Category Archives: Good WORD (Etiquette)

Barely There

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want some decent people watching, look no further than the Seattle Symphony.

Last Sunday my in-loves took us to Benaroya Hall to celebrate my sister-in-love’s birthday.  Shortly after arriving, I was absent-mindedly sipping my champagne while silently eyeballing every outfit in the room.  Outfit?  That’s too generous a term; some of these women were in capris and Tevas.

I saw two young women (the only other people under 30, we noticed) in super-short dresses, bare legs and high heels.  I immediately recoiled at the display of flesh.  It’s 2PM, I thought; where are their nylons?

I was in a gray sweater dress with brown boots to the knee, and had worn nude nylons so I wouldn’t be flashing my thighs to the over-60 crowd on a Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t even think twice about it.  So as soon as I saw these women sans-pantyhose, I expressed my surprise.

The birthday girl quickly pointed out to me that not everybody wears pantyhose; in fact, she confirmed that she didn’t think she even owned any. 

This nonchalance provoked the obvious question:  are nylons necessary?  Is it just my East Coast upbringing that forces me into such propriety?

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t think of many times I had seen people my age in nylons.  The recent exception being last fall’s trend of dark black tights with any type of boot, bootie, or pump.  Aside from that, who wears them?  Am I being modest, or just 150 years old?

Before Rachel and I could discuss further, her husband interrupted us to tell us to stop saying “hose.”  “It sounds like you’re saying ho’s,” he said, looking around the room, “and you shouldn’t say ho’s at the symphony.”

Fair point — after all, the vast number of words for this sheer, leg-hugging fabric is mind-boggling.  Nylons/pantyhose/stockings/tights/leggings…and I’m sure they’re not interchangeable at all, but we toss them around like the underwear they are, regardless of accurate terminology.

As far back as I can remember, my mom insisted on tights for every occasion, for something as regular as church to formal family holidays.  They were always uncomfortable, always protested by me, and always required by her.  “Don’t you want to dress like a lady?” she’d ask.

Even when I was a teenager living on the West Coast, she would stare, horrified, as I left for the Homecoming dance in an above-the-knee dress without stockings.  But no one in Seattle ever wore nylons, so why would I? 

And yet here I am at 26-years-old pulling on my nylons to go to the symphony.  Apparently the stodgy East Coast formality stuck.

But midway through the show I got a run.  A huge run.  I leaned over to Rachel and informed her that my nylons were running so fast they could win a race.

Suddenly it occurred to me that getting a run takes all of the modesty and tastefulness I associate with nylons and rips them in two faster than the fabric itself.  Could anything look less classy? 

The run started at mid-thigh but by intermission was straight through my knee and headed for my ankle.  Mike looked at me like, seriously?  Don’t you carry a spare?

No.  No, I do not.  Instead I stood like a child preventing an accident:  one leg tucked behind the other out of desperation.

As soon as the performance concluded and we had been seated at The Brooklyn for happy hour, I dashed to the ladies room (the irony!) and dumped my nylons in the garbage. 

I am totally convinced that God had a hearty laugh at my expense as the woman who judged naked legs at Benaroya ended up sitting at a bar with bare thighs at The Brooklyn.

Update 7/26/11:  I rest my case.  Hosiery is back.

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

After the Easy Mac

I’m afraid I’ve become a cliche.

(You could argue that I haven’t become a cliche, that in fact I’ve always been one, but that’s neither here nor there.)

What I mean to say is that I cook.  Regularly.  Mid-week.  And I never did this before I was married.

And did I mention my husband never cooks?  That just adds to the cliche-ness of it all.

(I can hear him objecting, “Hey!  I cook breakfast!”  but we all know that’s a Saturday morning ritual that happens after 10 hours of sleep, rather than at 6PM after 9 hours of work.)

I have several clear-cut illustrations in my youth that explain just how inept I was at cooking prior to saying “I do.”  At the age of 12, while my mother was running an errand and my father was at work, I decided to bake brownies.  This should impress everyone, I thought.

Twenty minutes later I encounter the part of the recipe when all of the wet ingredients are in the bowl and the the box calls for the baker to “mix by hand.”

I took this literally.

Amelia Bedelia literally.


My mom walked into the kitchen to find me up to my elbows in cake batter, mushing my fingers through the brownie mix.

Turns out I’m not a baker.

At age 15 I felt sick and decided the greatest idea was to have soup.  Don’t all sick people eat soup?

I poured the clam chowder into a pan, heated it, and proceeded to eat it.  I did this for three days.

One day, my mom walked into the kitchen to see me sitting down to the bowl of soup.

“What are you eating?” she asked.

“Clam chowder,” I replied.

“It looks awfully thick,” she commented.  “How much water did you add?”

“How much…what?” I stammered.

I’d been eating clam chowder concentrate for three days.  No wonder I wasn’t getting well.

Experiences like this lead me to believe cooking wasn’t for me, so I never really attempted it again.

Until I got engaged.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to find more than one “Bride and Groom’s Cookbook” in my bridal shower stash.  My mom even gifted me with the subtly titled, “How to Boil Water.”  While I should have been embarrassed, instead I wanted to weep with gratitude.  Surely there must be hundreds of people with similarly disastrous attempts at cooking if it merited the writing of a book!

