My advice: Take advantage of friends’ kindness

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from readers looking for a more open and honest relationship with their friends.

Q. Our best friends, “Bill and Melinda,” are financially well off. My husband and I make just enough to get by. We have been friends for a long time and always have a good time together. “Bill and Melinda” are always inviting us to go with them on expensive trips. When we say we can’t afford it, they insist on paying. They even offered to buy us a membership in their country club. When we explain we’re uncomfortable with them paying for everything, they tell us the money is no big deal. How can we make them understand that we appreciate their generosity but are uncomfortable accepting their charity? – Not Only Poor But Really, Really Stupid

A. I think that if you’re truly best friends with these folks, you should be able to have an honest conversation about your concerns. I suspect they don’t even realize your discomfort, and would try to be more understanding if they did. I also would bet that they consider your friendship far more valuable than anything they could buy, and that’s why they want to be so generous.

No – forget that. It’s entirely too reasonable.

I would make a point of entertaining them the best way you can afford, in the coziness of your own home. The fanciest restaurant in the world can’t compare with a home-cooked meal of spam-and-dog-food lasagna around the small bench you call a dining room table. Go all out for this event, setting a trash fire in the corner of the room to provide the right ambience and putting a block of cheese on the back porch to draw out all the rats. After your friends have had a few glasses of malt liquor, all class differences will be forgotten.

Then, when they return the favor by inviting you into their home, be prepared to thoroughly ransack the place looking for jewelry, cash and expensive electronics to be loaded into your pick-up truck and hauled away while they’re preparing the canapés. If they happened to surprise you during your looting spree, just laugh it off – in as threatening and maniacal a laugh as you can summon.

By the way, you say these people are named “Bill and Melinda.” That wouldn’t be Bill and Melinda Gates, would it? If so, make sure you also steal the Microsoft stock certificates.

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