DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have made friends this past year with another couple in our area, and though it takes me awhile to warm up to new people, these folks had seemed close. Then suddenly (to us), our-friends-the-other-couple became the-other-couple-plus-one -- in other words, a threesome living together, going out to dinner with us together, attending events with us together.
Now, the details of their private life don't interest me. What bothers me is the idea that I may be required to welcome this stranger (who, I must admit, does not interest me much) into the circle of my closest friends.
Compound this with the fact that we invited them to join us and other friends during an upcoming vacation, and they have asked to bring their new friend (their term) along. Where bedroom arrangements are concerned, I would generally rather have it that we all get our preference and be glad.
However, am I a clod for being uncomfortable mixing this new development with other guests, who might not be accepting? It really is nobody's business, but darn it, what is a right-thinking friend and host supposed to assume or accept these days?
Sorry if this is off color and weird. You can imagine there are very few people to ask, and who can be trusted to be discreet? Boy oh boy, do I wish there were more discretion about.
GENTLE READER: Ah, yes, the shockingly new Menage a Trois Problem. Miss Manners recalls her dear Grandmamma sniffing about that.
"I really could not care less how she chooses to live her life," that lady would declare in regard to her second-youngest sister. "But she insists upon bringing them both to dinner. What do you suppose that does to my seating arrangements?"
From this, you will deduce that Miss Manners' grandmother was very old-fashioned, which is to say that she firmly believed in the rightness of alternating ladies and gentlemen at the dinner table, and this requires having an even number of them present. We are more enlightened about that now.
But not so much so that people are required to accept triples as couples if they do not care to do so. As your friends are at least discreet enough to refer to the third party as a friend, you can easily say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'm afraid we can't add another person this time."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it ever proper to tuck one's napkin under one's chin?
GENTLE READER: Technically, no. If you are dexterous enough to secure the napkin in such a way that it does the job of covering your chest, you are too old to be wearing a bib.
There is, of course, an exception in cases of physical disability. However, Miss Manners does not agree with the common opinion that eating lobster for dinner counts as a disability.