DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was responsible for a dinner party being interrupted under general dismay. Let me explain:
I was sitting next to a gentleman unknown to me, who grabbed my leg under the table under the main course. After being very affected by the #MeToo movement and reports on the behavior of certain government officials, I immediately and loudly called on him for what he was doing.
As a result, he and his spouse traveled, and all evening limped to an awkward close up.
I have to admit that my response felt good at the moment, but what is the correct approach when it is assaulted by a fellow guest? And what should I write in my thanks to my hostess?
HAPPY READER: You’re not responsible for ruining this dinner party. When a guest is physically attacked by another guest, one can hardly expect her to let it continue.
In retrospect, there are other ways of reacting that Miss Manners could suggest. You could have exclaimed “That’s my leg!” with a voice just loud enough to make him eager to shut you up by pretending it was an accident – even if it would require some ingenuity on his part. (Maybe he could have tried, “Oh, sorry, I was trying to scratch my leg” or “My mistake – I thought I was sitting next to my wife.”)
Oh, back to your problem, not his. The end of a high heel in his foot would also have made the point, but we try to avoid even retaliation.
Your letter to your hostess should still express regret over the result, but with the understandable statement that you were so startled by the unexpected attack that you could hardly control your reaction.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every Thanksgiving for decades, my brother (an oenophile with a climate-controlled wine cellar) insists “I bring the wine!” This is his only contribution to the big family dinner.
He does bring the wine, but subsequently seems rather reluctant to open it. I usually say, “Please open the wine; everyone is sitting. “
This in itself is annoying for the hostess, who is sometimes halfway through her dinner before she is served a glass of wine. But the real kicker is that my brother then takes back any wine that is left over when he travels.
This happens every year: both the reluctance to serve the wine and to take the leftovers. The hostess thinks it’s rude – meaning to arrive with a bouquet of flowers, so take them out of the vase and take them home when you leave. I tend to agree. Your thoughts?
HAPPY READER: As this happens every year, Miss Manners recommends a carpet solution. You could respond to your brother’s offer by saying, “Yes, but hand it over so the hostess can serve it right away. And do not run away with the bottle afterwards. ” Or the hostess could just take it out of his hands when he comes as she is in charge of the serving.
Please send 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.
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