Dear Abby: Here’s how I ended up paying $80 for a salad and water

DEAR ABBY: I recently celebrated my sixth anniversary of sobriety. I keep having the same issue pop up time and time again, and I’m not sure how to deal with it.

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Dear Abby: I’m not a homewrecker, I just need help

If I’m invited to dinner with a friend or a group, when the bill comes, someone usually suggests splitting it evenly among the people there.

My issue is that my water and my salad come out to an average of $30, including the tip. Meanwhile, other members of the group order several alcoholic beverages, which in Los Angeles aren’t cheap.

The first time it happened, I’d had dinner with a friend and left the restaurant asking myself why my tab was $80.

What’s a polite way of expressing that I would like to pay only my portion of the bill? I don’t want to seem cheap, but fair is fair.


DEAR SOBER AND SMART: I agree that fair is fair. That’s why, the next time you go to a restaurant with friends, you should ask your server in advance for a separate check.

If your companions ask why, explain the obvious — that you are a teetotaler and prefer not to pay for alcoholic beverages you haven’t consumed.

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DEAR ABBY: Our wonderful daughter has her doctorate. She’s a hardworking professor, a job she loves.

Her husband, “Phil,” has three master’s degrees and also his doctorate. In their 20 years of marriage, he has not worked a single job. He would say he is a writer, but if I am generous, he has earned perhaps $250 during their marriage.

Phil is rude, disrespectful, stunningly immature, a bully, toxic and passive-aggressive. He drinks too much and goes to the gym three hours a day.

I worked as a psychiatric social worker. My wife of 42 years, who has never said one negative thing about anybody, refers to our son-in-law as “the Grump.”

Their 10-year-old son is a joy and a blessing to be with. Unlike his father, he has a work ethic and is kind and grateful.

I fully understand we don’t control anybody else and often cannot even influence their choices. Over the years, we have spent many nights in tears over what Phil has done or said to us.

We have been very generous to them during their marriage. We wish we could keep our daughter and grandson and give Phil a one-way ticket.

Our daughter seems reasonably happy in the marriage, but we suspect she’s afraid to say anything for fear of being bullied. Any thoughts?


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DEAR SEEING: Your daughter has stayed married to this “winner” for a reason.

If she is fearful of what will happen if she speaks up about her feelings, it seems to me her husband may have more to lose than she will if he gets out of line.

You are entitled to share your feelings about him, but in the final analysis, the choice is up to her about how she wants to live her life.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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