The four of us were having late-night dinner after a play, the sort of repast more common in Europe's social democracies. We are in that early sunset career stage when we would rather give our wisdom and skills to someone who would put them to their highest use than sell them to the highest bidder.
Increasingly, that means we are disposing of disposable income that came in some years ago.
For my part, I was eyeing a certain Hendrick's martini to go with a steak tartare starter/finisher, but my friend across the table inquired about getting a bottle of wine. Not my first choice, or even my second, I agreed in the spirit of a convivial evening. He offered us a look at the wine list, but we deferred to him. (My palate is nortoriously non-discriminating once it moves into grape territory.)
Several hours later, the bill arrived, and we discovered the bottle cost nearly triple what any of us would have chosen to pay. (We'd mistakenly assumed he had discovered a relative bargain.) My friend was mortified and offered to pay for the whole thing. But we accepted it as a mistake in reading the list — one we ourselves had once made — and the cost, the price of a good, shared story.
In a different context, with some zeroes added to the bill, a similar event might have been cast as irresp0nsible, incompetent, wasteful, spending other people's money, etc. I'll leave it to you to tease out parallels with the current distress over state and national budgets, but let me suggest this one.
We had a relationship that was worth more to us than the money. So we paid up, laughed about the folly, and planned never to do it again.