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Dealing with a Thanksgiving non-invite
November 16, 2011 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I've been specifically not invited to Thanksgiving in my own home (by a housemate). How to respond?

I live in a large house in Boston with 5 other people – my boyfriend and two couples. We're not a co-op, though we end up having dinner or a party all together once or twice a month. We've been living here for about a year, and as a group I'd say we generally fall somewhere between acquaintances and friends.

One couple is going to be away for Thanksgiving, and my boyfriend and I expect to be at home, but hadn't yet made a specific plan or invited anyone. Now another housemate ("Bob") has emailed to let us know that he and his partner are planning a small friends-and-family Thanksgiving dinner to which we are not invited. He also wrote that if this wouldn't work for us, he would consider trying to find an alternate location or a way to split use of the common areas between us.

I'm not happy with any of my options as I see them:
a. We tell Bob that we're planning to have dinner at home that night, and while we'd be happy to do a joint dinner, we'd prefer that he find an alternate venue if we're not invited.
b. We agree to share the space but have two separate dinners, perhaps staggered in time?
c. We either scare up an invitation to Thanksgiving elsewhere (we haven't yet been invited anywhere), or go out for dinner that night.

These all make me feel angry and either rude, left out, or pushed around. I guess I think of Thanksgiving in particular as a welcoming everyone's-invited type holiday and that makes it especially irksome that Bob chose to exclude us from his dinner. I'll just add that I'm not aware of any problem he might have with us; I thought we were on good terms.

I welcome your suggestions for how to rise above this and/or how to respond to Bob without inciting drama.
posted by ungratefulninja to Human Relations (116 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Could there possibly be something maybe sinister about Bob's party? Maybe some recreational drugs?
Sorry, first initial instinct on my end.
posted by hillabeans at 6:45 PM on November 16, 2011


I think you should assume option "a" is a sincere option, and to request it sincerely. It sounds like they've made their decision about how they want to celebrate this holiday, but want to make sure they themselves are creating the least amount of drama or hurt feelings in executing the plan.

You're hurt that he didn't invite you--that's the real issue to address. You are being "left out"; I don't necessarily think you're being "pushed around" or he's being rude. For him, holidays might be a more intimate time with people he may not see very much of otherwise, instead of a "everyone's invited type holiday".
posted by availablelight at 6:47 PM on November 16, 2011 [27 favorites]


I'd go out to dinner with the boyfriend for Thanksgiving, and then start looking for another apartment ASAP. That's so out of line.
posted by sweetkid at 6:47 PM on November 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


I too cannot fathom deliberately excluding housemates from a holiday that is all about welcoming and inclusiveness. Especially one that typically involves cooking a 15-20 lb. bird and mountains of potatoes and everyone brings a pie and....good heavens, what are two more people?!

That being said, I think in the interest of continuing to live together with a minimum of drama, you make other plans outside the house that night.

I imagine if his friends/family group find out that he booted his housemates from the dinner, they will be equally appalled. Maybe they will leave you pie, with a note apologizing for their clueless friend, Bob.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:48 PM on November 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Do not confuse what renting 1/3 of a house entitles you versus your emotions about not being invited.
posted by ddaavviidd at 6:49 PM on November 16, 2011 [45 favorites]


For him, holidays might be a more intimate time with people he may not see very much of otherwise, instead of a "everyone's invited type holiday".

This is a totally understandable and acceptable attitude to take, unless it involves excluding someone from events in their own home.
posted by sweetkid at 6:49 PM on November 16, 2011 [29 favorites]


Bob is way out of line. If he wants a no-roommates Thanksgiving, he goes somewhere else. I understand wanting to keep it small but if you have roommates you either make nice with them and coordinate plans that involve everyone way in advance, or go to your parents house.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:49 PM on November 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


I think that is totally inappropriate. He should have either invited you both or planned to do thanksgiving at another location. You can't kick people out of their own home!

Have a frank discussion with him. Otherwise it will continue to fester, he should know how this appears to you.

Does he own the house or something?
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:50 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bob is way out of line. If he wants a no-roommates Thanksgiving, he goes somewhere else.

He's offering to do this.
posted by availablelight at 6:51 PM on November 16, 2011 [26 favorites]


I hate to even suggest this but is there anything less vanilla about any of those excluded that Bob's extended family may not be kosher with? It's almost stereotypical sitcom type drama but avoiding Crazy Uncle Joe's homophobic/racist/whatever ranting sounds far too plausible to me. He's absolutely out of line but I can imagine situations that make him feel like this is a less-bad outcome.
posted by Skorgu at 6:52 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess I'll be the odd one out and say that I don't think that because you share a house and occasional cross social paths you should have been invited to what sounds like an intimate celebration - although I think it would have been more polite for him to ask you and your boyfriend first if you would be home rather than making the plans without your knowledge.

How to proceed is really up to you. Personally, I'd just go out to dinner.
posted by sm1tten at 6:52 PM on November 16, 2011 [32 favorites]


I would just ask him straight out if there isn't any reason you can't celebrate the holiday together.

(Maybe he didn't invite you because he thought you'd feel like he was asking you to host his friends and family because it's your home?)
posted by NoraCharles at 6:53 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can see why you would feel that way. However it may well not be meant in a hurtful manner despite the bluntness of it. Holidays can have slightly different meanings to different people and are not a one size fits all. Consider he may view Thanksgiving as a time to spend with close friends and reconnect. He may well consider you a friend/acquaintance, but not someone with enough shared history to include and trust with other friends in this setting. In essence neither of you may be wrong.

I suspect the real difficulty lies in the impersonal nature difficulty to parse intention, of email when dealing with potentially touchy subjects. And your roommate stepped on toes in inelegantly handing the situation.

Perhaps you guys can trade holiday use of the common space. Ok you have it Thanksgiving but we have it Christmas?

I dunno, living with people is difficult.
posted by edgeways at 6:53 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, maybe things have changed in the share house environment since my day, but even in the ones I was in (where we didn't mostly share dinners) this would have constituted foul play, because there is NO way to make a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn't wreck the shared kitchen. Bob needs to take his dinner elsewhere or include you guys in the host/guest list.
posted by gingerest at 6:53 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a totally understandable and acceptable attitude to take, unless it involves excluding someone from events in their own home.

Unless his Uncle Roger is coming and Roger hates ninjas and just can't shut up about it in a totally awkward "ALL NINJAS ARE UNGRATEFUL AND TOO SNEAKY YOU UNGRATEFUL NINJA SNEAKS" kinda way and Bob can't not invite Roger because then SHITFEST with Mom and Aunt Mimi and oh god maybe ninja and boyfriend just WANT to go out to dinner?

Or maybe they all speak German or some other foreign language when they're together and Lord they try to rein it in but Mimi's English really isn't very good and she's embarrassed about it, and we could try but what happens when we all start singing Bavarian folk songs? What are ninja and boyfriend supposed to do then?

Or maybe he has a different sense of your friendship- like, he didn't get the impression from you guys that Thanksgiving is a big deal, or he's not really a Thanksgiving person, it's just an excuse for a nice dinner with the fam, or he just thinks you guys are friendly-enough roommates and not friends who happen to be roommates (which stings, I understand! I would be stung, too!)

Here's what I would say: "Hey, Bob, boyfriend and I are planning to have dinner at home that night. You and your guests are welcome to join us- we love celebrating with new people, and it would be so cool to meet your family!" Then go from there.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:56 PM on November 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is crazy:

(1) I have some friends who are completely daft and would pull something like this. They're nice, well meaning, but socially clueless. They're genuine in their request, but this is just impolite. We only hang around said friends on holidays.

(2) I have to address said friends frankly, and I would encourage you to. "Hey, I know you're well meaning but for a holiday like Thanksgiving, asking us to celebrate outside the house is inconvenient. If you can't have everyone in the house at dinner, you should have it elsewhere."

Don't take this as a personal affront, I'd first approach it as a socially awkward roommate trying to best in their own mind. But I'd still be firm and insist that you have to invite everyone to Thanksgiving if you are having it in a common area.
posted by geoff. at 6:56 PM on November 16, 2011 [21 favorites]


I think it's totally OK for Bob to want a small Thanksgiving where everyone knows everyone, and I think he's being totally reasonable in giving you options. If you want to stay home, tell him that and work it out. If you want to go out, go out, but you don't get to invite yourself to his family dinners just because you live with him.
posted by brainmouse at 6:57 PM on November 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think Snarl Furillo has it.

