phrase for “suck dick”, and said it over and over.
As the night wore on, Andrew got less forgivable. We didn’t have enough alcohol, he didn’t feel drunk enough, we needed to play some good music. He went down to a local convenience store to buy more beer, and took over Stacy’s computer (which was out playing Christmas music) to go on YouTube and play us his favorite rap songs. He kept saying those two words in Chinese.
Now, as I alluded to earlier, I don’t really handle social situations as well as most people do, and a party that drags on for more than 5 hours takes a lot out of me. I was not only exhausted, but also seething at Andrew’s behavior (if he hated the party so much, why would he stay so late that he missed the last train and had to take a taxi home?). I excused myself early, to go to bed, and from what I heard, Andrew only got worse. Luke, awkward but good-natured, sent us all a text thanking us for a lovely evening.
Stacy is furious with Andrew, and wants to say something to him. Is this a thing that can be addressed, or should we just never mention it again? Can we continue to invite Luke to things while being completely clear that Andrew is not to be included? 1226-13
At some point you could have begun whispering, “Huí jia, Culu de Kèrén”, to Andrew. (“Go home, Rude Guest.”)
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Oh dear. Andrew is just a jerk. One to add to the ‘times when a polite spine is needed’ list. If he turns up at events again, just say ‘no’.
Wow! Andrew sounds like a real tool. I would absolutely say something to Luke, and Andrew, if your paths cross again. He invited himself and was a real jerk, it sounds like. I would’ve been peeved that he showed up empty handed, and only ran for more alcohol….for himself. If I had been the one to prepare a delicious, big meal…while having to work, I don’t think I’d be able to keep my mouth shut.
Op said it herself, why stay at the party if he was “so bored”??? Next time I invite Luke over, I’d make it PERFECTLY clear that Andrew was NOT invited.
Oh, also, the “suck dick” thing….I’d be hard pressed to keep my shut about that.
I would’ve said, “ummm, how old are you?!?” Very juvenile and rude. Sheesh.
I came to Japan in a similar manner. There are a lot of factors that prevent you from just cutting the person out of your life. Because you’re all in the same program you’re all coworkers in a way. There is pressure from the program, from other coworkers and from just generally wanting to be around your own kind that urges you to give people chance after chance or keep quiet to avoid making waves.
I know quite a few folks that were fine when they first arrived but once the culture shock set in things turned ugly. They became bitter, rude, destructive, obnoxious and just generally unpleasant to be around. Some of it is culture shock and some of it is just their real personality slowly coming to the surface.
How it usually plays out is that a batch of new teachers will arrive and everyone goes out for lunch together a few times a week. We hold parties, BBQs, hikes, road trips and movie nights. Slowly, the troublesome individuals are no longer invited. It’s hard. Living in another country can get lonely and you try to hold on to everyone. But companionship is not worth spending time with unpleasant people. A new batch of teachers arrives and the process begins again.
Here we are, about ten years later. My friends and I have probably seen hundreds of teachers come and go. The group grows and shrinks as people move around the globe but we remain a large, loving group of folks that are a joy to be around.
I don’t know if I would bother to say anything because my experience is that people like this will either think you’re a drag or uptight, the problem is NEVER theirs. I would though exclude him from all future events and would make that clear to his roommate as well. If he should show up anyway feel free to turn him away at the door, its not rude to turn away an uninvited guest. Don’t be guilted into it if they claim you are being rude, you are not. Just because someone else calls you rude doesn’t mean that you are so much as it means they are not getting their own way.
So I have to ask the wonderful contributors to this site.
How do YOU deal with a difficult guest during the event? Have you ever asked one to leave? Just bean dipped? Go around apologizing to the other guests?
What’s the best method? Share your stories!
This would be a great topic in the Community section.
Bean dip, direct the conversation elsewhere, ignore the negative behavior, then make a note to never invite that person again. It took Ehell to help me work on that, but we even do it with family.
One of my cousins, R, is quite well off, but very generous, opening his home for the entire “fan damily” (9 other cousins, plus spouses and kids), for an annual Christmas Party, plus a pool party in the summer. Another cousin, C, is NOT well off, because she and her husband spend all their money on booze and cigarettes.
