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An economically disadvantaged discussion:

I have a friend who recently came into a great deal of money.  It wasn’t the lottery, but years of hard work that paid off dramatically.  Now he can afford much nicer things, and I find myself insecure about returning any kind of hospitality.  He’s never said anything one way or the other – he’s actually been beyond gracious.  However, I can’t afford to entertain at his expensive level, and he doesn’t “tone it down”.  What can I do to make him bring it “down a notch”?


Whatever it is, please don’t “put it in quotes”.  God.  Ugh.  Anyway – OK –

Did you say this person was a friend?  Because if it’s a friend that you’re having this insecurity about, you really just need to quit.  If you were capital F Friends, then he’s happy to share his good fortune and all you have to do is send a thank you note and reciprocate at the level you are capable of – and even that he might miss, now that you don’t have him over cause you drink cheap booze.

If it’s going out to dinner – and it’s your treat – say so in advance.  If he starts ordering from the bottom of the wine list, a cocked head and a well placed “Dude” should elicit the appropriate response.  He’ll either waft his arms open and say “Hey, the wine’s on me!” – in which case, drink up – or he’ll back off and let you order the paint thinner.

Hey!  You might be thinking… It’s not that bad!  I don’t drink THAT cheap of booze… it’s just that…

Just that what?  That somehow because he has more purchasing power, your previously decent bottle of wine is something to be ashamed of?  That the cheap-n-cheerful libations of your mutual history have to be forgotten, replaced by a more subtle and, might I remind you, entirely subjective liquid experience?  There are wines in rather large bottles that you would think by volume should cost twice as much that are as simple, flavorful and accessible as a beaujolais nouveau, and I return to them time and again for large events, mixers, cooking (and drinking while cooking) and just a good ol’ cheap drunk.  We’ve known each other for a long time, and even when I’m flush, I know there is no shame in a sturdy vin du table.  Just because I’ve found a fine wine with particularly luscious flavor suddenly within my price range, it doesn’t mean I’m going to wash a baby in it and throw it all out.

That would be disloyal, like regarding suddenly poorer friends as somehow beneath your new wad o’ cash.  If he doesn’t think that, then why do you?

Self-consciousness in this regard – well, in most regards, really – is a peculiar manifestation of vanity.  To think you rate on any level where all (or any) eyes turn to you with certainty, or scrutiny, or any kind of teleological tape measure is just absurd.  So here’s you – without so much as lifting a finger to star in a movie or write a bestseller – suddenly concerned with what everybody is going to think?

Let me tell you, everybody is going to be thinking about themselves.

Letting your vanity paralyze you into inaction – you call it fear of failure, I call it being full of yourself, whatever – really translates to this in the real world: you’re snubbing an old friend.  So cut it out and invite him over for dinner.  Make pasta.  Serve something cheap and flavorful, lots of it, and talk late into the night about what it is that matters most – your friendship.


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