"Hey, Bob, boyfriend and I are planning to have dinner at home that night. You and your guests are welcome to join us- we love celebrating with new people, and it would be so cool to meet your family!"

I think the fact that Bob emailed this to you, his housemate is probably an indication that Bob falls in the completely socially clueless camp. Would you really want to be "close friends" with someone so utterly clueless to how rude/inconsiderate/hurtful he is?
posted by cairdeas at 7:00 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is one of those situations where someone is not at all in the wrong about what they are doing (having a Thanksgiving with only specific people) but the way they go about it (excluding housemates from an event in their own house) is shitty. Bob is thoughtless - it is too bad that he had to involve you in this at all. Does he expect you to just hole up in your room while he uses every dish and pan in the house and the sound of people talking, laughing, and eating fills the space? That is just unkind.

If you can be anywhere else but there, be gone.
posted by pinky at 7:01 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


This isn't fair. If he'd wanted to plan a Thanksgiving meal which was just for family or whatever (which makes sense to me, but I'm not from the US), then he should have warned you in advance and asked to work something out in advance. Then you could have decided to go elsewhere or done your own planning or said no and he could have planned to have dinner elsewhere. A week before a major holiday he says "Sorry, actually you cannot eat in your own house tonight"?

You don't get to force him to invite you, but you can tell him you want to stay home and you'll need to figure out some way to share the kitchen and dining room or you can decide you are okay with going out for dinner and agree to go out, see a movie, and he'll have the kitchen spotless before he goes to bed.
posted by jeather at 7:01 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh, I have a different take than most of the posters.

His email is important. Did he flaunt the fact that you aren't invited in your face? Was he rude or antagonistic? I'm guessing not, given that you mentioned that he said he could go elsewhere if you weren't comfortable with him having a private dinner with his friends/family. I'll go ahead and posit that some of the responses you received in this thread are because of the way that you phrased his "noninvite". If he was polite, then I would assume the best: he is a responsible housemate trying to communicate effectively with you, rather than taking it personally.

In my opinion, you're sharing real estate. You are friendly with each other, but not necessarily friends, right? You act like adults, share, are responsible, etc.

But your housemate wants to host Thanksgiving with a small group of people that he chose. It isn't that he doesn't want to have dinner with you some time in the next couple of months, he just doesn't want you to come to his small dinner party. To avoid inevitable awkwardness associated with not talking about it (e.g. you wander into the kitchen in your p.j.'s and discover Bob's Mom cleaning the turkey, or you just arrive around when dinner is being served and sit down), he is doing the polite thing and talking to you ahead of time.

If you're really uncomfortable with it, tell him to find another venue. But I think that unless you have dueling plans for the same space, that that would be not good housemate-etiquette.
posted by arnicae at 7:02 PM on November 16, 2011 [19 favorites]


And for the record, I think the rude/inconsiderate thing is not even so much that he didn't invite you to his thing, but that he announces to you with a week's notice that he expects exclusive use of the shared space with no prior discussion of it, and to kick you out of your own home on Thanksgiving.
posted by cairdeas at 7:02 PM on November 16, 2011 [36 favorites]


Oh, I'd totally stay home and watch football in the living room. Let him explain to his family that he didn't want his roommates at the dinner table.

No wait, I wouldn't. I'd completely enjoy thinking about it though.

After my adult thinking kicked in, I'd tell my roommate that he hurt my feelings. I'd ask for specific times to be out of the house and I'd go out to dinner because no one wants to be where they're not wanted.

Your roommate is socially clueless. This was a request to deliver in a conversation. An email? What's next, was he going to message you on your Facebook feed?
posted by 26.2 at 7:04 PM on November 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bob finds somewhere else to host his Thanksgiving get together. He even offered to do so. Tell him that you'll be taking him up on that offer.

Then find a new place to live, cause Bob is a dick.
posted by billybunny at 7:07 PM on November 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Go out and pretend you're British or Swedish or Peruvian for a day on Thanksgiving. Walk around like tourists, eat Chinese food or gyros or something, go see a movie, volunteer at a shelter, or maybe do some shopping. Then celebrate Thanksgiving with your boyfriend at home on Friday, and kindly ask Bob to let you have the house to yourselves for the afternoon. Chances good he'll even share his leftovers!

It's unfortunate that he is putting you in this position, but honestly, it doesn't sound like it's a super-important holiday to you and your boyfriend, and Bob isn't such a close friend that you're offended personally (other than by his manners)... I'd just let it go. Enjoy your holiday as a couple. The Thursday vs. Friday part is really arbitrary anyway, if you let it be. Who knows, you guys could have the best Thanksgiving memories EVER.
posted by argonauta at 7:07 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


he is doing the polite thing and talking to you ahead of time.

This is really my read as well. Only you know the exact wording and so maybe I'm missing something but it seems like he's offered to do whatever works but having you at the dinner party is not an option for whatever reason. I don't know about you, but I have some insane family members who make bizarre requests and make everyone else uncomfortable and I sometimes suffer through holidays with them. However, I would not expect other people to and I would maybe take steps to just make the thing my own little thing. And I'd also probably communicate this over email. To me, offering to go somewhere else entirely on a weeks' notice indicates that he knows this is a weird inconvenience and he'll lump it if he has to but if I were you I'd just say "Hey we were planning to do X" [whatever that was] and then work it out with him.

You don't normally eat all meals together, think of this as a meal you're not eating together. It's a mitzvah to help him out with this. Unless he's an asshole in some other way, this seems like not a huge deal with more ways [to my mind] of it being legit than it being assholish. Going out for Thanksgiving is actually not that bad in the Boston area. I know a lot of people have a lot of baggage wrapped up in the holidays, but this doesn't have to be dramatic. If you want the place to yourself, Bob has offered that. If you want to split it, he has offered that. The only thing he has not done is invited you to this meal and if he's doing some "dinner party" thing, to me that sounds totally appropriate. Not everyone views Thanksgiving the same way.
posted by jessamyn at 7:18 PM on November 16, 2011 [24 favorites]


Is email the usual form of communication for such things? Or, is that making things awkward because it's abnormal for you and Bob? If it is, he's probably feeling just as strange about it and there may be extenuating circumstances. A face to face conversation, the four of you, with all the attendant nuances and exploration is needed, regardless.

Possibly, he and his partner want to play house. Maybe they want the feeling of homey nesting couplehood without the stick-in-the-bicycle-spokes roommates. Maybe it's the next step toward their moving on together. It's not a big thing, maybe it's just a wish for them. There's plenty of notice for you two. He's come to you with solutions, albeit his, not just problems. His alternative, to split the common areas, is what you can work with, if you want to. If you like him well enough, and had no other plans, why wouldn't you be kind and giving and let him have what he wants?

But really, instead of reacting to his suggestions and expressed desires, however put and however they're sitting with you now, you and your partner need to have a conversation about what you envision for your holiday, pretending Bob's party is not the divisor. By now, everyone I know has plans. That's part of adulthood and holidays. You're in this position only because you didn't have plans already. If you find you would have been hanging around home anyway, you can mildly reply, in person, "Gee Bob, we hadn't made any plans beyond sticking around the house. We'll respect your need to use the kitchen, and be polite to your guests and keep to ourselves as much as possible. But is there a reason you feel we should vacate?" Otherwise, why not go off and do something that could be waaaay better than eating dry turkey and loading up on starches and making nice to Bob's future in-laws? Life's too short to get all up in arms about this, unless you really do find that Thanksgiving matters* (in big black capital letters with the shadows coming out).

*says the person who moved to Canada and gets TWO Thanksgivings and all their upheaval now.

posted by peagood at 7:22 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


You mentioned that your living situation was three couples. So it's Bob and his significant other, right? Are you any closer to the significant other to ask WTF Bob's deal is?

I personally think it would be spiteful to ask Bob, his live-in SO, and his family to go elsewhere when you don't have plans to use the house to host guests for dinner. Yes, it's dickish to specifically uninvite you, but as others have noticed, perhaps there's a reason for it?

I can easily foresee a question from Bob next week if you did ask him to go elsewhere: "For various reasons, I couldn't invite my housemates to my Thanksgiving family dinner. I voluntarily got displaced from my shared house, expecting that my housemates were going to host people for dinner themselves. But it was just the two of them wanting the house all to themselves. WTF?"

