The Case of the Missing Loot


Dear Amy:I’m torn. I was recently at my best friend’s birthday party. I’ve known him since childhood.

I usually never carry cash, but I had some in my purse on this particular evening.

I was mostly hanging out with his girlfriend and left my purse, closed and tucked away, in the living room.

There were only four other people at the party besides my friend, his girlfriend and me.

The next morning I noticed that $80 was missing from my purse.

I was really blown away by this. I confronted my friend about it to see if he knew who would have taken it, and he completely blew me off.

He told me that no one at his house would do that, but I know I didn’t lose or spend it because it was in my purse when I arrived.

I feel completely betrayed because I think he should replace it, and he says it’s not his problem. What should I do?

I love our friendship, but if he’s not willing to help protect people’s personal property when they’re in his house how can I really trust being in his house unless I have my purse tightly in my grip?— Hurt Friend

Amy actually buys into this nonsense:

Dear Hurt:I agree with you that this creates a problem in your friendship but disagree that your friend should replace your stolen money — unless, of course, he took it, which you don’t seem to believe he did.

Approach your friend again, and tell him that his reaction concerns you. Ask him if he has any ideas of who might have taken it, and ask for his help and advice.

For the sake of your longtime friendship, you should give him an opportunity to step up and be a compassionate friend to you now.

And yes, I agree that in the future you should watch your valuables while at his house.

This issue requires some group intervention. I’d like to come over to your house some evening and discuss this in person with you and everyone who was at the party.  I am sure that I’ll find $5000 missing from my wallet that I knew I had when I arrived, but discover is missing the next day.  Even though you never saw it, I’m sure since we were all at your house, you would agree that is your responsibility to re-imburse me for my lost money (which you never saw by the way – just trust me).

Do you see how bat-shit crazy that sounds?  Now imagine how your friend feels. I don’t know where you grew up, but here’s a lesson that us city folk learn when we are children: Always watch your shit. If you don’t, it’s your own fucking fault. Just because you invite people over to your house, doesn’t mean that you are responsible for everything they may do. If you want to hang on to your valuable stuff, use the sense that God gave a squirrel and don’t let it out of your sight or hide it where no one will find it.

"Ridiculous --- NEXT!"

The last thing I would do is bring it up again. Your friend didn’t care much the first time.  Bitching about it again won’t help either. It will sound accusatory. And let’s be honest, you obviously think he had something to do with it and was using his girlfriend to distract you. You wouldn’t think he had a responsibility to replace it if you didn’t.

Had you discovered it before you left, or had some hard evidence, I would say press the issue, but you don’t.  Any number of things could have happened in the time you left his house until the next morning.  Accusing others of theft without any real proof only deflects any responsibility from your own actions.



Party Poopers

As today is my birthday, I thought this column from Annie’s Mailbox was appropriate.  Needless to say, this writer did not receive an invitation to my party.

Gifts at State Dinners are not expected - but invitations are.

Worst Guests Ever.

Dear Annie: Every year, friends of ours have birthday parties at their homes and at bars. We usually can’t go because of other obligations, but when we do go, are we obligated to bring a gift? Or is a birthday card with well wishes sufficient?

If gifts are not expected and it is simply a fun get-together, shouldn’t they say “no gifts”? We enjoy seeing friends, but by having these parties every year, it seems they are only interested in presents. To find a gift that costs only a few dollars is practically impossible. Is it wrong to feel this way? Can we just bring a card? Should we skip the party altogether? — B-Day Party Guest

Annie says:

Dear Guest: People who like to celebrate their birthdays are inclined to do so once every year. In most instances, these are very informal events. If the party is at a bar, you can treat the birthday celebrant to a drink. At their house, bring a snack or a bottle of something. It would be a shame to avoid all such parties because you are fixated on the presents. Go and have a good time.


First off, if your idea of a proper gift consists of something that can be had for a few dollars, trust me when I tell you that there is no way these friends of yours are inviting you to their parties for your presents. Considering the pettiness of your gripe, I doubt it’s your charm and winning social skills either.  If I were you, I’d be wondering less about what you should be bringing and more puzzled about why these friends of yours are inviting you in the first place.

In polite society, decent people bring something to the host of a party.  This is especially true for birthdays. You really should consider yourselves lucky if birthday parties  are the only gift giving events that you are obligated to attend.  My social calendar is chock-full of invitations that come with a gift as the price of admission – weddings, bridal showers, kids birthdays, Christmas parties, bar mitzvahs. The list goes on and on, and it only gets worse as you get older and your friends keep breeding.

Friendships are seemingly never-ending parade of obligations and inconveniences.   We put up with this crap because most people can see the long view and have a concept of reciprocity. What hippies call karma is real.  You give gifts to get them, and you get them by putting out your friends as much as they do you.

What your letter is really saying is that not only do you go to your friends parties and try to weasel your way out of giving them a gift for their effort, but you also don’t host your own damn parties making sure they return the favor. You are upsetting the natural balance of things, and that is the real cause of your frustration.

I mean seriously, you also have a birthday every damn year!  Stop complaining about how your friends are all grabby gift whores and do what they do.  Throw yourselves birthday parties. Everything will balance out, and the cash you spend on your friends will come back to you in equal measure in the form of gift cards to restaurants you hate, sweaters that don’t fit, and books you already have.

Hell, if they are dumb enough to keep inviting  you ungrateful little shits to their parties, you could probably get away with throwing yourselves to or even three birthday parties a year. Pop out a few kids, get divorced and remarried, and soon you’ll have an attic full of useless crap courtesy of your nearest and dearest.

When it comes to gifts, presentation is everything

When it comes to gifts, presentation is everything

One last thing to mention for my readers.  Stating “No Gifts” is the biggest no-win social situation there is.  It is a notice more often ignored than “wet paint” or “hot plate.”

There is always some asshole who ignores it and makes everyone look bad.  Worse, if most of your friends are assholes, there will undoubtedly be many gifts.  The writers of this letter obviously have no shame, but do you really want to be spending the entire party saying “I thought they said no gifts?” See what following clearly laid out instructions gets you?

There is a great defense to this passive aggressive ploy.  If you get one of these “your presence is our present” invites, gift wrap the biggest empty box that you can find  but (this is key)  leave it in your car. When you get to the party, if only one or two people have gifts, hang onto it for the next one.  If there are many gifts, loudly announce “I left mine in my car” and go get it. Chances are, the biggest box will be opened immediately.  When your host discovers it’s empty, simply say “you said no gifts, and that is no gift.”  The host will appreciate the joke, the people who brought real gifts will secretly envy that everyone liked your nothing better than their something, and the people who didn’t bring gifts will appreciate the vindication. Most importantly, everyone will know not to play mind games with you.