DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have two large (40-50 guests) casual parties at the same time each year and have done so for over five years, so invitees know that these events are coming up and many plan around them. May I remove from the guest list those people who we have invited, but do not show up or are invited repeatedly but either do not respond or can never attend? Also, at one most recent party, one of the adult guests embarrassed another guest deliberately and repeatedly. Is there any reason that I should not also remove the offender from our guests list? Thank you for your insight into these situations!
GENTLE READER: If there is any reason that you should invite anyone to your parties who does not contribute to your and your other guests' enjoyment, Miss Manners cannot imagine what it could be. Apparently neither can the guests in question, as they either fail to show up or turn querulous.
The trouble with annual parties is that guests begin to think of them as some sort of free club to which they belong in perpetuity. But there is no reason for hosts to surrender to this notion. The guest list is yours to compose each time you give a party.
The uninvited have no right to complain, but we know that the rude ones -- the same people who ignore your invitations or behave badly to others -- will. The smoothest rejoinder is to undermine their belief that this is a regular event from which they were dropped.
"Oh, we gave a somewhat different party this year," you could say without further explanation. And indeed, it will be somewhat different if you eliminate the undesirables.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I may be longwinded when I talk, but under every circumstance -- family, at work, socially, or in business -- I get interrupted constantly! I rarely get to finish a sentence! I know we're all busy and want to get our two cents worth in. I myself try to catch myself doing it and stop myself. Why do we do this! It bothers me no end!
GENTLE READER: Why do we do this? Because we are so much more interesting than other people that we would rather listen to ourselves than to them.
But Miss Manners has never subscribed to the notion that identifying a psychological impulse excuses succumbing to it. You are right to catch yourself, and she hopes that you do so effectively enough that those who interrupt you are not acting out of desperation to get in any word at all.
The way to deal with interrupters is to let them interrupt. That is, you stop talking at all, not even putting in the little encouraging murmurings of polite listening, until they notice that there is no longer a conversation going on. Their dumbfounded look will be the signal for you to resume where you left off.