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Should I pay to replace a rude guest's shawl?
September 27, 2010 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Does etiquette require me to replace the shawl of a dinner party guest that she ruined while out walking our property?

We hosted a dinner party this weekend, and invited one of the new associates at my husband's firm, and his fiancée. She was a rather high maintenance guest who didn't really hit it off with anyone. While we were having cocktails, she asked her fiancée to take her out to look around the property, we suggested that they take the path down to the pond. I offered her a coat and hat, as it was getting brisk out. She declined.

They were gone for about 40 minutes, instead of taking our cut paths, they wandered around the woods, which is fine with us. When she returned, she noticed that her cashmere shawl had burrs in it, and asked how best to get them out. I told her it would just take some time, and to make sure not to make it worse by crumpling the fabric.

As the dinner went on, she was rather demanding. She didn't like the wine we had picked, so my husband brought up another bottle that she requested. We opened the bottle, and then she changed her mind and didn't drink any. She asked if we had any white pepper for her soup, and sighed when we said we didn't. She commented twice that she thought our choice of music was inappropriate. And she suggested that in the future, we would be able to enjoy our own party more if we had it catered with 'appropriate menu choices'. Its not like I was serving hot dogs and cheeotes, it was lobster bisque and coq au vin!

The other partners from my husband's firm were pretty horrified. They tried to change the subject, and smooth over the awkward, but she didn't make it easy for anyone. To top it all off she had an extended monologue about how lucky they were to have hired her man. Her fiancee seemed to ignore her behavior, and didn't say much at all. He has been with the firm for just three weeks. He will work on some things for my husband, but isn't his direct subordinate.

This morning, I got the following email:

"I wanted to let you know that I am not going to be able to get the burrs out of my cloak. I purchased it a few years ago and the store is no longer in business. To find a suitable replacement, you'll probably have to look at some specialty shops. My only requests are that the replacement be 100% cashmere, a winter white and that it have good body to the fabric. Some of the cheaper cloaks are thin and don't look very good. If you would prefer to just give cash, that is okay too, I would just rather not have a gift card so that I can purchase it wherever I am able to find the right piece. We can discuss an appropriate amount. Thanks, XXX"

I was raised by an old school and very proper mother, but I really don't know how to respond. Am I on the hook for replacing her clothing? If not, how do I respond without making things awkward for my husband?
posted by Nickel Pickle to Human Relations (171 answers total) 249 users marked this as a favorite
 
Let your husband handle it.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would ignore it completely.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2010 [25 favorites]


Sorry, I should have included my husband's response, which was "oh god, what do we do? Ooo, ask metafilter!"
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2010 [46 favorites]


She walked through the woods without taking care of her clothing and expects you to pay for a replacement?

Either politely decline or ignore the request.
posted by knapah at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ignore it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2010


Am I on the hook for replacing her clothing?

You must be kidding me.
posted by grouse at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


Delete the email. I wouldn't even bother to respond. She is an adult and you did as much as you needed to as a proper host.

I don't see how this will be awkward for your husband. The only way it will be awkward is if she makes her partner who has been at the firm for 3 weeks bring it up to your husband. I just don't see that happening.
posted by like_neon at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd just like to say this became SO much more interesting when I read her email. When I initially read your post I assumed you were being neurotic and taking it upon yourself to replace it unasked...but for her to send such an email? Wow...

Absolutely ignore it.
posted by jefficator at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ignore it, drop them from the christmas card list.
posted by iamabot at 8:45 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, you're good, she crazy, disregard the letter.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Morally/ethically speaking, you are in no way on the hook for this horrid bitch's cloak. However, this is still a very tense, tricky situation, given the nature of the legal community (people come and go, reputations are made and broken, word travels, etc). I'm not really sure WHAT the best tactic is here... part of me wants to say, "Let your husband handle it," but another part feels that might be like having one's mom deal with a schoolyard bully... it can make things worse and protract a bad situation. One thing for sure: I'd try my damndest to address the situation with as little emotion as possible. You have every right to be FUMING, but that should never, ever come across in your communication with her, not even obliquely.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Whoa. This woman sounds crazytown. Of course you are not liable to replace her shawl. Ignore.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Via e-mail, I would just ignore it completely; act as though you never received it at all. If she calls looking for her shawl/money, you could pull out an old Miss Manners favorite- I"m sorry, that won't be possible".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010 [115 favorites]


Holy mother of pearl... Her behavior from start to finish was abominable. I cannot imagine how you are responsible for her cloak. The only way I can see you responsible is if you have tripped and spilled food or wine on it. Everything else is at her own risk.

I agree with chesty_a_arthur - leave it to your husband to handle and if it were me, I would decline to respond to her tasteless email.
posted by cecic at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010


Politely decline. You are not responsible for her choice of tromping around in the woods.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2010


Ignore it. Or ask your husband to handle it. And by handle, I don't mean giving that woman any money!

It was her choice to go a-wandering.

Plus, rude people get nowhere with me.
posted by shazzam! at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2010


There's a lot of things I'd say about her - because wow! but in this case, I'd defer to your husband. This is a professional relationship, really, and it's going to affect him the most. Ask him what he wants you to do, and go with that. Even if it's (ugh) replacing the shawl, which would grate on me incredibly, but it's not a battle worth having if your husband's professional relationships are affected.
posted by lemniskate at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if you do ignore it and she sends you a follow up email then ignore that one as well. Then, just add her address to your blocked/spam list. There's no reason to have anything to do with that kind of self-absorbed git.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually, what ThePinkSuperhero. And this woman sounds like a beast.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a dreadful person. You do not owe her a shawl, or for that matter anything.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


*what ThePinkSuperhero said.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:48 AM on September 27, 2010


Sorry just to be totally clear here this was a brand new associate's girlfriend and your husband is a partner and this woman was a guest in your home?

I mean I am pretty sure that's what you said but I cannot actually parse that.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:50 AM on September 27, 2010 [106 favorites]


Etiquette requires that you fetch club soda if you have it and she spills wine on her scarf.

While deleting the email, as everyone else has suggested, didn't pop immediately to my mind, the thought of doing so and being done with it sounds delicious. You leave her in the position of following up and possibly complaining to other people. That has the bonus of warning everyone else she comes in contact with that she's insufferably rude.

If she corners you in person, how about "I'm so sorry to here about your scarf. A replacement won't be forthcoming, however. I hope you understand."
posted by oreofuchi at 8:50 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow, she sounds like one of the rudest people you'll ever have over to dinner. I feel bad for her fiancee.

To answer your question, she chose to walk in the woods! In an evening dress! Of course you don't owe her a replacement. Her behaviour is unbelievable.

I don't think this will be at all awkward for your husband. Her behaviour is so insane that it may be awkward for her, once he tells people of her behaviour (which he absolutely should do - just bring it up with a few people who he knows like to talk, and let nature take its course).

I would email her and say, "Dear X, I'm sorry to hear that you're having trouble getting the burrs out of your cloak, but it was your choice to walk in the woods without a coat. I'm afraid we aren't going to be helping you with the cost of cleaning or replacing the cloak. Best of luck in your future social engagements."
posted by Dasein at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


There is no way it's your job to replace this thing. I wouldn't even do it as a "nice" thing because she will obviously take that inch and press for a foot or ten later on.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree that care should be taken regarding your husband's professional relationship, but currently that relationship is not at play.

It only becomes a factor if crazy lady's partner brings it up to your husband. Which I seriously doubt will happen because the other guy is in a more delicate situation being the newbie. And if he didn't say anything during the dinner, it sounds like he's too much of a wimp to say something to your husband at work. And if he does bring it up, I vote for coolly responding, "I'm afraid that isn't possible," and switch the subject.
posted by like_neon at 8:51 AM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


You'd be my hero forever if you sent her a $25 K-Mart gift card, though...
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:52 AM on September 27, 2010 [218 favorites]


I would also ignore it completely, and think twice about inviting her fiance +1 anywhere again.
posted by goo at 8:52 AM on September 27, 2010


I'd completely ignore it, too. If she has the gall to bring it up again, say something like, "Oh! did you really mean that? I didn't want to embarrass you or fiance so I didn't respond, I assumed you were joking. We look forward to getting to know you both better as your fiance's career progresses with X firm. "
posted by pomegranate at 8:52 AM on September 27, 2010 [89 favorites]


@julthumbscrew, if reputations are made/broken in the community over such things, I'd think it's the three-week-old partner who should be nervous, not Nickle Pickle and her husband. :)

Nthing ignoring the crazy.

On preview, @julthumbscrew's idea for a K-Mart gift card is bursting with win -- if you ride that kind of horse.
posted by liquado at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The other partners from my husband's firm were pretty horrified. (...) He has been with the firm for just three weeks.