Slowly, s-l-o-w-l-y, I began thumbing through my cookbooks, sticking post-it notes on the ones that seemed achievable.  And by achievable, I mean unlikely to prove fatal for whomever decided to partake of my meal.

For me, the lethal ingredient in learning to cook was perfectionism.  For instance, when one finds that one has overcooked the salmon to the point of disintegration, one should take note of the amount of time one cooked the fish and at what temperature, and adjust accordingly.  One should not burst into tears and commit to eating cereal for dinner for a month.

And, once married, I didn’t even have that option anymore.  I learned quickly that there’s a different level of  dietary accountability in marriage than exists in roommate habitats.  I once had a roommate whose diet consisted almost entirely of goldfish crackers and diet Pepsi.  Did I comment?  No.  Was she ashamed?  No; I was doing nearly the same thing, and so was our other roommate, who had toast every night for dinner.

Then I got married, and all of a sudden cereal or microwavable macaroni and cheese was unacceptable for dinner.  Neither Mike nor I could understand why, but it seemed necessary, important even, that we cook a meal and sit down to eat it together.

What’s peculiar about this is I used to think that I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself to be Rachael Ray just because I had a husband.  But it wasn’t just me; I discovered others expected it of us “married people,” too.

One day when I was still working at Microsoft, a coworker and I were discussing what we enjoy eating  for dinner.  She said, completely seriously, “Well, you’re married, so it makes sense for you to cook meals.  I’m single, so mostly I make sandwiches.”

I, the one who is obsessed with etiquette, could not for one second think of an appropriate response to this.  I wanted to yell, “Have some self respect!  This isn’t 1945!  You are an accomplished woman working at the most profitable company on the planet, and you’re eating cold cuts for dinner just because you don’t have a husband to cook for?!”

But how could I say that?  I had done the exact same thing.

So I tried.  I tried, and I failed, and I failed fifteen more times.  But then I started getting it right.  And even though I hated it for the first six months, once I got through the spills, burns, over-salting and under-peppering, I liked it.  And I finally understood what people mean when they say that it can feed your soul to watch a table full of people consume something you created.

Now that I am focusing on trying to cook new meals, eating healthily, and doing so regularly, it’s stunning to me that I waited so long to start.  When I think back to my days of dumping a can of soup in a pot, I wonder why I didn’t care for myself the way I now care for Mike.  I don’t blame myself, certainly, just as I don’t blame any of my friends who rarely cook. I suppose cooking is one of those things that falls into that opaque category of “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

But even now that I know, I’m still no June Cleaver.  Mike has plans tonight, and I am already hoping we’re not out of Aunt Jemima so I can pair it with that Eggo I’m planning on toasting.

1 Comment

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

Excuse Me, Mr. President: An Etiquette Special Edition

See if you can spot the numerous faux pas committed by both me and the patrons I encountered.  The following is a true story.

Last Friday evening Mike and I were having dinner at Sostanza Trattoria in Madison Park with our friend Meredith.  As we ordered wine, the restaurant was just filling up for the night.

I happened to glance over to the table next to us and see a nice-looking couple seated next to the fireplace.  I stared for a second at the gentleman before realizing he looked familiar.

“Doesn’t that look just like Phil Eaton?” I asked Meredith.  We both attended Seattle Pacific University (me for only a year) of which he was president.

“Eh, kind of, I suppose,” she replied, not finding this the least bit interesting.  I considered how to redeem the topic.

“Remember how he used to invite students to his home once a year, to make us feel connected to him or whatever, but we were all just annoyed because he lived in this fabulous house while we’re all killing ourselves to pay $25,000 a year in tuition?” I ventured.

Then we were off and running.

“Yes!” she said.  “It was criminal what they paid him, and remember how he would drive to the school in his A6 and it made all of us cringe?  University presidents are so overpaid.  They’re just glorified speech-makers,” she concluded.

“Oh Eaton can’t hold a candle to UW’s president,” I added.  “He’s ranked among the highest paid in the US.  It’s absurd.  I read he makes $900,000 a year.”

Having fully vented our grievances on university presidents, we moved on to happier topics.  Soon we were laughing, enjoying our meal and our bottle of local Washington red.

“Excuse me, you all really need to be quiet,” a stout woman in her fifties was suddenly standing over us, speaking to us like we were in second grade. “This is a public restaurant and people are trying to eat in peace and you’re laughing so the whole place can hear you.  You need to speak quietly to each other so only those at your own table can hear you.”

We were all so stunned by her pretentious speech that we simply stared at her, mouths agape.

She returned to her seat without another word, and none of us could recover the conversation for the next two minutes because of the offense.  Gradually, because we couldn’t help it, we giggled about the absurdity of someone speaking to us like children, especially in the context of any place outside of a library.

A few minutes later we heard a woman sitting across from the Phil-Eaton-look-alike laughing happily.  Mike couldn’t help himself so he leaned over and said, “Hey, keep it down; this is a public place.”  We just about died, this was so funny, but we weren’t sure if she would agree.

