Approximately 30 or 45 minutes before they were to arrive with our meal, we received a phone call from the couple stating that they would not be coming after all. Our friends had had a lunch date that day at the home of their son's future in-laws, and the occasion, involving wedding planning, had extended into the dinner hour. Their hosts had ordered pizzas for their dinner.
Needless to say, we were surprised, hurt and very hungry. I received an email about three weeks later in which my friend stated that she "would like to apologize for canceling plans at the last minute," adding that "it's not something I do," though clearly, she did. A lengthy explanation followed, but nowhere in the email did the words "I'm sorry" ever appear.
Is stating that you want to apologize the same as saying you're sorry? More to the point, there was never any mention of rescheduling, nor have we heard from this couple since.
Now we are getting ready to celebrate the wedding of our son and are wondering whether we should include this couple in the plans. Some years earlier, we attended the wedding celebration of their older son.
I say this couple has clearly communicated (albeit through lack of communication) that the friendship is over. My husband, however, feels that we are socially obligated to reciprocate with an invitation to the party.
No, you are free to turn a year-old grudge into a rupture. It might even not come to that, as not everybody can expect to be invited to every wedding.
Granted, those people behaved badly in dismissing you at the last minute, not considering that you would be left dinnerless and not apologizing at the time.
Declaring the desire to apologize is an apology, but then adding “It’s not something I do” (or the even worse “It’s not who I am”) ruins it. As you realized, it deepens the transgression by suggesting that you are the only ones to whom the self-forgiver would direct such rudeness.
Far be it from Miss Manners to justify this behavior. Yet if she had liked these people before, and it was a first offense, she might have gotten over her annoyance after a year. Considering that they were planning a wedding during the pandemic and felt obliged to go along with their prospective in-laws, she might have given them another chance.
But not before she had said pleasantly, “You do realize that you left us starving during quarantine,” to see if that prompted enough remorse to bring on a real apology.
Dear Miss Manners: Is it polite to whistle in public?
Not if you feel it would embarrass your dog. Or annoy anyone else in the vicinity.
2021, by Judith Martin