Dear Abby: Your answer to the Arizona lady who inquired how she should have handled the situation of uninvited relatives who elected to take their leftovers home with them was dismaying to this reader.
Why? Because your answer ignored the fundamental breach of etiquette, and focused on a technicality related to ordered-in food.The breach of etiquette had three components: First, the visitors arrived unexpectedly; second, the visitors ignored another obvious courtesy they should have shown their hostess - NOT to stay so long that it becomes necessary to invite them for dinner; and third, since the dinner was ordered in, surely the courteous action would have been to pay part of the bill. Instead, the hostess indicated that she paid for the entire order.
In my mind, your response implies that the actions on the part of the guests were acceptable.
Your response would have been more appropriate had you taken the opportunity to educate your readers about the proper behavior of guests.
It seems to me that the rules for that situation are quite clear:
If you drop in unannounced, make it a short visit, and don't place your host or hostess in the position of having to provide lunch or dinner for an unexpected guest. If the situation favors staying longer, offer to share the cost of the added expense your visit imposes. If the host or hostess declines, that's one thing, but at least the offer should be made.
- Katherine Walker,
Dear Katherine Walker: Your letter makes some good points about drop-in visitors. However, "Perplexed in Arizona" apparently was more concerned that her guests wanted to take home the leftovers from their individual orders, which was the issue I ad-dressed.
Had she asked what I thought about guests overstaying their welcome, or sharing the cost of the ordered-in food, I would have ad-dressed those issues as you did.
Dear Abby: What incredible chutzpah! Dropping in, uninvited, on a Sunday afternoon and inviting yourself to a meal for which your hostess is unprepared, have her order food to your specifications delivered to your hostess's home, for which she pays - then stuffing yourself, and taking home what you cannot eat! Unbelievable!
Abby, your flip answer also was unbelievable. Are you really telling me you condoned the rudeness of these drop-in guests?
- Ada Silbey, Stuart, Fla.
Dear Ada: I don't know about you, but I wouldn't care to keep the leftover spaghetti from the plates of others to eat later. If the guests could not finish eating their orders (from which they had eaten), why shouldn't they take the orders home rather than toss them?
I do agree, however, that the uninvited visitors were not model guests, and they broke several rules of etiquette.
Dear Abby: Any man who is afraid of neutering a dog has a problem with his own manhood. The husband of "Ernie's Mom" sounds like a lot of the macho males we have in this country who are responsible for babies having babies.
I suggest that he not only have his dog neutered, but also himself, lest he father more macho males like himself. (Notice, I said "males" - not "men.")
- Been There, Done That,