Everyone that matters has already seen her boorish behavior towards you and it sounds like they'd view further boorish behavior about the shawl as just more of the same. 3-week new-guy hasn't a lot of ground to stand on. I can't see how this could be a long-term issue at work, and the woman is clearly in the wrong, in the first place. I'd stand my ground, if your husband is even slightly inclined to back you up.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


If she follows up: "oh! That email? I thought that had to be a joke. No, I'm sorry, that won't be possible. It absolutely won't be possible. Now please excuse me..." And try to laugh fondly, if you can.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:55 AM on September 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


As a general rule, a host should pay for damage to guests property when he or she has caused the damage directly or through negligence, and in some cases, that of other guests. For instance, if you had been serving the coq a vin and dribbled sauce on her jacket, you should pay. Or if she had gone for a walk and slipped on a broken step on your porch, you should pay.

But the case you've described is different. She walked off the trails and caught some burrs. Any reasonable person would know that there are risks to fine clothing while walking around in the woods. I would think the same would hold even if she hadn't walked off the trail, since just going out of doors in a woodsy area is a risk to nice clothing in any situation, since you can't possible guarantee that there won't be some overgrowth along the edges, and people have to be responsible for themselves and take care.

Regarding how to handle this absurd note you've received, it hinges on whether you want to have a friendly relationship with this woman in the future, and what sort of relationship your husband wants to have with his colleague. It sounds like you don't want anything to do with this lady socially, but it might be worth just writing the check just to preserve your husband's professional relationship and then just never invite this couple over again.

Either way, I would let your husband handle it. If he thinks this is crazy and doesn't see any percentage in writing the check, then he should just visit his colleague, express regret that the shawl was damaged, but explain that he doesn't think he should have to pay. I expect that the other husband will be mortified by the whole thing and not protest.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I should have included my husband's response, which was "oh god, what do we do? Ooo, ask metafilter!"

This is key. Your husband works with her fiancée and judging by her behavior, she may push him to inquire about it with your husband. He needs to be prepared for that question.

I would suggest a simple "Oh, that's a personal matter that doesn't involve me or my wife." but I'm not sure if that fits here. Perhaps someone can suggest something else?

You also need to be prepared for when she calls, demanding a replacement. TPS's answer covers that.

Note that her horrible behavior really doesn't matter here and was unnecessary. Even if she was model guest and the life of the party, her request would be totally inappropriate.
posted by nomadicink at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Is she going to pay for the bottle of wine she opened and didn't drink?

I would ignore it, but if her fiance brings it up with your partner, have him say that you suggested they take the path, and you're sorry that her cloak was damaged because they ignored your advice.
posted by karminai at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


You absolutely are not required to replace it! Personally I'd email back and say "Ha ha, [BitchFace], you are hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. Give our regards to [Husband]. Take care!"
posted by DestinationUnknown at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


If a guest's item is damaged as a direct result of action on your part, it's polite to offer to clean/repair etc.
If a guest's item is damaged as a result of direct action on their part, it's their responsibility. As a grown woman there is a reasonable assumption of awareness and responsibility on her part; if she can't manage that then a legal guardian and perhaps a straitjacket would be her best options in life.
N'thing do NOT give her anything, even as a kindness. This type of person, you give them an inch, they take the Panama Canal.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Sorry just to be totally clear here this was a brand new associate's girlfriend and your husband is a partner and this woman was a guest in your home?

I mean I am pretty sure that's what you said but I cannot actually parse that.


Me neither. If this is so, your husband's in kind of a strange situation with this associate. He's his superior, right? In his shoes I'd be kind of tempted to start a conversation ("Did you know your fiancee emailed my wife...?") and see if he thinks this is acceptable behavior. It's just so off and inappropriate.
posted by BibiRose at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2010 [39 favorites]


You can ignore it, but it might be easier to just head her off by saying that you are sorry about her cloak, but you're afraid it won't be possible for you to replace it. I sense that ignoring the email will only get her to start pushing for a replacement via other, more irritating, means.
posted by jeather at 9:01 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


If it's any consolation, her fiance's new, and therefore tenuous, position at the firm makes it less likely that she'll make him sue you for the replacement cost.
posted by a young man in spats at 9:07 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, she's going to ruin her future husband's career.

Ignore the email.
posted by amro at 9:09 AM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Repeat that getting the burrs out will take time and that it is her responsibility to do this as it was caused by her own actions. She chose to go off the paths, which i assume you keep cleared and in good condition.
posted by brujita at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding jeather. The fact that she had the audacity to send the email in the first place says to me that she is not going to just give up if you ignore it. As I see it, you have two options (because actually replacing cannot be one - God knows what she'll start asking for in the future if you give in now!)

1. Ignore the email. Assume the risk that she will bring this up again, with either another email (harder to ignore the second time) or phone.
2. Respond to the email with some variation of all the great responses above, general sentiment being "That won't be possible."

Personally, I'd rather end the issue now, however awkward it may feel, than let it go on and know that the next time I saw her it could come up again.
posted by coupdefoudre at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I agree with everyone else: this woman's behavior is so beyond the pale it's pretty hilarious from an outsider's perspective.

If the fiancee brings it up with your husband, here's another suggestion about how he might be able to politely laugh it off: "Oh, well, yeah, that's why we have the walkways! When you go off them, you're bound to get caught up in some sort of plant.."

If he can say that lightly and in good spirits, then he'd be making clear A) that they are to blame for going off the cleared paths, B) that any reasonable person would have expected going off the paths to lead to the possible damage of clothing, C) that there's no way in hell you two are taking financial responsibility for this, and perhaps most importantly, D) you two are willing to politely respond to their horrible behavior without making things more awkward.

Of course, this is, again, assuming the fiancee corners your husband. I still agree that what's really best is just ignoring the e-mail in general. I offer my suggestion only because I know there are different ways different people can be comfortable getting across certain points. If not any of the above suggestions, maybe mine will fit your husband's personality best. (And, if not mine, maybe one of the ones that's sure to be posted below!)

What's most important is just finding a polite and friendly way that works for you to say, "Uh, no."
posted by meese at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Dear Lady,

Are you sure you were on our property when you walked through the woods?

-NP

Alternatively, have your husband talk to the boyfriend directly. Show him a print out of the email and ask, in astonished tones, if he knew that she had sent this.

What I'd really like to do: put a copy of the email up in the mailroom for everyone to laugh at and send her a small jar of white pepper.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Look, you can ignore the email , but some kind of message has to get back to her via her fiancé. Your husband should consult a couple of trusted people at work and get feedback on the best way to do that, given whatever the dynamics of the firm are. If I'm reading it right, your husband is a partner and this guy is an associate, one level down, but not reporting to your husband. I'd suggest that whoever hired this guy take him aside and explain this issue, which from the point of view of the firm is not the shawl at all — it's the absolutely horrible impression his fiancée has made in this first social situation in his career with the firm. And then ask him how he plans to deal with it.
posted by beagle at 9:16 AM on September 27, 2010 [97 favorites]


There's probably not any good way to handle this without it escalating, because she's not afraid to be rude. Perhaps if you ignore her she won't press further, maybe not.

Maybe you can say "Although we cannot replace your cloak, out of consideration for your other luxury accessories you are excused from any future visits to our house."
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:17 AM on September 27, 2010 [48 favorites]


She is in the wrong. I'm terribly fond of the giggly Junior League "thought it was so very amusing" line, but if she pushes, it's in your husband's court, because this lady is endangering her fiancé's career and that message needs to go to him. The "did you know" line is easiest for him. In reality I would ignore the email and pray for strength to not gossip about her from here to Moscow and back. But I'm not very good at this confrontation stuff.

Out of curiosity, is she very young? This is very outside normal social parameters - all of it, the white pepper, the romping through the woods in nice clothes, the complaining about the music, the skipping straight to ordering you around in the email. She sounds like the character you know you shouldn't like and hope will grow up soon in an Austen novel.
posted by SMPA at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I disagree with the responses that try to suggest that she is specifically to blame because she might have left your property, or walkways, or didn't wear a coat. That opens the door to further discussions and arguments you do not want to have (inevitably, she will suggest that she was on your improperly cleared walkway on your property). "I'm sorry, it won't be possible to help you replace your shawl" is all you need to say.
posted by grouse at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Wow, this woman has balls. Completely misguided, extremely rude, overly-entitled balls, but balls nonetheless. The behavior at dinner was awful enough, but the e-mail is mind-boggling in its rudeness.

You do not owe her a replacement or any sort of compensation. As many others have said, the correct answer here is the classic, "I'm sorry, that won't be possible", whether you say it now or when she inevitably brings it up in the future. She is an adult who chose to walk through the woods off the cleared paths and it is her responsibility to care for her own garments in such a situation.
posted by bedhead at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2010



Sorry just to be totally clear here this was a brand new associate's girlfriend and your husband is a partner and this woman was a guest in your home?

I mean I am pretty sure that's what you said but I cannot actually parse that.


Yup, yup and yup. Sorry I wasn't more clear. If it matters, it is a (rather prestigious) accounting firm.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:23 AM on September 27, 2010


Ignore it, absolutely. Her fiancee probably isn't even aware she sent this crazy-town email, so I'd be (even more) shocked if he brought it up with your husband. If she has the gall to call, TPS has the correct response.

