DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have a box for a popular outdoor concert venue every summer. Last season, we invited my husband’s boss and his wife to join us for the finale.
They did, and we had a wonderful time, although, they had gone through four bottles of wine before intermission! The venue allows people to bring picnics and wine, but I thought four was a little much. But they were perfectly behaved, so I didn’t think much of it.
However, when we invited them again this year, they brought six bottles so they wouldn’t run out. Well, during the second act, they were talking so loud, and causing so much of a commotion, that two other boxes asked us to be quiet during the concert. I was greatly embarrassed, because our guests truly were behaving badly by disrupting the concert, and we know these other patrons, as we see them all summer.
How do we politely get out of inviting them next year? Unfortunately, before the concert started, my husband told them what a wonderful tradition having them come to the finale is. “We should do this every year!”
What do I do if it comes up again? I really don’t want to take them.
GENTLE READER: Wait – did they each consume three bottles of wine before intermission? And you know from last time that four bottles did not affect them – and this time, six only made them loud?
But the good news is that their memories may not be as clear as you fear. At any rate, Miss Manners advises you to act on that assumption.
Well in advance of next year’s concerts, start filling up your box. You, not your husband, so that if his boss brings it up, he can report, apologetically, that you have gone ahead and invited people.
You say nothing of you or your husband’s having a nip, but another symptom of drink, besides boisterousness and various physical problems, is an exaggerated sense of warmth and hospitality, even, apparently, to one’s boss.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was married about 10 months ago. Occasionally, I will see someone socially who has not yet given us a wedding gift. Often, they will say, “Oh! I haven’t gotten you a wedding present yet, what do you still need?” or they will simply ask, “Did I ever get you a present?”
I appreciate that these guests are still thinking about this, but I’m not really sure how to respond. I was taught my whole life that the appropriate response is, “Oh, you needn’t get me anything at all, your presence was the only gift we needed.” However, I am finding more and more people are starting to take these words at face value, and to be perfectly frank, while I don’t expect gifts, I certainly do appreciate receiving them. Of course it is unthinkable for me to dictate what a person should purchase, or to tell them flat out that they did not send a gift, so I’m really baffled. What is the correct response?
GENTLE READER: “Oh, you have such marvelous taste, I’m sure we’ll love anything you choose.”