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Miss Manners: Sick host must still act graciously

Wed., Aug. 13, 2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I invited a small group of women to go to a relaxation spa for my birthday. We checked in and started the festivities with appetizers and cocktails. Unfortunately, I had two drinks and became ill, inebriated, whatever you want to call it, by no one’s fault. I just plain got sick.

I paid for all five of us, and the women went in as I straggled behind. Within minutes, I was getting even more ill. One of my lady friends took me outside and comforted me and, not knowing what to do, just sat there. Another guest took me back to the hotel.

As the “guest of honor,” I had a bad taste in my mouth the day after because people I called my friends couldn’t see that we should have rescheduled the relaxation spa affair.

What does proper etiquette dictate? What would have been the proper thing for the guests to do under the circumstances?

I feel like it was rude of these so-called “friends” to take advantage of the situation, and I need to distance myself from people with such little character.

Is my thinking out of line? Help me see this clearly.

GENTLE READER: Let’s begin by clarifying some terms:

The person who issues the invitations for the event is the host, not the guest of honor. As such, you properly arranged and paid for the entertainment.

Your guests are guests. As such, they properly attended and participated – they did not “take advantage of the situation.” And your friends properly comforted you and saw to your care.

While illness may interfere with – or even prevent – a hostess performing her duties, it does not absolve her of all responsibility. Your friend was perplexed because she was still looking to you, as hostess, to issue instructions. The gracious course would have been to ask your guests to enjoy themselves in your absence.

The captain whose incapacity results in the ship running aground is seldom remembered as a hero. The incapacitated hostess who nevertheless makes the effort to carry out – or delegate – her responsibilities will be.


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