DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would appreciate some suggestions as to how a guest should express to a host her desire to leave a small dinner party at which she's had a very nice time -- but it's getting late, and she'd like to go home!
We were still seated at the table at 11 p.m. after a dinner for six people that started at 7. The delicious meal and dessert were long gone, as were the coffee and tea.
One of the guests was droning on and on. I took the opportunity, when he finally took a breath, to say (very pleasantly, I thought), that this had been a wonderful party and the food was delicious, as a prelude to saying that I regretted that we really must get going.
But before I could complete the thought, the droner recovered his breath. I knew the hosts well, but had just met Mr. Droner, and that made it difficult for me to interrupt him.
Was I remiss in thinking that someone else at the table (perhaps my husband!) would catch my drift and support my efforts?
In any event, the droner went on for another half-hour before I could get another word in edgewise. At that point, I spoke very quickly (fearing his interruption) and said something to the effect that it's been lovely, but it was getting late and we really had to leave. However, from the expressions on the faces of droner and wife, I was left feeling that I was out of line.
I look forward to some leaving-the-party tips.
GENTLE READER: One would be to socialize with hosts who know that after-dinner coffee is properly served in the living room, thus getting everyone up from the table and halfway to the door, while preventing a difficult exodus from the dining table.
Another is to train your husband to stand up when you thank your hosts.
But you also need a firmer tone of voice. Miss Manners recommends that you practice saying, "Excuse me! I don't want to break up this delightful evening, but I'm afraid we really must go."