MISS MANNERS: We were phoned and asked to a friend’s 70th birthday party, with details to follow. I had the date on my calendar, but didn’t receive a confirming email. So I called a friend to check the date, and she said, “Didn’t you get the email? I will send it to you,” which she did. It included a very nice invite with a dinner menu hosted by a chef.
Well! I have since received another email from the host with an invitation for another evening, which is nothing like the first one. Apparently we were not supposed to be invited to the chef-hosted evening.
I declined the second invitation, and let the host know I was confused. He has since called me twice, asking us to please come to the first dinner, saying he will make it work. We are now feeling very awkward, as we were never to be invited to the first party. My husband doesn’t want to go at all now. What is one to do?
GENTLE READER: Like your on-again, off-again host, Miss Manners senses your understandable annoyance.
Having once invited you, your host should have “made it work” when he counted the chairs and came up short -- rather than waiting for you to query him. He then compounded his mistake by telling you how difficult it was to include you in the first event. (He thought he was demonstrating the lengths he would go to make amends. You and Miss Manners heard that he would prefer you not attend.)
What to do? Your husband is correct that you should not attend an event at which you are not welcome. But your host has demonstrated remorse. Assuming you wish to continue the friendship, it is time to forgive his clumsiness -- and perhaps to say that you would really rather attend the second event.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does a gracious host deal with invited guests who arrive in really sweaty clothes (which you know, because you greeted them with a hug), arrive in excessively wet or dirty shoes, say they have bladder control problems, or are at least 400 pounds overweight?
All of these things have happened to me more than once, with different guests. These issues have led to stains on furniture or carpets that cannot be cleaned.
Must we smile as they take a seat wherever they choose, or do you have suggestions for handling these issues so we don’t have to replace the furniture every few years?
GENTLE READER: You may have missed the belated recognition by society that obesity, and the problems associated with it, should not be treated, as was too often done in the past, as a moral failing.
But Miss Manners does condemn extremism in any form, and that includes guests who do not make reasonable efforts to mitigate the impact of their conditions on their host -- or, in the case of the sweaty guests, their host’s upholstery. For the overweight guest, this means not sitting on the antique wooden chair with spindly legs; for the host, this means having suitable alternatives and, if necessary, suggesting that your guest might be more comfortable sitting here than on “that old thing.”
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)