Save the drama. Get take out and eat it elsewhere in the house, or go out. I love going out for Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by supercres at 7:23 PM on November 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


The only issue here is that he's asking you to clear out of the kitchen/dining room for a few hours. If this doesn't work for you, tell him. I don't understand why you feel entitled to be part of another family's get together.
posted by spaltavian at 7:24 PM on November 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


Go with a. It's wrong to exclude roommates from celebrating a major holiday in their own home. A dinner party on a random weekend, still hardly a friendly gesture, but I guess that is within their right. Thanksgiving? No. Tell them to take it elsewhere. You are happy to celebrate as a household, but you won't be excluded from your own home on Thanksgiving.
posted by whoaali at 7:28 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's another vote for saying that you were planning on having a quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home yourselves, then invite your housemate and his family to join in.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 7:31 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last thing I would do is tell him he has to go elsewhere and then just hang by yourselves, or use his proposal to scare up some counter-event. That's bad karma. I also think asking him and his guests to join you is just counter-dickishness; you're basically trying to create a dining group he has ruled out.

I guess I would favor staggering, going out, or peaceful First Peoples occupation.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:37 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing: There's no real template for this kind of situation. What you're seeing with the staggering range of responses from MeFites is a reflection of exactly this.

I give the guy credit for knowing this is a tricky situation and trying to work it out in advance so it doesn't devolve into a disaster.

At the same time, giving you a week is not enough time.

So I think the only way forward here is to act as if there are no hidden motives here or implied messages about your relationship. Just make a decision about what you want to do and make plans with your boyfriend that will make you happy. If that means Bob hosts his event at your place, great. If not, that's also OK. There is no clear right here.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:41 PM on November 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


Based on the way it is worded here, it sounds like Bob told you he is having this event after he had already made plans with people, rather than asking you if he could have the event there. The two are very different in my mind, where the former strikes me as making a pretty big assumption for a shared living space and the latter is a more considerate and peaceful way of bringing it up.

If it really is the former, I'd be pretty tempted to make A Thing out of it just on principle. Bob needs to know it's not cool to make plans to take over shared space without asking permission among the housemates first. If you bend over backwards this time, what's going to stop him from repeatedly doing that? Unless Bob owns the place and you are renting from him, he really needs to not be allowed to give himself priority.
posted by joan_holloway at 7:41 PM on November 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the thoughts so far. I'm glad to see that at least some people think this is out of line, so I'm not crazy to find it weird.

There's no obvious (to me) reason why we're not invited (e.g. unusual drug use, incompatible guests, ownership of the house). But of course I can only go on what Bob wrote. I do think many people have a good point that he may have a different conception of the holiday than I do. And I think it's perfectly fine for him to have a dinner party without inviting me. I don't think dividing up the space on Thanksgiving is all that realistic, though.

I don't find Bob to be unusually socially inept, and I thought his email was as polite as it could be, while making it crystal clear that we were not invited to join them. My reading was that he knew he was doing something awkward, but that might be my bias.

I guess the idea of giving in being considerate and going elsewhere still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though that's probably what we'll end up doing.
posted by ungratefulninja at 7:44 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have some insane family members who make bizarre requests and make everyone else uncomfortable and I sometimes suffer through holidays with them. However, I would not expect other people to and I would maybe take steps to just make the thing my own little thing.

Totally! But one of the best ways to keep your wacky family away from people is to NOT invite them to big events at a home you share with other people. Personally, I find it the height of rudeness to tell someone that you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner in the home you share with them, but they are not invited. It's not like he's planning an intimate Valentine's Day and would love you guys to skedaddle so he can have privacy. It's THANKSGIVING. There is no holiday that is MORE focused on the concept of The More The Merrier.

That being said, I suspect the easiest plan for you guys would be to go elsewhere -- is there a swanky-ass restaurant you've been wanting to go to, so that it would be a treat to have Thanksgiving there? But I would go elsewhere, and while I was elsewhere, I would start talking with my SO about where we thought we should move to, because no way in hell would I continue to live with someone who wouldn't be kind enough to invite me to share Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 7:50 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Um, I have lived with roommates all of my adult life (almost a decade now). If someone wants to pull some foolishness like this, they need to live on their own, and not in a shared housing situation.


...Or host Thanksgiving in their bedroom, and not in any shared living space.
posted by mostly vowels at 7:53 PM on November 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


If I didn't already have plans, I'd probably make arrangements elsewhere, but I'd be super blunt that I felt that a) this was way not enough notice for a major holiday and b) I am doing you a favor by not making a stink out of this but in the future we need to have a conversation about arrangements like these before you invite people over with the expectation that I will just leave.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:55 PM on November 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I guess the idea of giving in being considerate and going elsewhere still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though that's probably what we'll end up doing.

Tell him that. "Look, Bob, as a favour to you, we will stay out of the house from x-y on Thanksgiving, but in the future you need to okay plans where you want us away before you make them, and with more than a week's notice. We live here, too, and we wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving in our home as well."
posted by jeather at 7:56 PM on November 16, 2011 [60 favorites]


>>He also wrote that if this wouldn't work for us, he would consider trying to find an alternate location or a way to split use of the common areas between us.

So take him at his word. If you want to be home, tell him, and he will go elsewhere.

He doesn't want to spend Thanksgiving with you, so yeah you're being excluded, but as you said, you're not even really friends. I would probably invite you, but if he doesn't want to, I don't see this as being a bad thing that you're doing.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:00 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think out of line. He knows he's living in a shared house. You can ask someone to be scarce for a hot date or a dinner party or something most days of the year with sufficient notice, but not on a holiday like Thanksgiving. Most people expect to be AT HOME or with family and have a nice friendly, cozy meal on Thanksgiving.

He should have either planned on having an inclusive thing, and frame it that way to his guests and you, or tactfully asked you if you had plans elsewhere on that day. I'd say, well, actually, Bob, my SO and I were planning on having a nice dinner at home. I'd been meaning to get with you to see what your plans were, sorry I didn't sooner. You're certainly invited to join us if you like, of course, and anyone you want to ask over is welcome, too. We'll make a real Thanksgiving out of it! What do you think?
posted by ctmf at 8:00 PM on November 16, 2011


Regardless of how "polite" he was in his e-mail, he should have FIRST checked with you instead of just commandeering the space for his holiday.

I don't think it's unreasonable for him to want a small Thanksgiving, but he could have handled the communication better, and I'm pretty sure that's what's still irking you. He's forcing you out, instead of acknowledging your equal right to the space.

If you guys generally get along, I would just let him know that you would like him, in the future, to check with you before making plans for the space on a holiday, and let him know that since you and your boyfriend don't have another place to celebrate, you will go out for dinner to stay out of his way. This communicates your problem without putting him in the bind of finding a new location for his group of people.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:04 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I find this totally reasonable. I think you should negotiate - new location for him, since he didn't tell you until now and you were planning a dinner at home.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on November 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Because after all, it's just your expectation that Thanksgiving is an 'all welcome at everything' day. For many people, it's a family day.
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on November 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Actually, from the way you described his email, it doesn't sound that bad. It just sounds like some plan he had fell through, and he's just checking to see if he can save it the easiest way. He may not have actually made the plans yet, he may be checking with you first before he tells everyone to come over to his (your) place.

So I don't think saying "uh, no dude, we were planning on being home" is going to break his heart or anything. It's probably what he expects to hear. And if you agree to be out, would be a huge favor and he knows it.
posted by ctmf at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2011


If it is going to bug you to "give in" then let Bob know that he'll need to find another venue.
He's offered to, so why not take him up on it?

We all don't get invited to everything every time and we don't always hear the reason behind it.

I wouldn't hold it against him since he offered a way to eliminate the inconvenience for you.
If he had only suggested that you split the space OR that you go away, then, yes, I would have been offended.
But with this third option, I don't see the rudeness that others seem to see.
posted by calgirl at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess the idea of giving in being considerate and going elsewhere still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though that's probably what we'll end up doing.

Why do you have to leave? Unless this is a tiny place (which sounds unlikely given that some version of 3 couples live there, plus or minus) couldn't you just rent a movie and chill in your room or other parts of the house that are not the dining room or kitchen while they're having their meal?

I don't see a problem with this, and particularly given that you have just over a week's notice, wouldn't think he'd have an issue with that, either. Just don't be the housemate who goes to bed at 9 the night you know your housemates are planning a kegger than stomps through the party in your bathrobe every half hour indiscriminately glaring at everyone.
posted by arnicae at 8:18 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regardless of how "polite" he was in his e-mail, he should have FIRST checked with you instead of just commandeering the space for his holiday.

