Dear Miss Manners: My wife and I are moving to a new town house and would like to invite groups of friends to see it at a housewarming party. Each group may number from eight to 15 people.
Is it proper to ask for the friends to bring some food, or is it proper for us to provide all the food for each housewarming?
Gentle Reader: When you invite people to your home, it is proper for you to offer them refreshment. It doesn't matter if the house is old or new any more than it matters if you are rich or poor.
Miss Manners assures you that this will continue to be a sacred obligation of hospitality, no matter how many people now believe that an invitation is like ordering carry-out meals, except that instead of payment you allow the food suppliers to eat with you.
It is true that your guests may be moved by the occasion to bring you presents, and that the traditional presents for a new house are bread and salt. But that is not your responsibility - nor is it a party spread.
You will just have to wait and see, and look pleasantly surprised and grateful if they do. You might want to practice that look if you had believed that your guests would contribute more substantially to your new house.
Dear Miss Manners: A single male friend whom I have known for 14 years suggested that he would like to meet new people and make new friends, so I have introduced him to my lady friends and included him in a few of our get-togethers.
Basically a very good person, he seems to have developed a negative outlook on life and a condescending attitude toward other people, particularly women. He has made comments about the lack of attractiveness of women in the room and about the lack of desirability of a friendship with a woman who lives beyond a 10-minute drive from him because of inconvenience.
When I pointed out why certain statements were offensive to most women (without suggesting he made these types of comments), he seemed to understand, and I have not heard him say them since. However, he has made other rude comments around my lady friends.
Now they have asked me to please not include him in future gatherings. I am certain he has no idea of the negative impact his comments make.
Shall I no longer include him without any reason why, shall I explain to him the problem and give him the opportunity to make up for his bad behavior, or shall I simply not include him any longer with a full explanation? He is 40, has never been married, and is certainly old enough to take the consequences of his actions.
Gentle Reader: This would be an easy question for most advice givers. Sure, go ahead, tactfully tell him what he's doing wrong, and consider that you have done him a favor. What are friends for? A no-brainer, as that unattractive current expression goes.
But not for Miss Manners. Those who blithely toss the loaded word "tactfully" into such an explosive move as telling someone that nobody can stand him and it's his own fault seldom know what they are asking. The tact easily falls off, the friendship is blown apart, and the target's self-respect is blown away.
Yet she trusts you. You state the problem delicately, and you have indirectly but successfully taught him a lesson already.
So she gives you permission to say regretfully that your friends have all somehow gotten the impression that he doesn't like them. Let him take it from there - apologizing directly to them, allowing you to do it for him, or simply resolving to make a better impression on any other people to whom you might introduce him.