Have I destroyed a friendship?
October 29, 2007 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Is my friend being petty, or should I try harder to patch this up? Long explanation...

My male friend and I have known each other for seven years, helped each other through some hard times and used to talk daily, but we have drifted over the past few years. We do, however, stay in touch. He and his wife host a big party once a year. These are keg-and-jello-shot parties, by the way - not Riedel-crystal-and-caviar affairs. I've always been a bit of a social spaz and tend to be defensive if I perceive someone to be insulting/mocking/ridiculing me. This has happened at the last couple of parties my friend has had, and I've exchanged some heated words with some of his more chauvenistic male friends. I do recognize that it's a problem and that I shouldn't get so upset with people - even if they're being inappropriate.

This year's party was two weeks ago. A guy I didn't know bumped into me outside and spilled his drink all over me. I'd have been OK with it if he had apologized, because clearly it was an accident, but instead he smugly rolled his eyes and made some crack like, "Get over it; it's not the end of the world." I wasn't angry, but I felt he was being a jerk, so when he turned away, I "spilled" my (clear) drink on him and smirked, "OK, now we're even." He became infuriated and insisted to his wife that they leave. I asked my friend, the party host, if he thought I was out of line and he laughed and said, "No, it was pretty funny actually." We moved on and forgot the whole thing.

This week I got an e-mail from my friend asking if I knew who poured the drink on the guy at the party and I replied, saying, "Yes, silly, remember? That was me." What I got back was an angry, hurtful e-mail attacking my poor social skills and saying every time I've come to his home I've created a problem. He said that this time, it was the last straw, he's had enough of me and doesn't want me back in his home ever again.

WTF? He was drinking on the night of the party, so I get that he may have forgotten seeing the incident and telling me it was funny. But to get so angry as to bar me from his house? I'm hurt that he didn't choose to talk to me about it and clearly has so little regard for my friendship that I didn't even deserve the benefit of the doubt in my motives. I've e-mailed back recounting the incident in detail, apologizing for upsetting him and saying that I'll accept it if he doesn't want my friendship anymore, but if he does I will be more mindful of his feelings and those of his friends in the future.

Is that enough? Should I be more assertive in asking for forgiveness, or should I just leave it at that? On one hand I feel like he must not think very highly of me to say such hurtful things, and that maybe I'm better off without his friendship; on the other hand I wonder if that reaction is, again, a result of my insecurities/defensiveness. I never thought this could be so unforgivable or that my seven-year friendship was worth so little that he could throw it away over some ridiculous thing I did. Advice? Be kind, please.
posted by Ruby Doomsday to Human Relations (72 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Dumping your drink was a poor call (a waste of booze, at the very least), but your friend is being a dork.

Unless, every year, he gets people complaining about Ruby having a snit and pitching a drink on them or whatever. The "heated words" bit makes me hesitate about calling your friend a dork.

It sounds like he's frustrated, and you like him and not his friends; if you keep speaking, skip the parties, I think.
posted by kmennie at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2007

I think you should wait it out, for now. It's possible this whole incident will blow over. On the other hand, it sounds like you do bring the drama everytime he has a party, and if I were him, I wouldn't want you at my parties, either. Maybe you'll be able to continue your friendship with him outside of events at his house.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:05 AM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

my seven-year friendship was worth so little that he could throw it away over some ridiculous thing I did.

It doesn't sound like just one ridiculous thing you did. He said in his email that you have poor social skills and that "every time" you were at his home you created a problem. It sounds like his annoyance with you is not based on one incident, but has been building up over some time.
posted by iconomy at 11:07 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

You didn't say whether or not alcohol was a factor for you but....Maybe you should consider skipping the jello shots and work on not making scenes at parties. Your friend is perhaps rightfully annoyed by you but he took an immature way of getting the message across. That is what happens in drunken social circles though. :-P
posted by ian1977 at 11:08 AM on October 29, 2007

To be honest, I don't think you behaved very well at all. And I'm not sure I would want you at my house for party-related activities, because it sounds like you're an incident waiting to happen.

Having said that, I think that if you want to salvage your friendship, you should stop explaining to him why he's wrong, and instead say something about how you're sorry he feels that way, and it was certainly not your intention to create drama at his party, blah blah blah you really value his friendship, and you hope with time you can put this behind you.

And then stop going to his parties and instead take him out to lunch or something.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:10 AM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Ok, here's my two cents, I hope they're helpful or at least not hurtful as that's not how I mean them.

1) The guy who dumped the drink on you should have apologized, he was clearly in the wrong here.

2) I don't agree with your response of revenge drink dumping but it happened and I think his (the drink dumper's) reaction was overblown.

3) You're friend said he thought it was funny the first time around and I'm thinking his new change of attitude is related to a reaming he recently received from the drink dumper where they probably had a good go about you (sorry, if this makes you insecure).

4) You're friend doesn't sound like he appreciates you and feels that he is doing you some favour by remaining friends with you. If this were me, I would tell him that his friend, the drink dumper, is an ass who should of apologized and that if e's willing to throw away 7 years friendship over something so silly then he wasn't much of a friend.

