Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Bad Manners Meet Worse at Dinner Party Gone Awry

DEAR ABBY: I am a Chinese-American from Taiwan. I have a college education and have lived in San Francisco for 10 years.

My friends "Arthur" and "Larry" are a Japanese-American couple who have lived in a deluxe mansion for 22 years. One day, they invited "Ron" and me for a homemade dinner. At the last minute I brought along "Richard" without calling them for permission. Arthur was angry when he saw that I brought an extra guest and said to me in the kitchen, "It is very rude to bring a guest with no advance notice. Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

All I could say was, "Sorry, sorry!"

He refused to cook the meal and left the house in a huff. Larry entertained us and said to me, "I don't mind the extra guest."

In my family, my mother always welcomed extra guests by saying, "Don't worry -- all we need is to provide one more pair of chopsticks for the guest."

The next day, Larry informed me that Arthur had decided to punish me by not talking to me for three months. He bought me a book on etiquette by Emily and Elizabeth L. Post.

Abby, was my innocent mistake really that terrible, or did Arthur overreact? What should I do after the three-month punishment? Beg him for forgiveness, or end the friendship? -- WONDERING IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR WONDERING: Although it's considered bad manners to bring an uninvited guest to a dinner party without first asking permission from the host, it is far worse manners for a host to refuse to cook the dinner and walk out!

Yes, indeed, Arthur overreacted. He owes all of you an apology. However, what you do following the three-month silence depends entirely upon how much you value the relationship with this couple.

DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you before, but I felt compelled to do so after reading the letter from "Not Guilty by Association," the daughter of the racist father.

I want to applaud this young lady for her courage and strength in refusing to allow her father's misguided beliefs to infect her life. She is probably not aware of the fact that she has broken a link in the chain of racist hate. Racism is taught, not inherited. The only way we will ever eliminate this deadly infection, which is a crime against all mankind, is through teaching our children that it is wrong to hate anyone based on skin color, race or religious beliefs.

I want this young lady to know that she, herself, is a victory in the battle against this infection. Because she chose not to follow her father and become a link in the racist chain, her children will be raised to see individuals for who they are, and not for any external reasons.

Although you face a very difficult situation, "Not Guilty," please know that many people stand behind you and wish you God's blessing. Your personal fight against racism is a fight for all who want to rid the world of this deadly infection. -- MICKEY CASE, FALLBROOK, CALIF.

DEAR MICKEY: I'm pleased to pass along your message of support. Ultimately, we must all be judged by what we stand for, and not the thoughts and deeds of our parents.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111 (816) 932-6600