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Karma Cleanser 

Crappy Tanks-giving

Dear Karma Cleanser:

I have a ritual with six of my friends. None of us are particularly close with our families, so we all get together on Thanksgiving and proceed to go through several cases of wine. To be honest, doing so isn't all that different from a typical Saturday night in our little group, but something about it being a holiday makes it feel special.

This year my friend Nell decided it would be a good idea to bring an outsider, something that has been frowned upon in the past. She has been seeing a new guy and she thought that bringing him to our "Friendgiving" gathering would be a good idea. Her new boyfriend, Kenneth, was very quiet at the beginning of the night. Once he got some wine in him, he started letting us all know what he – and Nell – really thought about us.

It was one of those things like seeing a bad car accident happen on the street. You just couldn't look away from it, no matter how bad it was. People really got their feelings hurt. Some things were said that can't ever be taken back. Old wounds got ripped open again. At least two people were in tears. Finally, Nell stormed out and Kenneth just sat there laughing, until finally the owner of the house told him to get his stuff and leave.

Now, Nell has dumped the jerk (thankfully), but she's also not speaking to half of our circle. The owner of the house says someone broke a shelf in his bathroom and left a beer bottle in his toilet.

I want to say that all the shit that hit the fan on Thursday night is due to the unpredictable nature of alcohol. But as I said before, we all drink a pretty good bit and nothing like this has happened before. And so I have to ask if maybe it's karma coming around just in time for the holidays. If so, is there a way to fix it?

– Crappy Tanks-giving

We keep stumbling over one of your words: "cases." Not glasses of wine, not bottles, but cases. Criminy! If there were six of you drinking – seven, counting rabble-rousing Kenneth – that's at least two bottles each. No wonder things turned ugly.

Sometimes the presence of a newcomer can change a group's dynamic completely, and it sounds like Kenneth was just the catalyst to reveal the volatility that's long been bubbling under the surface of your circle. Don't blame the booze or the boyfriend; instead, ask yourself if this little correction has been a long time coming. Maybe some of what was said that night needed to be aired. If nothing else, the incident should make all of you take a step back from the bar and ask when your tolerance reached the Amy Winehouse level. We're not saying anyone needs rehab, but a Thanksgiving like this is enough to make any lush go cold turkey for a while.

Been bad?

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