People grow up and change and sometimes friends turn into people who you wouldn't be friends with. In those cases I think it's best to let go and move on. I'm thinking this is what you need to do.
posted by LunaticFringe at 11:10 AM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Probably the best thing to do is just leave things at your apology for a while. If he's a true friend, this will probably blow over eventually. But you have to give it time. He probably got a lot of unexpected grief because of the incident and didn't respond in the best way either.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, I'll clarify as little as to what I mean by "heated words." Last year, I was wearing a low-cut top and a guy I was talking to only looked at my chest during our conversation. Finally I waved my hand in front of him and said something like, "Hey, I'm up here." I meant it to be funny but I guess the guy didn't think so. He went off on me about being conceited and thinking all guys are looking at me "that way." I called BS because it hurt my feelings, since I definitely don't think all guys look at me that way, and an argument ensued. Another time, I don't remember details, but I jumped on a guy about referring to women as "bitches." Not defending my actions here, just giving more insight.

I guess part of what's hard is knowing that maybe he's right, maybe I am a horrible person to be around.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 11:13 AM on October 29, 2007

Why don't you just swallow your pride and apologize for dumping a drink on a stranger, admit it was juvenile and kind of ridiculous, and invite your friend to a make-up dinner? If your friend refuses, than cut losses and meet somebody new.
posted by mr. remy at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

Should I be more assertive in asking for forgiveness?

The answer to that -- for everyone, not just you -- is no. People forgive on their own schedule, or they don't forgive at all, no matter what. Asking repeatedly for forgiveness is not just disrespectful, it will probably make things worse. Apologies offered sincerely, with no strings, are always a good thing, however. You have made one apology so far, letting him choose to contact you or not. Now is the hard part: you may have to accept that he won't contact you again. Offering a sincere apology doesn't always fix things. It's an incredibly sad and crappy thing to endure -- and I've dealt with it myself -- but this is what could happen.

Ideally, your friend would have given you clear notice earlier that you were treading on thin ice. But given that you have drifted over the past few years, he may have been less motivated to treat you gently and honestly. You may have become a friend of habit more than a friend of heart. This may not have been that active and important a friendship to him any more. I'm not justifying his abrupt decision to break with you. In his place, I would give you another chance. But people vary, and his perceptions of your friendship, and the stresses on it, may be quite different from yours.

Let it go for now. Do other things, see other people. Have a happy life without this friend, and don't make your happiness contingent on getting him back. Give both of you a chance to cool down. In a few months, or a year, maybe send him a friendly message, briefly apologizing, and yes, invite him out to lunch or some other low-stress situation, as thehmsbeagle suggests. Give him some space.

If your second, friendly message doesn't work, then it's time to move on. Sorry. This doesn't make you a horrible person. It makes you someone a little impulsive, a little stroppy, maybe a little flawed in some other ways, as we all are. You may also be the kind of funny, loyal friend who will take a call at 1 AM and will be right over in a crisis. Focus on how you have been and will be a good friend. Live your life. See what happens.
posted by maudlin at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2007 [7 favorites]

You don't mention if there are any other mutual friends. Perhaps they could give you more insight into your behaviour at this and previous parties? That may cross into the gossip territory, so be careful.

From what you posted, it does sound like he's tired of confrontations/"scenes" at these parties, every year, involving you. But, I could be completely wrong. He could be a drama queen, for all I know. Perhaps the two of you have outgrown the friendship. You can be very close with someone for a period of time, and still eventually outgrow each other. It's sad, but really, it isn't a reflection upon you.
posted by kellyblah at 11:19 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I guess part of what's hard is knowing that maybe he's right, maybe I am a horrible person to be around.

Not necessarily "horrible", but picking fights at parties is not a great way to guarantee repeat invitations. If I was having a party, I would only invite people who are going to have fun and socialize, and not those who are going to freak out over anything anyone else says.

That says, if you get mad at someone at every one of your "friend"'s party, maybe you shouldn't want to go to them? They don't sound like a lot of fun to me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:20 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's hatd to gauge who is right or wrong here because we are obviously getting one side of the story only. But here are my thoughts based on what you have said.

1) The guy who dumped his drink on you should have apologized, and asking him to do so is not out of line. He was being a drunken a-hole by acting the way he did.

2) Dumping the drink back is, admittedly, an eye-for-an-eye response, but was probably not the right thing to do. You could have been perceived as a drunken a-hole.

3) This guy's reaction was overblown. He took his toys and went home, it seems petty and ridiculous to do that. Not a guy I'd want to befriend or even party with. What a buzzkill.

4) Your friend, the host, may have had a different view of the incident while drunk at his party, and then later while sober and in hindsight.

5) Now let's weigh the situation. On the one hand, you seem to be reacting to chauvinistic and dismissive people. Whether you are reacting to them approrpiately or not, I don't know. But clearly a) your friend hangs out with certain kinds of people who don't seem to mesh well with you, and b) he's more in tune with their way of being than with yours. Hence, what you see as defending yorself, he sees as bitchery and scene-causing.

6) Based on this, I agree with Lunatic Fringe's last paragraph. It's good you apologized, but it's starting to look like you guys just are way different people.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:28 AM on October 29, 2007

I guess part of what's hard is knowing that maybe he's right, maybe I am a horrible person to be around.

It sounds more like his friends are horrible people to be around. I have no idea why you'd want to go to these parties, if people are treating you like this and it's considered par for the course.
posted by occhiblu at 11:29 AM on October 29, 2007 [5 favorites]

It was probably funny at the time, not so funny now that he has to deal with the aftermath. And now that he's sober.

My guess, it rolled downhill, and when he sent the email he was really pissed at you. Leave it be for a little bit.

This won't likely be a popular opinion - but part of being a good guest is having respect for your host - and if that means that you have to suck it up and deal with your hosts' kind of jerky friends while keeping your mouth shut, then that's kind of what you have to do sometimes. You can walk away and just silently roll your eyes behind their backs, even if they are assholes. No, you don't have to, but they're fellow guests, and it's polite.