And, my goodness, you have my condolences. There's nothing more irritating than putting yourself out to host an ungrateful guest, but this absolutely takes the cake.
posted by booknerd at 9:25 AM on September 27, 2010


If this is so, your husband's in kind of a strange situation with this associate. He's his superior, right? In his shoes I'd be kind of tempted to start a conversation ("Did you know your fiancee emailed my wife...?") and see if he thinks this is acceptable behavior. It's just so off and inappropriate.

I think BibiRose has it here. In a world with a very pronounced heirarchical system, I would say that it would be your husband's responsibility to make it clear to the new associate that his fiance needs to be more aware of her, and his, place in the firm. Not that if the roles were reversed, it would be mandatory to replace the shawl.

I think that she is a liability to him and that they both need to realize that and act more appropriately in the future.

Though, this could be opening a whole other can of worms.
posted by TheBones at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


If she persists, mail her a bottle of club soda.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:27 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I agree with BibiRose. Your husband should ask the associate "Did you know your fiancee e-mailed my wife?" and ask in such a manner that gets across that it was a very not OK thing to do. Just bewildered and a little raised eyebrow. You shouldn't respond via e-mail at all. The associate should communicate back to her that it was not OK and caused problems for him at the office, otherwise this behavior is likely to continue any time she comes to a work event. She's going to need pressure from her soon-to-be husband to act appropriately in social situations. You engaging directly with her isn't going to help anything.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2010 [44 favorites]


Send a very short reply to her:

"Why do you think this is my responsibility?"
posted by iviken at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


You should send her a polite email that thanks her for attending, tells her that it 'won't be possible to replace the shawl', and gives her the number for a good dry cleaner in the area. Pretending that you thought that it was a joke is tacky. How did she get your email? Your husband may need to talk to the new hire and inform him that it isn't appropriate to give out your email without permission.

If she responds (and she may), send one last 'I'm sorry, X, that just won't be possible. I hope that we can both move on from this incident" and then ignore the rest. When/if she confronts you in person, I would just go with the "I'm afraid that is not possible; have you asked the opinion of a dry cleaner" route again.


You could drop $200 to $1000 on a new item, but she may be at other dinner parties and will undoubtedly want other items replaced for arbitrary reasons. Somebody else brought up a good point: is she going to replace that wine? A funny but rude choice (do not do this!) would be to send her a fake invoice for the bottle of wine....price: a winter white 100% thick cashmere wrap.
posted by 200burritos at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


What TPS and gabrielsamoza said.

Personally, I would not ignore the email, and respond directly with "that won't be possible". But that's just me.

And don't feel bad. This woman is a fairly horrible person.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


To get it out of the way first, no, you don't owe her a replacement cashmere shawl.

This is one of those situations where I suddenly feel like I can see into the future. And what I see is this woman becoming increasingly strange, demanding, and inappropriate, making everyone's life hell at the law firm and jeopardizing her fiance's career.

As others above have also suggested, both the kindest thing and the thing that will help (possibly?) mitigate the future trainwreck is if your husband takes aside the new guy and shows him the e-mail his fiancee sent you. If the new guy reacts with embarrassment, etc., then that's good (because it shows he's not as loopy as his fiancee). Your husband should let him know as nicely as possible that if she does stuff like this in the future, it could make things hard for him (new guy) at the firm, so he needs to have a talk with his sweetheart about her behaviour.

However, if the new guy doesn't see any problem with fiancee's e-mail, then everyone should batten down the hatches because it's going to be a long haul.

And after SMPA's comment, I can't help but picture Lydia Bennett attending poor Nickel Pickle's dinner party and acting like an idiot.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2010 [17 favorites]


Could you respond with this?

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about your shawl, it looked so nice, too! I do wish you the best of luck in finding a replacement, I know if it were mine I would be horrified that such a thing happened to it. In fact, here's a funny story about something similar that happened to me where I ended up paying to replace something of mine...
Also, burrs were actually the inspiration for Velcro, blah blah blah...

Just send a totally clueless response that makes it very clear that you're not going to touch the subject of you paying for it, and subtly hint that it's her responsibility.

Or you can just ignore the email, but I think this would be a lot more fun.
posted by Slinga at 9:32 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Having just skimmed the original post and then the unanimous responses, I was tempted to post "Just pay her" but then I didn't want everybody's heads to explode. Then I re-read more carefully her email to you and my head nearly did.

At first, I thought that her behavior at the party was horrendous but not really relevant to the question (beyond giving you the peace of mind that there was no way that not paying for her mistake would reflect poorly on you to other attendees because she was such a monster), but the more I think about it, the more I think that it has turned what would have been a one-off event into a continuing problem, and though you shouldn't be responsible for it, it's one that should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.

Though it is certainly tempting to get some lulz to get out of a horribly awkward situation, I think somebody really needs to use the fact that this has escalated already from one night of unacceptable bad guest behavior to unreasonable behavior outside of the event to teach the new associate, at least, that this is just plain wrong. What seems obvious to most people manners-wise isn't obvious to this man's fiancee -- and though I, in no way mean to imply that he should "keep his woman in check" (if the genders were reversed, I'd feel exactly the same way) -- someone needs to teach this (presumably) young man that his fiancee needs to chill the fuck out. I don't know what kind of work-relevant social functions these two might be attending in which he (and by extension they) might be representing the firm, but if any of them exist, then this seems like a nightmare waiting to happen.

If your husband doesn't have a relationship with him yet in which he can kindly pull him aside and explain this, somebody needs to do so. Preferably before the wedding.

As for your response to her email, I would ignore it. But I don't think that's the best thing to do. The various polite "thanks but that's not happening" suggestions above would be the right thing, though certainly not the easiest.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:36 AM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Another vote for thepinksuperhero's response. I am truly AMAZED by the gall this woman has. I'd absolutely love to hear how she was reasonably able to come to this conclusion.

I really doubt your husband has much to worry about professionally. From the way you desribed the guest's fiance's behavior, I'd be willing to bet he is at least a little embarrassed by his fiancee. *He* is the one who needs to hope this doesn't affect his job.
posted by overyourhead at 9:38 AM on September 27, 2010


This isn't an etiquette thing; this is a workplace thing. Obviously, etiquette-wise, she's wrong to expect replacement [unless burrs are so strange and out of place where you live that you ought to have warned her they were out there, but that seems *very* unlikely].

Workplace wise, I think the relevant questions are, assuming your husband is a partner:

(1) Who wanted this new associate hired? If the new associate becomes unhappy because eventual-wife is unhappy, does it piss off larger partners or mess with existing relationships?

(2) How good is the new associate? Is this just a body in a position, or is this dude some sort of hot-shit ace at whatever your husband does so that associate being unhappy because wife is unhappy might actually hit the firm's bottom line over the medium/long haul? If associate leaves for another firm, is that a "Meh." or an "Oh, CRAP!"

I mean, it might be sufficiently expedient for you guys to just buy her a new shawl to keep her and new-associate happy that it just doesn't matter that, etiquette-ly, you don't have to do so. Or, it might not.

Within the firm, maybe it would be good for whoever the new associate's mentor is to mention that his fiancee is pissing off partners and their families. Or, maybe that would be a terrible idea. But it ought to be thought about, is all.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:38 AM on September 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


Outside of business issues and possible ramifications, she is responsible for herself. Everyone needs to learn to take responsibility for themselves. It would not matter if she had taken the path you chose. By wearing cashmere and walking outdoors, there are a number of risks that she took on all by herself. For that matter, wearing cashmere is a risk period! Were she to spill a drink on herself, should you be responsible? Absolutely not.

I'm sick to death of society trying to place blame on others and not taking responsibility for themselves. What if a bird had pooed on her? Would you have been responsible? It is unreasonable to blame anyone but herself.

Tell her you feel bad for her, because you obviously do, but limit it to that. You shouldn't feel bad for her though. She is the one who wore it, not you. She is the one who destroyed it, not you.

Good luck!
posted by magnoliasouth at 9:40 AM on September 27, 2010


While ignore the email is probably the least confrontational option, by ignoring it, you are being rude back. Simply reply with something along the lines of, "I am so sorry, but that is not appropriate or possible" or just "???" and see if she has the guts to persist.

If you don't want the confrontation, I would have husband print out email and bring it to new associate and ask what he wants husband to do about it. As hurdy gurdy girl points out, if nothing else your husband will learn a lot about the new associate.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:41 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would do completely the opposite to what everyone else has advised.

I suggest you ask how much she wants, give it to her in cash, and then never invite either of them to anything ever again.

It's a quick clean cut, and it's a totally Pyhrric victory for her. Frankly, it's also a lot easier than having to go through the hassle of having to rebuff her increasingly crazy emails and phone calls. It also saves your husband being put in a difficult position professionally.