When R’s father died, he had the “dead spread” catered at his home. C came to the funeral service dressed, um, inappropriately, got roaring drunk at the house, started bad-mouthing the host, accusing him of being a snob because he wouldn’t let her smoke inside, feeling sorry for herself because she has health problems – caused, aha!, by booze and cigarettes – nobody loves her, insulted his wife, the whole nine yards.
R finally got her coat, and walked her to the door. I didn’t overhear the conversation, but on the sidewalk he informed her that she and her husband were not ever, ever, ever to darken his door. Haven’t seen her since, and can’t say I’m broken hearted.
Wow. I like R’s style: ballsy.
Well, I have opened the door and said, “Get out of my house and don’t ever come back.”
I have never regretted it.
Confused looks and awkward silence.
I lived as an expat abroad a long time, and I definitely get the scene you are describing right now.
In the future, I think it’s okay to say to Andrew-types–out of earshot–something along the lines of “Love, I’m glad you learned that phrase, and that’s great, but it might be coming off a bit rude, right now…”. Kind but firm,
The way I see it there are two types of mouthy drunks–the ones itching to make a scene, and the ones so enamoured with being “interesting” that they don’t realise they are making a scene. A little sweetened “nuh-uh, darlin–you know that’s not nice!” WILL WORK with the latter. BUT…if he is of the former type… quiet apologies and hustling him out the door are best. (and he should rethink expat life, frankly)
1. I agree about the “polite spine” thing, but it sounds as if Andrew is Luke’s friend, not yours, OP, so I think that “polite spine” should come in the form of telling Luke that you like him, and you like having him come to your events, but can it please be without Andrew from now on? I mean, given the nature of the “pseudo-family of fellow English teachers in China,” you can’t expect your life to be completely free of Andrew. You’ll still see him within the context of your program, and maybe at big-group social events initiated by others (although, other people who were at the party might feel the same way you do, and also stop inviting Andrew to things), but you have a right not to have Andrew in your home.
2. Jeanne, I’m really impressed that you speak Chinese. Any other hidden talents we don’t know about?
I agree with Jenny. Explain to Luke that Andrew’s no longer invited PERIOD. If Andrew shows up at the door, turn him away.
I understand Laura’s anger, but don’t think much will be gained from confronting Andrew. I would however, tell Luke that no one was impressed with Andrew’s behavior. Luke may have felt badly about leaving his friend to be alone on a holiday, but that doesn’t mean that his friend should spoil a dinner party for everyone else.
I have to confess that I LOL’d at the fact that Andrew was so proud of himself for learning the phrase “suck dick.” Probably because the only kind of person I can picture being that impressed by learning two dirty words is a grade schooler.
He might be old enough to drink, but mentally I’d say he’s around 12 years old.
I might have said something like “perhaps you’d be happier at a bar,” but otherwise yeah, I’d just ask Luke to never bring Andrew to anything again.
I had to tell my first cousin that she could not invite her adult son to my home for parties until he learned to behave himself. He saw nothing wrong in being rude and insulting (it’s a free country and I can say what I like).
On our first meeting, he told my aunt and his grandfather that he, “…wished their best friend was dead with a stake through her heart” and then proceeded to tell my uncle that he should defecate on the Christmas gift I gave him. Another family member said he would have thrown him out of the house immediately.
Rather than make an additional scene, I simply did not invite him back. Alcohol was not involved; he’s just like that.
The bottom line is that I would not allow Andrew to come to these get-togethers. He was not invited to this one; he will not be admitted to any others. Luke can be told that, if he is invited, he can come. He cannot bring Andrew.
Since you know how to contact Andrew, you can also tell him that his behavior was such that you will acknowledge no relationship with him. I wish I had known how to reach my cousin’s son so I could have told him personally. An adult should have to take responsibility for his own behavior.
