Is all this pique re­ally war­ranted?

The Dallas Morning News - - Comics & Puzzles - JUDITH MARTIN miss­man­[email protected]

Dear Miss Man­ners: When my part­ner and I cel­e­brated a 25th an­niver­sary, we had a reser­va­tion at a lo­cal restau­rant known for white-table­cloth din­ing. Not strato­spher­i­cally ex­pen­sive, but not cheap.

Quite late in the af­ter­noon of our “day,” our best friends called, want­ing to have din­ner to­gether. We were will­ing to share our day with them, and ex­tended an in­vi­ta­tion to join us, ad­just­ing our reser­va­tion, although we had the un­der­stand­ing that we were each pay­ing our own way. (Our friends are no­tably “fru­gal.”) Since the es­tab­lish­ment we had booked had ex­tended us an an­niver­sary dis­count, we ar­ranged to share that dis­count with them.

Our reser­va­tion was for 6 p.m. How­ever, the es­tab­lish­ment’s “happy hour” ended at 6. Our friends wanted to meet at 5:30 to take ad­van­tage of less-ex­pen­sive drinks, so we ar­ranged to meet early in the bar.

To our sur­prise, when we ar­rived and were greeted by the owner, he had al­ready seated our friends at a ta­ble, but not at our usual ta­ble with our fa­vored waitress. They had al­ready or­dered drinks and were con­tem­plat­ing a sec­ond round.

I was al­ways of the im­pres­sion that guests should not take the ta­ble at a restau­rant un­til their hosts/ hostesses had ar­rived. I was a bit taken aback, even more so when the evening pro­ceeded and we heard not a word of con­grat­u­la­tions from our guests on our an­niver­sary. (And we picked up the added tab for dessert and cof­fee.)

Was I wrong to feel slighted? Is it OK now to hi­jack a host’s reser­va­tion and have your­self seated and served be­fore your host ar­rives? By the way, we did ar­rive on time as agreed.

Gen­tle Reader: Noted.

As you seem to want to tally points, Miss Man­ners will give you this last one.

It oth­er­wise seems clear to her that you did not, in fact, want to share “your day” with your friends and could have eas­ily po­litely de­clined — espe­cially given the late no­tice. Be­cause their trans­gres­sions are mi­nor, but your re­sent­ment is fierce.

Restau­rants are not the same as pri­vate homes. It is en­tirely pos­si­ble that your friends just got there early and since the owner him­self of­fered them a ta­ble, they took it, rather than of­fend­ing him or risk­ing los­ing an­other one. That they should have sat there wait­ing for you af­ter likely be­ing of­fered drinks mul­ti­ple times seems un­rea­son­able. But you are cor­rect that they could have is­sued best wishes on your an­niver­sary. You may put that in your points col­umn as well.

Dear Miss Man­ners: My hus­band and I have been sep­a­rated, liv­ing in the same house but in separate bed­rooms, for 18 years. My friend in­vited us to her home overnight. Do I ask her if she has two beds in one guest room?

Gen­tle Reader: This sce­nario plants an in­deli­ble im­age where none was war­ranted. If you don’t mind your hosts’ be­ing kept awake won­der­ing how this works, Miss Man­ners sup­poses you could say, “We would both love to join you, but we are cur­rently sep­a­rated. We get along per­fectly well, but I wanted to let you know ...” But you could also just ask if it is pos­si­ble to have two beds.

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