Q: I've been invited to a friend's house for a pool party on the Fourth of July. She said it is a must to go into the pool or we will be thrown in. I am overweight and there is no way I am going to wear a swimsuit. I am willing to go in (the pool) with a pair of capris and a top that I wear to the party. I plan on bringing a couple of big towels to wrap around me when I get out, and extra clothes if I need to change into something dry. I don't plan on letting anyone, not anyone, throw me in the pool so I'll just go in willingly if she will let me wear my own clothes. Is it proper to not wear a swimsuit in her pool? Or should I just not go if I am not willing to wear a swimsuit?
A: Your hostess already has basically given her approval for you to wear street clothes in her pool by threatening to "throw you in the pool." Her threat, however, is not only improper, but sounds dangerous. Hopefully, no one will be thrown into her pool. Your plan to bring towels and another set of clothes is a good one should you decide you want to go into her pool. However, if you do not want to do so and it looks like the party is getting wild and dangerous, excuse yourself and leave. No friendship or party is worth taking the chance of getting hurt by being thrown into a swimming pool.
Q: I am out of town visiting my mother. My husband has been invited to a barbecue on the 4th of July at a neighbor's house. I suggested he pick up a vase of flowers or get an outdoor potted plant to give as a hostess gift. He thinks because he's a guy going by himself, he doesn't need to take a hostess gift. Does he or does he not?
A: He does, and a vase of summer flowers or an outdoor summer blooming pot of flowers would be a great hostess gift.
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Q: We have two dogs who are terribly afraid of fireworks. We have accepted an invitation to go to a friend's house for a barbecue and fireworks on the 4th of July. We told them we would have to leave in time to get home before dark to be with our dogs. They seemed a little stunned when we told them that and made a side comment about wondering if our dogs were more important than them. Do we need to apologize to them when we leave to go home?
A: No, you do not need to apologize for leaving to go home to be with your pets who are afraid of fireworks. Simply thank them for the lovely party and leave. After all, humans have the advantage of understanding what you tell them (or should anyway), but pets do not and cannot understand everything you tell them. Fireworks frightens many pets and they appreciate having their owners with them when they are afraid. And, yes, particularly in this case and this situation, pets come first.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.