Miss Manners: Some dinner guests were only invited for dessert

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Dear Miss Manners: One of my companions was invited to a long-time friend’s house and asked me to accompany her. The invitation was for “dessert only”, as many other guests had also been invited to dinner a few hours earlier.

The dinner pancakes were very tasty, diners told us.

What are the etiquette points in all of this? I seek your response as a point of information and without hard feelings – I later married the hostess.

Well you showed her, right?

Although the depth of your forgiveness is remarkable, Miss Manners is afraid that your wife and former hostess has, in fact, broken etiquette. You can invite people over for dinner and you can invite people over for dessert, but you can’t do it for different people on the same evening. It is too clear which of the guests is preferred.

Except, of course, in your case. So it’s clear that your wife has learned her lesson – and you finally got to taste the pancakes for dinner.

Dear Miss Manners: A friend I’ve known for half a century is dreading her upcoming 70th birthday. For the record, she also complained about her 50th and 60th birthdays.

I happen to think milestone anniversaries are worth celebrating. I recently emailed to let her know that a gift and card, both carefully selected by me, would be arriving shortly.

His response: “It’s so nice of you to do it, but I refuse to acknowledge this anniversary!”

I had also planned to order flowers from her, but I’m now thinking about that given her passive-aggressive response to my previous message. Am I rude?

Maybe. But your friend is not passive-aggressive. She’s made it clear — for the past 20 years, no less — that she doesn’t like celebrating her birthday.

Your insistence on this is not considered, because it is not wanted. If you want to celebrate your friend, Miss Manners suggests that you simply invite her to a meal or an event around her birthday without saying why. You’ll both know the reason, but the friendship will only be better if you silently respect his true birthday wishes.

Dear Miss Manners: A babysitter we used when our kids were little, who we still see occasionally socially, likes to tell people how awful my kids were when she was babysitting. She never said a word to me at the time.

My children are now in their late thirties. She’s told me about it in social situations, and not only is it embarrassing, but I don’t believe it’s true. I think she says that as a joke at the expense of my family.

What would be an appropriate response when she launches into comments about my children? I can only think of rude returns, which will not help the situation.

“Oh, my God, they never did you any good. If I had known how awful children were to you back then, I would never have continued to subject them to you.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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