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Miss Manners: No-show to dinner should apologize

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I belong to a group of families that have raised our children closely. The children are all young adults, in their 20s. We have annual parties for special events such as holidays and graduations.

We often play a mixer game where we all contribute money and the three winners split the pot.

At the last event, hosted in my home, one of the young adults announced at my table she was cheating and demanded that the other three of us do the same to accommodate her.

I initially refused to follow suit, but she insisted. I would have had to stop the game if I further resisted, so reluctantly I went along. I have regretted it since, as I try not to lie or cheat in my own life. She won the game and took one-third of the money.

How should I have handled it at the time? Also, how do I handle it the next time we play?

GENTLE READER: In saloons and casinos, the traditional solution would have been to whip out a pistol and shoot the cheater. However, Miss Manners does not advise this, as it is illegal, immoral and a serious violation of the etiquette of hospitality.

Apparently you plan to invite this person back for the next session. If you are not willing to throw her out of the game – to say plainly, “I’m sorry, but that is not the way we play” – then you may as well make over your house to her right now.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were asked to join friends at their home for dinner. The invite was in the form of a one sentence e-mail. I responded one day later saying that we would love to join them and what should I bring?

I never heard back.

The couple lives in the next county, and we have joined them at other dinner parties at their home/farm/estate. Their events usually include many other couples.

I kept looking for a reply, did not know what to do. At 8 p.m., the phone rang and they were looking for us. Apparently, she had responded to my e-mail, but there is no evidence of it. My husband is an engineer and excellent at sorting out computer issues. My e-mail has never received a final reply.

I guess I should of called, but if something had happened that would of not made the evening possible for my friends, I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable. We are long time friends, but not that close.

I am sure you will have an opinion. This new age e-mail invite is out of the box for me.

GENTLE READER: Perhaps, but look around the box, and you will find time-honored customs of extending and receiving hospitality.

The invitation did reach you, and you accepted it. If the subsequent exchange was aborted, that still stands. Miss Manners finds implausible your notion that the hosts may have decided to abandon the dinner without informing you.

This leaves you in the wrong about ignoring your commitment. Therefore, you owe the hosts a deep apology. And one to e-mail, as well.

You may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@ unitedmedia.com; via postal mail at United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016.


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