DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have dinner with a small group of longtime friends who come together once or twice a year to touch base. One person in the group tends to dominate the conversation with greatly detailed storytelling of mishaps and adventures of family members and friends.
I believe I speak for the others in the group as well -- as I recognize the glaze in their eyes and the curious questions ceasing -- that we’d all like a chance to contribute and catch up. For example, I want to hear about everyone’s newest grandchild, latest hobby or how they’re coping with an aging parent, but it’s hard to get past this one long-winded person. Can you suggest a delicate way to redirect the conversation without being rude?
GENTLE READER: Even when a dinner party includes a relatively small number of guests, etiquette allows -- even expects -- many multiple, simultaneous conversations among different groupings. It is natural that at some point in the evening, attention may focus on a single speaker, but not for more than a few minutes.
When your lecturer begins, feel free to start a separate conversation with your next neighbor. If your guests follow your lead, only one or two people need be bored at a time, and this duty can be quietly rotated as you move from pre-dinner drinks, to the table, to after-dinner coffee.