DEAR MISS MANNERS: From the row in back of me on a flight I took yesterday, I overheard ?a man say, to the two young women sitting there, "Hi! My name's ?Frank, what are your names?" After a noticeable pause, the two women ?answered with their first names. I would not have wanted to give my name under the circumstances but couldn't think of a polite way, if ?I'd been the one asked, to decline to do so. How can you turn a guy ?like this off?
GENTLE READER: By whispering, "I'm traveling incognito. Please don't give me away. Pretend you don't know me."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hosted a home-decor party at my home and invited the women (my peers) from my office. They arrived, drank coffee, ate cake, purchased a few items and left, en masse, an hour later. I thought the party had gone quite well, everyone was polite, they liked the cake I baked, and the meager sales were OK by me; the saleswoman who made the presentation still let me have a hostess gift.
After my guests left, I went over the sales with the saleswoman, helped her pack up her wares and waved good bye as she went to her next party. I then picked up cups and saucers, washed them, washed the coffee pot, wrapped the leftover cake, and put the living room back in order. When I looked at the clock I realized I should now check my mail.
I live in a condominium, and all the mailboxes are clustered together in the main parking lot, which is nearly a half block from my residence. I walked there and found my guests standing around visiting among themselves. I thought maybe someone had car trouble and inquired, but no, that was not the case. I then invited them back to my home to visit but the excuses poured out as each said something to the effect of "Oh, no ... I should have been someplace else long ago," etc. I gathered my mail and they got into their cars and left.
My party was over for at least 45 minutes before I went to check my mail. I felt awkward and they looked embarrassed when they saw me. Nothing more was said, but I feel slighted. Why would they rather visit standing on an asphalt parking lot rather than continue their visit at my home? The party was on a Saturday, so none of us had to dash off to work. I'm sorry they looked so uncomfortable when they saw me approach, but what else could I do?
GENTLE READER: You can all stop being embarrassed. Party guests who leave together may well keep chatting as they go to the parking lot and find that they have hit on a topic that keeps them there conversing.
If you are now thoroughly at ease, Miss Manners can't help administering a slight jolt. Maybe the party was not as gratifying to your guests as it was to you, with your "hostess gift." Is it possible that the presence of a salesperson constrained their talk, or that the sales pitches discouraged conversation? A sales event is not, strictly speaking, a party. Your colleagues attended, despite what turned out to be a lack of enthusiasm for the product, and you cannot expect more from them than that.