Q: We socialize with several different couples and the one subject we decided long ago not to talk about is politics. Naturally, that has been a little difficult because this is a presidential election year, but we have not had any heated arguments. Having said that, one of the couples called and invited us to co-host a debate party with them at their house the night of the next debate. I had not heard of such a thing. My husband and I thought they were joking and we laughed, but we soon realized they were serious. They went on and on about how much fun it would be, and they had a long list of people to invite and we could invite a bunch of our other friends as well. They kept insisting that we agree to do it, but we finally told them we would rather not.
We actually received their invitation yesterday in the mail. Our question is: Do we accept and go since we opted out of co-hosting this party? We hope you say we shouldn’t accept, because we really do not want to go. We know some of the other couples they talked about inviting and they have a tendency to get rather vocal about their opinions and we already know their opinions don’t match ours.
A: You would not have received the invitation from your friends if they held any ill feelings towards you and your husband for declining to co-host this event with them; therefore, I cannot be your excuse for not accepting their invitation. Yes, I have heard of parties like this, but have not been invited to one myself. I will, however, tell you this. Everyone has a right to his or her opinion when it comes to politics, but it remains your choice as to whether you share your opinion with others. You also do not have to comment on the opinions of others. Good luck in your decision.
Q: My husband and I attended a company business banquet dinner the other night. We were seated with some local and some out-of-town company people. The locals could bring their spouses. After we all took our seats, there was one empty seat at our table. It was for another member of our local office. No one seemed to know if he was running late or if he was unable to attend. When the waiter came to serve the salad course, one of the female spouses at our table told the waiter to box up the salad, the entree and the dessert and bring it out at the end of the dinner so that she could take it home “because this person is apparently not coming.” Then she turned to back to the table and said, “My teenage son at home is always hungry. I'm sure he’ll not let it go to waste.” My husband and I looked at each other in surprise. We discussed it a bit on the way home. Was it proper for this woman to ask to have this meal boxed up for her son when he wasn’t invited in the first place?
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A: Totally inappropriate and improper. This woman had no authority to make the request to the waiter. Furthermore, her announcement: “because this person is apparently not coming,” put the waiter in an awkward position if in fact the person who was to occupy the seat, actually showed up later during the meal. Obviously, the waiter could not then serve a “salad in a take-home box” to the late arrival, nor an entree if it had been already been boxed as well. Requesting a to-go box at a business banquet or dinner is inappropriate in the first place.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Maureen Houston, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.