DEAR MISS MANNERS: A stranger, who is a friend of a co-worker of my husband's (someone from a well-to-do family who is getting married), called to invite me to be an honorary hostess for the couple's engagement party.
The caller told me that as an honorary hostess, I was to pay a certain dollar amount to help with expenses and to be a greeter to the friends and family. And of course bring a gift in celebration.
I said I would call back. I spoke with my husband about this request and asked what to do.
Although I had lost my job, we decided to go along with the request because of workplace politics, and, being in a small town, social politics.
Is there a pleasant way to back out of such a request without hurting my husband's reputation? Or our social reputation?
GENTLE READER: An "honorary hostess"? As in, we'll give you a title and hope that you don't notice we are just saddling you with the bill?
Miss Manners is constantly amazed at the extortionist inventions people come up with in the much-maligned name of hospitality.
You can, however, still back out by saying: "You know, I am so honored that you asked, but I just don't feel as if I know the couple well enough to help host their party. Perhaps after we do get to know them better, my husband and I could discuss with them another type of celebration that might be pleasing to all of us." Perhaps by their fifth anniversary, they will have stricken your name from the target list.