Prom dates and breaking promises. Warning: No Scotsmen present.

MATHA and DONNA are high school seniors. Martha is gorgeous and popular, Donna is smart but dowdy. Martha is having a great deal of trouble in Algebra II; she nearly flunked the fall semester, and if she does not improve during the spring will not graduate on time. Donna is a nerd and very good at math; she tutors for money, income she needs to buy a car.

Martha cannot afford to pay Donna’s rates. At the beginning of the spring semester, the girls agree that, if Donna waives her fee, Martha will accompany her to prom. Only the date. dancing and a kiss at the end of the evening are promised; Martha does not feel ready for sex with anyone… Donna knows accepts that. She just wants to dance and be seen with Martha.

Martha ends up using four of Donna’s weekly tutoring slots, forcing Donna to take on a lot of extra work to keep the car purchase on schedule. Still, at the cost of many skipped movies & video-playing sessions, she manages to buy the car on schedule. She also makes herself a very nice dress for prom, which she would not otherwise have done.

Thanks to the individual attention, Martha passes. But during this time she also meets ROSE , who is hot and rich and as moral as a c housecat. She makes Martha forget all about her virginity-discard schedule. Afterwards Rose declares that she wants more than sex with Martha, but to share the most romantic night of high school with her–that is, senior prom. She wants Martha to blow Donna off.

Assuming Donna does not agree to this, may Martha break the prom date? If your answer is yes, why is it acceptable? If your answer is no, does it matter if Rose offers to pay Donna what she would have made if she had charged Martha for the tutoring?

It’s a tiny bit grey. Donna shouldn’t have asked for a deal like that, but having made, Martha is being a rat to renege. Assuming the kiss is just for show it’s a legitimate contract, but it’s also teenagers and a prom, and the possibility of Martha forming an actual relationship with someone else was always present. And I suspect Donna had more in mind than just wanting to be seen with Martha at the prom. Donna should bow out, Martha should go with Donna, there’s no real win-win here. Donna should be the bigger woman and step aside, Martha should find another way to repay Donna. Of course there’s the possibility of win-win-win in this situation, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that is.

Geez Skald, between this and the Nebbish Sean I think you’re practicing for a stint as the author of some Dear Penthouse letters.
Donna, despite being book-smart, was not street smart enough to know that demanding someone take you to prom in exchange for tutoring never works. So really, she should not have made that bargain in the first place.

That being said, while exchanging services is a fine contract, the out if one service has been performed but the other refuses is usually monetary compensation. If Rose wants to pay Donna for Martha’s schooling, Donna should consider it even. I imagine Donna won’t, being a teenager, but that’s the best she can hope for. The real payment she’s gotten is a life lesson in why you don’t contract services for something down the road. Especially not overtly romantic services.

I’m mercenary enough that, if I were Donna, I’d take the money, if Rose offered to pay, but I’d try to bump it up by at least 10 percent, for the inconvenience. If the offer of compensation were not on the table, well… I’m also petty enough to do something to publicly embarrass Martha and Rose.

The OP does not say that Donna asked for the deal. I started to include the information that the exchange was Martha’s idea, then decided to leaveit ambiguous.

What, a three-way? Nah. Lesbian sex is boring to me, and I will see authorially that Rose is not interested in bopping Donna.

Hardly. Apart from the aforementioned fact that lesbian sex is boring to me, made all three characters girls not for prurient purposes but to remove gender issues from the equation. And, again, sex was never on the table between Donna and Martha.

Again, the OP says nothing about whose idea it was. Why are you assuming that it was Donna’s notion? Martha was the person more in need of a favor. Donna wasn’t planning on going to the prom in the first place (recall the line about the dress she made herself) and may well have been fine playing WORLD OF WARCRAFT all night.

ell, I didn’t go to my senior prom, despite having a similar opportunity with a girl who would have honored the agreement if we’d made it. The only girl I cared about was married with another guy’s kid, and I generally despised my classmates, so I decided I’d rather go be a hellion.

Anyway, the questio isn’t whether Donna should accept the money. The question is *whether Martha is behaving unethically in breaking the date.[/I she accepted the services and got the benefit she coveted. She’s not denying Donna sex; that was never going to happen. What she has denied Donna is many hours of time and leisure. Donna can’t get those back.

The questio isn’t whether Donna should take the money. It is “What is the ethical thing for Rose to do?” What Donna should do is irrelevant.

(Although obviusly Donna should take the money, go to prom by herself, and pay of her of male nerd friends to egg Martha’s car while she has an alibi.)

And charge VAT, don’t forget VAT…

What about MATHA? Why is the first character named never mentioned again?