You're both kind of acting like less than optimal friends here.

If it were me, I would probably call him in a week and say look, I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to cause you any problems, and I value our friendship - but I don't think it's a good idea for me to come to these parties. Let's try and have dinner instead?

Maybe you never end up having dinner with him, and the parties would have been the only part of your friendship left. If that's the case, you're just at that stage of this particular friendship - that old cliche about people being in our lives for a reason, a season, or forever is kind of true. Maybe your friendship with him has run its course, and if it has then that didn't happen because of your behavior at his parties (it doesn't sound like it anyway), it happened because you both grew and changed and you're not the same people in the same friendship.
posted by KAS at 11:32 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

The first thing I wondered was how much you yourself had been drinking. I don't know anything about you, but I think you should realistically assess the extent to which alcohol has influenced your behavior in social interactions, regardless of whether everyone else was drinking too. I know a woman who is not an alcoholic, but if we don't gently remind her not to have a third glass of wine at a party, she becomes embarrassing. Fortunately, she is grateful to be reminded.

If this is sober behavior, it's still very bad manners to act aggressively or provocatively toward other guests. The host is the "manager" of the event, and if you had simply gone to him and complained about the initial drink spillage, the other guy (and not you) might have been the one receiving the testy email.

The protocol for this situation is to send your friend a card with a letter of apology, and ALSO to send him a card with a brief note of apology to the individual you doused, which you can ask your friend to deliver for you. That classy gesture will demonstrate that you understand the importance of social niceties and, even if it doesn't magically win anyone over.
posted by hermitosis at 11:33 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Err..., should have finished that thought. I have no idea why you'd want to go to these parties, if people are treating you like this and it's considered par for the course, because while it doesn't seem like you'd be out of line among a group of civilized people, apparently this crowd has decided they would rather be petty and dismissive rather than looking at their own behavior.

All this to say... let the apology stand and see what shakes out, and really, stop putting yourself in a position where you have to turn off your sense of dignity or self-worth in order not to trigger a bunch of assholes. It's not worth it.
posted by occhiblu at 11:33 AM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

At my parties, you're allowed to call someone an asshole for calling women bitches. And at a jello-shots party in particular there's no reason for them to be standing on ceremony so much. Honestly, the more I think about it, the less I understand how anyone possibly could be so abrasive at a jello-shots party that other people have to leave in a huff. Who are these people?

Anyway, I wouldn't apologize more than once. Wait until some time has passed and then send out a feeler, see how he reacts.
posted by creasy boy at 11:35 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ditch friend, avoid future such parties, two birds 1 stone.
posted by ewkpates at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

You may have been a bit of a petty jerk in re-spilling, but it was also a way of standing your ground (much like I imagine the incidents at previous parties have been).

However, something changed in between then and now with your friend. Was this guy a boss or someone with power over him or something? That he has a radically different interpretation of the spillage can certainly be attributed to drunkenness at the time, but he should at least acknowledge that he led you to believe it wasn't going to be a problem AND THAT NO FURTHER ACTION WAS REQUIRED OF YOU AT THE TIME. This is key, I think. You had the foresight to make sure everything was cool, and you were told that it was (and even complimented), yet afterwards your friend decides he has a problem with it.

While it may be so, as others above have said, that you don't get along with this circle of friends, you are perfectly justified in haranguing him about leading you to believe that everything was fine. Make him say, "but I was drunk!" before telling you you should have acted in some way that drunk people do not act.
posted by rhizome at 11:37 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are a fair number of questions on askme where it seems likely that someone is behaving poorly, but it isn't at all clear to an outsider who-- it could be you have poor social skills, or it could be that your friend has obnoxious friends, or both.

I agree with kellyblah's suggestion that you need the input from someone who has witnessed some of these encounters, preferably someone who is capable of giving you a straight-up, honest answer.
posted by justkevin at 11:37 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not apologizing when you spill your drink on someone is rude, but spilling a drink on someone deliberately (especially in a tit-for-tat revenge cycle) is a whole lot ruder. Moreover, it reflects badly not just on you, but also on your host. This is why he is so upset at you -- you are making him look bad by your boorish behavior at his parties.

If I had a friend who kept getting into big arguments with my other friends every time I invited her over, I would stop inviting her to my parties. I might still hang out with her one-on-one, but unless I was a total drama queen who got all excited about big, scandalous uproars at my parties, I would stop including her on the invitation list. It's not really a "who was in the right in that argument?" question at all, but about social decorum and having a good time. Someone who gets into fights keeps everyone else from having a good time. When I have a party and I invite a bunch of people, I'm pretty much promising all the invitees that the other people will be cool -- when they aren't, and this keeps happening, people will stop coming to my parties.

Like a lot of things in life, when something happens once or maybe twice, you can call it "bad luck" or "the other person's fault" or what have you. But when it keeps happening, at some point you have to acknowledge that the common variable is you, and that it is your behavior that is at fault. Maybe that means you need to read up on etiquette, or maybe it means you need to find new friends who don't hang out with boob-staring drink-spillers, I don't know. But one way or another, you need to figure out a way to make some changes that will start giving you some better results -- your current patterns are giving you the outcomes of hurt feelings, ended friendships, and a bad reputation, which I think you have figured out isn't really all that ideal.

