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Miss Manners: A friend’s wife wants us to pay for his birthday party

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: A friend is having a milestone birthday — turning 40. His wife, considerably younger, organized an event at a local bar, invited a bunch of people, and 10 or so RSVP’d.

Then two days before the event, she asked for money to cover the cost of reserving the space ($45 a person). Then she also told us that we were on our own for what we order and drink.

I was a bit miffed at this for two reasons: 1. She did not tell us the cost arrangement prior to sending the invite, so now I look bad if I back out and stick them with the bill, since that is a fixed cost. 2. She organized this, so why am I on the hook, essentially paying for her party for her husband?

This event is now in the past. I went, had a good time and kept my mouth shut. But it left me thinking that the wife is young as it relates to this kind of thing.

Should I say something to either one of them? (Probably not, as nothing good will come of that, right?) Am I off in my thinking?

The only thing “off” in your thinking is that this kind of behavior is reserved for the young. Event producers disguised as friends and family have cropped up everywhere, inventing more and more flagrant ways to fund their celebrations and/or extract presents from their unsuspecting investors.

The best (worst?) among them will not be shamed or deterred — and, as you say, no good generally comes from trying. Miss Manners is therefore afraid that skipping the events, or being rightfully resentful afterward, are the only polite ways of dealing with this dreadful and costly behavior.

Dear Miss Manners: If you leave your home for hours while you have guests, is that rude? My husband and I differ on this.

Are we talking overnight guests, where the host has gone out to run errands? Or dinner guests, being avoided at the local bar?

In order for Miss Manners to make a proper adjudication, the length of the guests’ stay and the reason for the host’s departure must be factored in.

Well, the official reason. Wanting some time away can be the subtext, as long as it is never explicitly stated.

Dear Miss Manners: One of the greatest pet peeves of my life is the practice of licking your fingers before trying to separate sheets of paper or money, often prior to handing it to another person. I wrongly thought that this habit would die out in the age of covid-19.

Is there something that I could suggest as an alternative, or should I just bear it? I find that most of the time, all it takes is a split second of patience to get the job done without resorting to this tactic.

Indeed. But tell that to anyone trying to get those annoying little produce bags open before the peaches start rotting.

Miss Manners suggests commiserating: “Those are frustrating, aren’t they? It’s so hard to separate things without also spreading germs. I find that if you rub the papers back and forth like a grasshopper, it helps pull the sheets apart. Would you like me to try it on some fresh ones?”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022 by Judith Martin