DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a bosom buddy who loves to cook. Unfortunately, every time I eat her cooking, I suffer enormous intestinal distress.
For some time now, I have avoided eating at her house by scheduling my visits with her at times when I can reasonably say I have already eaten, but now she invites me over saying, “Come hungry.”
I couldn’t think of any way out of a recent invitation, so I accepted and had a meal with her. Inevitably, I got sick. What would have been the polite way to avoid eating at her house? She rarely goes to restaurants, and especially not now.
GENTLE READER: Etiquette exists to avoid confessions like, “I value our friendship, but your food makes me throw up.”
This should be relatively simple: You express disappointment that you are -- for no specified reason -- unavailable; your buddy accepts this answer gracefully.
Miss Manners realizes that, in reality, your other friends are urging you to be honest, while your would-be host will not stop asking what you will be doing at that time. When everyone sees staying the course as a virtue, without regard to oncoming traffic, collisions are unavoidable.
You have two good options: Get used to hearing yourself say how sorry you are that you cannot attend -- or find something among the food provided that you can eat.