Isn't he checking with the email?

a few people have made this point, but since it's a minority, and you didn't address it in your follow up, i want to make it again: he's checking with you to see if it's ok, but saving time by saying what he needs. to me, that's being assertive, and being a good communicator. here's what the OP wrote:

He also wrote that if this wouldn't work for us, he would consider trying to find an alternate location or a way to split use of the common areas between us.

do a reply-all and say "Bob, that doesn't work for us, I was also planing a dinner that night. You would be welcome to join our party, but it sounds like you only want to have dinner with your people, which i totally understand. i don't think splitting the common areas is very feasible, so could you find another place? thanks."
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:19 PM on November 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


This seems like Ask vs Guess culture. Bob knows you haven't made plans with the other housemembers to use the house for a joint party or exclusively over thanksgiving (because if you had, you would have told him, right?) and he is being up front and reasonable, about wanting to do a private thanksgiving. He's said if the house is not OK, he'll find somewhere else. But you are offended. I think you may be a Guess culture person where up-front statements of wants are somewhat rude, and maybe confronting.

I guess the idea of giving in being considerate and going elsewhere still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. To an Ask culture person, this sentence could be seen as passive-agressive.
posted by Kerasia at 8:21 PM on November 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Do he offer to move it somewhere else or did he offer to CONSIDER moving it somewhere else? Because those are totally different things.

BTW, if you're planning to dine out you may want to see if you can get reservations ASAP. Dining out on Thanksgiving is expensive and many of the good places will already be booked.
posted by 26.2 at 8:32 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't he checking with the email?
If the OP got the tone of the e-mail right, it sounded more like he was informing them of plans he'd already made.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:34 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, as I dwell on this further - I still think Bob's being a total dork, but I think whatever you need to do to let it go is what matters. I think you have every right to be offended, but that being offended is likely to create disproportionate negative results that will mostly affect you and your boyfriend, not Bob and his partner (so, totally counterproductive). At best, feeling bitter about this will wreck your Thanksgiving dinner. At worst, it could so sour you on Bob that you end up needing to move. That's really not worth it for the sake of one holiday dinner he's not willing to share even though the holiday's nominally about sharing. (Nominally. In reality, it's about gluttony and football.)

So whatever gives you most peace of mind - not satisfaction, but peace of mind - is the path you should choose.
posted by gingerest at 8:55 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


(IME, different people have different expectations about sharing housing. I wouldn't find it especially weird or horrible if one of my housemates wanted to have family dinner (or even a friend dinner) and commandeer the kitchen - in fact, we all tend to assume that when someone's family is visiting, they get de facto use of kitchen and common areas. We give each other a lot of space and we don't have a lot of emotions wrapped up in holidays, so would have no problems hanging out in our rooms, although we'd probably expect a good solid share of the leftovers afterward. So if Bob comes from this type of shared housing culture, he probably figures he's doing something reasonable.

Here is what I would do: I would tell Bob, "we were planning on being here and having a quiet dinner. I feel like it will be weird if we're just lurking around while you have a big family party - would it be a huge pain to hold it elsewhere? If it's really important to have it here, we can go out, but we'd rather stay here." This gives Bob space to explain that Uncle Fred is in late-stage dementia and can barely find his plate, or that his grandmother is dying and he wants one last family meal and for X reason it has to be at his house, etc etc. (And if it's something like that, you would be totally fine with it, I'm sure.)

I don't think Bob is being a jerk - he's just coming from a really different angle than you are. It's okay to feel hurt and blah, and if Bob has another option he should choose it rather than making you feel bad, though.
posted by Frowner at 9:03 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


But your housemate wants to host Thanksgiving with a small group of people that he chose. It isn't that he doesn't want to have dinner with you some time in the next couple of months, he just doesn't want you to come to his small dinner party. To avoid inevitable awkwardness associated with not talking about it (e.g. you wander into the kitchen in your p.j.'s and discover Bob's Mom cleaning the turkey, or you just arrive around when dinner is being served and sit down), he is doing the polite thing and talking to you ahead of time.

It would be one thing if Bob just wanted to have a small, intimate dinner party for family, say, to address some family crisis or private happening, on an ordinary night convenient for ninja to make other plans. But this is Thanksgiving, and it's ninja's house just as much as it is Bob's. I find the request appalling. If I were in Bob's situation and hosting a family Thanksgiving dinner, I wouldn't think twice about including my housemates, issuing a sincere invitation even if I suspected they'd decline. Anything else is just rude. If I felt it necessary to exclude them for whatever reason, I'd make reservations somewhere and just say, if asked, "Oh, dinner with the family...how about you?" Under no circumstances would I ever tell them they weren't welcome in their own home.

Thus, Option A seems perfectly reasonable to me.
posted by tully_monster at 9:18 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This seems like Ask vs Guess culture. Bob knows you haven't made plans with the other housemembers to use the house for a joint party or exclusively over thanksgiving (because if you had, you would have told him, right?) and he is being up front and reasonable, about wanting to do a private thanksgiving.

Meh, I don't know about this. I am definitely an Ask and I grew up completely surrounded by other Asks. Even when you are an Ask it's still not okay to ask for things that are super rude. You still have to be considerate of others and their feelings. The line is maybe in a different place but there's still a line. To me Bob is way past where my line would be.
posted by cairdeas at 9:27 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would do A, as really there is no way to stagger two different traditional Thanksgiving meals in the average kitchen, and as he gave you a week's notice, he needs to make the other plans. Also, he should have sat down and discussed this with you and not informed you through email.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:32 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's interesting how there's a clear opinion split here. I for one think his behavior was totally unreasonable. Sharing a house comes with a great responsibility, which is to always consider other flatmates' rights and feelings. Kicking someone out of their own home for Thanksgiving is definitely out of line. However, if for whatever reason he truly needs to do that, then he should have taken the initiative to discuss this matter with you far in advance, explaining his situation and asking you of your plans and and for your permission and blessing, in person. If he doesn't want to bother with that, he should find his own place, or at the very least live with his close friends who understand him very well. It's perfectly normal that you're feeling pushed around when Bob makes a polite but almost non-negotiable-in-nature kind of request by email.

I think option A is reasonable, but being able to do that depends on what kind of person you are, and what kind of person Bob is. If I were naturally assertive and nonchalant of Bob's feelings towards me, and if Bob is a very adaptable person, I might go with it. But other wise, it'll be a bit hard. I'd go have a nice dinner out, but before going maybe you should have a conversation telling Bob that you think this was a little inconsiderate for above reasons, and though it's fine this time, you'd wish that in the future you'd discuss these matters in advance. Maybe stating your feeling will get rid of the bad taste in your mouth. Discussing and arguing about it on the other hand will probably make it worse, so if you think that will happen, maybe not a good option.
posted by snufkin5 at 9:37 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


It seems like your emotions are running high because of the holidays.

I think you need to stop thinking of leaving your house as "giving in." Try and re-frame it as being flexible or helpful to Bob.

I also think you need to stop bringing your feelings of being excluded into the practical matters of house-sharing. Bob has NO obligation to spend time with you or invite you to hang out with his partner, close friends and family. Sure it would be nice, but it's certainly not required.

Living with roommates involves give and take. If you graciously allow Bob to have his party without any hiccups, you could leverage the shit out of it for your noisy, rowdy Christmas party or some other time when you need Bob to stay in his room for a couple hours while you host X in the living room.
posted by cranberrymonger at 9:47 PM on November 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wherever you decide to go, I think Bob needs to be told that it is not a cool idea to plan a party that requires that your housemates spend Thanksgiving somewhere else until you know they're actually going to be somewhere else. His request may have been worded politely, but there's nothing polite about it: "If you stay home on Thanksgiving next week, I can't spend it in my home with my family and friends, who outnumber you, and whom I may have already invited over. Are you going to make me take my family somewhere else?" (The "stay in your room" and "share the kitchen" options are kind of fake options.) I mean, if you're as mad about this as I, an internet stranger, am mad on your behalf, and you don't talk to him, there's a decent chance that you're going to blow up at him the next time he does something even slightly rude, possibly something that's not worth getting mad about at all.
posted by Adventurer at 9:56 PM on November 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


yeah, loosen up the margins a little bit. He goofed, but there is obviously a reason he made the ask, and even if the reason kinda sucks, a little compassion and good-nature will go a long way.

You could ask him why. Maybe he lied about something really stupid and is worried you guys will blow his cover, or maybe his family is embarrassing to be around, who knows. Just be compassionate.
posted by roboton666 at 9:59 PM on November 16, 2011


First, I would just go out for dinner as others have said and not make a big deal out of it while also looking for somewhere else to live. Maybe tell him this really isn't cool, whatever.