I have posted alot of stories on here about my late MIL, she had NO filter whatsoever. She made such a scene at my wedding shower, my relatives ( who are not perfect by any means) were gobsmacked, and I was so embarrassed by her behavior. She also bitched non-stop at our wedding, from the food to the cake and the flowers (both made by my Mom), to the music and my dress. One of my friends came over when they were leaving and said “PLEASE don’t tell me that’s your mother in law!!!” Yes, yes it is. Again, certain members of my family won’t win any etiquette awards, but my MIL took the cake. She used to LOVE to call me after my hubby, who took her to breakfast or lunch a few times a week, dropped her off so she could tell me all the beauties that were eyeing up my husband at the restaurant! I wish I were joking. She once got me so upset once when I was pregnant, I landed in the hospital. When my hubby told her it was HER fault, and stop antagonizing me, she didn’t speak to either of us for weeks….it was heaven! But… She was my husband’s mother, so we certainly couldn’t NOT invite her to family gatherings, I just got very good at bean dipping or out right ignoring her all together.
Since you have a child, your “family unit” is certainly quite complete. Therefore, there is no need to be traipsing to MIL’s place all the time, and definitely her visits in your home can be greatly reduced. I’m sure you can find a way of working this around DH so that HE doesn’t have to be the wiser of your goals.
The child will also benefit from minimized exposure to the harridan. (I’ve met the type.) ;-/
“I’m so sorry that you find our party boring. I’ve heard that bar xx has a great atmosphere, let me call you a cab.”
“I’m so sorry that our alcohol isn’t up to your standards. I’ve heard that bar xx has a very good selection, let me call you a cab.”
“I’m so sorry that our music isn’t to your taste. I’ve heard that bar xx is really rocking , let me call you a cab.”
Then call the cab, hustle him out the door and lock it behind him.
If MIL can’t behave herself, even if she is your husband’s mother you don’t have to invite her to events. She upset you so much you were hospitalised. If she can’t say anything nice, your husband should make it crystal clear she is to keep her mouth shut.
I hate to think how Andrew conducts himself in front of natives, especially his students (or students’ parents, if you’re teaching kiddos). My understanding of Chinese culture is that teachers are held in high regard, and you never openly criticize a teacher or complain about them. I picture his students feeling torn between tolerating him so they can learn English or dropping the class so they can get away from him. I would hope he would never be so crass in a professional work environment, but the OP’s story certainly doesn’t portray him as mature enough to handle representing your native culture in a foreign land!
In agreement with what others have said, no invitations for Andrew, and tell him he’s uninvited if he invites himself. It’s your apartment; you don’t have to let anyone in (or allow them to stay) if you don’t want them there!
OP and the other party-goers really let the uninvited guest have control over the party. It seems like the only thing he didn’t complain or control was the food. He was allowed to control the music, consume and complain about alcohol he didn’t contribute to or purchase, and he was allowed to actually show up empty handed.
I’m extremely territorial about my computer. If he would have tried to take over my computer, he would retract a bloody, handless arm.
After getting tired of hearing him repeat the same phrase over and over, I would have said something like, “Did you know xyz123 means “strong warrior?” After a round or two of everyone chiming in with their own phrase, just MAYBE he would have gotten the hint.
Considering the circumstances (a close group in a foreign land), I might give him one more chance, with rules laid out clearly before hand. If he refuses to abide, unfortunately, that would be it for chances with me.
It’s up to Stacy. Personally, I wouldn’t feel it was worth it, if I were her. I’d just tell Luke that his roommate was a real jerk, that I didn’t appreciate his insults and his attempt to commandeer my party (and computer), and that he wasn’t welcome in my home anymore, nor did I really want to socialize with him.
Yasuragi’s insights were interesting, and brought back my study abroad days. I saw the same thing among people in my program. It was a rough transition for us, even though it was just a US to UK exchange. We arrived before all of the permanent students, to a virtually empty campus. We were surprised to find that college personnel were not particularly welcoming or nice to us. There was also a lot of culture shock — we had to re-learn stupid things, like how to cross the street. It really brought out the worst in a lot of people. By the end of the semester, I pretty much avoided all of the people I came with except for a couple, and hung out with the British students, or with exchange students from other countries.
