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MYSTIFIED GUESTS TIPTOE OUT OF QUANDARY AFTER HOSTS NOD OFF

Dear Miss Manners: After an exciting game of Monopoly one evening at our newly married friends' home, Marcy suggested we play some Scrabble, but her husband said he would rather we watched television, so we did. A short while later, first she and then he fell asleep on the couch.

My boyfriend and I were baffled as to what we should do. We tried talking and clearing our throats before we decided to quietly leave the house - was that the right thing? Marcy did call a few days later to apologize.Gentle Reader: Miss Manners wondered why you had supplied the detail about your friends being newly married, until she suddenly realized what the problem was.

They were exhausted from staying up writing thank-you letters for their wedding presents, bless their hearts.

This does not make it acceptable to fall asleep while entertaining guests. But as this is never done on purpose - you have to be truly desperate to figure, "Maybe if we just go to sleep right here, they'll get the idea and go home" - the burden of politeness is shifted to the guest. The idea is to prevent the sleeper from later embarrassment.

If possible, you should have awakened them with a cover-up (not a cover; you didn't have to tuck them in):

"MARCY! JOE!"

"What? What? What? Who's there? What's the matter?"

"Why, nothing, we were just saying what a lovely evening we'd had, thank you so much, good night."

If not possible - if it worked no better than your throat clearings - Miss Manners supposes it was kinder to them, as well as to yourself, to leave. Either way, they are going to wonder what happened. However, it is better to awake with some doubt than with guests sitting on the sofa at three in the morning, staring at you expectantly.

Also, this way, they can get a good rest before they have to apologize, as your friends quite properly did.

Dear Miss Manners: I decided to respond to an invitation by writing the committee that it is "yet another invitation to a splendid event to raise money for an organization which I would love to support. But I am single and have never been quite sure where I fit into this scene."

"I suggest you might make up a few more tables if you included another option on your seating request card - along with `My guest will be . . .' and `Please seat me with . . .' - `I would like to be seated at a table with other singles.'

"I hope this suggestion is not presumptuous. I think it will raise money by expanding the scope of those attending beyond the `couple-oriented' social scene. It would make some rather lonely people feel at home and give a chance for single people to meet with others of similar backgrounds.

"I think it is the way of the future, innovative and hospitable."

Gentle Reader: This is a splendid idea, but Miss Manners has to tell you that being hospitable to guests is not a new invention. It is calling people guests when they are obliged to pay their own way and no one makes any attempt to socialize with them that is of modern origin.

As far as Miss Manners has been able to observe, there are only three reasons for going to these charity parties:

1. To give money to the charity, minus the cost of an evening.

2. To feel fashionable, both by taking advantage of a rare opportunity to dress up and by being present at an event with pillars of the community.

3. To do both while entertaining yourselves or your own preselected party, treating it as a public accommodation.

To a great many people, this does not add up. Missing from the list is the greatest attraction of any party - the opportunity to make new friends.

Not only singles miss this attention. Couples can, and often do, calculate how much cheaper it would be to stay home, if they are only going to talk to each other, and to entertain their friends elsewhere.

Charity committees are often so clever about the other arrangements for their events that Miss Manners would like to see them turn their attention and imagination to the task of treating their guests more like guests.

It doesn't take much to introduce people at parties - it doesn't even take knowing them oneself. Anyone doing host duty need only circulate, introducing himself or herself to whoever is nearby, but especially to those who look lost, and then grabbing the next handy person and introducing the person just met.