I assume that’s a typo. My eyes are bad so it’s difficult for me to proofread

Chris Adams: You forget one thing. We took a contract.

Vin Tanner: It’s sure not the kind any court would enforce.

Chris: That’s just the kind you’ve got to keep.

[/Magnificent Seven]

The gender was irrelevant to my comment.

Why are you assuming that I think Donna came up with the arrangement? The point is that it was a stupid bargain to accept, regardless of whose idea it was.

In general though, I think that if Martha finds a way to pay back Donna, that’s a fulfillment of the bargain, no matter how ill thought out it was.

Q: If there’s no Scotsman present, who ended up with the blue silk ribbon at the end of the night? :confused:

I don’t know what you mean. I was making a DOCTOR WHO joke. The Tenth Doctor was played by a Scotsman and had three major companions, Rose, Donna, and Martha. (But only Martha was beautiful, and she was also the smart one.)

I’m not assuming that Donna came up with the arrangement. As I wrote upthread, I decided to leave unstated whose idea it was. But you assumed in your initial response that it was Donna’s idea, despite there being no evidence one way of the other.

I can imagine it going either way. But it’s pretty clear to me that Martha needed the deal more than Donna did. That could mean that Martha was willing to offer the date, or that Donna felt free to request it. I don’t see how that affects Martha’s ethical choice.

When one party writes the contract it should be interpreted in favor of the other party. So if this was Donna’s idea, and the terms are questionable, Martha shouldn’t have to honor the deal. I assume they didn’t write anything down, so it’s not so easy to work that out with an oral contract. But I would say a reasonable man would find problems with a prom based services contract that doesn’t account for sincere (and/or lustful) relationships arising prior to the prom.

Even if Martha goes with Donna all they’ll do is show up together, probably right along side Rose, share one dance, and Martha and Rose will hang out together all evening anyway, and Donna may not want that kiss by the end of it anyway. Donna should face reality and step aside.

It depends on what the OP means by “may” (as in, “May Martha break the prom date?”). If it means, “Should she?,” then my answer is, “No, unless Donna is happy with Rose’s offer to pay for the tutoring.”

However, the way the deal is phrased, technically, it could go something like this: Martha arrives at the prom with Donna, they have one (non-slow) dance together, and Martha then pecks Donna on the cheek - “Evening’s over; there’s your kiss” - and spends the rest of the prom with Rose.

Come on, this is an easy one. Do what you say you are going to do. If you say you are taking someone to the prom, then do it. If you don’t you are a jerk.

If Martha doesn’t want to take Donna anymore, then she should pay for whatever prom expenses that Donna suffered, plus pay the rate for the tutoring she got.

Yes, but in this case Donna may be a jerk also. Rose wasn’t part of the agreement but she’s not looking so good either.

ETA: There may be another solution. Get Rose and Donna together, tell them the only way to resolve this is to cut Martha in half. If one of them objects you’ll know they weren’t really as obsessed as they were pretending to be.

I agree with TriPolar. I feel bad for Donna; I coud have been her in high school, except I would have tutored English instead of math. But TP has the gist of it: Martha will probaby do the minimum she has to to fufill the agreement and then spend the rest of the evening with Rose, leaving Donna in that never comfortable position of third wheel.

In a perfect world, where I was Queen, Martha would man up, take Donna to the prom, treat her nicely, that is, dance, laugh, pay attention to her, and, at the end of the evening, give her the agreed-upon chaste kiss. Rose can just contain her raging hormones for one night and be impressed that the girl she’s in love with keeps her promises. Yeah, I know, I’m a dreamer.

What’s making the terms questionable?

Martha wants Donna’s tutoring service. She can’t pay for them monetarily, so they agree that the prom date and a single kiss will be the payment. Donna delivers the promised services, forgoing the opportunity to make money in the process (or, if you like obliging herself to work harder elsewhere to maintain her income). Donna does nothing to harm Martha – she doesn’t get handsy or try to up the ante sexually–but does not preparations to attend the prom, which she would not otherwise have done.

Again, how are the terms questionable? Donna isn’t asking Martha to fuck her or to forgo fucking Rose. She is asking Martha to fulfill the prom date promise. To me that means one of them picks the other up; they take pictures together, and share the first and last dances. Oh, and that one kiss, which can be on the cheek. Martha can party with her new girlfriend after the prom. And I mean later that night. If tings are down now as they were when I was a lad, that is when the more intense partying happens anyway.

As you well know, I love you more than chocolate cheesecake with raspberries on top. But you’re answering the wrong question. The question is not what Donna should do; it’s whehter Martha may ethically break the date.

How would Donna be a jerk in this case?