DEAR MISS MANNERS: About once a month we go out to dinner with another couple and we always have a great time. We tend to order more or less the same things – a drink each, no desserts unless it’s a special occasion – so we just split the bill.
We were surprised but okay with it when they suggested we eat at their place next time instead of going out. We all cook very creatively during the pandemic and I volunteered to host next time.
We had a good meal – but they told us what our share of the cost would be! I’m appalled that our friends are so stingy as to charge us for eating in their own house. We thought they were close friends!
KIND READER: Evidently they are close. Or maybe just confused.
There is indeed a big difference between a restaurant and a home. Or rather, there should be. But the habit of eating in commercial establishments has almost erased the meaning of private hospitality.
This shows up in many ways. Guests no longer feel obligated to make definite appointments in advance—perhaps even less than at restaurants, which can charge no-shows. They expect to be able to state their food preferences. They are unlikely to reciprocate.
And hosts who no longer feel sole responsibility for providing the meal can even assign some of the shopping and cooking to their guests.
His friends took this to an extreme. For those who remember the ancient tradition of hospitality, this is sad. Planning and supervising the entertainment was a pleasure that people enjoyed taking turns. The claim that it placed all the burden on the hosts was false because reciprocity equaled.
Miss. Manners might be inclined to emphasize this by asking her friends if the price they quoted included a service charge.
But if you’re not insulted by your friends for treating you like a customer instead of a guest, you can simply set an example in your own home. The opportunity to discuss this will be when your friends ask what they can bring or try to pay. Then you can adequately express your horror: “No, no, it’s our house and we consider it a pleasure to entertain you.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My neighbor is hosting brunch for a local mother who lost her daughter in early December. The daughter was tragically murdered, leaving two adult children and a 3 year old. It was terribly painful for the whole family.
My husband and I believe it is too early for this event. Please help me sort this out in my mind.
KIND READER: It is not for outsiders to decide what constitutes an appropriate period of mourning. Had it been too soon for the bereaved mother to be coaxed into what may be a low-key event, that lady might have given up.
Life was simpler, agrees Ms. Manners, when society established firm periods for withdrawal after death, but these were not always the ones that best suited the individual. The way you accept this is to recognize that you cannot meet the survivor’s needs, so it’s best to let him or her decide if this is too soon.
Please submit your questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
#charged #dinner #place