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Miss Manners: I feel terrible that most of my dinner guests caught covid

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I had a dinner party for eight people. Six of them, including my spouse and me, later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Before the party, we all tested negative, but obviously one or more of us was not symptomatic at the time. Five days after the party, the first person reported that he tested positive, and I contacted the rest of the guests and let them know. Over the next week, most have confirmed that they have the virus.

I feel certain that the party was the event that precipitated this, and I feel terrible that my guests are ill because of it. What is the right thing to do now?

Oh, dear. Not your fault, of course, but it was your party.

You have already done the right thing in notifying people immediately, and, Miss Manners trusts, telling them how terrible you feel. This is a rare occasion where the non-apology so often used illegitimately by guilty people — a variation of “I’m sorry you feel that way” — is legitimate. You do feel bad that they feel sick.

There are two more things for you to do — or, rather, one to do and one not to do:

You should check up on your guests occasionally to see how they are doing, and you should refrain from any speculation about who was the carrier. Everybody tested and everybody attended in good faith, so no good can come of targeting anyone.

[Find the latest coronavirus guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.]

Dear Miss Manners: I asked my fiance, via text, to please call me before he left a party. His response was, “Why?”

I found this extremely rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful. He disagrees and says it is a way of saying, “What do you want?” which I still find offensive. This has now become a highly debated and contentious subject. Am I wrong to believe he should have instead said, “Okay,” or, “What’s up?”

Let’s settle this before you are married. Otherwise, there will be bad times ahead.

It is no more clear to Miss Manners than it was to your fiance why you wanted him to call at that particular moment. So his question does not seem unreasonable to her, although perhaps it could have been interpreted with a challenging tone.

But that would be looking for trouble. Which is what you seem to be doing.

You denounced his response as if he had told you to go to the devil (or worse, but that’s as far as Miss Manners will go), then refused to accept his benign explanation.

One question for you: Why?

Dear Miss Manners: There was a time when it was considered bad manners to bring a gift to a wedding. Rather, gifts were to be delivered before, or even after, the wedding day. It was particularly gauche to bring one to a black-tie affair. When I was a kid, there were no gift tables at receptions. It simply wasn’t done.

Nor should it be, ever, although what the dress code has to do with it puzzles Miss Manners.

People having a wedding are too preoccupied to accept presents in the usual gracious manner. Those gift tables are notorious for losing cards and, in semipublic places, even losing packages.

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.

© 2023 Judith Martin