Arrow-right Camera
News >  Features

Surprise! Invitation includes bill

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can I properly invite people to a restaurant for a surprise party and expect them to pay their way?

GENTLE READER: This has certainly become a popular way to surprise people. They think they have been invited out to dinner, and – surprise! – they are given a bill.

This does not make it proper, but it does make Miss Manners feel that she should warn people to be careful when accepting what sounds like hospitality.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband has two grown children from his first marriage; I do not have any. Whenever we are in a social setting, talking with people we don’t know well or are just meeting, they ask, “Do you guys have kids?”

I know the proper answer is “no.” My husband always has to throw in, “Well, I have a son and daughter from my first marriage.”

I see this as inappropriate for several reasons. Am I incorrect in thinking that we need to just answer “no” and move on with the conversation? I feel this level of laundry airing to be unnecessary.

GENTLE READER: Laundry airing? To admit to having children?

Miss Manners is sorry, but this does not meet the modern standard for a dirty little secret. Besides, “no” is not, as you suppose, a correct answer. Your husband has children, and you have stepchildren.

It may help you to remember that your interlocutors have no deep interest in the provenance of these children. They are merely trying to start a conversation. More likely, they are angling for an opening to talk about their children. So all either of you need say is, “Yes, two, both grown up. And you?”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.