Editor’s note: Miss Manners has expanded her columns to six days per week. They will appear Monday through Saturday beginning next week.
Dear Miss Manners: I have friends (a couple) who bring their dog with them everywhere, including to my house for dinner. On a few occasions, one half of the couple has “shared’’ some of the appetizers with their “best friend’’; the second time around, I commented.
The remark was met with a chilly response. I feel that they can do as they please in their own house with their own food, but at my house, it’s out of line and rude. They also let the dog out for potty breaks, which I’m left to clean up the following day.
Am I being defensive? It is, after all, my home, and I am paying out-of-pocket to entertain. We do have fun, but the hound wasn’t invited to dinner; they were.
Invoke the children-at-weddings rule: “Yours are so well-behaved, but then everyone would want to bring theirs, and I am afraid that we are not equipped to accommodate dogs.’’
Note that Miss Manners says nothing about the particulars of the dog’s behavior, the modifying of which is a losing battle. Much like the rule with children, better to make a blanket statement about their attendance and leave the specifics of how they are reared to their minders.
Dear Miss Manners: I have wonderful in-laws who visit from out of state several times a year. Each time they stay at least a week and insist on doing all the cooking and cleaning. They insist that I stay out of the kitchen so that I can rest and enjoy time with the kids. (Both my husband and I work full time.)
While this is greatly appreciated, the problem arises when they leave. For weeks afterward, I struggle to locate dishes, silverware and other cookware. Sometimes I discover a particular piece has been put in the wrong place only when I am in immediate need of it (for example, needing to quickly drain a pot of pasta only to discover my colander is not where it is supposed to be). And all goodwill I have from their visit disappears when I am elbow-deep in hot, soggy pasta.
When they are here, I do slip into the kitchen as often as I can, but they insist on doing the dishes and putting everything away. How can I let them know politely that while I truly appreciate their efforts, I do not want them to put anything away?