Like someone mentioned above, if this only happens when you've been drinking -- you don't have problems interacting with store clerks, at parties where you don't have any beer, with bureaucrats, and at big family get-togethers -- then maybe it is really an alcohol issue, and you need to find a way to change your relationship with alcohol.
posted by Forktine at 11:39 AM on October 29, 2007

You shouldn't try to convince someone to be your friend. If he's not interested, then it's not worth it to talk him into it. Let him make the decision, and be happy with whatever he chooses.
posted by davidstandaford at 11:45 AM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for your input. While some of your answers are not easy to hear... er, read... I guess I need to address these problems with myself so I don't keep alienating people.

To answer a couple of questions:

- We do have mutual friends who were at the party. In fact, I spoke to one about this situation after he had heard the other (party host) friend's POV. He says, yeah, maybe I am too abrasive and defensive with people, but the other guy is being overreactive by making statements like, "I don't want you setting foot in our house again." I take that to mean we're both wrong. Fair enough.

- The drink dumper was, unbeknownst to me at the time, the new husband of one of my friend's cousins. I learned that when we had the conversation that night about it being "kind of funny."

- I had indeed been drinking, as we all had. I didn't feel drunk by any means, but that doesn't always mean anything. The drink I dumped was my second cocktail - I was about halfway through. I'd also had one jello shot.

- Our ages might help put things in perspective. I am 25 and the party host is 27. The cousin's husband, who dumped the drink, is young - maybe 22 or 23.

I suppose I did have this coming after several incidents over the years. It just never occurred to me that it was putting a strain on my friendship with this guy, because he always seemed kind of amused by my sparring with his friends and has never said anything to lead me to believe he was upset by it.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 11:48 AM on October 29, 2007

The spilled-upon complained to the wife. That's why your friend is "forgetting" saying it was funny.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:49 AM on October 29, 2007

Ironmouth, that was my thought too.
posted by rottytooth at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2007

Look at it this way: You have a friend who is known to have parties that are full of jerks. You knew this, went there, and found someone who was a jerk. Instead of shrugging it off as the expected outcome, you've repeatedly engaged the jerks. They do not see their behavior as jerk-like, so calling it out on it makes you the antagonist.

If you want to go to parties that are not full of jerks, don't go to this friend's parties. I've had similar situations before, and "recounting in detail" any events that occurred is probably the wrong course of action, since it's only going to lead to a "he said"/"she said" sort of situation on the part of your friend. The faster the whole thing can be dropped, the better.
posted by mikeh at 11:53 AM on October 29, 2007

Calling them out on it, I mean.
posted by mikeh at 11:55 AM on October 29, 2007

What you did was really childish. You say that his drink-dumping was "clearly an accident." It's sort of unbelievable to me that you would actually pour a drink on somebody in retaliation for a non-apology.

Your next course of action is to apologize. Don't mention anything about the other guy.
posted by mpls2 at 11:57 AM on October 29, 2007

Is that enough?

Yes, you've expressed your regret and sorrow while still seeking his friendship. Leave it at that for now and see if it blows over.

As the rest, stop going to parties filled with jerks. Just because you're a guest doesn't mean you have to take shit from jackasses. That said, you could use a few pointers in learning to let things go i.e. did you REALLY need to get into with the chest starer? Did you really HAVE to spill the drink? Did you really need to have the bitches argument right then and there, at the jello shots party?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

The fact that the drink-dumpee was a relative of the host (spouse of a cousin) explains a lot here. What otherwise might have been acceptable at the type of party where people do jello-shots (slightly high-strung guest throws a drink) becomes less acceptable when family is involved. While you didn't know this when you threw the drink, you generally should not throw your drinks on people you don't know well. Such things tend to escalate among strangers.

It just never occurred to me that it was putting a strain on my friendship with this guy, because he always seemed kind of amused by my sparring with his friends and has never said anything to lead me to believe he was upset by it.

People who spar at parties often think they are more amusing than they really are. Free advice, worth only what you paid for it...
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

I "spilled" my (clear) drink on him and smirked, "OK, now we're even."

Big mistake here. You could have said, "oops" or nothing at all. By saying, "now we're even" you're admitting a wrong doing. The other guy didn't admit that he intentionally spilled a drink on you. He didn't apologize either, which is rude, but it was an accident. You shouldn't have spilled the drink on the person in retaliation. People are jerks, that doesn't mean you have to behave as one.

These people sound rude and maybe you shouldn't hang with them, but if you get into a confrontation at every single gathering, maybe it's your problem.

I would apologize to your friend. If he wants to be petty and not forgive you, then his loss.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:12 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd like to provide a contrast for these answers by saying that I'm 23, husband is 28, and if you came over here and spilled a drink intentionally on someone being rude...



As to those other incidents, if they happened as you described, we'd have laughed at those, too.

I don't think you're in the wrong at all here, but as some other people have said, if this guy's friends are jerks, don't hang out with them. Part of my follow-up with men who stare at my chest in conversation is not having another conversation with them again, especially if they get all defensive when I call them out on it.

You need a new crew. Feel free to call us.
posted by InnocentBystander at 12:17 PM on October 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

Short answer: you have not personally destroyed an otherwise thriving friendship with this drink-spilling incident. It's just that you two are growing apart with increasing speed.

His friends don't "get" you. They're doing jello shots while you're instructing them on etiquette. For the purposes of this party, he's siding with his friends.

Let your friend cool down. Find something else to do, if desired, to maintain the connection between you two that makes more sense.

