Broke-Ass Emily Post

“When Mrs. Worldly gives a dinner… She  looks through her “dinner list” and orders her secretary to invite the Oldworlds, the Eminents, the Learneds, the Wellborns, the Highbrows, and the Onceweres” –Emily Post in Etiquette

Hmmm. I don’t know about this, Madame Emily. This begs a question of the leisure class: what about the charming Uninsureds, the young Mr and Miss Starving, and that sweet French/Indian/Jewish couple les Petit-Brokes? If they get the invite what are they to do?I ask this question in light of a recent slew of what I’ll call simply: The $100 Dinner. Since the dawn of the new year alone Sweetheart and I have gotten the invite to go to three such marvelous sounding dinners, each one at the kind of shiny dinner places where, as taxidermy is my witness, there is certain to be a $36 steak frite on the menu and a $15 rye cocktail named after Dutch Schultz, as well as some sort of great sounding $12 small plate that Sweetheart and I would be more than happy to share. We are invited to celebrate a birthday, a reunion, a friend in town… and so, because we love, we go. We split our small plate brussels sprout lardon jammer, have two glasses of wine, and the bill comes while you’re in the bathroom and it’s broken down… $100. Per person. What the What? Emily Post, despite passing her prime dinner throwing years during the great depression, must have been rich. Otherwise how could she afford so many correct napkins and forks? How could she have left us so bereft of guidance at a time when it’s totally ok for the Wellborns and the Highbrows to blow $100 each on a single meal, but some of us would really rather buy a bridesmaids dress with that money (HAHA JUST KIDDING! We’d rather pay for our HEALTHCARE with that money… or rather, we’d rather pay for 1/6 of our healthcare for one month with that money! Ha ha. ha. [sound of sobbing]).But- I digress. I’m loathe to write any of this down for the same reason I’m loathe to snatch the check up from the table and break out my abacus the moment it arrives. I feel like I sound like a jerk. A petulant, broke jerk. Even though my fellow Americans are supposedly in such an economic slump that double dipping will never again sound like something awesome to do with chips, that doesn’t stop some people from looking at you aghast when you talk about healthcare, ask for a doggy bag, or try to suggest itemizing the bill. No one wants to think about how broke anyone else is. Especially not the broke-asses in question. Sigh. So. Maybe we don’t need you, Miss Post, maybe we need a new you, a Miss Broke-Ass Emily Post for the modern era to tell us what a girl’s to do?

Any guidance, dear readers?

I’m going tonight to my fourth potential $100 dinner tonight, bidding my dear yogi Sara adieu as she departs for India to polish her sanskrit and eat coconuts, and I’m going to try out a few diversionary recessionary tactics. I’ll let you know how it works out.


Emily Post quote and image from here.


Author: loiseaufait

Little by little the bird feathers its nest, and object by heart burnished object we surround ourselves with lovely necessities of memory and function. It is these things that make a silly Apartment a Home or a silly Wednesday an Occasion. Whether my nest is an old farmhouse, a sixth floor tenement walk up, or a brownstone basement... whether I share it with family, vagabonds, women of heart and mind, or a little brown cat and a sweet ginger banjo, my principal joy is filling it with light and laughter (and corralling).

6 thoughts on “Broke-Ass Emily Post”

  1. This is a great question, and one I have struggled with myself. My grandfather, ever the curmudgeony (sp?) pessimist, used to say you should always order the most expensive and delicious thing on the menu at a group dinner, that way at least you will have enjoyed the meal you’re paying for. Which is one answer, though no help for the wallet. I think, if you know that you are not going to be having a full meal like other people, say, just the small plate and a glass of wine, I think it must be perfectly acceptable to discreetly let your server know that you want a separate check. And, if the dinner is in honor of someone, throw a reasonable amount of cash in the general pot. Good luck!

  2. I always have that problem! (especially in NYC). All of my solutions are fairly crappy though.
    1) Eat absolutely nothing and have one glass of wine. That way you can simply say, “I only had one glass of wine”. No spending, no paying. Sometimes (sadly) I even left early and left cash for my drink just to be on the safe side.
    2) Be the first to grab the bill and without apologies or hesitation write your name on the top and how much you owe and put down a card. I always round up and add a couple of dollars just to be on the safe side. Hand it to the next person and smile.

    I looked into this a while ago and the only solution I found online was to politely say that you are on a budget and you need to pay for only what you consumed. But I didn’t want to bring it up at the table that I was the only one without a well-paying job, so I go by the above. I used to just put a credit card down and suck it up, but on my 3rd such dinner and being incredibly broke I started to have to actually do something about it.

  3. Show up a little late after they have ordered and say you had already eaten. Then if you still feel bad you can order a couple of deserts for the table to share. will still be less than the $100 per. As a final cost saving move, tip with Jefferson $2 bills, nobody ever has them, and waiters think they’re cool so a $8 tip is the equivalent of a $12 (or so I’m told!) That’s it for my friendly advice!

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