DEAR ABBY: I was recently invited to a friend's home for dinner. When I arrived just a few minutes past the time I was told the meal would be served, I found that everyone had finished eating. I was asked if I'd like something to eat and offered a plate, but refused because I would have felt uncomfortable eating alone while everyone else stood around visiting. I stayed about an hour and left.
The next day, I tried to explain to my friends that I felt like a fool walking in expecting to join them for dinner only to see it was over. I told them I thought it was rude of them to eat before all their guests had arrived. They felt that because everyone else had arrived earlier in the day and the food was ready, that it was OK. They also said I shouldn't have gotten so upset about it.
Now I feel I have caused hard feelings between us and I should have just kept my mouth shut. Was it wrong to tell them how I felt? Am I wrong in thinking you should wait for all your guests to arrive before starting a meal? -- HURT IN WASHINGTON
DEAR HURT: If the invitation read, "Come between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m." and you were the last to arrive "a few minutes past the time the meal was to be served," then I can understand why the other guests started without you. However, if you were told that dinner was scheduled for 6 o'clock and when you arrived you were offered their leftovers, then your feelings are understandable.
Should you have spoken up? I think friends should be able to level with each other. And I find it interesting that telling them your feelings put them on the defensive.