DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the end of a date, a young man suggested (repeatedly) that we go back to my house for a drink. (My house was much closer than his.)
Is it unreasonable to say “yes” to such a request and still expect him to go home after an hour or two? He had never been invited to my house before, nor I to his.
Was it rude of me to let him know that he was about to miss the last train? Was it rude of him to invite himself over?
I’m guessing that it would be best never to let him get near my house in the first place. I enjoyed chatting with him over a drink, but it didn’t seem worth enduring the awkward moment of kicking him out.
GENTLE READER: General rule: Do not say yes to self-invited guests who only inspire you to wonder how you will get rid of them. (This rule does not apply to close relatives.)
It also seems to Miss Manners that there could be more than a curfew problem if you accepted this reverse-invitation, as she gathers you did not. That he needed to be reminded that his last train home was imminent should have answered any doubt you might have had about his intention to go home at all, let alone early.
The usual way to demur is to say, “I’ve had a lovely evening, but I’m too tired” or, if you want to conclude the association, simply, “I’m afraid I have a headache.”
But the train excuse was ostensibly helpful, so it was not rude. Self-invitations, however, even with the purest of intentions, are questionable. Not taking no for an answer is clearly rude.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Before I had my last baby, I purchased some baby gear from an acquaintance. I wrote her a check for a substantial amount of money. She also gave me some items for free that she felt she could not sell.
Now, a bit over a year later, she contacted me to say she’s unexpectedly having another baby and demanded her things back as if she had lent them to me. I’m done with the items and not planning to have more children, so if she had made a polite request, I would have happily given them to her. I have a lot of sympathy for her predicament, but her attitude of entitlement is offensive.
How can I respond to this? We have several mutual friends, and I don’t want to create discord in my social circle.
GENTLE READER: Since it has been more than a year, perhaps this lady has forgotten that some of the things were sold to you, not given. Still, in either case, they had become yours, and the lady should have asked for them as a favor.
Miss Manners gathers that you only want to make that point, not to recoup the money. Then you can say, graciously, “Which things do you need back? There were two batches — one that you sold me (and here you can even name the price) and another batch that you kindly gave me.” After pausing to let that sink in, you should add, “Never mind, I’m happy to give you back everything you want.”
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