DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm afraid I have handled something badly. My circle of friends throws a lot of celebrations. This year a friend invited me to her engagement party, bridal shower, kitchen tea, a "Yes to the Dress" shopping trip and luncheon, her housewarming, a bachelorette party and her wedding.
I am thrilled for her and happy to celebrate -- just not quite so often. The cost of these events and for the expected gifts is extravagant, and frankly I've been yearning to have more of my limited free time to myself.
I sent RSVPs saying I was unable to attend the kitchen tea and housewarming, but I attended all the other events and will attend the wedding. Unfortunately, on the day of the kitchen tea, my boyfriend "tagged" me on Facebook as being at the movies with him.
My friend is now furious with me for missing her party in favor of a movie. Is there any way I can explain myself without sounding like a selfish cheapskate? What should I have done?
GENTLE READER: You call this celebrating a wedding? It strikes Miss Manners as a system of taxes levied in connection with a coronation -- but normally leading, instead, to a revolution. Are you really the only victim who has (in your timid way) revolted?
Do you really think that you can placate a tyrant by explaining that you have a life outside of paying tribute to her? If your friend understood that, she would never have staged or permitted an endless series of events in her own honor, or wanted to subject her friends to more than one major present-giving event (the wedding) and one minor one.
Nor would any decent person chastise another for declining an invitation.
As you have not acted badly, you have no need to apologize. Instead, Miss Manners suggests saying: "Yes, we had a lovely evening, and the movie was great. Zeke and I don't get to spend nearly enough time together, just the two of us. I imagine that must be an even worse problem for you and Jasper, having to do that constant round of parties."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was raised in a large family where we were taught to clean our plates, and yes, I am a little overweight as a result. I am embarrassed when a restaurant server makes comments regarding the quantity of food on my plate, or the fact that I finished it all.
These comments may take the form of, "Gee, you're going to have to work hard to burn up all that" or, "Gosh, you really liked that, didn't you?"
Am I being overly sensitive, or is it incorrect for a waiter to call attention to the amount that you ate or might eat?
GENTLE READER: It would be incorrect for anyone except your doctor to comment on your eating habits, but nowadays just about everyone does.
Why a waiter would imply that it was a surprise that the food was edible, Miss Manners cannot imagine. She gives you leave to ask, "Oh, do most people not enjoy the food here?"
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)