DEAR MISS MANNERS: Guests arrived at my house from two states away for a four-day visit. After a lovely afternoon and evening, I crawled into bed. I woke a few hours later to chills, body aches and a 101-degree fever. It was evident that I had the onset of the flu.
The next morning, I explained that I had come down with flu symptoms in the night. I spent the subsequent days of their visit excusing myself for naps, trying to prepare food and helping arrange sightseeing tours. I was miserable, a terrible hostess and fearful of being contagious, which I certainly was by the third day, when I had lost my voice and developed a cough.
In my life, it is likely to happen again, and I will find myself in this situation either as guest or host. What should all parties do in this circumstance?
GENTLE READER: Are you unaware that etiquette grants sick leave? Everyone else seems to know, considering how often people claim false illnesses to get out of meeting their obligations.
And there you were, really sick and valiantly plodding along. Miss Manners hardly has the heart to tell you that you were violating your primary duty to your guests: to refrain from endangering them. Instead of waiting on them, you should have been telling them that while you hated to cut short their visit, you would have hated even more to expose them to the flu.
And what were they doing -- besides watching you suffer? Human decency requires that they swallow their disappointment about losing a vacation and look after you, or find someone to do so -- and then leave.