Personally, I'm on your side regarding your actions. Any guy who stomps off in a huff over what you've described (shirt incident, bitches incident, drink incident) well, me AND my guy friends/acquaintances would mock him for being a weak-ass loser for not being able to take a little guff from a girl and yes of course he was looking down my shirt snd then we'd all do shots of whiskey and laugh.

On the other hand, a number of years ago I bowed out of one-a-year party, a long-standing tradition, after realizing that me and an old friend had just grown too far apart. We had been good friends through high school and college, but by our mid/late twenties, our relationship was more in the past than in the present. It's heartbreaking to have willfully let what was once one of my best girl-guy friendships lapse, but sometimes you've got to set 'em free. Maybe one of these days he'll e-mail or send an Christmas card for old time's sake and he and I will catch up on how our lives turned out.
posted by desuetude at 12:27 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

You threw a drink on someone who accidentally spilled a drink on you. Even if the guy was a dick, you instantly went from wronged to wronger.

Still, your friend overreacted too. A ban? Sounds like he's reacting to soothe other parties. His wife?

Either way, you better find other parties to go to.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:28 PM on October 29, 2007

No need to overthink this.

Some stupid shit went down at a kegger. Whatever, that's sort of the point of these things. Then two weeks later your friend, who was so fucked up at the time that he couldn't even remember if you were involved, goes on this little rant about how you ruined his party?

The drink spiller was an asshole and a whiny little punk, with the excuse that at least he was drunk at the time. Your friend is an asshole full stop. He got some blowback from the drink spiller and whatever boy's club relationship they have takes priority over yours.

There's a basic lack of respect on his side, which given his "chauvanistic" friends, sounds like your usual obnoxious sexism, and that's a lot nastier than some (perhaps questionable) party antics. (Or, maybe the pressure is coming from his wife, but still: he could have defended you, or at least honestly communicated with you, but he didn't bother.)

Tear this guy a new one, then walk away. It may be worth keeping the friendship, but not where you're some sort of supplicant.

"OK, now we're even." He became infuriated and insisted to his wife that they leave. Heh. If I knew this guy I'd spill a drink on him every time I saw him just to watch the little tantrum. And to get rid of him.
posted by a young man in spats at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2007 [8 favorites]

He came back and asked you if you remembered who did it and you had to remind him? It sounds like the shit is coming down from that incident in ways you haven't heard about. Someone above suggested that the cousin complained to your friend's wife, and that sounds about right to me. Your friend may well have thought it was funny, or not cared, but now there are apparently repercussions, and so he has to come down on you.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2007

I'm curious if you are also friends with the wife and how much of this email was written at her urging.
posted by lunachic at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: I do get along with his wife, quite well actually. I wouldn't call us "friends," though, because all our interaction takes place when the husband is present, or has invited me to spend time with them together. I do know she has a bad temper (far worse than mine, I'd say), so it's possible that she could have been the force behind the angry e-mail. She was inside the house and didn't see the "spill" when it took place, though. Plus she was pretty drunk.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 1:17 PM on October 29, 2007

quite obviously it is his wife talking. she has put the pressure on for him to pressure you. give it time, forget aout that whole incident, and take things as they come
posted by edtut at 1:29 PM on October 29, 2007

You inappropriately escalated the situation (deliberate soaking in response to accidental soaking + rudeness), though I can see how in the heat of the moment it might not feel that way. If you did this at one of my shindigs I'd tell you I thought it was very not cool but I wouldn't lose my shit over it. I concur with some people upstream that if I thought this kind of escalation was a regular thing with you I'd probably stop inviting you back to my parties, but not end my friendship.

All that said, I'm with spats - from what you tell us of the environment this is a trivial thing that is getting more talk than it deserves. At this point you should let it go and if he can't... *shrug* friends come and go, and when they go over things like this you're overall better off. Someone who won't say "sorry dude, but you should have apologized to her" to his cousin's husband won't come bail you out of jail at 3am or have your back in a knife fight.
posted by phearlez at 1:33 PM on October 29, 2007

Your friend's auntie or mommie bitched him out for your retaliation against his rude-ass cousin-in-law. You are catching the shit from that.

See where you apology leads. Either way, skip big drunken parties at his house from now on.
posted by Good Brain at 1:44 PM on October 29, 2007

Look, throwing your drink at someone on purpose for any reason is inexcusable. Your friend is right. He probably said "haha its cool" because he was mortified by your behavor and didnt want to confront you right there and then. Frankly, you sound like a blowhard to me and you really should learn to control your temper and attitude when dealing with other people.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2007

For christ's sake, he wasn't "mortified" by the woman's behavior. It was a kegger. He couldn't even remember who it was afterwards, so the reason he didn't confront her then and there is because he was drunk at a kegger and found it hilarious.
posted by creasy boy at 1:52 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: @damn dirty ape - Be nice, please. I appreciate advice and am asking for it because I sincerely want to be a good person and take the right course of action. I came here for help - even help that is critical of me - but I didn't come here to feel worse about myself. Clearly, it's a problem I already have.

Plus I like your name, as I've always had a thing for monkeys, and don't want to have to start hating them now.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2007

Something doesn't add up here. Unless the spillee was pretty drunk (which I doubt, or he would most likely have found it funny too), I have a hard time imagining someone going straight from accidentally spilling a drink on you to saying "Get over it, it's not the end of the world." He'd have to be a royal asshole to do that, and in that case, his next response would probably be to escalate the conflict rather than getting offended and leave the party.

The only way it would make sense to me is if you made an aggressive verbal reponse that you're not mentioning here, which aggravated the situation.
posted by chundo at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2007

Hrm. Do you want people's honest takes on it, or do you want rainbows and puppy dogs?

