DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I hosted a barbecue, to which we sent an open invitation to anyone who would like to attend. We posted the information several times around the Internet, with the note to e-mail me with the RSVP (plus the number of guests they would bring).
I went through a great deal of trouble to ensure there would be ample food available for all tastes and dietary/religious/personal ethics restrictions, and stated if they felt obligated to bring anything, a potluck dish or libations would be thanked and appreciated.
Let me tell you, we certainly did draw a crowd! We were even kind to our neighbors by having an after-party pre-arranged at a tavern to grant them their peace in the evening. We also cleaned up every last cigarette butt and bottle cap before we left, leaving no trace of our guests' presence. Our neighbors, in fact, have become even more neighborly since!
My husband and I run a popular entertainment business and have hundreds of thousands of online "friends." Because of this, we purposely did not post our home address publicly, but rather asked guests to request it if they did not already know, to curtail possible identity theft. So while I again disliked not providing our address, we just couldn't risk one of those "friends" being anything but friendly.
A couple of people who we casually know were miffed we did not contact them and invite them personally. To be honest, I am not sure we even have the phone numbers or e-mail addresses of these people, who complained through a third party.
If I made a bad judgment, how should I have handled this? I truly enjoy being a gracious hostess, and it really hurt me to think I was anything but. This has been bothering me for weeks now, and I hope you can help me see my fault, if I made any.
GENTLE READER: Were you serving red herring? There are so many false clues in your account that Miss Manners is quite dizzy doing U-turns.
Did the dangerous concept of the open invitation attract undesirables? Did your efforts to meet everyone's food requirements miss someone who had an allergic attack? Did the neighbors make a fuss in spite of your precautions? Was your address posted by guests and your identity stolen?
None of the above. Whew. It is only that people you don't even know well enough to know how to contact are grousing that they were not invited. Aren't you glad they weren't?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a part-time executive assistant, and part of my job is to manage files, sort out business papers, etc., in the office. My boss is asking me to sort his old papers, arrange all his files in order (from 20 years) that he has stored, at his home, for a month, which is not a part of my job. How do i say no to him and still retain my job?
GENTLE READER: "I can't take on a second job right now, but let me help you find someone. How much do you want to pay?"