Recently, I was at a bar with some friends when a couple of them started teasing me about how much soda I drink. I told one of them (who I shall refer to in this blog as Guy Friend) that I've actually been drinking a lot less soda lately, which is true. One reason is that I'm trying to lose weight. Another reason is that when I drink too much soda the walls start moving.
But Guy Friend didn't believe me. Neither did my other friend, who said that he pictured me with an IV full of soda. I didn't say anything about the fact that most of the time, the majority of these friends only want to go to bars and drink beer. I figure, if they want to drink all that alcohol, it's their prerogative, their money, and their livers.
But I don't like bars, and I don't like alcohol either. I go anyway, because I enjoy these people's company, and I just want to be their friend. I usually just buy a soda, because it's cheaper, comes with free refills, and is less likely to cause me to slap myself in the face (which is what happened the one time I drank a cocktail several months ago).
I also don't like being made fun of. At one point, I started arguing with them, and I raised my voice (though I didn't yell). The others looked uncomfortable, so I left early. Later, I texted Guy Friend and I told him how much it bothered me when he said that he and the other friends had been talking about how "concerned" they were about me. They were "concerned" because I mentioned that I ate cookies for dinner one night; they thought I ate too much junk food. What they didn't know was that I ate cookies that night because I had no other food in my apartment; I wasn't getting paid until the next day and did not have enough money to buy more food; I was hungry, so I ate the cookies. I did not appreciate their "concern," or the fact that they talked about me behind my back.
I explained that to Guy Friend, and he apologized. A couple weeks later, he gave me a DVD as an "I'm sorry" gift, and I did appreciate that. But then that same night, when we were at another bar, I mentioned that I had to leave early in order to go home and finish work for my website job. I asked them if they knew where the waitress was so that I could pay for my soda. Small Town Guy said that he would pay for my bill and that I didn't have to repay him, though ultimately, Guy Friend paid it.
When I thought about it later, I realized that I felt uncomfortable with either of them (or anyone else) paying my tab. It would have been one thing if it was my birthday, because then it would be a gift. But on any other day, I DON'T let my friends pay my tab, because that's like asking them for money, which is something that I have never done and will never do.
I've worked multiple jobs since I was twenty-two, because I am determined to stand on my own two feet. When I finally had to take out a loan during my last two years of grad school, it was only because I was desperate to finish my dissertation and started having panic attacks from working so hard at all those jobs. But I was angry at myself for not being able to pay for everything on my own, especially because it meant being in debt for the next 15-20 years.
I didn't say anything to Small Town Guy that night, because we were all celebrating a big promotion he got at work. But what I wanted to say was, "I may not be as rich or as successful as you are, but I don't need your charity." I also wished that it hadn't happened in front of New Girl (aka Cruella de Vil) who also has a much more prestigious job than I do, which I suspect is one of the reasons she has never been friendly to me. I don't even try to talk to her anymore at social events, and she ignores me too. (Side note: She's having a big Christmas party soon and invited everyone except me. When I found out, I felt tempted to buy a bunch of toilet paper and TP her house the day of the party.)
I texted Small Town Guy and told him that I didn't need him to pay my tab in the future, because I worked hard and could pay for my own stuff. He never answered. I put a few bucks in an envelope and went to Guy Friend's office during my lunch break, dropping the money off with the secretary. He didn't say anything about it either.
I know it wasn't a big deal to any of them, but it was to me. I felt embarrassed. I know they thought they were just doing me a favor, and I shouldn't have let them pay my tab in the first place. I should have just given them the money to give to the waitress. But I don't think they would understand. They got to hang out at the bar for as long as they wanted and buy as many drinks as they wanted, while I had to go home and work late for my second job, so that I could afford to buy something other than cookies.
What about you? Have you ever felt self-conscious about money or around rich friends?
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