People like Bob make me shake my head...I sometimes have trouble believing their type exists. I can't even imagine living in a shared environment and asking my roommates to leave for a holiday so that I can have people over and deliberately exclude them. I just...can't. If I were planning something and didn't want my roommates around, I would figure it's my own problem and do what I had to do/have the dinner elsewhere. Or I would obviously invite the roommates to join.
posted by fromageball at 9:59 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


To me the question is, what would you have done that day if this hadn't come up, and can you manage a reasonable version of that and still accommodate Bob? If it's going to ruin your whole day, I'd say no, and not just because it's Thanksgiving.

And I do think the housemates should get together and get on the same page about how far ahead you need to claim the kitchen or other public space in the house.
posted by BibiRose at 10:01 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I guess the idea of giving in being considerate and going elsewhere still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though that's probably what we'll end up doing.

The only thing I've learned in a decade of living with roommates is that there is no greater skill to have than to be able to swallow your pride.

I can see why you're upset about this, but for me it would rank as "mildly irksome" as oppose to "this person is an asshole". But obviously opinions differ.

What I absolutely will not agree with is the people above who say that they would make this a thing. On principle, they say. What is to be gained? Will he learn his lesson? No, he will learn that his roommate is shallow and likes to make drama when things don't go her way. And because of a disagreement over the use of shared space, you get bad blood with a (otherwise good?) roommate. Please don't do this.

If this guy is consistently a jerk then by all means move out. But think carefully over whether having to change your plans (plans which you hadn't actually made yet) is worse than creating friction in the household. Smile, say "no worries Bob we'll figure something out", and remind him of this next time you need the house to yourself.
posted by auto-correct at 10:03 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really appreciating the different perspectives here, and especially people who are advising me to reframe this as an opportunity. I'm liking the idea of going out and doing something different this year.

I haven't decided yet whether there's anything useful to be said to Bob. Maybe something about more advance notice? But it seems like we may have some fundamentally different ideas about what's appropriate in this situation. I'm not sure there's anything to be gained by making it a thing (per auto-correct).
posted by ungratefulninja at 10:30 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would think twice about vacating the house for bob because Thanksgiving is an all day holiday and its a home holiday. Its not just about dinner - you spend the whole day cooking (often together for lots of it), eating for at least a couple hours, and then hanging around the house digesting. Before you agree to clear out, find out how long he wants to occupy the common areas of the house.

Personally, I would tell him to go elsewhere as I wouldn't want to give up the right to use my own house for most of the day.
posted by zia at 10:37 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a guy I hear on the radio likes to say, more than one thing can be equally true. Yeah, bad form on his part to present this more as a fait accompli he would "consider" changing than as as an option he's considering, pending roomie reaction.

I definitely would tell him that these sorts of things need to be presented as proposals, not after the plans have been made.

That said. Given that my boyfriend and I expect to be at home, but hadn't yet made a specific plan or invited anyone, unless there are reasons to preclude this happening, maybe find something fun to go do?

(No guess if you want a traditional meal and what your finances are like, but all the ads I've seen for T'giving dinners at restaurants are for meals that are far from cheap. If you want a traditional meal, don't want to spend that sort of money, tell him you need to cook and eat in the house, and take it from there.)
posted by ambient2 at 10:45 PM on November 16, 2011


Why not just email back and say "hey, this sounds like something we should talk about in person, when's good for you?". Then discuss it. Tell him your original plans were to spend the day at home. Ask him how long he's asking you to be out of the house for. Tell him you're a bit taken aback by the request but you would be willing to do it as a favor to him.

Just talk it through honestly and hopefully that way you can avoid resentment and misunderstanding on everyone's part. If you just give in without talking about it, you're going to be resentful and you're going to give him the idea that it's ok to do this type of thing again whenever he likes when it really isn't.
posted by hazyjane at 10:57 PM on November 16, 2011 [22 favorites]


Regardless of whether 1 week is too little notice (it is!) or disinviting someone from a Thanksgiving in their own home (it is!), or email is a totally inappropriate way to broach this subject (it totally is!) you said yourself that prior to receiving Bob's email, you and your SO were planning to spend the night at home for Thanksgiving.

Option (a) is the truth and so that is what you go with, because it's the truth.
posted by joshuaconner at 11:05 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I second Hazyjane.

Bob should have asked first, and it should have been discussed first, but it's not too late for a discussion.

You might ask him what he would do in your shoes ... what he would do given that Thanksgiving is only a week away, it's an all-day holiday, dinner out is likely to be expensive, and it's likely that nothing else worth going to will be open.
posted by maurreen at 11:06 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I find many of the suggestions too confrontational or passive aggressive (e.g., indicating that you'll do it strictly as a personal favor).

That said, although I don't share the belief that Thanksgiving should be particularly inclusive (I think of it more as a family day), it does feel like an awful day to be asked to leave one's own home.

If it were me, I'd try to find a way to share the space. And it doesn't have to be awkward -- if one of his family members asks why you're not joining, you can simply explain that you wanted to respect his family time, and be jovial.

So long as Bob's not a rude fellow, I'd actually feel happy for him, spending time at home with his family, so long as it wasn't a particular inconvenience to me (e.g., if I had friends or family coming over).
posted by Talisman at 11:20 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think sharing the kitchen is an option. Based on my own experience of Thanksgiving this year, cooking for 5 to 6 people involves taking over the kitchen and the fridge for a full two days (baking and prep work the day before, roasting turkey/tofurky, veggies, stuffing etc on the day) and then a full morning of cleanup the next day. Not to mention the fact that that much food usually fills the fridge, which means that your food will be moved to make space. He's expecting you to stay out of his way/the kitchen for at least one day, probably two, and out of the common areas entirely while the meal/digestion/conversation & argument/consumption of wine/feats of strength goes on. It's a big, messy deal, and there's no way to be in the house while it's going on and not be affected by it. And you can't share a kitchen while someone's roasting a bird and using all four burners and the microwave.

In other words, you are being asked to go sit in the park or sit on your bed with a box of crackers and some takeout.

One minor suggestion: he might be clueless in more than one way. Has he ever done thanksgiving before? If he's planning a major meal, he'll have a menu and a battle plan already: if he doesn't, then maybe he's not quite aware of how much work he's let himself in for.

Why don't you suggest to Bob that you and your partner would be happy to go spend the weekend in a nice hotel if he'd pick up the tab for the room? If he wants the house to himself, he should pay for it.

My admittedly jaundiced view of roommate politics suggests that someone who does this to you on Thanksgiving will also throw a massive noisy houseparty without inviting you, too: this isn't a give and take situation, but one where you need to draw a line.
posted by jrochest at 11:43 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just talk to Bob.

You: Hi Bob, can we talk about Thanksgiving plans? We were leaning towards staying here on Thanksgiving.

Bob: Yeah.. uh.. I didn't want to have my guests supping with you because -
a) My family doesn't speak English well and it would be awkward.
b) We want to go over in-jokes and stuff rooted in our history without having to explain things to you and it would be awkward.
c) Your political/religious/hot-topic-of-the-month/dietary needs differ greatly from my guests', and it would be awkward.
d) They're cannibals, and you wouldn't make it past the night. Awkward.

You: Ok, I really would've appreciated more advanced notice before you made these plans. I pay rent here too!

Bob: Sorry, these plans just came into being and I emailed you as soon as my guests agreed that maybe we could dinner here. Alright, then...
a) What time do you plan to have dinner? We can schedule things out so we can share the common space.
b) I'll take my guests out somewhere and you can use the house.
c) If your plans are not concrete, then maybe I can subsidize your dinner out.
d) What do you prefer?

I wouldn't take it personally. There's a good likelihood that if that other couple stayed in town for the Thanksgiving holiday they would've gotten that email too. And if Bob is contacting you at this hour about Thanksgiving plans and not inviting you, he may possess a cavalier attitude about holidays in general, and may be flexible about it. Unlike you who associates the history and meaning of Thanksgiving dinner with your meal, he could just be using as an excuse to have a get-together.

But, what do I know.. Just talk to Bob and cut out some of this drama.
posted by Seboshin at 12:37 AM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


This seems needlessly rude - if roommate doesn't want your company, it's his job to clear out, not yours. Unfortunately (and he may be counting on this) it's probably going to be easier for you and your boyfriend to make alternate arrangements than for him and his entire party to go somewhere else.