(Yes, I'm aware that your husband is up the hierarchy. But the associate is new, and will know that your husband knows that his wife is insane. He will also know that your husband knows that he knows this. So he'll probably be majorly embarrassed, and apt to act awkwardly, possibly compromising his professional utility ("shit, I really need to ask Mr Husband about this, but I don't really want to have to see him. Fuck it, I'll just do it this way for now and see what happens"). Easier for all involved both parties know it's been resolved without and drama)

Of course, this totally depends on the cost of the shawl - I have no idea how much they are. Still, I'd say to consider it an investment in fending off crazy.
posted by djgh at 9:42 AM on September 27, 2010


I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to say this and have it be utterly appropriate:

How gauche.

I hope this person is young and stupid because the alternative just leaves me without words.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:42 AM on September 27, 2010 [25 favorites]


This may also have the added benefit of having associate feel indebted to Mr Husband by proxy for not causing a clash (between Ms Insane and Nickle Pickle, and the inevitable clash of the husbands as Ms Insane browbeats associate into saying something), and thus spur him to work harder on any relevant project.
posted by djgh at 9:46 AM on September 27, 2010


I would forward the e-mail to your husband and then have your husband forward the e-mail to the new associate with a note asking if he knows about it. I would have your husband's e-mail set forth the facts as you understand them regarding the offered coat and hat, the admonition to stay on the path, etc. And I would have your husband's e-mail close by asking the new associate how he suggests you should respond.

Why would I do that? Here's why:

1) It would be nice to have the true facts memorialized in writing in correspondence with the associate, since he was with her at the time and is a witness.

2) You know the fiancee is a tactless boor who is, at best, clueless and, at worst, a malicious, destructive person who will act this way at future events and, likely, hurt the firm's business by offending clients she meets through her soon-to-be husband. What your husband and the rest of the firm's partners need to find out is whether the associate is similarly unreasonable and whether they can expect their new associate to torpedo client relationships and otherwise harm the firm's interests.

3) You need to hit this out of your court and into the new associate's court. He is the one who needs to deal with this situation.

4) The way that the new associate deals with the situation will be very telling. Will he take a position adverse to a partner of the firm?
posted by The World Famous at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2010 [68 favorites]


Okay, ROU_Xenophobe has some excellent points. I did not consider the firm or your husband in my original answer.
posted by 200burritos at 9:48 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I would have your husband talk to the firm's attorney about it.
posted by The World Famous at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2010


Also: there is NO NEED to talk about whether she stayed on or off the path or accepted or did not accept the coat. By walking outside, you incur the risk of dealing with all types of natural things.
posted by 200burritos at 9:51 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my god.. it's Anna Thornton-hyphen-Wilton from Hotel Babylon. Grand aspirations to the highest class with often inappropriate notions of what that entails (e.g. dissing the wine because it simply isn't high class enough and no one truly posh would be caught dead drinking it). Also assumes that higher status = moneybuckets ripe for the picking.

The only way to deal with an Anna is to be firm. "No, I don't think so, that would be entirely inappropriate." fin
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:52 AM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I agree 100% with 200 burritos.
posted by TheBones at 9:58 AM on September 27, 2010


How are you responsible for this at all? What a wretched, impolite woman. Who is so disrespectful of their dinner hosts to be so demanding and negative on their "service". I don't even care what kind of power dynamic there is here, do not give her anything.

Not that it should even matter, but you offered this woman your OWN hat and coat. Instead, she chose to wander around the woods in her cashmere shawl. Gitouttatown. You owe her nothing.

Who would wander around the woods in a cashmere shawl anyway? Oh, I know who. Crazy people.

In fact, if you are feeling particularly righteous, you should reply with information to a good therapist. And/or tell her she needs a serious lesson in grown-up manners.

Geez louise, I'm sorry you had to deal with her.
posted by two lights above the sea at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely DELIGHTED by this question. There are, of course, some circumstances in which you would be obligated to replace or repair her cloak -- if your dog had jumped on her and gotten it muddy or your new kitten had decided to shred it while you ate. This situation is not one of those and you are completely and totally off the hook. Please do keep us posted, though, I'm dying to know if she follows up again or makes as ass of herself at any other parties.
posted by kate blank at 10:03 AM on September 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


You could write up the whole story as a question to Miss Manners, send it in to see what Miss Manners says about it, and CC the gauche fiancee when you do, with a little note to her saying "I'm so intrigued by bizarre behavior discussed by Miss Manners. Thank you so much for providing me with an anecdote worthy of submission! We won't be paying for any replacement, but let's see what she advises us, just for fun!"
posted by The World Famous at 10:07 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think that by getting your husband OR the new associate's mentor to deal with this would ultimately be a kindness to the new associate. Otherwise, his fiancee is going to be fucking things up for his career for a long time yet. It needs to be nipped in the bud.

(also, PLEASE follow up!)
posted by gaspode at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


I really think this is something your husband should address. As has been mentioned above, he should approach the associate and ask him if he knows that his fiancee emailed you directly and made this request. He will either be embarassed or be ok with the fact thats he emailed you, but regardless of his reaction your husband should let him know that it was inappropriate to do that, and that you guys are not repsonsible for what she did to her shawl as negligence (on your part) was not a factor. The end.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:12 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry for the double reply, but I forgot to say that I think he should handle this because ultimately this is a work-related faux pas. The associate should not want to have to bear the repercussions of his fiancee's bad manners, so he needs to be aware of what she is doing and how it is affecting him at work.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. She is a monumental prick and you have not the slightest responsibility for her damned cloak.

I'd be tempted to either ignore her or get your husband to tell her her request was inappropriate and embarrassing. Why your husband and not you? So you don't have to feel like you're making things awkward for him. I have to say that if I were your husband I'd chew her a new one in person and to hell with the consequences. But that's probably why I'm unemployed and your husband isn't. :-)
posted by Decani at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2010


Seriously, you're only asking for headaches worrying about the implications of this person's actions on her fiancee's career. Ignore the emails. If she calls you, then be polite but dismissive and end the conversation as soon as possible. Worrying about any other factors is just chasing imaginary strings. I'll be willing to bet that she won't have the guts to call you.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2010


The young associate may have no idea that his fiance sent the email. I suggest that your husband talk with him in a friendly way, tell him about the email, and then pause and see what the guy says. Unless he's out of his mind, he'll quickly say that a replacement scarf isn't necessary, and thank you for inviting them to the lovely dinner.

If that doesn't happen, your husband can say, "I do understand her disappointment -- I know you'll understand if we just let the matter drop." Then change the subject after a brief pause.

Geez, that new guy is headed for misery.
posted by wryly at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


If you give in and pay, I will be waiting to see what gift she demands when you are invited to their wedding! ("You can either buy me the sterling punch bowl and 36 cups or give me an equivalent amount of cash.") She probably is thinking, "He's a partner. They have so much money that they won't even mind paying for the shawl, whereas it is a lot of money to poor me."

And after SMPA's comment, I can't help but picture Lydia Bennett attending poor Nickel Pickle's dinner party and acting like an idiot. Before I read SMPA's comment, I was already picturing Mrs. Elton from Emma. But you're right. This is more stupid young Lydia, rather than Mrs. E.
posted by artychoke at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, what a creature. It's quite superfluous at this point, but I just wanted to join in the chorus of sane people letting you know this is Not Your Problem.

I would be tempted to rise to her dizzying heights of vulgarity and pick a fight, but this does appear to have a bearing on your husband's career so guess the high ground is safer. He needs to deal with it tactfully with the associate.
posted by londonmark at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2010


I would decline to pay and send her a link to this thread.
posted by Hastur at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The guest's behavior was horrifying, the email even more so, and you have no responsibility to replace her shawl.

That said, I would send her a check for $200 and be done with her. Yes, I know that is probably not enough money for a nice new shawl, but it's probably enough to get rid of her. And then never, ever invite them to anything again.

You can't ignore her, if she went this far she won't stop. And she's not going to accept "that's not possible" as a response.

It's a work situation, and I'd take the high road by sending her some money. There's no way this approach reflects poorly on your husband, and that's what's important here.
posted by mrs. taters at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would decline to pay and send her a link to this thread.

Do not do that. Then you are messing with your husband's career.

That said, I would send her a check for $200 and be done with her. Yes, I know that is probably not enough money for a nice new shawl, but it's probably enough to get rid of her.


Ugh, don't do that, either. That is going to make her think that the behavior was acceptable. Plus, who says she won't come back and ask for more money?
posted by amro at 10:39 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish I had enough money that I could hand out $200 to crazy people on demand, but if I did I would probably give it to charity instead of crazy people.

You can't ignore her, if she went this far she won't stop. And she's not going to accept "that's not possible" as a response.

Too bad for her. She's not going to be able to do anything about it. Giving her money is an admission of fault where none exists. Stay firm.
posted by grouse at 10:44 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have read many stories about outrageous behavior here on The Green, but the gall of this shrew really takes the prize. Wow.

That said, I think The World Famous' advice for your husband is spot on.
posted by murrey at 10:46 AM on September 27, 2010


And she's not going to accept "that's not possible" as a response.

