DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been friends with another couple, "Bill" and "Emily," for 20 years. We usually have dinner together once every four to six weeks.
In the past, everyone enjoyed a cocktail or a glass of wine with dinner and nobody overdid it. But over the last year or so, it is clear that they have started drinking earlier in the day, before we arrive. They each consume multiple drinks while my wife and I are still on our first. Emily often is noticeably drunk within the first hour and excuses herself to go to bed while Bill continues drinking. Often dinner plans at their house or at a nearby restaurant must be canceled because of this behavior.
When they visit our home, Emily helps herself to several glasses of wine before dinner and then passes out in our guest room, while Bill sits on the couch rambling on and we speed up the cooking to get food on the table. When dinner is finished, we suggest it's time to call it a night. Our get-togethers are now over in less than two hours.
How do we tell these otherwise nice friends that they drink too much? -- UNWILLING BARTENDER IN ARIZONA
DEAR BARTENDER: The next time Bill and Emily come to your home for dinner, make sure your liquor is locked up and don't serve any. If you are asked about the omission, you and your wife should tell them that YOU have decided to "cut back" on your alcohol consumption because it will enable you to enjoy their company more. (I wish you could videotape their reaction.)
It will be interesting to see if you still enjoy their company when they are sober, and vice versa. If they take offense and decide to socialize with you less often, don't take it personally. Realize that alcohol now rules their lives.
I do not think you should try to perform an "intervention" because it doesn't appear you are close enough to them to do it with much success.