DEAR MISS MANNERS: It seems my friends are quite willing to meet for lunch, or to do something specific, but I have no luck at all in getting them simply to "visit."
"Visiting" used to be a popular way to see and hear about your friends. It was certainly superior to a telephone call or today's e-mail. Not all of my friends have hectic lives. And I am an interesting person and a very good listener. (I am a retired psychologist.) Do you have any suggestions as to how to encourage the lost art of visiting?
GENTLE READER: Mention the refreshments. Tea, drinks, coffee, popcorn, dessert -- Miss Manners doesn't care what, and neither do your guests. But these are the words we now use to delineate the routine of the short one-on-one visit, which guests need to know.
The old-fashioned "visit" of which you speak had a strict form, with a 15-minute limitation. It survives only in the hospital visit, where your guests ought to know that they should not prolong the stay or help themselves to the chocolates you have been sent.