Miss Manners: Sickness doesn’t absolve host from acting graciously - The Buffalo News
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Miss Manners: Sickness doesn’t absolve host from acting graciously

Dear Miss Manners: I invited a small group of women to go to a spa for my birthday. We checked in and started the festivities with appetizers and cocktails. Unfortunately, I had two drinks and became ill, inebriated. I just plain got sick.

I paid for all five of us, and the women went in as I straggled behind. Within minutes, I was getting even more ill. One of my friends took me outside and comforted me and, not knowing what to do, just sat there. Another guest took me back to the hotel.

As the “guest of honor,” I had a bad taste in my mouth the day after because people I called my friends couldn’t see that we should have rescheduled the relaxation spa affair.

Gentle Reader: Let’s begin by clarifying some terms: The person who issues the invitations for the event is the host, not the guest of honor. Your guests are guests. As such, they properly attended and participated – they did not “take advantage of the situation.” And your friends properly comforted you and saw to your care.

While illness may interfere with – or even prevent – a hostess performing her duties, it does not absolve her of all responsibility. Your friend was perplexed because she was still looking to you, as hostess, to issue instructions. The gracious course would have been to ask your guests to enjoy themselves in your absence. The captain whose incapacity results in the ship running aground is seldom remembered as a hero. The incapacitated hostess who nevertheless makes the effort to carry out – or delegate – her responsibilities will be.

Determine bathroom status

Dear Miss Manners: Is there a right or wrong way to determine if a bathroom is in use? Should the next gentle user softly try the door handle to see if it is locked, or simply knock and allow the user to acknowledge their presence? I am often on both sides of the door and would like to know what is most acceptable.

Gentle Reader: If you are on both sides of the door, surely you know if the room is in use?

No, Miss Manners realizes you meant to say that you have, at different times, been both applicant and occupant. If the former, knock and await a response. If the latter, respond that the room is occupied. No good ever came from trying the door handle.

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s son, Nicholas Ivor Martin.

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