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, as I was not feeling well.
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What does proper etiquette dictate? What would have been the proper thing for the guests to do under the circumstances, as I paid for everything?
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? Illogical? 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. You could also have asked a close friend to look after everyone.
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.
To knock, or not to knock
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a right or wrong way to determine if a bathroom is in use? Should the next gentle user softly try the door handle to see if it is locked, or simply knock and allow the user to acknowledge their presence?
I wonder this because I am often on both sides of the door in the place that I exercise. This is not a stall but a room. I know I cannot change others’ approach, but would like to know what is most acceptable.
GENTLE READER: If you are on both sides of the door, surely you know if the room is in use?
No, Miss Manners realizes you meant to say that you have, at different times, been both applicant and occupant. If the former, knock and await a response. If the latter, respond that the room is occupied. No good ever came from trying the door handle.
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.
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