Your response to damn dirty ape does not -- I mean no offence -- say great things. I share Dasein's suspicions. Is there any chance at all that your friend's friends refer to women as "bitches" in a joking fashion?

There are plenty of people like you; it's not necessarily a bad thing, but they are usually found at the front of classrooms, not at keggers. A party with Jell-O shots is not the place to expect a "Oh, heavens! I do apologize. Let me blot that... Send me the dry-cleaning bill, won't you?" Ask Metafilter is not the place to expect "ur a good person :-)" -- there's Yahoo! Answers for that... You probably are a good person, and you probably do not belong at parties that are not "Riedel-crystal-and-caviar affairs."

And, yes, what did you say immediately after the drink was spilled...?
posted by kmennie at 2:19 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Chundo - I didn't say anything back to him, as it all happened really fast. I think he was responding to the look of shock on my face when the cold drink hit me. Could my facial expression have looked bitchy? Perhaps. It wasn't meant that way - just a knee-jerk reaction to being doused with cold liquid.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2007

I think spilling the drink on the guy was a bit out of line. Both of your other incidents, I would consider good things in a friend.

If you can salvage your friendship with this guy, fine, but don't spend any more time with his bonehead friends.
posted by HighTechUnderpants at 2:26 PM on October 29, 2007

Ruby Doomsday, if you'd like to practice not being so defensive, this thread would be a great place to start.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:36 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hrm. "Be nice to me, don't make me hate you and all who share your name!" makes you sound rather... er, a little... well. What would you call someone who talked like that?
posted by st looney up the cream bun and jam at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm... OK, that was just me trying to be funny. Guess it didn't work.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2007

Backing up what others said. When I drink I can get belligerent. Extremely belligerent. I would do things exactly as you've described, and possibly add in some physical-ness as well. I would have done the drink-spilling in your position, and if the guy you dumped your drink on had a temper like yours or mine you can bet it would have turned physical.

I also thought it was amusing and fun for all involved. Actually, my friends basically found it fucking obnoxious but were generally too polite to deck me. I'm betting your friend has just snapped and is sick of dealing with your drunk-ass bullshit.

So as a person with attitude and temper-controlling problems when I drink, I assure you damn dirty ape is right when he says you need to work on these things.

You should not have dumped your drink on a guy for a non-apology, especially since you did not know him. Period. Getting a drink purposefully dumped on you by someone who is not a close friend ruins the night for the vast majority of people. You should apologize to your friend, leave it there, and if you're invited back watch yourself and your behavior. Though if I were you I wouldn't go back, since it seems like friends-of-your-friends are the kinds of assholes who can deal it out but can't take it (though I would not say this drink-spilling incident is one of those situations).
posted by Anonymous at 2:50 PM on October 29, 2007

I think people are getting a bit nitpicky here.

I reiterate that even though this could have been handled better all-around, this is probably a case of you and his friends not being a good fit and irritating each other. Everyone has a right to express displeasure at something that bothers them. How you do stuff like that, and what stuff bothers you in the first place, will dictate the kind of people you hang out with. Your friend's friends are not among those people. Your friend may even not be among those people, either. Spilled drinks at a kegger are not exactly the kinds of things that trigger horrible friend break-ups, so I'm thinking that your personalities may have been at odds for a while.

You apologized. Now it's time to learn what you can from the situation and move on.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:51 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sounds like your friend's wife gave you the boot thru your friend's e-mail account. Are you good friends with said wife?
posted by thomcatspike at 3:00 PM on October 29, 2007

Ruby Doomsday, missed your comments above, so ignore my previous question.

Honestly, since this was an alcohol fueled event in your life, move past it for the better.
What I'm saying, you don't need these people in your life for it to be complete. What can you learn from this? Stay away from the heavy drinking crowd, you don't fit in (this can be a good thing).
posted by thomcatspike at 3:13 PM on October 29, 2007

Can you muster up the humility to make a sincere apology to the jerk who never had the decency to apologize to you?

If you could turn the other cheek, mea culpa, I was so wrong etc., it might go a long way. It's only words and if your friendship means a lot it may be worth it (to him too!).
posted by MiffyCLB at 3:55 PM on October 29, 2007

I'll agree with the folks who are saying, you apologized and move on. By the way, you're not horrible. You have a personality that obviously clashes with invitees to your friend's party, so you might say, your friend's other friends. Avoid future situations that might involve them.
posted by Atreides at 4:04 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you dump a drink on someone on purpose in a bar you get 86ed. You're expecting special treatment for your bad behavior based on your other winning traits? You owe your friend and his cousin-in-law a sincere apology. Then, when you're cleared of all pettiness on your record, you can determine if either of them are petty.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:13 PM on October 29, 2007

Honestly, what are you clinging to here? It sounds like a friendship that has outgrown itself. The end was abrupt, but maybe it was overdue. Unless you really value whatever you two share as a friendship when others aren't around, I'd say just cut your losses and move on.
posted by 45moore45 at 5:01 PM on October 29, 2007

I don't think it's worth it to go through all of this self-recrimination and "clearing your own record". I think you're being too hard on yourself, and maybe you don't have another reference because these so-called friends are the only people you've been getting feedback from. The kind of roughneck chick who smiles and waves her hand at guys who can't see past her boobs, and goes tit for tat at a kegger yet won't let you call her out of her name.....she'd fit in elsewhere. You've already received several responses to that effect, I'm saying don't overlook them.

