DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our niece is about to graduate from college. Her parents are dead. Her mother’s best friend raised her for a year when she was 13, and then my niece moved in with us and we raised her.
She invited us to dinner after graduation. My husband and I don’t want to be present because the mother of the woman who raised her when she was 13 is making a scene scolding us because she thinks we should have helped her daughter with the associated expenses.
We want to come the day before prom and invite our niece to a nice dinner and of course attend her prom the next day. (Several hundred people are present, which will minimize the chance of a scene.)
I don’t want to put us in a situation where this woman can get naughty and distract attention from my niece who worked hard despite her personal problems.
CAREFUL READER: It’s one of two ways to avoid a scene—well, three, since anyone can be present and behave, a possibility that Ms. Manners turns down just because you do.
The other is for the best friend to attend without her mother. Your niece may not want to use this opportunity, but since she is both an adult and the hostess of the house, she should have such an opportunity. Explain to her what you are going to do, including the reasons, and let her decide.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m in a group of four close male friends, one of whom lives out of town. We all have nice houses with guest rooms.
Whenever a visitor comes to us, which usually comes in the form of his words: “I want to visit; is next weekend working? “I am the only person who provides him with housing.
Although I don’t mind too much, this happens even when his plans are not with me! He will come to spend his days with two other friends, only to return to my house to eat, shower, sleep and leave.
Once he came to visit when I was out of town – and even then no one else offered their guest rooms. I sat down with a friend, even though I wasn’t there, after a last-second message came in asking if he could use our spare key. What could I say?
This brings me to my conflict and dilemma. It annoys me that no one else offers to host our friend. But should I be? And if I want to change that, how do I change the template so I don’t look like a jerk to out-of-town or local guys?
I tried “Hi, can anyone else spend this weekend?” bullshit, but it’s not going anywhere.
CAREFUL READER: With a set pattern that everyone (except you) likes, your friends don’t see much need to change. And your attempt to find alternative accommodation for the out-of-towner has unfortunately reinforced the assumption that you are his travel agent.
All that remains is to occasionally fail to receive guests without taking responsibility – a task that would be easier if you used an understandable excuse for not being in town.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners on her website www.missmanners.com; to her email, Dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.