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03.29.2001: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living |
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continued from page 2

Annoying friends of friend (answer cont.)...
So letís analyze your options. If you continue to avoid Jane and Wayne, without any explanation whatsoever for your actions, there is absolutely, positively no way in hell that they wonít take the evasion as a personal insult. Unless they are preternaturally thick-skinned, or just plain dim, they will, at some point, begin to notice that their overtures for group excursions are met with constant rejection by you and your honey. And no one likes the feeling of rejection, right? Follow this path and you might as well bid a big buh-bye to the friendship right now.

On the other hand, itís entirely possible that blurting out "I hate your best friends!" may come across as just a tad offensive to Jane and Wayne. Most people are fiercely loyal to their friends Ė as well they should be Ė and donít take kindly to insinuations that theyíve done a lousy job of choosing any of those friends. Itís clear you have to do or say something about the situation, but the magnitude of how direct and honest you ought to be is going to depend in large part on what sort of people Jane and Wayne are. Forthright people tend to appreciate the brutal truth from others, and would far prefer to hear whatís really going on then continue to put up with forced politeness and lame excuses. But if Janeís the sort of girl who gets pissy when you tease her about her cute but crazy guffaw of a laugh, or Wayneís the kind of guy that gets defensive when you make a joke about his predilection for stupid movie comedies, a truckload of tact and a fair amount of white lying may be in order. 

Next time Jane calls you up suggesting another excruciating evening with Jill and Bill, tell her, yet again, that you canít make it. But this time, let her know how sorry you are that itís been so long since you and your boyfriend spent time with her and Wayne, and how youíd love to have the two of them over for dinner sometime so that you four can catch up. Sneak in those phrases "the two of you" and "the four of us" as frequently as you can during the conversation, and even the most oblivious of the socially inept will be able to do the math and realize that you just donít want Jill and Bill added to the equation.

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