So while it isn't fair, I'd accommodate him just this once. But do make it understood that this isn't about feeling left out (even though it partly is!) it's that one week notice before a major holiday is bullshit. I'd also make damn sure he knew that common areas need to be returned to their pre-party state ASAP. Anyone thoughtless enough to disinvite someone from their own home probably needs to have that spelled out.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy your holiday regardless!
posted by Space Kitty at 12:45 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The fact that Bob sent the request via email rather than in person means you have a different relationship with Bob than you think you do. And if your occasional house dinner parties are just the roommates, then that is a totally different dynamic than Bob exposing you to his family and friends. (Do you event want to have Thanksgiving with a bunch of strangers?)

Here is a list of Boston Restaurants serving Thanksgiving. Pick one, tell Bob to pick up the tab and be done with it.
posted by FreezBoy at 12:51 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you stay at home in your sweatpants and Bob has to leave, don't feel guilty. If you go out, don't feel grudgy. The choice is totally up to you, according to Bob.

No explanation beyond "that won't work for us" and "we have plans" is required.

The problem isn't what you do, it is that you are upset about it.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:06 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


...and by "has to leave" I mean "chooses to leave".
posted by Omnomnom at 2:08 AM on November 17, 2011


Tell Bob to find another place for Turkey Day.

It's his problem, not yours. And you have equal "shares" in the place as your home.

Bob sounds like a dick btw
posted by bardic at 2:08 AM on November 17, 2011


I have a possible different interpretation of Bob. Without knowing the exact wording of the email, it could be that he is not "specifically not inviting" you, but that he would never dream you'd want to be included in his boring family dinner with its weird personal traditions, and he's assuming you'd want to be spared that. I know, it's Thanksgiving - in Massachusetts, no less! - but really, he could be thinking "day spent with close family" and not "day where we include everyone."

What he did very wrong, imho, was to start discussing plans for the use of a shared house on a major holiday a week, instead of months, in advance. I'd make a point to talk about that when this is over, so that this won't happen again.

As for Thanksgiving itself, go out if you want to go out (although, can you even get reservations at this point? I've never done the reatuarant on Thanksgiving thing, so I don't know, but it seems close.) If you don't want to go out - and I wouldn't, in your situation - can you make arrangements to split use of the kitchen the day before, and you and your BF make your own private picnic Thanksgiving dinner, to be eaten in a room of the house Bob & family will not have to enter? You could have a blanket on the floor, and candles and everything. (I'm assuming that with the 6 roommates, you live in one of those huge Victorians with two levels and have enough space for that.)

Or tell him he has to go elsewhere, like everyone else has said. He did leave that as an option, after all.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:16 AM on November 17, 2011


I'm just adding another data point to what seems to be the minority point of view: Bob's request seems reasonable enough to me.

When I've shared space with others, even close friends, we've just respected that sometimes people want to do their own thing. It would be totally normal to shoot off an email that says "Could I have the kitchen/dining room space for x amount of time on x date for a dinner party I'm planning? If this conflicts with others' plans, I can make other arrangements."

The two big things that seem to be sticking points in this particular situation are 1) short notice and 2) it's Thanksgiving. Regarding point 1, OP doesn't in fact yet have plans for Thanksgiving, so, eh. Seems like she and boyfriend have more room to be flexible than Bob does, and that kind of give-and-take is what sharing space is all about. As for point 2, people have differing ideas about what a Thanksgiving meal is all about, and I'd go along with auto-correct that it's not worth making A Thing over. There's no moral issue at stake here, and even the etiquette issue is debatable, since Bob offered to go elsewhere.

OP, score some karma points for yourself and make it easy on Bob. I do see it's annoying to make out-of-home plans for yourself (and definitely not feasible to stagger meals), but really, just consider it a favor to him. Maybe he was anxious about making the request and was planning to get you a nice bottle of wine if you were so kind as to accommodate him.

You should feel free in the future, of course, to make a similar request when you'd like to host a private party.
posted by torticat at 5:46 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Bob sounds like a dick btw

Bob IS a dick. You live there too and it's completely asinine of him to think he gets the house to himself on Thanksgiving. While I'm sure you're not buddy-buddy with him (and personally I wouldn't be after this anyway after this), he should have given you more notice than a week. If I were you, I'd stick to your guns and say that you want A Thanksgiving at YOUR house too, and that you and Bob the Dick need to work it out accordingly. I think, too, that part of the issue is is not that you were expecting an invite to his Thanksgiving get together, but the fact that you aren't invited AND he wants you to leave. That's just stupid.

I hope that despite all of this you'll have a great Thanksgiving with your boyfriend. Bob is a dick and I'd be looking for a new apartment ASAP.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:49 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Edit: too many after thises thrown in there. My bad.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2011


There's no obvious (to me) reason why we're not invited (e.g. unusual drug use, incompatible guests, ownership of the house).

Well, sure there is. As you said yourself, you are somewhere between acquaintances and friends. You do not fall into the "close friends and family" that he wants to have at this dinner party. You are not entitled to have dinner with his family just because you rent 1/3 of the same house. Look, this is an awkward situation, but I think your roommate handled it reasonably well by raising the issue ahead of time and offering to find an alternate venue for the dinner. Humans naturally feel put out when they are not included in social events, but he wants to have his family in his home for Thanksgiving. Sure, you live there too, but you don't fall into that closest social circle. Requiring that he either include you in the dinner or find a different space is about your needs, not his. If it's genuinely a problem because you had plans to also use your communal living space at that time, then fine, work with him to find a solution. Otherwise, I would find it within yourself to let him have his time with his family.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:08 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The problem for me is not that he let you know about this party, that it is exclusive, etc. My problem is that he did not ask you BEFORE planning the event if this would work. Thanksgiving is a "big" event for many people. This is not about a random weekend/weeknight dinner party at the house. If he had asked BEFORE, that would be different. Instead, it seems as though he chose to use the common space for his own reasons during a potentially important time without clearing it in advance. What to do now? You state your needs - you want to be home then, it's on him to find another place since he is excluding you and did not ask in advance before planning this. You want to go out, you go out. You want to join in - I agree with others, he has the right to have a private event. The issue is when/where and how he asked/communicated that desire.

To me, your wording sounds like it's already planned/folks are invited. If he is just asking you if he can do this, then please recognize that my ideas above change. Now you get to choose what you want/negotiate, but he is respecting the fact that this is your space, too.
posted by anya32 at 6:15 AM on November 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I haven't decided yet whether there's anything useful to be said to Bob. Maybe something about more advance notice?

If he already made the plans before sending the email, then yes, there's something useful that needs to be said to Bob. But he's offering good, thoughtful options, including sharing the space for the day.

If you want the place to yourself, Bob has offered that. If you want to split it, he has offered that.

Yep. Just sit down and talk to him. Splitting the space is on the table and can be done politely and in a friendly way with a fairly minimal amount of planning (there's always a chance you'll all end up laughing and eating together anyway, I suppose, although I wouldn't count on it). Working out stuff like that is what roommates do.

Also, your hurt feelings, while understandable, are not his fault, and you've presented nothing that feels like him "pushing you around." He has a right to an intimate Thanksgiving with people he chooses, just like you and your boyfriend have a right to a low-key Thanksgiving at home where you don't have to deal with driving and restaurants. You need to let go of the hurt feelings, perhaps come to grips with the fact that you're maybe closer to acquaintances than friends, and talk to him face-to-face about your plans for a quiet at-home holiday and your willingness to share the kitchen and common areas in a way that gives him space for his event.

If he decides he doesn't want to share the space after all and finds another venue, then that's his call, and you shouldn't feel bad about it.

All that said, if you don't have any serious preference, he'd probably really appreciate having the house to himself for a few hours. I'd do him the favor of a few hours gone, at least. It'll pay off later.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 AM on November 17, 2011


ungratefulninja, I had another thought I wanted to throw out there, in case it would help you frame this in your mind in a non-resentful way.

You say that Bob's email "was as polite as it could be, while making it crystal clear that we were not invited to join them. My reading was that he knew he was doing something awkward...."

If that is true, then Bob achieved something that askers on this forum struggle with all the freaking time, and in lots of different contexts: He had something awkward to communicate, and he managed to do so politely and without ambiguity.

In order for Bob to be considered rude or an asshole, you'd have to believe that he had no right even to make the request. To me, that doesn't really make sense. Bob didn't, in fact, commandeer the house or kick you out. All he did was ask.
posted by torticat at 7:56 AM on November 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Round 1. Bob presents his plan for Thanksgiving (he doesn't even know for sure what your plans are, if you're going ot be there or not). He says this is what I want but it's somewhat flexible if you have to be.

Round 2. You reply to Bob and tell him "gosh that's not the best solution for us, [this] or [that] would be better, we'd rather not [leave the house just to give you privacy]."

