DEAR MISS MANNERS: I love to entertain and host get-togethers and dinner parties often, and big parties usually two or three times a year. However, since the Internet became popular, I noticed that people are really being kind of jerky when it comes to answering invitations.
Before accepting, they want to know who else is going and what is being served, and are wishy-washy about attending (with a response of “maybe”) until the very last minute.
I thought I had found the perfect solution to this, since I was getting a little peeved about the fact that most people know the time, expense and effort it takes me to set these events up and yet still act like they are doing me a favor by attending. I sent out somewhat vague paper invitations (old-school, I know, right?) with instructions that once they RSVP’d to me, they would then be added to a page on Facebook that would give them all the information they needed to know.
I thought this couldn’t possibly fail. Except out of the 40 people I have invited to this birthday party of mine, which I am arranging, five have already called me to say: “Yeah, put me down as going. Unless something else comes up that day. You know how it is.”
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The first time someone said this, I thought they were joking, and I laughed. The second time I was astounded and couldn’t respond. The next three times I was angry and said something along the lines of, “Well, it would mean a lot to me to have you attend, so please let me know ASAP if you change your mind.”
Is this a thing now? To accept offers to events until maybe something better comes along? Or do I need new friends? I am appalled by the lack of manners here and would appreciate help on what to say if anyone else tells me “until something better comes along.”
GENTLE READER: By “a thing now,” Miss Manners trusts you mean that people are increasingly shameless about being rude, and by “old-school,” you are referring to timeless ways of showing consideration for others.
Perhaps you do need another set of friends. You may tell your current friends that you are sure something better will come along for them.
When to send
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How quickly should thank-you notes for a baby shower be sent?
GENTLE READER: Well before you complain to Miss Manners that with an infant in the house, you are too busy and too sleep-deprived to express gratitude to your generous friends.
Looking for the logic
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Here is another example of “Shouldn’t manners make sense instead of being a stupid formality?”
When the table is set with a salad plate, why is that plate placed on the left of the main plate? Reaching over the main plate may cause your sleeve to be soiled. It is true that left-handed people would have no difficulty.
GENTLE READER: And they get few such breaks. Miss Manners rejects the notion that all manners must make sense, which would eliminate most traditions and ceremonies.
However, if you insist, she can supply a reason for those salad plates being on the left for right-handed people. The glasses are on the right, and drink is more frequently reached for than salad.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
© Universal Uclick 3/17