20-40-60 Etiquette---Was it a social slight?
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: My husband and I recently hosted a couple’s shower for one of his work colleagues. We held a brunch in our home for more than a dozen people. Of course, my husband knew everyone. I did, too, except one couple. I had spoken to the wife at great length on the phone about the upcoming wedding.
When they arrived, I was engaged in some cooking duties and not formally introduced. I am typically very outgoing and make every effort to make guests feel welcome. Time escaped and tasks called. I scrambled to serve drinks, a meal and cake. I also had kids tugging at me. The brunch ended without a hello from them or even a thank you. In fact, they never even acknowledged me.
I felt awkward at this social slight. Should I have been assertive to seek them out or chalk it up to poor manners?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: How thoughtful of you both to host that in your home! I know that is a lot of work! It was rude of them to not say anything to you, but you could have also sought them out. I know you had a ton on your plate, but don’t let it get to you. Now you know!
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I don’t think you have to chalk it up to anything other than you missed an introduction. They should have made a point to introduce themselves to you, especially to thank you as the host, and you could have taken a moment to seek them out in the midst of all you had going on since they were the only couple you didn’t know. For whatever reason – an accident or missed timing – you never met the couple. The next time you see them, you could always introduce yourself and tackle the issue with a smile, telling them that you can’t believe you never got the chance to meet them at your house because things were so busy. Stress that you’re glad to meet them face to face finally, and then try not to waste any more mental energy on the slight, whether it was real or imagined.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Yes, they should have found you and introduced themselves, but since they did not, please don’t take it personally. Next time you meet, just introduce yourself and explain how you were sorry not to meet them when they came to your home. Politely use good manners and good social grace to get through this particular problem.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Richard Rosser, creator and author of “Piggy Nation”: It’s enough work hosting a couple’s shower. I commend you on your effort. With regard to the couple in question, they should have sought you out and introduced themselves during the party. Who knows, maybe they’re kicking themselves for not doing so and feeling guilty about it. Here’s what I would do: At the wedding reception, introduce yourself to the couple. Who knows? It may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.