DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to go to lunch with a business associate. When I arrived at the restaurant and walked through the door, all I could smell was juice being made in a juicer, and I realized instantly that I was allergic to whatever was being juiced. I had to step out immediately because I could hardly breathe. It was so embarrassing. When my associate came -- with two other people who I didn't know would be there -- I had to tell him that I could not go to that restaurant. It was really awkward because we were in an area that wasn't really near other nice restaurants.
Ultimately, because he looked so uncomfortable, I bowed out and suggested that they go ahead and have lunch and that I would see them another time. But I feel terrible. How could I know that this would happen? I have gone to many restaurants, and this has never happened before. Yes, I have allergies, but generally I just have to be careful what I eat. What can I say to this guy as a follow-up? -- Bound by Allergies, Detroit
DEAR BOUND BY ALLERGIES: Reach out to your associate right away and apologize for not being able to join him and the others at lunch. Ask if he would like to get together at another time and if there are any points from the lunch that he would like to share. Do not bring up your allergic reaction. Obviously, you both know it happened. If he mentions it, apologize again. You can then say that you have never had such an extreme reaction before, and you are sorry that it created an inconvenience to your gathering. Finally, ask who the other guests were and whether he would like to schedule another time for you to meet.