Dear Prudence: I'm a member of a book club of women in our mid-30s that has been going for five years. We've got a good group, but there's one member no one likes.
She's insensitive, ignorant and rude. She contributes very little to the discussion of the book and prefers to conduct side conversations. She's made some ignorant and mean comments regarding pregnancy that have deeply wounded some of the members who have had miscarriages or infertility issues.
She used to attend AA meetings, but has been drinking heavily lately before she drives home — she even took a drink with her for the road one night. When we've said something about this, she dismisses us. We're at a loss.
Can we kick her out of book club? If so, how?
Prudence says: This extremely bad news for public safety may turn out to be good news for your book club. One member's driving home drunk from your gatherings is more than enough ammunition to tell her that not only is she a disruption who insults her fellow members, she's also a danger to herself and others.
She needs to know the rest of you cannot leave yourselves open to the liability of providing her with alcohol before she gets on the road. This discussion should be had in person with two of you authorized to represent the group, so that she understands this is not one member's animus. Be firm but kind and say while you no longer want her at future gatherings, you're concerned about her escalating behavior and that you urge her to get some help.
Yes, it will be unpleasant, but this is the kind of thing that happens to people who are out of control. It probably won't be welcome, but as a parting gift you could give her a book that should be illuminating: "Drinking: A Love Story," the memoir by the late Caroline Knapp about how she faced her alcoholism.
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