1. Rev. Svend la Rose

    Suppose that I’m new somewhere, and my one acquaintance is showing me around. Suppose, furthermore, that this friend is really my frenemy, and is “introducing” me to all the disreputable people who only got invited by donating to the host’s campaign fund. How do I refuse another such introduction, to the worst lech of all, whose acquaintance would be socially stigmatizing?

    • Alicia

      Being polite to all that you are introduced to is a sign of good character. Nobody will stigmatize you for a polite conversation with the guests of your host and friend. However, if you hold someone in so low regard as to call them your enemy which is what a frienemy is perhaps you should decline their invites in the future and surround yourself instead with actual friends.

      • Rev. Svend la Rose

        It goes without saying that I would never see that frenemy again. Do you really think that the morals of a low person would not rub off on me?

        • Alicia

          I do not know you. I do know that I would think much less of someone who feels above others in such a show of snobbery as to shun the friend of a host for even an introduction. Yes you pick your friends but if you are introduced to a friend of a friend and host you are polite and kind as you would wish your friends to treat other friends of yours. Kindness to everyone that is met is the hallmark of a good person. Not everyone needs to become a friend but being kind and polite in introduction by a friend shows more about you then them. Snubbing someone in this situation only makes someone look small ,mean, insecure, and like they should be snubbed.

  2. D A Bell

    I would like to comment regarding the advice concerning use of military titles. While you note that “Members of the regular armed services retain their rank after retiring. However, it is poor taste for reserve officers who served for only a short time- or those who held temporary commissions during a war- to continue calling themselves “Captain,” “Major,” or “Colonel.”
    I don’t understand the admonition that such is in poor taste, because the right to ‘bear the title’ for those who honorably served during wartime is codified in 10 US Code Chapter 45 Section 772 (e). How can one be exercising poor taste when one has a statutory right to bear the title? The historic precedent and social usage, I submit, is quite the contrary, as exemplified by late 19th century literature and early 20th century media. Since the right to bear title for retired officers is codified in paragraph (a) of the same section, why would paragraph (e) be cause for disdain? The only substantive difference is on which occassions such previous wartime veterans may wear a uniform.
    Thank You.

  3. Jack

    I’ve read advice on how to handle very specific answers to ‘what should I bring?’ to dinner (such as, bring a loaf of bread but it doesn’t have to be fron the Parisian bakery the host suggested) but what about cocktail parties and birthday parties? I have a cousin who throws 1 or 2 parties a year, and always requests that all guests prepare specific
    and quite elaborate (and expensive) appetizers for her parties (her birthday, her husband’s birthday, Halloween, ’80s theme parties), on top of BYOB and hostess gifts — and usually a day or two before the party. These are parties with 30 or more people, many of whom don’t know each other, and there ends up being absurd amounts of food — that nobody eats. ‘Bring a bag of chips,’ sure. Or of it’s a potluck dinner, totally fine. But these are evening

    She threw a surprise party for her dad’s 65th birthday (with her 3 sisters), asked relatives and friends he hadn’t seen in 20 years, all of whom had to drive 2 or 3 hours each way — and she had each of them (and all the other guests) prepare salads and vegetable trays and the like… and bring them along for the long drive along with their own liquor and birthday presents.

    We’re not students here — she’s a grown-up.

    This same woman does the ‘can you bring a few loaves of that marble rye from that bakery 45 minutes in the opposite direction’ for normal dinners with her family — on top of wine. But worse, she’ll do that and then announce when I arrive (she lives in another town, 45 minutes away) that she didn’t have time to cook and she’s getting take-out or we’re going to a restaurant. When it’s take out, she takes me along to the chain take-out place and I of, course, offer to pitch in. And it costs me $25 for the food (she usually gets extra for her husband’s lunches the next day). It’s not about the money but it just feels lousy. Another time she was announced when I got there that she was ordering pizza — and it cost me $40. I don’t want to be a jerk and I understand busy schedules (she doesn’t work, and this is usually Sunday, but whatever) but this happens most times (either that or she cancels while I’m on my way). On one of the few times she did cook, she didn’t have time to make a side dish (rice) before her husband got home from work, ordered it at a restaurant (for $14 — she ordered extra for her husband’s lunches) sent me to get it and stiffed me with the bill.

    When she does cook, she complains about how expensive the main course was. It just makes me feel unwelcome.

    We’re not students. We’re grown-ups with nice houses.

    Again, it’s not about the money. I’ve had her and her husband over for (really nice — I enjoy cooking) meals and ask them only to bring themselves. Once she brought a bottle of wine I’d brought to their house as a gift three weeks before — opened, and half empty — she said she didn’t like it (it was a nice Chianti) but didn’t want it to go to waste. Again, am I a jerk for feeling lousy about all this?

    I say, if you don’t want to supply at least a little bit of food (and it doesn’t have to be fancy) — then don’t invite guests over. And I also think it’s rude to demand that somebody bring specific dishes to a party.

    I’m not always this bitter.

    • Jody

      Jack, you are not a jerk for feeling lousy about the situation. I’d feel the same way.

      I agree with Alicia, sounds like you should respond “no” to future invitations. She may ask why, and all you’d have to say is that you have other plans for that time (the plans may be as simple as sitting home with a book but they’re your plans).

      As for events at your own house, if she shows up to your house with a half-empty bottle of wine again, you can politely thank her for the gift and then just set it aside (and throw it out after she leaves).

  4. Brockwest

    Hosts expecting you to provide the food: The simple answer to this one is either decline the invitation, or even better, start showing up without your food assignment. When asked to provide a specific item, you can say on the phone, “oh I’m sorry, that won’t be possible as I have some other errands to run.”
    When you are the guest at someon’es home (adults) and they order take-out, in no way are you obligated to chip in, much less pay for the entire order (plus extra for the next day’s lunch.) If pressed, and say the bill at the door is $20.00, you can offer $5 or $10 to the hostess and go get a drink of water.
    In this particular case the hostess has shown she does not expect to contribute when she comes to your home. It’s a matter of not letting yourself get used. All of us, generally, let ourselves get used the first time, but once it is known that it is an unfair situation to anticipate, don’t let yourself get used a second time.
    I would certainly stop the hostess gifts, especially as they are unappreciated and returned with snarky remarks.
    There are some people who just never learned to share. You can’t teach them, you shouldn’t try, but you don’t have to buy into their scheme of having you provide the money for their food when you are the guest.

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