The case of the missing guest

We had a party last week and one of our friends who said he would be there never showed up. Do we call him and say something, or wait for him to bring up the subject?

By all means, call him. Just say, “Henry, we missed you at the party and are hoping nothing was wrong that you couldn’t be with us?” This give him the chance to apologize and explain and clear the air so this isn’t an issue that becomes a wedge in your friendship. He may have forgotten, or had an emergency, but whatever the reason, politeness dictates that he reply. He should have initiated the call and explained, but since he hasn’t, it’s fine, and actually important, that you be the one to smooth a situation that could just be a big misunderstanding.

My husband and I are having an argument about how to eat a dinner roll. He just picks it up and takes bites out of it. I say he should break off small pieces. Who is right?

You are right. You break off small, bite-sized pieces and if buttering them, butter each one as you break it off. You don’t butter the whole thing, or pick up the whole thing. The same is true for bread or toast. You never hold an entire piece of bread in your hand and butter it, or put jam on it – you break off smaller, bite-sized pieces and add butter or jam, one piece at a time.

Our son, who lives across the country, called us to tell us that he had proposed to his girlfriend and that she said yes. Now what? Should we call her, or wait for her to call us, or what?

It would be especially nice for you to call her, to say you are delighted, and look forward to seeing her again soon (or if you have never met her, to meeting her soon), and have a brief  “welcome to the family” conversation. It would be very hard for her to be the one to call without feeling awkward about what to say, and since it is important to make the connection as soon as you know she’s going to be your daughter-in-law, it’s great for you to make that first call.

I’ve had to make an appearance at a number of parties lately for various political candidates and would like to know how soon I can leave without appearing rude?

If you are attending a large reception or cocktail party, you should stay at least an hour before making your excuses and departing. If you are attending a dinner party, however, you must stay through dinner, and then try to hang in for about an hour afterward before leaving. No matter what kind of party it is, be sure to find your hosts to thank them and make your excuses (long drive, early meeting, etc.) before you leave.

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