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Dear Amy: I attended a professional conference recently. The attendees from my company were the president, the executive director, a co-worker and myself.

During these large conventions, it is rare to be able to sit down for more than 20 minutes and have a balanced meal. Our bosses invited my co-worker and me out for dinner. This made the dinner event really nice for us, and I appreciated it.

Before ordering, the conversation turned to, "What will you have?" When I stated that I wanted the chicken soup, I was scolded by my co-worker, who exclaimed: "These people are vegetarian" (gesturing to the president and executive director). This was not stated discreetly.

Was it wrong of me to order the meal I wanted? Or do my dietary restrictions and concerns take a back seat when the boss is picking up the tab?

Amy says: Your co-worker took the opportunity to demonstrate an advanced level of personal knowledge of your bosses, in order to curry favor (excuse the pun) with them.

In bringing you to this convention, the people who run your company gave you and your co-worker an opportunity to positively and responsibly represent the organization. Loudly scolding another person at lunch doesn't accomplish this.

Your co-worker's rudeness made you uncomfortable. This behavior also highlighted a dietary choice that some people might consider personal, possibly also making them uncomfortable.

I hope your bosses responded to this by letting you know that they have no beef with you (there's another pun I didn't intend) regarding your choices.

A big ask

Dear Amy: My closest friend from college is getting married in the fall. He has asked me to be his best man.

I don't want to. This wedding is shaping up to be very time-consuming and expensive. I am graduating from law school, working and studying for the bar exam, and I cannot imagine being able to commit fully to this.

The wedding will be a three-day event, involving travel, the rehearsal dinner, wedding and a brunch afterward. In addition, he wants me to organize a three-day "stag" party, either in Las Vegas or Wyoming (for fly fishing).

Just thinking about it exhausts me. Is there a good way to say "no" without insulting my friend?

Amy says: I wonder when marrying couples will realize that their attendants have reached the breaking point.

This issue used to be confined mainly to the bride and her attendants. But lately I have noticed an increase in concerns like yours expressed by men who are feeling a social, personal and economic squeeze.

Tell your friend right away that you can't do this. Preface this tough conversation by saying how honored you are, but tell him, quite honestly, that you do not have the bandwidth to take on any organizing duties.

Are you available and interested in being a groomsman? If so, let him know, but emphasize that you realize the decision is his to make, and that you will feel honored to attend the wedding as a guest.

The right decision

Dear Amy: I'd like to respond to the reader who didn't ask his much younger brother to be in his wedding.

I too had a brother 12 years younger, and I headed off to college when he was only 6. Although he meant a lot to me, the difference in our ages and outlook was too much to completely erase.

Nevertheless, he was an important part of my wedding, a decision that has grown in significance now that he is gone. He died in his 30s, and left a hole in my life.

Amy says: Here's to your dear brother.

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