Assuming her fiance is in an at-will employment situation and not under contract, they should both realize that he could be fired for any reason that is not discriminatory (with a few exceptions). That should be some motivation for the woman to drop it.
posted by amro at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2010


When I first read your question, I immediately wanted to jump up and consult two large vintage etiquette books I have loved since my teens, "The Vogue Book of Etiquette" by Millcent Fenwick (1948), and "Emily Post's Etiquette; The Blue Book of Social Usage" (1927.)

But it was sadly unnecessary. Maybe next time?

I like The World Famous' suggestion to kick this into the associates court. This will be a bigger problem business-wise for your husband's firm if this woman stays in the mix.

I like mrs. taters suggestion, as well. It works if you are keen to handle it on your own. It will have little benefit for your husband's business interests, however, and this problem will likely crop up again. It will likely reflect poorly on the company when that happens.

I agree this is ultimately your husband's call. I wish you both luck deciphering the appropriate next step.

(Update!)
posted by jbenben at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2010


Pomegranate has it. Ignore it, and if she e-mails again or asks about it, respond something along the lines of, "I'm sorry, I ignored your e-mail to save you (and your fiance) from any further embarrassment."

"Further" embarrassment, of course, making plain that she's already embarrassed herself royally.

And, of course, "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

I sort-of want to meet this person because she sounds so appalling. There was briefly an associate at my husband's firm who behaved like this. She didn't last very long. I'm picturing her in my head with your story.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Its possible that she's just cheeky and trying her luck. She's found that everyone else is too polite to call her out on her rudeness and thus she gets everything she wants. She clearly doesn't care what other people think of her so its a no-lose situation for her. If she's young she may not have stayed in one social circle long enough for it to bite her in the ass. It also may not be possible to exclude her husband (and by extension her) from these sort of social gatherings so there is no real consequence to her behaviour.

I would ignore the first email, I think any response would just lead to escalation. If she presses the issue then go with the firm but polite 'no' and then don't respond to any further emails. How did she even get your email address?!. At all times be calm and polite, make her look like the crazy one.
posted by missmagenta at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do Not Engage.

No short reply, no polite reply, no mitigating explanations, nothing.

This kind of person will use ANY point of contact to make your life miserable.

As explained above, this is between your husband and his associate. Show him the email, let him handle it with his associate, and OMFG do not offer her any money to "be done with her" because that's the exact opposite of what will happen.
posted by Aquaman at 10:54 AM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


I think we can all agree that you're right, and she's wrong, and you do NOT owe her for a shawl. If you spilled wine on it, sure. If your dog destroyed it, yes. If she goes traipsing around in the woods, she will get burrs in her fine clothing BECAUSE IT IS THE WOODS.

However.

Given the rest of her behavior, I really think it would be the easiest path to just send her the damn money. If you don't, you'll never hear the end of it. She'll badmouth you everywhere, and make your life as difficult as she possibly can.

She's a terrible woman. If no one's been able to change that yet, then you surely will not. Frankly, under these circumstances, I would roll my eyes and politely capitulate.
posted by ErikaB at 10:57 AM on September 27, 2010


Ignore the email but make sure that your husband has a copy for his files as it may have consequences for his life at the office.

If she presses, via email, indicate that your were surprised by her daring and unconventional "thank-you note" and then deploy Miss Manners' "I'm sorry, that won't be possible". And definitely make sure your husband has a copy of further correspondence.

Good luck.
posted by Verdant at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do NOT reply to her email. Just like The World Famous said, this is more of a business issue than an etiquette issue.

And really, ask yourself, if you reply to her with "sorry it won't be possible to replace your scarf," do you think she's just going to be like "oh ok, thanks anyways?" Any response other than ignoring her will add to the drama. She's not going to take no for an answer from you.

Her fiancé needs to deal with this so she doesn't become a liability to the firm. Hopefully she'll get the hint to either send an apology email or not follow up with any more rude emails once her fiancé brings this up with her. But any messages coming from you will be futile.

Just paying her will not help because it will be inevitable that something else is going to come up. You do not want to continue having any communication with this person, there is no point.
posted by ajackson at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


She'll badmouth you everywhere, and make your life as difficult as she possibly can.

OMG she might tell the women that do her nails or her sorority sisters on facebook! You'll be ruined!

Seriously, who cares? Your husband's work colleagues and their spouses were witness to her rude behavior. Who is she going to talk to? More importantly, who is she going to talk to that you give a damn about that haven't already seen what an ass she is already?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Given the rest of her behavior, I really think it would be the easiest path to just send her the damn money. If you don't, you'll never hear the end of it. She'll badmouth you everywhere, and make your life as difficult as she possibly can.

I think given her behavior at the party, if she decides to start a smear campaign against you she doesn't have the credibility to pull it off. Do not give in to the social terrorist--whether that means having your husband give her fiance a heads up about her Career Limiting Behavior or just ignoring her. Sending her money would also send her a message that her behavior will get her what she wants.
posted by Kimberly at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I’m very curious to know if that was the entire content of her email, or if there was a thank you for the dinner also attached.

I agree with those suggesting that this is something you husband needs to take up with the Associate. You’ve described essentially a work function, and certainly the Associate has a professional relationship with your husband. There are indeed issues here that exceed this woman’s behavior at either the party or in the email, and it’s proper for your husband to address those issues with the Associate. This is also a time to evaluate the Associate on recognizing and addressing these problematic behaviors. Your husband can choose to do this however he wants, with arched eyebrow or with sympathetic concern, but he should still handle it.

This woman has proved that she is confrontational and contrarian. I would reply to her email, but I would not reply with any sort of answer about replacing the shawl, even an answer that says it won’t be possible to replace it. Pushing back on that at all will likely simply provoke her. Instead, I would write a polite but short note saying:
“Thank you for coming to dinner the other evening. I’m so sorry to hear about your shawl. I’ve forwarded your email to my husband, as dinner that night was so connected to work.
This is polite, non-committal, and honest. It may seem a little wishy-washy because it seems to pass the buck, but it communicates (without threat) that her behavior has larger ramifications, and that you are not the appropriate recipient of future emails about the matter. It removes you from the situation without making you personally responsible for turning her down. I would also not discuss the specifics of her shawl getting ruined so that the appropriateness of providing a replacement or not does not become predicated on whether or not she kept to a path on your property.
posted by OmieWise at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2010 [63 favorites]


Definitely update. The nice side of me hopes for your sake that she lets this go and you won't have to deal with this horrid woman any more. The devilish side of me is curious if this wretch can outdo herself and kick it up a notch and shock me even more (as I was dumbfounded by her actions even before I read about her email).
posted by murrey at 11:04 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


IF you respond, your response should be nothing more than "Ha! Oh, sweetie, no, I'm afraid that won't be possible at all" or something along those lines. But given that there's Work Politics at play, it's probably much more appropriate to have your husband ask her fiance about it. "Soooo. . . your fiancee mailed my wife. Uh, was she serious? Because. . . wow." Then wait to see if you need to deploy Answer #1 anyway.

To be perfectly clear: when the shawl was ruined, she was in possession of it and you were not. There is absolutely no way whatsoever that this can be construed as your responsibility, even by extremely generous rules of hostess responsibility. The FARTHEST you could possibly have been expected to go would be, if the shawl was unwearable, to offer to loan her a replacement garment to ensure that she wouldn't be too chilly. Anything else would be overwrought and inappropriate.
posted by KathrynT at 11:08 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Delete delete delete.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:12 AM on September 27, 2010


Perhaps your husband should speak to another partner at the firm - whoever is the new associate's direct superior and ask them how they want him to handle it.
posted by missmagenta at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Upon further consideration, I like OmieWise's response the best. It's to-the-point, while still being classy, and gives your husband an opening to bring this up with his colleagues to decide the best course of action vis-a-vis future work-related social functions and the new associate. If this associate may ever be called upon to attend work-related social functions in any capacity, your husband's co-partners may want to be apprised of the possible risk they're undertaking.
posted by booknerd at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more I think your husband should consult with the other partners and with the firm's legal counsel. Depending on the sort of partner your husband is, he might be a part owner of the firm and this might be considered a claim against the firm and not just a personal request. This is best handled by referring it to your husband, who can then refer it to the firm's partners for consideration before pursuing a course of action that the partners are aware of and agree with.
posted by The World Famous at 11:33 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


[On preview: basically seconding OmieWise.]

Your priority, and really everyone's but her's, should be that this not become awkward for your husband's firm. Don't ignore her e-mail, and don't communicate with her directly; she'd love to escalate this. Neither should your husband communicate with her; that's just not appropriate.

Really what you have here is an opportunity to find out whether this new associate is a decent guy with a rude fiancée, or a prick. Your husband should speak to him informally, ideally outside the workplace, and in a collegial and friendly way explain that she has asked you to pay for her shawl, and she has done so in a weird and presumptuous e-mail — and then let the fiancé tell him how he wants to deal with it.