I know how easy it is to be hard on yourself but I think a lot of these problems are environmental. If you were in a different environment, with different folks, you might fit in just fine. I'm worried that your self-esteem is going to be adversely effected and you'll become even more anxious. I'm trying to say that it's them, not you. Not to say that they're bad, just a different crowd. You don't fit in. Not fitting in can suck, but it just forces you to choose your own friends rather than being chosen.

I look at the way you responded to DDApe. You weren't going to let anyone put you down on a personal level (perhaps too sensitive/defensive?), yet you tried to level it with humor. And the humor was overlooked and you still found yourself misunderstood. But not by me.

I really don't believe this friend is worth all the hassle. He's chosen his path in life. Marriage and family and the boy's club matter more to him. I'd personally advise him not to throw keggers anymore, he has some growing up to do. He's sending mixed signals but the only thing you need to hear is "this ain't for you".
posted by Danila at 5:24 PM on October 29, 2007 [10 favorites]


It's hard to evaluate one's own behavior sometimes, especially in the moment. But you're getting honest feedback from both people who know you and people who don't know you that you should probably chill out and stop taking other people's bad behavior personally.

Sometimes people behave in ways you dislike. You need to shrug it off. Doing otherwise doesn't make you funny or clever or strong, and you're not teaching anyone a lasting lesson about chauvinism or manners by calling them out on stuff they do that you don't like. Relax and try not to let this stuff bother you so much. You'll be happier, and everyone else will be happier with you.
posted by decathecting at 6:08 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd like to second Danila (and a few others) - I really think it's them, not you. Yes it would've been better if you didn't spill your drink on him in retaliation, but all the people here reacting as if you've done the worst thing in the world ever seems to have missed that he rolled his eyes and told you to get over it, from what you said for no reason. Your response to damn dirty ape was similarly just a little on the sensitive side, but your tone was gentle and you made a little joke and it probably just reflected your mental state watching this thread.

I do feel that sometimes when some people see that you are being sensitive (or to them, oversensitive and defensive), they go out of their way to pick on you, as if your sensitivity offends them. I seem to see some of it in this thread. But for what it's worth, I don't feel you've really done a lot wrong - okay, try not to retaliate like that next time - but like Danila I worry that you would take away from this thread that there's something seriously wrong with you. For what it's worth, I wanted to say that if I had a party, I'd love to have you there. You sound like a person I'd like.
posted by Ira.metafilter at 6:26 PM on October 29, 2007 [4 favorites]

I echo those people who have said, "Ditch the friendship." Unless there are some very compelling reasons to keep this guy as a friend, it sounds like you're better off moving on to other friends (and, perhaps, fewer keg parties?).

While I agree that the drink-spilling was rude, this is a keg party we are talking about. Keg parties are hardly hospitable to one's inner Emily Post. If your friend expects genteel behavior, maybe he needs to throw a potluck instead. Drunken, boorish behavior is part of the keg-and-jello-shots-party territory.

My best guess is that your "friend" has used this as an excuse to break off the friendship with you. Whether it's because the drink-spilling incident was the straw that broke the camel's back after a buildup of resentments that he never told you about, OR that he feels you don't fit in with his kegger friends and he's decided to be loyal to that crowd, I cannot know. In either case, I would cut my losses and move on.

If your friend just sat on a buildup of things you did that annoyed him but he didn't tell you about, until he exploded in anger - that's another lesson to take from this. As William Blake wrote, "I was angry with my friend; I told my friend, my wrath did end. I was angry with my foe; I told it not, my wrath did grow." If your friends do things that drive you batty, it's best to tell them before small conflicts escalate into big, friendship-ending fights.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:40 PM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

Do you want to get all Oprah? A very, very similar thing has happened to me in the past. Here's the short of it:

He doesn't want to be your friend and is either not mature enough, polite enough or a general all around asshole to not invite you and explain it is a party for his other group of friends.

It is that simple, he's putting the blame on you. I don't think you were out of line, not that you handled with it with up most poise, but frankly -- what he (the drink spiller) did was a dick move.

That's not the point. The point is he (the host) doesn't want to be your friend, and you're too nice or naive to really see that the issue is nothing to do with the drink incident, he just doesn't want you at his parties.

Here's a personal example (I hate giving these online). I had a friend I was sort of close to. Not best friend, but we'd talk at least once a week, and do a lot of things together. He has parties and started having parties where his television friends (he was an actor on a minor television show) came over. I was nice to everyone, jovial, very easy going. We'd all make jokes about each other, everything was fine. Nothing remotely like your incident took place.

The next day he started hounding me about being an asshole. I was totally lost, as I did nothing out of line with everyone else. So next party I was on mom-is-watching behavior. Same, "you really offended so-and-so," line. I was completely aghast and feeling like shit. Like I was some sort of party asshole that everyone avoided, and I kind of noticed people avoiding me.

So next party, why I kept going is either a matter of debate of either personal pride or just being stubborn, I brought a neutral, mutual friend. I gave him no clue as to previous happenings. I behaved the same, still got some mean looks from friend that was hosting the party, usually happening when I was talking to people.

Afterwards I called up non-industry friend and asked him if in the haze of alcohol I was misbehaving. He was aghast. I asked him if he was sure, and he said I was normal, nice and pleasant to be around. I explained the situation, he said hosting party friend was being crazy. He said if anything, Mr. Host was being petty, and that based on what he saw, I should have been offended by how people treated me.

