Update: I forgot to mention that FruGal decided to use the most graceful tact any friend can, a gentle reminder or off-the-cuff remark. With any luck, she’ll be laughing about this with her friend, sitting in a pub 10 years from now. Cheers and good times ahead!

For those of you who read FruGal, you’ve probably been following the quest to answer one of life’s greatest mysteries, splitting the check.

In relation, I have also discovered one of life’s certainties: writing a comment on a blog at midnight after taking a Benadryl is not the path to success.

However, something I feel very strongly about, in fact the reason I started this blog, is I believe that frugality can be well-supplemented with grace, ethics, and good conduct. Hence, a discussion on splitting the check piqued my interest, and caused many folks to bristle.

At root of FruGal’s particular annoyance was a certain best friend who was no longer asking to pick up her share of the tab when going out with FruGal and her FruGuy. It seemed like an odd dispute to me, as she freely admitted that “FruGuy is the sort of guy who automatically reaches for the bill when it arrives, and doesn’t think twice about paying for her as well. He’s not the type to worry about who ordered what, and is generous enough to happily buy by BFF dinner every now and then.”

Apparently, Ms. FruGal found my comment very interesting and even published a portion of it. Many of the other comments I read were not very positive to the friend, but in my personal experience, most etiquette blunders come from a lack of knowledge, plain forgetfulness, or something random and can be handled rather simply.

I did want to clear up any misconception from my bleary-eyed midnight comment post, with an allergy-filled daylight post (which will most likely get me into more trouble).

First, I do believe you train people how you would like to be treated. I think it is a little odd to assume that just because something (supposedly) changes in an individual’s personal life that it will automatically change their dynamic with other people.

Second, there was no problem when it was just FruGal and her friend splitting the bill. As always, the trouble only begins when you throw a man in the mix. If FruGuy was content with the arrangement (FruGal didn’t say it bothered him in any way), why was FruGal so upset? It sounded more like she felt he was being taken advantage of or disrespected, which is a separate issue from picking up the check.

In addition, “making a show” about getting one’s purse, to me, is an insincere display with a complete lack of honest intent to follow through. If that’s all FruGal wants, I’m sure her friend would be happy to accomodate, as it takes zero effort or thought. And I don’t think good friends should be expected to make a show at any time, especially because it diminishes any gesture if it’s fake.

Lastly, while I am a modern tightwad, I do hold some very old-fashioned values, as do many of my friends. A large majority of them are uncomfortable having a woman at their table pick up their own tab if it’s not necessary. In addition, due to my age and gender, I have encountered several people who found it culturally offensive to have me pick up the check or try and offer something at a gathering.

That said, a modern tightwad should behave with grace and tact, and SHOULD ALWAYS OFFER to pick up their tab, bring food to a potluck, or a gift to the host.

I’ve actually lost a friend over money. She decided that, since I was going, I could afford to buy her a ticket to a concert she wanted to see. When I told her I was unable, she got very upset and hasn’t spoken to me since. She valued our friendship at $43.95 + service fee.

True friendships can’t be valued in split checks and bar tabs. After all, it’s very difficult to keep tabs on how often someone is available for a midnight call after a break-up, or with chicken soup when you’re sick. I don’t miss the friend who valued a concert ticket over our time, but I miss many others, and we still never run tabs.

Mouth Courtesy of nyki m