We have someone whom eats ALL the food at our parties. We no longer invite him to most get togethers and I thought he might have gotten the clue, that is until he was upset we didn’t invite him to our sons’ birthday parties (5 and 9 years old). I’m sorry but why would a grown man want to come to a children’s party? He doesn’t have kids and spends most of his time yelling at my kids when he is here. So no, not inviting him. Not to mention he also hangs around the food table the whole time. I’m not kidding, he will stand there and eat and eat and eat. Then he comments on what everyone is picking to put on their plates saying how it’s all delicious. I don’t mind the compliment but most of the time he will.not.stop. I have to buy twice the stuff to make food because of 1 person.
Before I am thrown onto the fire, I don’t publicize that we are having parties. Any invites on FB are done on an Invite only basis and most of our friends aren’t friends with him. I don’t post anything about it on FB. If he sees a food picture he will comment and say “Wow…I wish I could try some..” and then wait for an invitation to dinner or whatever event it was for. I just simply say thanks and leave it alone.
“I’m sorry but why would a grown man want to come to a children’s party?”
I’d think that would be obvious. For the free food!
LOL Exactly! I was in the hospital for a few days and he came to stay here during that time so my husband could work (he works overnights). Well during those 2 days he managed to completely clean out my cupboard of gluten free food. I have celiacs and he knows this. The food was also organic and not cheap. He left everything else alone, just ate all my food that I could have. My husband got me a 1 lb bag of M&M’s when I was discharged…I had maybe 2 handfuls and i put them in the freezer. A week later I went to get some to munch on and sure enough the entire bag except for 2 or 3 was empty. This friend ate them all that night. He also didn’t understand why I wanted him to go home, he thinks staying for a week or 2 is perfectly normal…he lives 15 minutes away.
Your “food vacuum machine” friend has an actual HEALTH issue. A chemical/hormonal/whatever imbalance that drives him to consume endless amounts of food.
However, there is a however, the “superior” part of his brain should apply the brakes simply by making him just stay at home, and/or attend events where there is no food whatsoever.
But then, he just might be one of those people who do not get embarrassed by their actions. Definitely someone who does induce pity, and that’s not a good thing.
So, you can tell just by her short post that he has a health issue, such as Prader Willi? No, you can’t, you’re just assuming. You’ve never met this person, all you know about him is what Ergala posted, which is that he tends to go crazy around free food.
And if he did have a condition such as Prader Willi, he would have eaten everything in her house, not just the gluten free and organic stuff. She even said he left the other stuff alone.
That is what I’m thinking. He is over 400 lbs and is having his second hernia surgery. He broke his foot in a car accident and it didn’t heal right because of the amount of weight he was putting on it. They won’t even attempt to rebreak the foot to fix it because it’s pointless. He drinks an endless amount of coffee as well, which of course contributes to his ibs…it still sometimes eat wheat products and oh boy do I get sick….I won’t do it again…you would think if something flared up his condition he would refrain from the triggers too.
Aside from the rude comments, I would have a major problem with a guest helping themselves to my computer. Am I abnormal in this? My computer has a lot of personal stuff, photos, emails, financial programs, my contacts, notes to myself, to do lists, a calendar with appointments, and so on. I don’t like the idea of someone having access to all this. Is it considered okay for a guest to go up to a host’s computer and use it?
I sincerely hope not. The contents of my computer are more personal than the contents of my cupboards. In fact, feel free to snoop through my kitchen cabinets and wardrobes, I couldn’t care less. But you only get to use my computer on the Guest account where you have no access to my work or thoughts.
No, I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone jumping on my computer either.
That little box holds EVERYTHING about me.
Also, I’ve never been at a party and asked to borrow the hosts computer. How does that even come up?
No, I think it’s very rude. Most people’s computers are like this. They’re also pretty pricey — who wants some obnoxious drunk to have an expensive piece of equipment balanced on his lap?
Talking to the “tag-along” totally clueless and classless guy NOW would be a waste of breath. As I see it, the time was during the party, to say “Whoa!” when he took control of the computer; to ask him “What other tricks did you learn?” when he was showing off his linguistic prowess; t tell him “Feel free to find an exciting party, NOW”, when he complained about the tone of the gathering.
