DEAR JEANNE & LEONARD: For several months, I’ve been going out with a guy I really like. But one thing he does drives me crazy: Every time we go to dinner and the server asks if we’d like coffee, he asks how much it costs — unless the price is on the menu, and it rarely is. Am I wrong to think that this behavior is more than a little peculiar, maybe even boorish? So you know, we take turns buying dinner, so half the time he’s not even paying for the meal.
— C.G. DEAR C.G.: Only one thing drives you crazy? This guy’s a keeper.
But to answer your question: There’s nothing boorish about asking a server the cost of a beverage. It’s the restaurant that’s out of line in omitting that information from its menu (and hoping customers like you will feel it’s inappropriate to ask). Shame on places that pretend to be above listing the price of incidentals they are only too happy to charge for, while simultaneously charging more than they’d dare to were they posting the price on their menus.
What, our ranting hasn’t reversed your perspective on your boyfriend’s behavior? Then your only choice is to tell him how you feel, and see if he’d at least be willing to not ask about the price of coffee in front of you.
DEAR JEANNE & LEONARD: Believing strongly that our three grandchildren should have the benefit of a college education, my wife and I promised them and their parents we’d contribute $20,000 a year toward the cost, as long as they’re full-time students working toward a degree. Happily, the two oldest are at good universities and doing well. But our youngest grandchild, who will be a senior in high school, wants to be an actor and says he isn’t interested in college. He’s proposed that, instead of subsidizing a college education, we give him $20,000 a year for four years so he can go to New York, take acting classes and pursue a career on the stage. While we admire his ambition, we feel he should first get a degree. On the other hand, this boy has never been much of a student, and it seems unfair to be giving so much money to the other two grandchildren and nothing to him. Your thoughts?
DEAR PERPLEXED: New York is not the only place in the world where a person can learn to be an actor. There are plenty of colleges with strong dramatic arts programs, some of which are bound to be a good fit for your grandson. If the guidance counselor at his high school can’t point him in the right direction, a professional college counselor can.
As for the fairness issue, you’re right to be concerned. What you’ve done for your other grandchildren is, in a sense, launch them. So if college just isn’t in the cards for this one, it would be nice if you could offer him a comparable leg up. But what form that leg up takes is for you to decide, not him. To us, he seems mighty young to be flying solo in the Big Apple. Questions@MoneyManners.net