DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the etiquette for out-of-town guests giving advance notice when they are coming to visit? We have friends and relatives who live all over the map, including China, India and the West Coast. They call up when they arrive in town wanting to get together.
I feel mixed emotions because we would love to see these friends but feel put on the spot when this happens. We are committed to various obligations throughout the week that make it difficult for us to drop everything and meet for dinner. It takes a lot of advance planning to travel from China to the United States and a little planning to travel from the West Coast to the East Coast. Plane tickets need to be bought in advance. So why can't these visitors let us know in advance that they are planning a visit? This is not just a one-time incident -- if it was I wouldn't be writing this letter.
What do we need to say visitors the next time this happens?
GENTLE READER: "Oh, dear, we're dying to see you, but we had no idea you were coming and we've made other plans. Next time please give us some warning, and we'll make sure nothing interferes."
If, in spite of wanting to re-train them, you would regret missing the opportunity to see them, Miss Manners suggests adding that you could drop by their hotel for an early breakfast. This works especially well on late risers.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a woman in my early 30s who is overweight. I have maintained my current weight for about the past five years. I carry my weight proportionately, and can still wear my clothes well, so I don't feel overly self-conscious about my appearance.
I have come across a number of people who upon seeing me for the first time in many months have commented that I must have lost weight and look much better than since they've seen me last.
That of course is not true, and I tell them I weigh the same as when they saw me last.
These comments are very upsetting to me, because it implies that their memory of me is distorted into that of a much larger person than I am. When they see me their memory doesn't match reality, and that is so surprising to them they assume I lost weight, when I haven't.
I can't help becoming angry with these would-be do-gooders. How do I convey my un-appreciation for these comments and get people to remember me accurately?
GENTLE READER: For reasons that escape Miss Manners, many people consider that there is no higher compliment than suggesting that someone is getting thinner or looking younger than is actually the case. Obviously, in your case it has nothing to do with actual weight.
So you have already conveyed your lack of appreciation. They expected you to look thrilled and say "thank you."