Round 3. Bob tells you what he thinks of all the options. You don't know what this is yet.

It sounds like you're still in round 1, yet you're as upset as if you're in round 5, in which Bob tells you, "no way will I budge from having dinner here and you'd better stay in your cage all night and not make a peep, why are you even asking, you freaks?!" Calm down, don't assume the worst, and progress to stage 2 with an open mind willing to discuss all the options.
posted by aimedwander at 8:11 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you should agree to share the common space and have your thanksgiving dinner at the same time. Everytime someone in his party suggests that you join them, tell them Bob specifically asked you not to join because he wanted to have his own separate dinner.
posted by gt2 at 8:40 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only way to deal with this is to play offense:

a. We tell Bob that we're planning to have dinner at home that night, and while we'd be happy to do a joint dinner, we'd prefer that he find an alternate venue if we're not invited.

Seriously, he should live with the consequences of his bullshit actions. Stand up for yourself. That's what he's not expecting.

p.s. I bet the people he's inviting don't know he shares space.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:44 AM on November 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


26.2: "
BTW, if you're planning to dine out you may want to see if you can get reservations ASAP. Dining out on Thanksgiving is expensive and many of the good places will already be booked.
"

First off, this a thousand times. It not only means you'll have somewhere to go, but it also means that you know the place will be open. My restaurant is closed on Thanksgiving. I'm sure someone will try to come eat there because we have enough stupid locals who couldn't make a microwave pizza.

That being said, I'd just go ahead and let Bob have the place. Being around when someone obviously doesn't want you there is just awkward. I've done it It was when the guy was "surprise" moving out and there was no way in Hell I was going to be gone while he did that, and it's not something you want to be a part of.

But also let Bob know that he owes you. Maybe he can get y'all a pizza and a six pack for that night. Maybe he just marks that on your chart and you get something later.

I wouldn't jump to moving out unless this is a repeated thing. And it doesn't sound like it is.
posted by theichibun at 9:24 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought through this pretty hard (after initially being appalled by Bob's actions) and tried to see it from other angles, but I've realized that my personal etiquette is that if you live in a shared house and are hosting an event in that house, the only acceptable and appropriate thing to do is invite all other people who live in the house. If you want to exclude roommates, you must host your event somewhere else. Period. So, I think Bob was really off on this.

That being said, I don't think it needs to become roommate drama at all. I would have a brief, kind conversation with him that it threw a wrench in your plans to receive an email like that, and then I would go out and do something totally crazy for Thanksgiving, most likely involving a carousel ride if possible.
posted by Polyhymnia at 10:04 AM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would have a brief, kind conversation with him that it threw a wrench in your plans to receive an email like that

But as far as Bob knew, ninja-couple had announced no plans. Right? Option a. all the way. Aimedwander said what I'd say.
posted by canine epigram at 10:16 AM on November 17, 2011


I think it's very awkward. He's taking possession of shared space - kitchen and dining room, and probably living room as well - on a holiday that is traditionally a big shared event. Thanksgiving, to me, is a holiday of inclusion more than an opportunity for a snazzy dinner party. If there's a special snowflake reason why I wanted to restrict the guestlist, I would have talked to roomies in advance, and been very apologetic and accommodating. You're not close anyway, and I wouldn't make a fuss, since there isn't anything to gain.

I love homemade turkey and the rest of the meal, esp. the leftovers. I'd probably find a good movie to see, maybe making dinner in the afternoon 1st. And if I got home before the end of his party and wanted to use the kitchen or living room, I would.
posted by theora55 at 10:27 AM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


As someone else who's lived with roommates more often than not, Bob's request seems reasonable to me, too.

If it really won't work for you, tell him that, but if it's just that you don't want to be inconvenienced a little, and that your feelings are hurt, let him have the day(s) with the understanding that he owes you:

1) Two plates full of Thanksgiving Dinner (WITH pie) the next day AND
2) A day in the apartment later on in the year to do with as you please, including possibly booting him out to twiddle his thumbs on a holiday.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:29 AM on November 17, 2011


OP's feelings are hurt, which is understandable and often happens when potentially sensitive issues are discussed in the context-free medium of email. However, one rule of living with others is to never answer drama with drama. There are a lot of passive aggressive pieces of advice in this AskMe despite the fact that we don't know (and don't need to know) Bob's situation. For all we know, the request for an intimate, exclusive meal came from a family member or Bob's SO. For all we know Bob knows there will be family drama and is trying to minimize it by leaving out innocent parties. We. Don't. Know.

What we do know is that OP did not have special plans for the kitchen/dining area. This is totally parallel to the "Dog in the Manger" fable. Conflict is bourne of scarce resources, but you didn't have a very specific use for this resource in the first place. Let it go. Bob doesn't owe you anything other than an agreement to communicate better in the future and nothing good can come from you keeping score.

The next step is to forget everything you've read or imagined since reading the email and talk to Bob in person with an open mind. Ignore any creeping thoughts along the lines of, "but what if I wanted to..." because you didn't really want to until your feelings were hurt.

If you don't take the high road and instead decide to escalate the conflict, be assured that next time you want something exclusive, Bob will be the dog in the manger saying, "but what if I want that instead of you..."
posted by Skwirl at 12:12 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


PS -- The division of responses here is pretty well explained by Ask Culture versus Guess Culture.
posted by Skwirl at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So only people who can afford their own home/apartment are allowed to have an intimate dinner with people of their own choosing? I think he is perfectly within his rights to make the request he made. He didn't make a single demand of you, simply asked if it would be okay, and clearly stated that he would make alternate plans if you wanted him to. He is allowed to try to carve out a special dinner in a shared house. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out, but just because he may not be able to afford a private space to live in doesn't mean that it is rude to request the possibility of having the benefits of privacy/defining his own experience and space, etc., for one single night. If you don't want to allow for that, just say no. I don't see, in any way at all, how he is insulting you guys personally by asking this simple question.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 12:31 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is it an Ask vs. Guess divide? Because I feel like the sticking point is that Bob seems to have actually made the plans before asking.
posted by Adventurer at 12:32 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


A lot depends on whether he is really asking. He also wrote that if this wouldn't work for us, he would consider trying to find an alternate location or a way to split use of the common areas between us. "I'll consider trying," is pretty weak, to me. He can consider accommodating you for thirty seconds and decide that no, he really can't change his plan, and technically he still keeps this promise.
posted by BibiRose at 12:35 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


He can consider accommodating you for thirty seconds and decide that no, he really can't change his plan, and technically he still keeps this promise.

Yeah, but he hasn't behaved this way yet, so it's not useful to assume he's going to. Also, the sooner the OP tells him if he's going to raise a stink or not, the sooner Bob will be able to work on finding alternative accommodations.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:53 PM on November 17, 2011


I don't know if it's Ask vs. Guess.

My take is that Bob announced.

From the OP: Bob "emailed to let us know." And, as BibiRose pointed out, Bob "would consider" other options.

It would be somewhat different if Bob had said, "I'm thinking about doing such-and-so. Would that work OK for you?"

Also, it's not just about "an intimate dinner with people of their own choosing."

Accommodating Bob means Ninja doesn't get to spend the holiday as she had planned. It means Ninja must figure out something else to do for the holiday. That something is likely to be expensive, etc.
posted by maurreen at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know what I like to do on Thanksgiving? Sit around in my pjs and crochet and watch football. I can't do that if I'm not in my own house. For the longest time my husband and I had a tradition of making a bunch of chicken wings and green bean casserole and watching Lord of the Rings (all 12 hours of it)*--also not something you can do out and about.

So in my opinion the point is whether or not you already have plans, the point is whether or not you want to be in your own house for the holiday. If you do and your roommate is unwilling to include you in his plans, then he should go elsewhere. Likewise, it would be only right to include your roommate in any of your plans that were going to take place in the common areas of your home.

All you have to say is that you were planning on staying in for Thanksgiving which is a perfectly reasonable thing to do and not a spiteful act. What was not reasonable is your roommate making plans for your home without discussing it with you before he made any plans and about three weeks ago.

Now, if you think going out would be fun etc, then go for it. BUT you should be able to come home whenever you're done without worrying about interrupting his plans.

*Yes, we're introverted geeks.
posted by Kimberly at 1:08 PM on November 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


You know what I like to do on Thanksgiving? Sit around in my pjs and crochet and watch football.

I, for one, have no problem holing up in my room with snacks and movies while my roommate throws a dinner party without me. She does the same for me. We usually include each other in our party plans but not always. This is the sort of thing that comes of sharing housing.