Or, maybe I’m totally mistaken about etiquette and good manners… Maybe “bon ton” DOES mean putting up with rude jerks for fear of their reaction… But, let’s face it, appeasement as such, has not worked too well historically (see WW2 annexations and such); it does not work in marriage/family/in law situations; it does not work on the work front nor in social situations.
The Hitlers and Andrews need to be curbed as soon as they show what/who they are. Damage control applied long after they accomplish their mission, is just that: damage control.
I don’t know that its worth confronting Andrew now. Seems that train has left the station.
The time to say something was when he was there complaining. When he complained that it was boring, I would have said “well, you are welcome to be on your way.”
And there is no way I would let anyone turn off the Christmas music and put rap music on. I don’t care whose computer it is. He’s not even and invited guest, he sure doesn’t get to pick the music!
In the future, I would just not invite him and if he shows up with someone who is invited, send them both away. Those are the wages of being rude like that.
The direct way is probably the best way. Let Luke know he is invited, but Andrew is not.
I wouldn’t talk to Andrew again. If by some miracle he realized he was in the wrong and apologized, sure, try to make amends. But until then, just avoid and ignore and don’t bring it up to other people, you’ll just look petty and bitter.
I don’t think talking to Andrew will do any good. He’ll think you’re uptight. I might say something to Luke, though. Was he embarrassed or did he think Andrew was hilarious? If the former, then invite him with the caveat that Andrew is not invited. If the latter, then say goodbye to them both. Eventually Andrew will find the friends who enjoy that kind of behavior. First friends don’t have to be forever friends.
I can’t imagine sitting through a dinner party, listening to someone moan and whinge and repeat an off colour phrase over and over again without saying something. If nothing else, after the nth repeat of the offensive phrase, I would have looked at him and said, “What are you? 12?”
Etiquette doesn’t mean being so polite you let someone walk all over you and spoil a party. When he became tiresome I would have shown him the door with a, “We’re clearly not your kind of people. Here’s your coat and there’s the door.”
In college one of my friends threw a party for everyone to come over and watch a pay-per-view UFC fight.
At the party one of the guys started acting like a real jerk. He was deliberately bumping into women and spilling his drink on their chest so he could grope them. He started telling my friend how hot my friend’s 15 year old sister was and how it might be worth a little jail time to “hit that”.
At which point the host of the party took away the jerks drink and told him to leave.
The jerk protested and started throwing a tantrum. At which point about 6 of the guys at the party hustled the jerk out the door and down the stairs.
And you now have a priceless story to tell about the guy who got tossed out of a UFC PPV party for ill-mannered behavior!
Maybe say “I hope we have enough food to go round”. If that doesn’t work, or inspire them to get something then they desevere smaller portions. Afterall the OP says they were asked to contribute something. Andrew went to go and get more alcohol so there was clearly a shop open he could have got something for the hosts at the very least. Luke has acted poorly because he should have asked first before inviting Andrew. He should have also got something at the very least. Since they hadn’t brought anything the least they could do would be to offer to help out and then help – a gesture like that can be the contribution especiallly since the lady who was organisng it had to work.
If Andew finds it boring why not drop hints like “there’s a bus back home at ABC time”. As for taking over the laptop the owner is well within her rights to take ownership back. One comment I’ve come across when someone is using bad langauge is “you kiss your mother with that mouth?” you can subsitut mother for another relation or spouse if needs be. If bean dipping doesn’t work then being firmer I think is fine. Have a word with Luke about Andrew’s behaviour and tell him not to invite Andew again.
I never keep a computer in the main part of the house when I have company over. In this age of smart phones most people wouldn’t bother with it anyway. But I keep anything I don’t want messed with in a locked room upstairs. I understand in a smaller living space this is not always possible. But regardless no one should touch another person’s computer without asking. I probably would have kicked the guest out after the first complaint. Certainly after the first few complaints I might have responded with, “I’m so sorry you’re not having a good time. You’re free to leave whenever you want.” And would encourage the other (invited) guests to tell him the same. Or just call him a cab and physically kick him out.