Friends and cash: etiquette question

I’m in a bit of an etiquette quandry. Some very old friends (a married couple; I’ve known her since they started dating over 10 years ago, and known him since high school, i.e. 15+ years ago) told me they had two tickets left for this Tuesday’s Peter Gabriel concert, and asked if I would take them off their hands, as most of their other friends had already bought tickets and they were unexpectedly left with extras. I said yes, knowing that concert tickets for something like this are never cheap, but figuring for something special I could lay out $40-some bucks, since Gabriel is a big favorite of mine and he doesn’t tour very often. I then offered the second ticket to a guy who I have been alternately Dating and then Not Dating for the past 3 months (looooong story, about which I’ve already written a couple of threads; basically, I really like him, he likes me, we’re attracted to each other, have tons in common, and get along wonderfully, but he’s really not yet over his ex, so things have been a little awkward here and there, which only complicates the issue I am about to present). He accepted and is very psyched about the whole thing, as am I.

Well, I called the wife yesterday to arrange to meet up before the concert and/or pick up the tickets from them, and asked how much I owed her. She replied, “Well, I’m sure we can arrange something; I wasn’t planning on charging you the full cost of what we paid for them. I bought them without price in mind, really, and it’s no big deal; they’d just go unused otherwise.” I pressed her on how much they were, and apparently they aren’t the cheap seats that I’d assumed (not that those would even have been that cheap), but cost $80-some each. Well, that’s quite a chunk of change, and if it were just my ticket I’d probably make her take the whole amount, but $160 when I was expecting $40-some is quite a chunk out of the budget…plus I know my Semi-Non-Dude wasn’t expecting it, either, and we’re not at the stage where I want to go around in circles about finances if it’s more than a couple of bucks for a drink or a movie ticket.

So I’m trying to come up with an arrangement which will be fair to all concerned, but which won’t cost anyone $160, although my friend a) can easily afford the tickets, and b) insists that I can just take them out to dinner sometime and we can call it even…I was thinking of maybe trading a night of babysitting, since they have 2 little kids and don’t get out much, but can anyone else think of a creative solution or two?

If you do meet up with everyone before hand (as opposed to just picking up the tix in advance), you could do so over a bottle of wine or two. If you’re rendevous at somone’s house/apartment you could bring the wine and some cheeses, light snacks, etc. If you’re meeting out, you could find a place with decent light fare (I’m thinking a Spanish place would be good for this). I’d do that and add the standing offer for babysitting/dinner(depending on which they prefer).

I think the only reasonable solution is to send the tickets to me directly. I am GREEN with envy.

Anyway, do the dinner thing and call it even if that’s what they want. Don’t sweat it.

Well, I wish there were going to be time for a nice, leisurely dinner beforehand, but unfortunately I think Non-Dude and I will both be rushing straight from jury duty and work, respectively, with maybe a few minutes to grab a sandwich. Maybe this will just have to be an excuse to get to gether on another occasion!

I like the wine idea. Or bring them champagne.

You should have asked about the price of the tickets the first time around, that would have saved you trouble. Right now, it is only fair that you take the tickets at the face value from your friend.

I would insist on paying full price, if at all possible. As an alternative, I would simply say that I hadn’t realized they cost that much and that I couldn’t justify the expense. If your friends offer you the tickets as a birthday or xmas present, that is a different story—grab’em and run.

From what she said to you about not paying full price she may well realise that it’s too big an expense for you. I figure pay the $40, thank her profusely, and do the babysitting/take her for meal instead.

As someone who obviously could afford them, and seems a nice person, I think she would be horrified to think of you struggling to such big expense, and very uncomfortable.

From what you say, she clearly doesn’t want or expect you to pay full price. You have done the honourable thing by offering to pay, now do the honourable thing by accepting her generosity.

Well, so far I’ve done the first half of what istara said…and it took a lot of arguing even to get her to accept my check…and I promised her we’d discuss the remainder later. Yes, she is a very nice and generous person…we had a nice long talk last night about all kinds of girl stuff (her husband had taken their older daughter out for the evening). I think we both needed some “girl talk,” and she can certainly use the grownup face time now that she’s home with the kids full-time. I think she’s partly also hoping to cheer me up (check out my recent Pit thread on my current medical situation if you want to know why).

I’m seriously thinking the babysitting thing could possibly be even better than cash for both of us…she gets a nice grownup “date” with her husband, and I get to sucker my Non-Dude into keeping me company over there for an evening with a couple of videos or something.