If the fiancé takes her side, then you know that he is confrontational and arrogant, and are forewarned; then is the time for you to reject her request and force her fiancé to either shut her down or make waves at his new firm. If he is apologetic, then he is forewarned about her behavior which may be a favor both to him and to the firm.
posted by nicwolff at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


Given the rest of her behavior, I really think it would be the easiest path to just send her the damn money. If you don't, you'll never hear the end of it. She'll badmouth you everywhere, and make your life as difficult as she possibly can.

DO NOT DO. Do not coddle, mollify, or acquiesce to antisocial behavior. It only breeds more antisocial behavior.

This woman is trying to shake you down precisely because she's gotten away with such wildly, off-the-charts inappropriate behavior before. You may not ultimately be able to alter her behavior in the grander scheme of things, but you are under absolutely zero obligation to play along. Do exactly what The World Famous Famous advises.
posted by scody at 11:45 AM on September 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


Dear Juliette --

Further to your correspondence of 27 September, enclosed please find a bill for $1,268.00 as itemized below:

One wasted bottle of wine: $79.00
Hand-removal of unauthorized winter white cashmere from my foliage: $1189.00
Never having to entertain you in my home again: priceless.

Yours,
Nickle Pickle

posted by DarlingBri at 11:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


This is just delicious. What a horrible woman!

I think you should reply, and cc it to both your husband and the associate: "I'm so sorry to hear about your cloak, I do wish you'd accepted my offer of a coat, or stayed on the paths as advised. I do not, however, feel it is my responsibility to replace the cloak. Yours, so-and-so"

Then, after the email has been sent, your husband can bring up the exchange with the associate. He needs to know that his future wife is going to cause him serious problems.

Please PLEASE let us know what happens next. I'm fascinated.
posted by smoakes at 11:56 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just wanted to add...

At the heart of the issue, this woman is motivated by extreme and outlandish jealousy towards you personally (she sees you as a "rival"), your husband and his partnership with the firm, your beautiful home and property, your extensive wine collection, your social standing, etc.

This woman is unbalanced, possibly unhinged. Really.

I'll amend my previous answer and state your husband can't go wrong bringing this up with the associate's direct supervisor, who(m?) I assume is also a partner with your husband at the firm.

The associate's future is dim. He possesses very poor judgement. There is likely a probationary period attached to his employment. The firm will do well to nip this in the bud. Your husband should give his partners the opportunity to nip this in the bud and avoid future (co$tly) hassles concerning this new hire.

The behavior this woman is engaging in goes well well beyond a "social gaffe." Proceed accordingly and grant this situation the serious response it demands.

Good luck
posted by jbenben at 12:09 PM on September 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


If I were your husband, my impulse would be to take the associate out to lunch and explain to him, in a mentor-ish way, that his wife's behaviour is unacceptable. I would be gentle but unequivocal. The wife was rude, boorish, and insulting. When she should have apologized for her behaviour, she instead demanded the host replace something that the girlfriend is 100% responsible for damaging herself. Whether or not this has an impact on the associate's career can be left as an exercise for the associate.

In the long run, it'll do the associate a favour. He may feel caught between a woman he genuinely loves and behaviour he knows is wrong; or he may not really understand that she's behaving badly. Either way, for his own sake, he needs to be smacked in the head with a cluestick, and to deal with it. The girlfriend is at the psychopathic end of the ask/guess spectrum, and the associate should understand this for the sake of his career, and likely his marriage too.
posted by fatbird at 12:15 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Good Lord, dinner parties at their house must be a blast.

I think OmieWise has really good advice. Be classy and professional. Be an exemplar of grace and human kindness. This is going down in writing anyway and many eyes may read it, including other dinner guests...who, incidentally will chuckly and think you both rockstars for fending off crazy with utmost coolness.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:18 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


While everyone is correctly calling her actions rude and crazy, consider for a moment if maybe she really is suffering from some undiagnosed mental illness or disorder. Grandiosity, poor impulse control, inappropriate behavior, are symptoms of hypomania which can be found in bipolar and schizoaffective people. Also, an inability to pick up on social cues might point to an autism spectrum disorder.

I'm not suggesting you or I should assume some diagnosis, but just take these things into consideration and be gentle with her.

I remember feeling like an incredible asshole after meeting a new friend-of-a-friend at a party, who was more or less a boor all night, dominating conversations where he liked to paint himself an authority, ignoring gentle suggestions to changes in topics. Afterwards I said something to the effect of "Gosh, what's wrong with that guy, he's such an asshole!" The friend of his friend gently told me "Well, he is kindof a jerk, but he also has Asperger's." Which isn't to mean I was filled with pity, or instantly thought he was a great person, I just had more information about him which was useful to understanding him and his actions.

So, whatever way you choose to deal with this situation, don't go in with the assumptions that she's a jerk unworthy of your kindness. She's probably a jerk, but everyone deserves some kindness.
posted by fontophilic at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think a response is warranted and ignoring her will only make her more incensed and intensify the situation. I would respond to her email and tell her you were sorry that she ruined her cloak (Cloak? Who uses the term "cloak" anymore?), give her some recommendations for dry cleaners and never invite her to your house again.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2010


My main curiosity: What was she doing so far in the woods that burrs got so tangled in her shawl that she can't get them out? I'd be asking her why she went into said woods after being told NOT TO.

I've pulled burrs out of cashmere, wool, etc. The object wasn't that ruined for the attempt. A small pair of tweezers can do amazing things.

Nthing the chorus of don't give her diddly for money. She's not worth the $300, even if you make that much in ten minutes. If she hadn't been a complete troll at dinner I'd consider it in the interests of creating and maintaining a good working relationship, but god.
posted by Heretical at 12:45 PM on September 27, 2010


in an Austen novel

This all sounds very Austen or James to me. I thank you for the glimpse into a worls I'd thought I'd never get to know firsthand, because I thought it to be exctinct.
posted by omegar at 12:48 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nthing don't give her the money.

Also, I don't complain about being served coq au vin and wine. I am available for all fancy parties.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:18 PM on September 27, 2010 [22 favorites]


I agree with those suggesting that this is something you husband needs to take up with the Associate. You’ve described essentially a work function, and certainly the Associate has a professional relationship with your husband. There are indeed issues here that exceed this woman’s behavior at either the party or in the email, and it’s proper for your husband to address those issues with the Associate. This is also a time to evaluate the Associate on recognizing and addressing these problematic behaviors. Your husband can choose to do this however he wants, with arched eyebrow or with sympathetic concern, but he should still handle it.

Definitely agree with Omiewise. Another element here is that, at least the way you tell it, she sounds very much like a woman who has latched onto a man she thinks is powerful, and like someone who's not afraid to use his perceived power to get what she wants. She will continue to do this throughout her/their life, unless she learns that it's inappropriate. Giving in to her is just positive reinforcement.

While I can see where you might feel responsible since you were ostensibly the host of the event, and where she feels you're responsible because she sees you as the host of the event, this is something that needs to be worked out between your husband and the junior associate, because it is essentially an issue of this woman using her fiancee's position to her own ends.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish they taught classes on how to deal with rude people with poise. Not that you appear to need it, as you seem to have handled yourself very well with such a rude guest. No, I would like these classes for myself; being non-confrontational makes it hard to maintain a calm demeanor in the face of such obscene behavior.
That said, since the first contact was made via email, you have the opportunity to phrase (and edit) your reply to have the most impact. Be firm but polite. I would not ignore this, as others have said above, she's not going to just go away. The suggestions that you pay her to shut her up are just as ludicrous as her original demand. I would reply like so:
"Dear Miss So-and-So (use her last name, be as formal as possible),
It is regrettable that you damaged your shawl last evening (don't say "I'm sorry"; it's not your fault). However, a replacement will not be forthcoming.
Frankly, I find it quite inappropriate of you to request compensation in this manner. Please refrain from contacting me further.
Sincerely,
Nickle Pickle"

I would ask your husband to follow up at work in the way that Stoneweaver suggested.
Your husband should ask the associate "Did you know your fiancee e-mailed my wife?" and ask in such a manner that gets across that it was a very not OK thing to do.
He should make sure to get across that further email communications are unacceptable. If the guy doesn't respond with complete abashment, then Hubby might consider talking to the Noob's direct superior.
posted by purpletangerine at 1:27 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


purpletangerine's response contains several elements ("Frankly," "inappropriate," "please refrain") that make it sound snippy and fussy; sending it would place you in peril of descending to CrazyFiancee's level. I think the better advice is above: Do not engage directly other than with "That's not possible," which is simple and impossible to argue with or to misconstrue.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 1:35 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. This situation is crazy. If I was her fiance, I would be so embarassed that I would apologize to your husband on her behalf. I was so shocked at her behavior, that it almost seems as though she was purposely being rude to make her fiance look bad.

I would be very tempted to respond to her message with something along the lines of, "While I simply can't replace your shawl, I would be more than happy to send you a copy of the latest edition of Emily's Post's Etiquette book."