I felt validated, but the moral was: I just didn't belong. I wasn't one of them. Nothing I could have done could have made it right. I felt better, that I wasn't devolving into some horrific monster of parties, and learned to avoid all of friend's parties in the future.

If this happens with different groups and types of people, you may have some personality changes to do. From the sound of it, this group and you just don't fit. It is no one's fault.

If you need any more advice on how I dealt with it, feel free to message me. I try not to get too personal as not to divulge anyone or talk bad about anyone over the Internet.
posted by geoff. at 7:47 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

Ugh, keg-parties, jell-o shots and douchebag party guests who call women bitches, stare at cleavage and slosh drinks on other people without apologizing, sounds horrible.

I think dumping your drink on the dude was bratty, but I think he kind of deserved it. If you decide to salvage your friendship with your pal, just apologize to him and then don't go to anymore parties or hang out with his douchebag friends.

Hang out with more evolved people who understand your personality better and won't make you feel bad for standing up for yourself.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:14 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've been characterized as the aggressive type. Except when I'm clingy. My social skills are .. not fantastic.

That said - tit-for-tat is a kid's game. I probably would have gone to the host and said "Dude, that bloke over there spilled his drink on me and said ____. What a jerk, eh? Can I have something to dry myself off with?" ... and gotten on with the party.

To me, it sounds like you have to learn to pick your battles - and learn how to just walk away when it's not worth it. And at a party - it's never worth it.
posted by ysabet at 9:36 PM on October 29, 2007

Good lord you people. Seems to me Ruby Doomsday has answered quite a few questions here with grace and precious little defensiveness. Specially considering comments like "Frankly, you sound like a blowhard...."

Ruby Doomsday, it sounds to me like you have the difficult personality of not liking to take shit from people, yet shriveling under the blowback after you call them on it. You have an uncomfortable combination of aggressiveness and sensitivity. Uncomfortable for you and, probably, for these friends of your friend.

Solution, as others have suggested: Don't hang out with these people. Really. The guy who can't look a woman in the face when conversing is the one who should be barred from parties. Don't worry about it; don't go back.

Not that throwing your drink was an okay thing to do at the most recent party--it wasn't, as you've acknowledged. But honestly, given the circumstances, I think your friend's throwing over a 7-year relationship over an event he was too wasted to remember is--ahem--a slightly worse solecism. You apologized; you reminded him (!!) what happened. At this point he owes you an apology for how he handled the whole thing. If it's not forthcoming, then move on.

And in the future: confronted with assholish behavior, think for a moment. Is it worth making an issue over it? Can you sustain your outrage, or is it just going to make you, and possibly others, feel bad later?

Good luck to you.
posted by torticat at 10:05 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

This question reminds me of trying to decode how to fit in during homeroom. ("Hmm, shoplifting seems to be part of the coolness formula... Should I pretend I got grounded?... 'Yeah, I flunked that quiz too.'") The ultimate answer? Graduate and move on.

You can continue to refine the way you interact with the world, but don't worry too much about what this one set of interactions means. You will find people with whom you click much better, and you will get feedback about your behavior that is much more gentle and trustworthy. This person's feedback says as much about him as it does about you.
posted by salvia at 11:39 PM on October 29, 2007 [3 favorites]

I echo those who say the end of your friendship was probably coming for quite some time and he just used this as a reason to sever the friendship. Although it's odd he had to be reminded who the "culprit" was. If your behavior at his past parties showed a pattern, you would've been top on the list of suspects.

You can't force someone to forgive you. You've explained your side and your only hope is that over time things won't seem as dire as they are now. Perhaps have your own parties and invite him so he can see that the problem might just be the people he hangs out with?

You can also tone down your own behavior. It's a party. People work all week and they don't want to have to walk around on eggshells just so they won't offend the woman who can't relax and have fun. If a guy is staring at your chest, end the conversation and walk away. If a guy is calling women bitches, internally roll your eyes and write him off as a dick. Not everything has to be a crusade.
posted by firevoice at 11:49 PM on October 29, 2007

i don't think you did anything wrong at all, stick up for yourself, ruby. in your next and probably final conversation with your former friend, feel free to mock him for being so drunk he couldn't even remember who doused his cousin-in-law, and also for possessing such small cojones that he's actually letting someone else in his family determine the course of his friendships.
posted by bruce at 1:35 AM on October 30, 2007

torticat's take is the closest to mine. I don't think you've been defensive in this thread at all. Arguing is not quite the same thing as being defensive. The idea is to be open enough to hear someone's take, not swallow any bullshit that comes down the pike.

As torticat mentioned, aggressiveness and sensitivity do not mix well. I'm not sure there's a simple solution for that. Being aware of it and avoiding situations you do poorly in is probably the best you can do.

Throwing the drink is a bit much, so is getting on someone's case for saying 'bitches'. Still, it's hardly the end of the world, and some of us are slow learners.

Your friend does have the right to get upset over he doesn't remember so if you happen to talk to him don't go with that line. It would piss me off if I was to hear it while standing in his shoes. But you can certainly point out that since he doesn't remember it himself, he isn't giving you a fair shake, especially since so much of our judgment depends on our mood when we witness an event.

But still, further contact on your part isn't really warranted. If you haven't heard anything and you are so inclined, in a couple of months send an email and see if he is receptive to doing something. Don't spend more than a sentence or two saying anything about the party and don't expect much in response.
posted by BigSky at 10:44 AM on October 31, 2007

« Older Ask a Librarian   |   HFS+ yields advantage for Mac users? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.