DEAR HARRIETTE: I planned to meet up with my perpetually late family at a trendy new restaurant. I secretly moved the reservation time an hour later because I knew they would be late. After I showed up for the 7 p.m. reservation, I waited another 30 minutes for any of them to arrive. It was so embarrassing for me that the hostess came up to me to essentially ask if I was being stood up.
We enjoyed dinner once everyone showed up, but there weren't any apologies issued to me, just some grumbles about work. To their knowledge, I had been waiting an hour and a half. My blood nearly boiled. I knew everyone had been late in the past, but I expected them to change this time. I am about to go out of town for a while, and everyone wants to meet one last time. I'm refusing. -- Nearly Stood Up, Baltimore
DEAR NEARLY STOOD UP: Rather than simply not coming, request that the dynamics of the gathering be changed. Ask a family member to host something at home that you can attend. Tell them all that you do not want to meet at a public place because you are no longer willing to wait and be embarrassed because they never make it on time. Tell the host that you will stay for an hour, and be specific about that time. Then, you can hang out with whoever is there and leave when you are ready. It is possible to control your life, even when others are unwilling to honor basic protocols of engagement.