I suppose the more mature thing would be to ignore her completely.
posted by parakeetdog at 1:38 PM on September 27, 2010


Her behaviour during the dinner should not influence your response. I would reply to her, and I'd try to treat her no differently than guest who had otherwise behaved. This is just good manners. I'd also try and remove this situation as far away from your husband's work as possible. This is between you and her, and involving associates is poor form and could cause trouble for her boyfriend and your husband. As far as I can tell, her boyfriend did nothing wrong.

In case she does have a problem with correct behaviour and social cues, I might tell her (bluntly, but politely) that her request is out of order, that it was upsetting, and that her damaging an item of her own clothing whilst walking out is her responsibility. I'd also tell her that she is likely able to get the burrs off her cloak with tweezers.

Finally, I'd add a note stating that you hope that you can both put this incident behind you.

Keep it mannered and parental in tone. Whatever you do, don't give her any money. If she gets what she wants now, she's only going to try it on someone else.
posted by seanyboy at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because it was a work function, it most certainly is not between just the poster and the girlfriend. There may not be a need to involve everyone at the firm, which would be gauche. But it is absolutely imperative that this be treated in light of the professional sphere. This was not a casual party between friends. It was a work function.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:46 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Outlandish! I can't believe anyone would suggest paying her just to shut her up. You cannot pay her and without payment she's not likely to leave you alone anytime soon.

I absolutely agree with OmieWise. Presumably, your husband cares about his firm enough to help strengthen it when a weakness is found. That new associate's wife is most assuredly a weakness to the firm.

The nicest thing to do would be to have your husband approach the associate about it, completely off the record, with a spirit of trying to help the dude understand why that's NOT OK and will NOT advance his career. If he doesn't take that advice to heart, it'll come back to bite him in the ass eventually. Probably sooner than later.

It doesn't benefit anyone involved to sweep this under the rug and pretend it didn't happen, or worse, pay for a replacement.
posted by lynda at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2010


When it comes to email, there are a few things to keep in mind:

(1) You never know who will wind up reading what you say in an email. Assume that anything could be forwarded anywhere. Therefore, if you do respond to her, be polite and do not admit any fault.

(2) It's incredibly hard to convey tone and nuance properly in an email. Something that is not meant as snarky or rude can come off as such. Arguments via email can easily escalate, especially when one of the correspondents is as tactless as the associate's fiancee appears to be.

(3) If you respond to her via email, ask yourself whether you want to feel a twinge of anxiety whenever you open your inbox, wondering whether there's going to be some reply from her in there.

I would keep this away from email entirely. I echo the idea of bringing it up with your husband. Absolutely do not offer to pay for anything.

Fortunately, this is not about you; if this were a novel or a play, you would be a minor character. The main characters would be the delusional woman and her fiance, anxious about his future standing in this company. You're totally in the clear here.
posted by Tin Man at 1:59 PM on September 27, 2010 [19 favorites]


This reminds me of something that happened to me. A "friend" took me out to dinner, which cost about $20, on her debit card, with the understanding that later that night I'd pay her way into the club we were going to, which would cost about the same. We decided not to go to the club and both forgot, temporarily, about the $20 I owed her.

The next day she calls me up and tells me that the $20 she spent overdrafted her bank account and demanded that I not only give her the $20, but pay her overdraft fee as well! Now, if we *had* gone to the club, she still would have overdrafted her account, and would she still have demanded I pay her fee?

After a few days of heated arguments, to get her off my back I paid her half the money she wanted (about $25), but this was with the understanding there'd be no future contact between us. In your situation that may be a bad idea.

mudpuppie: "Another element here is that, at least the way you tell it, she sounds very much like a woman who has latched onto a man she thinks is powerful, and like someone who's not afraid to use his perceived power to get what she wants. She will continue to do this throughout her/their life, unless she learns that it's inappropriate."

It very much struck me this way as well. Perhaps she thinks that "high-class" people she's not used to being around are supposed to act this way.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:03 PM on September 27, 2010


Giving her the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like she thinks this is how a Fine Lady acts (or how lawyers act), and she's insecure and doing her best to be a Fine Lady (or act like a lawyer), and doesn't know what to do.

If that is the case, it might really help her if you were straight with her. You could say something like,

Dear Michelle,

I have to be honest, I was a little shocked by your email. To imply that hosts are responsible for all damage that guests cause to their own items is shocking, and it is not something that we do. None of us would be able to have guests over if it were true. If I had caused the damage to your shawl myself, I'd be happy to replace it, but that's not the case here.

I am pleased that your fiance has joined the firm, and happy that we had the opportunity to meet the two of you. I look forward to getting to know both of you better if the future.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:04 PM on September 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


involving associates is poor form and could cause trouble for her boyfriend and your husband. As far as I can tell, her boyfriend did nothing wrong.


Except that if the new associate sticks around at the firm, and marries the fiance, this kind of behavior needs to nipped in the bud for the sake of the firm. OP's husband is a partner, and has a duty to his partnership. Firms like this entertain clients, and if the new associate is put into a "don't let him socialize with clients because his fiancee is gobsmackingly inappropriate" that's a career-limiting situation for the new associate. OP noted in her question that the fiancee's behavior at dinner was noticed by other partners, and I'm certain there has already been some water-cooler "could you believe that?" amongst other partners at the dinner. In other words, this has already negatively impacted the new associate, even if OP and her husband never say a peep to anyone about the email.

how do I respond without making things awkward for my husband?

One of the best pieces of advice I got from a boss was to put positive feedback in writing, and deliver negative feedback in person and in private.

I'm afraid that it's going to have to get a little awkward for your husband, but only in the way it's awkward to tell someone that their BO is a problem. Your husband should go get coffee with him, or something equally casual, and say "hey, my wife got an email from your fiancee asking us to replace her shawl. I imagine you don't know anything about it, because of course you would have told her not to. I'm sure she didn't realize how her behavior reflects on you. I'm not going to say anything more about this to anyone, but entertaining is a key part of client development, and I need some reassurance from you that you'll make sure nothing like this ever happen again."
posted by ambrosia at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2010 [71 favorites]


Send her a gas blue gown with lavender beads, but make sure it's too large in the bust. You don't want any trouble.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Please find the attached amount to cover your shawl" as the entire contents of an email.

Seriously, I hope you follow up. This is nearly as good as the disassembled-cake ask-me.
posted by Four Flavors at 2:20 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would almost have your husband forward it to the associate with just a " ? " in the email, but it depends a bit on the culture of the firm.

I would send an email like Omniewise suggest, but without the apology. I'm never one to improperly admit fault, even if that would be a stretch in this case.

I think that your husband needs to take the associate aside as others have suggested and couched in the terms of "I really don't want to make this matter awkward for yourself, being so new at the firm, or your fiance, who obviously is a bit new to socializing with work colleagues, but my wife received a very odd email from your fiance and rather than make the situation awkward for my wife by involving her in what is ultimately a work issue, I wanted to speak with you about it. Obviously, your fiance is a little confused about social norms regarding taking responsibility for one's own personal items, so I thought it best if you discuss this with her rather than myself or my wife. I'm just glad this incident occurred with my wife and I and not some of the other partners, who are more likely to take offense, or god forbid a client. Thanks for taking care of this and as far as I'm concerned this matter is closed. I haven't discussed this with anyone else at work."
posted by whoaali at 2:26 PM on September 27, 2010 [16 favorites]


I have been checking in on this post all day, with interest and finally I realized what I'd been waiting to hear from someone and hadn't - a litany of the phrases from this post! I've taken the liberty of an assemblage:

My Dear Girl,

Why bless your heart. One hardly knows what to say. Certainly you're entitled to your opinion, and I might have thought that too, in my careless youth. What an interesting perspective. With all due respect, how might that assertion be problematic? Most people would never have thought to ask this. Your request has been duly noted, and that's the great thing about America, that we can disagree about these things! So, I'll keep that in mind.

Have a nice day,
Nickle Pickle

(But seriously - perhaps it's best to have your husband hold a water cooler conversation with her fiancee, along the lines of what others said. But, ignoring can feel a bit rude, and a polite response letting her know that you're not the sole "decider" in this instance might cause her to reconsider. It's one thing to ask you for recompense, another for her to have to face your husband in hope of any. Something along the lines of "Dear Girl, Please understand that my husband and I would, of course, consult in a matter such as this. Your request has been duly noted." And then, if he works things out via the fiancee, you need never to respond further.)
posted by peagood at 2:47 PM on September 27, 2010 [23 favorites]


I think Ashley801's suggestion is great--treat her as someone younger who just doesn't know better.
posted by smoakes at 2:58 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reply to her with a link to this thread.
posted by hubs at 3:07 PM on September 27, 2010


Update:

My husband took the new associate out for a beer after work. Because he is such a super awesome guy, my husband hates office gossip, and wanted to be as discreet as possible. The new dude had no idea about the email, and was pretty horrified. Not only did he have no idea about the email, but also found out today that apparently the fiancee had started a conversation with one of the other partners about our "obese baby" (who OMG is 9 months old and is just normal baby chubby!).

