DEAR MISS MANNERS: When two couples finish a meal at restaurant, who instigates departure? Is it the host couple or either one?
GENTLE READER: Whoever can say "Well..." more meaningfully and forcefully, so as to get everyone's attention and announce a change of subject.
When the food is gone and the check has been paid, the guests are supposed to say, "Well, this has been lovely. You were so kind to have us." This allows the hosts to reply, "Well, it was wonderful to see you." But if the guests haven't gotten around to it and the staff is vacuuming under the tables, Miss Manners allows the hosts to pronounce their "Well..." statement first.