June 19, 2024
I didn't appreciate my refrigerator being raided to feed a latecomer.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What would you do if you were hosting a dinner party, invited the guests, and one guest RSVP’d: “I would love to come. However, I have another engagement, so I will be late.”

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Miss Manners: How do I tell them I won’t serve the fancy dessert they brought?

The guest arrived late by one hour and 30 minutes. We had put away the food from the dinner and had begun to serve dessert.

However, the late-arriving guest said she was hungry. Other guests began pulling things out of the refrigerator to serve her the items she had missed by arriving late.

How can I avoid this in the future? What is the correct way to tell someone that if they have another engagement, they should choose which one they will attend?

GENTLE READER: “Well then, we would love to have you over another time.”

Miss Manners realizes she appears to have misunderstood what her guest was saying, but she prefers to believe that your friend could not be guilty of an intentional rudeness. All but the most brazen guests will take the hint.

Those who do not should enjoy the repeat of the meal that you (not your other guests) improvise when they do arrive, because it will be their last as your guest for some time.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a financially secure, elderly, widowed man friend whom I am quite fond of, but he has one habit that I find offensive.

When he invites others out to a restaurant where he is picking up the bill, he always picks a mid-priced restaurant and chooses one of the least expensive items on the menu. However, if someone else is paying, he chooses a high-priced menu item.

We went to lunch as guests of another couple. Prices on the lunch menu ranged between $12 and $36, with a large variety of food choices. The host and the host’s wife ordered menu items in the $20 range. My friend picked the most expensive item on the menu.

I was taught that when someone else is paying, you should choose something from the menu in the same price range as your host. Am I wrong? If I am correct, how do I approach this issue with my friend?

Something similar happens at buffets and potlucks, where he will stuff himself to an uncomfortable level, eating at least three or four times the amount he would eat at home. If I question why he is making a glutton of himself, he tells me not to spoil his fun.

GENTLE READER: Before we get to How, Miss Manners would like to address What and When.

Your friend’s behavior is ungenerous and unseemly. But telling him so is doubly rude: once for correcting another person’s manners, and again for noticing the price of his choice.

What happened at that lunch is between your friend and the other couple, and your intervention will be appreciated by exactly no one — including the other couple.

When it is your turn to host — and assuming the behavior does not so offend you that you, as, no doubt, many of his other friends, lose interest in going out together — choose a less expensive restaurant.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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