The back story told over beers is that the fiancée is a bit of a mess. As many suggested, she is in fact younger (23) and this was the first dinner party she has attended. The engagement is very much on the rocks long before this weekend, and he assured my husband that she would not under any circumstances be around clients anytime soon.

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Opening that email was one of those moments where I just had no idea if my social expectations were universal, and askme was ideal for reassurance. Thank you!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2010 [204 favorites]


I'm just gobsmacked that people like this woman actually exist.

How can someone possibly be that rude to others and still be okay with themselves?

I'm sorta glad that I'm low-class enough that anyone trying something like this around me would quickly be shut down with an "Uh, no" and no email tactical maneuvering or social drama.
posted by mrbill at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yay! The good guys win again! Although, I have to admit, "HURF DURF SHAWL REIMBURSER" just ran through my head.
posted by mrbill at 3:28 PM on September 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Your husband is a mensch. Seriously, thank him on our behalf.
posted by The World Famous at 3:32 PM on September 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


I hope for the associate's sake that he DTMFA.
posted by k8t at 3:34 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Who at 23 has something cashmere (maybe more than a sweater?), knows anything about wine or catered food?
posted by k8t at 3:37 PM on September 27, 2010


Wow. Thank you for updating. Your husband has extended a real kindness to this new associate, and I can only hope either the fiancee changes or the associate manages to extricate himself from the engagement.

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Opening that email was one of those moments where I just had no idea if my social expectations were universal, and askme was ideal for reassurance.

That's because you are a nice, reasonable person who would never imagine putting someone else in a position like that.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:46 PM on September 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's funny, I keep thinking, a heavy weight cashmere winter white shawl would be really nice for winter, but now it will forever be tainted.

I agree with everyone, your husband handled it perfectly and may have saved his colleague from a bad marriage in the process.
posted by whoaali at 3:49 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd say your husband should ask her husband his opinion on it, in order to preserve a decent working relationship.

Given that, no, you shouldn't even have to deal with this; this is somewhat ridiculous.
posted by talldean at 4:13 PM on September 27, 2010


Am I the only one who is wondering if walking was all they did in the woods? Or is my head just in the wrong place tonight?

Glad to hear that it was handled. Sounds like this young lady just isn't resourseful enough or didn't want to put forth the full effort to repair her shawl. She's young...she'll learn (hopefully!).
posted by MultiFaceted at 4:42 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a shame you and the Mr. are so nice, because otherwise, you could send her a Christmas card that read, "Warm Wishes From The Pardner, Your Personal Shopper & Lil' Tubs!" (or something similarly scathing).
posted by julthumbscrew at 4:51 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Your husband is a mensch. Seriously, thank him on our behalf.

Seconding that. If there is a little [+] symbol next to him could you press it once for me?
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:53 PM on September 27, 2010 [68 favorites]


This strikes me as the perfect opportunity for one of those answers that say "Show them this thread", that crop up from time to time.
Dear Associate's Fiancee,

http://ask.metafilter.com/166208/Should-I-pay-to-replace-a-rude-guests-shawl

Best Wishes,
Nickel Pickle.
posted by dirm at 4:59 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm glad your husband was kind and wise enough to clue in the hapless associate. I was going to half-tongue-in-cheek suggest you forward the young lady contact info for a competent therapist.

By the way, I certainly hope you update this thread if you get any more emails!

(I would not respond to her email as I doubt anything good could come from it.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:42 PM on September 27, 2010


Thank you so much for posting - it was so deliciously awful to think about all day. And yes, I too thought "They totally 'did it' in the woods." Your husband showed great judgment, and you, restraint. And boy do I ever want to be a fly on their wall tonight.
posted by peagood at 6:08 PM on September 27, 2010


I'm so glad to know the young man didn't know what his intended was up to. I hate to think of an accountant gone wrong.

And I'm sorry to say some of the ("hey we'll have sex with our boyfriends on the living room couch while you lock yourself in the bedroom; if we make too much noise you can turn up your stereo k thanks") roommates I had in college were of the cashmere-shawl-totally-clueless-socially-rich-girl types. What's really sad is I let them make me feel bad about myself. What's really awesome is that I'm not 18 anymore.

Hopefully this young lady will learn a valuable lesson of some sort, perhaps even as good a lesson as the young man already has.

And you can rest safe in the knowledge that we'll do all the gossiping on your behalf. My sisters will just die when I tell them about this one.
posted by SMPA at 6:28 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The obese baby thing really takes the cake.

So to speak.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:34 PM on September 27, 2010 [26 favorites]


So to speak.

Yes, I see what I did there.
posted by Dasein at 7:05 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, in her defense, there wasn't any white pepper for the soup! I mean, come on.



Okay, no. She's a freak.


What I absolutely cannot fathom is the people in this thread recommending you send her money. I may start demanding insane things all over town if it might really be that potentially lucrative.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:34 PM on September 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Wow nickle pickle, your husband showed GREAT restraint

In the professional services firms I've worked out, this wouldn't be a strike, but an OUT. Your husband could have just shown said email to a couple of fellow partners and the new associate would have been next on the "out" of the "up or out"
posted by zia at 7:52 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The subordinate is a lucky man, assuming he'll act the way we all hope he will.

If he ever married the woman and then got divorced, he couldn't have said that he didn't see it coming.
posted by xm at 7:57 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your husband is a mensch! What an absolutely kind and admirable thing for him to do. Thank you so much for the update. I do hope that this leads to good things for that poor woman.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:02 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - derails about what sorts of people do this or that isn't answering the question and is sort of not helpful, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 8:59 PM on September 27, 2010


Thank you so much for the update. I am thoroughly ashamed to admit that this is exactly the kind of trainwreck, rubber-necking social clusterfuck that delights me down to my shallow, snarky core and there has not been an Ask post I have enjoyed as much since... actually, I'm not even going to admit what.

I also am enjoying the fact that this thread proves once again that the answer to virtually all Ask posts boils down to a limited number of choices including "See a doctor," "totally normal," "therapy," "eat less, exercise more" and today's winner, "DTMFA."
posted by DarlingBri at 9:05 PM on September 27, 2010 [22 favorites]


>What I absolutely cannot fathom is the people in this thread recommending you send her money. I may start demanding insane things all over town if it might really be that potentially lucrative.

Came here to say that.

The other day I stepped on my iPhone earbuds, can I have $50? I mean, I don't know you and you were 12,000 miles away at the time, but I expect to be reimbursed anyway. Also they're not actually broken, but still; $50 please.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 9:20 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is beyond poor ettiquette; she sounds mentally ill.
posted by bearette at 10:07 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damm, I wish I was your dinner guest! That and you are a much much more self-restrained person than I am. As for the completely insane person you found yourself dealing with, now that she is out of your house you can and should ignore her.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:31 AM on September 28, 2010


At first I though, "Oh, poor New Associate: she's blighted him at that firm." But then I read about your husband's amazing backflip-with-a-twist save and I am most impressed. Huzzah!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:59 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


A little late to this thread, but I've been avidly rubbernecking.

Nthing the "your husband is a mensch." Not to mention has awesome people skills. Meanwhile, one can hope the fiance will DTMFA already if he values his career at all (not to mention any future children - can you imagine what kind of a mom she would make?!).

In somewhat non-PC terms, one can say about people like the fiance, "She's just not right," accompanied by a tap on the temple and a meaningful look. And if she does turn out to have something like bipolar disorder, or Asperger's, or what have you, she needs professional help, not an enabling fiance and social circle.

Glad you followed up with us!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:32 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


In future if rude houseguests openly criticize your wine selection, refer them to Wine Advocate or a similar publication, which I'm sure could always use such a knowledgeable reviewer.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:18 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glad to hear this ended on a good note. Your husband handled this perfectly. All I can say is that some folks at 23 have no sense whatsoever. I can't imagine feeling that entitled.
posted by xammerboy at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and that poor guy must have wanted to sink into the earth when your husband took him out.
posted by xammerboy at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


At first I though, "Oh, poor New Associate: she's blighted him at that firm." But then I read about your husband's amazing backflip-with-a-twist save and I am most impressed.

This is a perfect description of how I feel, too. Noting it for future incidences in my own life.
posted by salvia at 6:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd just write back and politely and succinctly make it very clear that you're not going to do that. Ever.

Example:

Dear HorridCow,

I'm very sorry that you made the decision to wander our property off-path and as a result damaged your own shawl, but I fail to see how I am at fault and/or responsible for its replacement, and will not be purchasing you a new one.

Best,
YourName
posted by Malisams at 10:28 AM on September 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Definitely good that her behavior was nipped at the bud, I'm sure if it wasn't she'd continue to ask for more and more.

Unless you've somehow trained your trees to shred sweaters, I'm pretty sure that this woman is responsible for herself
and her clothing.
posted by addelburgh at 9:08 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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