IMO, Bob isn't allowed to ban you from the house, and isn't even allowed to disallow you from wandering the kitchen on an as needed basis, even in bunny PJs with feet on them. It seems completely reasonable to me, however, to not have to include the OP in his dinner plans.

I am totally confused by people who think Bob shouldn't be allowed to have dinners without the roommate and am curious for how many it's a hypothetical and how many actually have roommates (not SOs or family.)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:16 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's elements of Ask vs. Guess, Myers-Briggs P vs. J and Geek Social Fallacy #1 here. Guessers, J's and Geeks will all assume bad intentions on Bob's behalf. Guessers because they see a demand here. J's (planners) because they don't believe Bob is sincere with his offer to spontaneously change venues. Geeks because "ostracizers are evil."

There's also a social divide I've witnessed between carriers of "assume good intentions" and carriers of "I've been burned before -- Assume the worst" that this plays on. I suppose that's related to the conflict avoidant and conflict-seeking dichotomy.

The important thing is that dialogue is only possible with the assumption of good intent. OP didn't have any plans yet, so the stakes are not as high as they are being made out to be.
posted by Skwirl at 1:16 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The important thing is that dialogue is only possible with the assumption of good intent.

Yes, this. It should including assuming that Bob has some legit reason for excluding the OP, that doesn't include "OP is a stinkypants icky poo and has cooties" or some other personal reason. The OP should not ask Bob what that reason is. The OP should just assume Bob is an adult and has a good reason.

There's a more than 50% chance it has nothing to do with the OP and everything to do with Bob or Bob's guests or Bob anticipating drama or who knows what.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:20 PM on November 17, 2011


A huge potential problem (at least in the cities where I have lived) is that if you do go out to eat somewhere nice, you need to make reservations in advance. And Bob hasn't given you too much time. I would try to get reservations though and just tell Bob that next time you'd appreciate more advanced notice so you can make plans to be out of his way for his private party. I've had some AMAZING restaurant Thankgiving meals though, so I always recommend this route to people without family or friend plans.
posted by melissam at 1:23 PM on November 17, 2011


I'll add myself to the small chorus of "Bob is being reasonable." When you live with roommates who aren't your friends, it's totally normal to occasionally ask for the use of rooms. Thanksgiving is an important holiday to some people, and I'm not sure why Bob should be obligated to invite a roommate who self-describes as an acquaintance to his family thanksgiving. Some more notice would have been nice, I guess, but OP, you said you didn't make any plans, so it's not clear what Bob is really disrupting with his request.

I think a lot about your next move depends on what you were going to do if Bob hadn't sent this email. What do you mean when you say you and your bf were going to stay in? Were you going to cook a thanksgiving dinner? Or were you going to get takeout and watch a movie? If it's the latter, then I don't see how this is really any different from any other night when one of your roommates might want to host a small party in the house (which is not a right that you give up by living with roommates). If you want to do a thanksgiving thing with your bf, then go ahead and ask Bob if he can find someplace else. But I think it would be kinda a dick move to ask him to move his thanksgiving just so you can sit around the house.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:59 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have a face-to-face conversation with Bob. Note his tone and body language. Be frank but calm, "I was really surprised by your email. BF and I were planning to make dinner here at home. What's up?" Or "Bob! What the fuck man, you're kicking me out of my house on turkey day? You owe me big time!" (with a grin).

Hopefully you can have a conversation that gives you a better sense of where he is coming from. It doesn't sound like you care much what you wind up doing for turkey day, what you care about is whether or not he is disrespecting you. You need more information.

It's going to be ok. Even if Bob is being a total dick with this, it will blow over and you won't have to live with him forever. And at least he isn't a butcher-chickens-for-ritual-sacrifice-in-the-kitchen-and-not-clean-up dick, just a garden variety socially-backwards dick. I'm imagining him as sort of Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. If you can find some humor in the situation and make fun of it - EXILED ON THANKSGIVING! MY KINGDOM FOR A TURKEY LEG! Please sir may I have some more? OH THE HUMANITY! - and laugh off Bob's oddities, you might feel better.
posted by bunderful at 2:09 PM on November 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am totally confused by people who think Bob shouldn't be allowed to have dinners without the roommate and am curious for how many it's a hypothetical and how many actually have roommates (not SOs or family.)

I think it's misdirecting to say that anyone is saying that Bob had to invite the OP. It's just that a lot of people feel that it's rude and inconveniencing to have an event on a major holiday in a public space in your house, and just inform or announce to your roommate that it's happening. Yes, he offered to go elsewhere, and that probably should be treated as a legitimate option, but my sense is it wasn't intended as such, or Bob would have taken the approach of "I'm thinking of doing this...is that cool?" rather than just making up the plan, telling the OP they're not welcome, and all a week before Thanksgiving, it sounds like.

I think if it were just a regular dinner party it would be more understandable. But I don't think it's reasonable to have the OP vacate their house on Thanksgiving or go to an expensive restaurant with a hefty prix fixe, or have to sit around in their room all night while this party is going on.
posted by sweetkid at 3:02 PM on November 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


From the OP: Bob "emailed to let us know." And, as BibiRose pointed out, Bob "would consider" other options.

Yeah, if Bob literally said "I would consider changing my plans if you need to use the kitchen on Thanksgiving," I would think that dickish and not feel as conciliatory as I advised ungratefulninja to be in my answer(s) above. Although of course it wouldn't hurt to be conciliatory anyway.

ninja, since there's been so much discussion about this, would you satisfy the curiosity of onlookers and tell us what Bob actually said? :)
posted by torticat at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2011


Sorry, I don't feel comfortable posting direct quotes from the email. But I'm definitely coming around to feeling like this is ultimately not a big deal. It's not something I think I would ever ask of my housemates, and I think I would have been less put out by a different way of communicating it. But I've gained some valuable information about how Bob and I are different and what kind of relationship he considers us to have.

Accommodating his plans is not something that's going to really inconvenience me unless I decide to make a big stink. So I'm going to choose to do him a favor.
posted by ungratefulninja at 11:24 PM on November 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh dear, it sounds like Bob is carefully trying to Do The Right Thing, and has managed to instead bungle it. He should have asked rather than announced and/or talked in person rather than emailing. But yeah, just go work this out with him in good faith.
posted by desuetude at 12:11 AM on November 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


about how Bob and I are different and what kind of relationship he considers us to have.

Since we don't know the exact wording, this could be totally off, but I wouldn't interpret this to mean you aren't good friends. Don't create a story from incomplete information, or based on what it would mean if YOU'D behaved as Bob has.

Best case scenario (which is what I operate on until disillusioned):

a) Bob is socially clumsy and hamfisted in his communication style, with the awkwardnes of the request making him even more so, &

b) Bob (accidentally or not) ended up committing himself to a Thanksgiving dinner with people with whom you would be a bad match, for reasons that have to do with his guests, and not you.

(I have found my roommate experiences go a lot smoother when I have a very thick skin. I tell people when things bug me, but only as a datapoint, and only after I'm no longer pissed off about it. Unless the offense is something unliveable, I don't ask that that they change anything.)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2011


Bravo, ungratefulninja. There was some really atrocious advice in the above mix and you chose to ignore it in favor of not escalating and giving your roommate the benefit of the doubt in an odd situation.

This will pay off in Roommate Karma in your future, for sure.
posted by mediareport at 5:25 AM on November 19, 2011


I agree with those that say Bob is not out of line. He offered options, so he is not, as many people are suggesting, kicking you out of your house. He could simply really want to focus on people he hasn't seen for awhile or a multitude of other personal reasons that have nothing to do with you, who knows.

I think you are heading in the right direction. Please don't do things that were mentioned above, such as analyzing the tone of the email or make assumptions on why he sent an email instead of phoning. That path leads to unhappiness.

You both just have different perspectives on the holiday. Nothing more. Nothing less. Stay home or go out, he is offering you the choice and saying he will work around it. Sounds like a good roommate to me.
posted by Vaike at 9:09 AM on November 19, 2011


It's good to hear that you'll be accommodating him.
He's not out of line and I really don't see the problem. He's willing to find an alternate location if you are uncomfortable with it.
posted by WizKid at 2:07 PM on November 22, 2011


I think it's great you've come to this way of looking at things. And certainly, if you're still there next year and want to have a quiet dinner with your SO, it's your turn! So don't hesitate to bring that up now - or any other trade you might want to make, such as another holiday on which you'd like the dining facilities to yourself. It's all part of roommate give and take. Have a happy Thanskgiving!
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


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