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by Abigail Van Buren

Invitation to Dinner May Be Your Signal to Leave

DEAR ABBY: I don't recall having seen this problem addressed in your column.

You're visiting the home of a friend you haven't seen in several years. Just before you leave, she invites you to stay for dinner, but she doesn't tell you what she's serving. It would be rude to say, "It depends on what you're having."

A thoughtful host should say, "Mary, we're having liver for dinner tonight; would you care to join us?" Hating liver, Mary could graciously decline by saying, "Oh, thank you, but I have dinner waiting at home. May I have a rain check?"

This way everyone saves face. What do you think? -- GRACIOUS GUEST IN BOSTON

DEAR GRACIOUS GUEST: In the first place, if "just before you leave" the hostess invites you to stay for dinner, it means you stayed too long.

Mary should not lie and ask her friend for a rain check. Her friend may then assume that Mary likes liver and invite her another time for a liver dinner. Instead she should thank the hostess and say she's sorry, but she can't stay for dinner.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to address these comments to "Annoyed in New Mexico." This incident happened here in Atlanta, and it involves the use of the Spanish language.

My uncle and aunt -- both blue-eyed and blond -- were fresh from Panama. She's a public health nurse and he's in charge of mosquito control.

While they were attending a baseball game, two Spanish-speaking fans seated behind them gave a running discourse on everything that was wrong with the United States, Atlanta, the ball players and their acquaintances.

When the game was over, Aunt Erma and Uncle Ray stood up, turned to their criticizers and in fluent Spanish, suggested that if they didn't like the benefits our country had to offer, they should return to their point of origin.

My advice: Be careful whom you speak Spanish in front of. Sign me ... HABLO ESPANOL IN GEORGIA

DEAR HABLO: As one who speaks enough Spanish to make myself understood, may I add my two cents worth? Es verdad!

DEAR ABBY: I have a question about elevator etiquette. Why do people waiting for an elevator charge in before the passengers can exit?

They crowd in as if the elevator was the last one to heaven -- or wherever they expect their destination to be.

I recently tried to exit an elevator in a hospital as three teen-aged girls barged in and almost knocked me over. One remarked that I was at fault for being in her way.

Patience, good people. If you miss this car, there will be another one along in just a minute. -- J.B. ROBERTS, GADSDEN, ALA.

DEAR J.B.: We all have our ups and downs. You're right. Good manners and common sense dictate that one allows the occupants to exit before barging in.

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