“Oh you’re such a party pooper!” she laughed back at him.  Fearing that she would think he was serious, I leaned over to her with one hand covering my mouth and explained, “We just got scolded in those exact words by that woman over there.”

Suddenly, she was totally intrigued.  “Really?” she said with enthusiasm.  “Oh you must be joking.  It’s Friday night!  This is a restaurant!  We can be as loud as we want!” she said, swinging her glass of red wine around to face us.  “Who is that woman?  I mean, honestly!”

The relief!  The balm to our souls!  Despite being the same age as the crotchety “party pooper” who rained on our parade, this woman was fabulous.  I especially liked her purple-framed glasses.

After another hearty exchange, she returned her focus to her table.  Meredith and I immediately agreed to name her Viv.  There was no other name for a Madison Park socialite who loved red wine and young people with equal fervor.  However, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that her husband was familiar, so I turned to Mike and Meredith and resumed my earlier verse of, “He looks so familiar!  I can’t shake that he’s someone I know or someone famous or something.”  They both rolled their eyes.

“If you really want me to, I can just try to find him on my iPhone,” Meredith offered in a last-ditch effort to shut me up.  “We’ll just start Googling Seattle celebrities.”

“OH MY GOSH!!  OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH!!”  Suddenly I knew exactly who it was.

“IT’S MARK EMMERT.  It’s the freaking UW PRESIDENT,” I explained.  “I am a COMPLETE IDIOT.”

“WHAT?!” Mike exclaimed.  “How could you not recognize him when you went to that school?  Do you realize we were just talking so loudly about his salary that we got ‘shushed!?'”  We all looked at each other in the face-draining panic that accompanies such realizations.  We had just criticized the husband of our darling Viv, the one we wanted to be our friend and take us around to cocktail parties.  Had they heard?  Could they have?

I reasoned with them.  “Why would she have spoken to us if she heard us chastising her for being wealthy?” I asked.  “Come on, Viv loves us!”

By this time Meredith had pulled up an image of them on her iPhone.  Granted, the image was at least five years old, but we held up the phone, looked over at them:  confirmed.

“She’s not Viv,” Meredith read from Wikipedia.  “She’s DeLaine.”  Of course — even more of a president’s wife’s name than the one we gave her.

“Oh and you were almost right,” she continued reading from her phone.  “He’s not just one of the top-paid presidents.  It’s even better: he’s ranked second.  SECOND.  Bested only by Ohio State’s president.  Emmert makes $906,500 per year.”

Of course he does; our Viv/DeLaine deserves it.

3 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

Etiquette for Awkward Situations — Vol 3: On a Plane

Today I board a flight to LA toting both my carry-on luggage and hopefully, my best behavior.  I always brace for the impact of encountering airline passengers; when people are treated like cattle, they can hardly be blamed for reacting like baboons.  Here, rules of engagement for the most ruthless form of travel.

Pre-flight
Awkward Situation: Despite the airline calling for people to board by seat rows, 150 people are clustered around the gate, jockeying to get to the front.  You seem only to have two options:  shove your body through the masses like a teenager at a Jonas Brothers concert, or literally be the last person to board (forfeiting your access to overhead bin real estate).

Solution: Follow traditional traffic rules.  My brother-in-law, Phil, (who will be traveling with us tonight) works at Swerve, a driving instruction company.  He says most people on the road should already know the common-courtesy rule of “Each one lets one.”  The same applies here.  As you move like so much human sand through the hour glass, let one person go in front of you and then someone else lets you in.  We hope.

Takeoff
Awkward Situation:
You are finally seated and prepared for takeoff, when the person next to you reveals the undeniable fact that they are a Chatty Cathy.  Your eyes glaze over at the prospect of speaking for two hours with a total stranger whom you will never see again in your life.

Solution: Engage in minimal small talk until takeoff, wherein you pull a book from your bag and show it to the Cathy, saying kindly, “Have you heard of this author?  She’s supposed to be fantastic.  I’ll let you know how it is!”  And then promptly open it.

Beverage Cart
Awkward Situation: It’s your first official day of “Christmas break” and you and your friends are eager for a little yule-tide cheer — in the form of a beer.  Or wine.  Or cocktail.

Solution: Plane rides are not the time to party-hardy.  When you’re stuck in a stationary position and can’t even converse with more than the two people next to you, you’re not in a place to have too good of a time.  Just have one drink and pay with cash.  Order quietly so you’re not obnoxious.  Don’t ask twenty questions to see what brands they carry — check ahead of time by looking in the airline guide in the pocket in front of you.  Then raise a glass and cheers to a safe flight.

Switching Seats
Awkward Situation: The person next to you asks if you would please switch seats with their spouse so they can sit together — but said spouse is 15 rows behind you and in a middle seat.

Solution: If you can swing it for a short flight, consider it your good deed of the week and say you’d be happy to help.  If you are already sitting with your own spouse, kindly explain that you understand their situation but you would like to stay with your traveling companion.  Also, even if you aren’t traveling with someone, you’re under no obligation to move seats.

Bathroom Break
Awkward Situation: You’re practically bursting at the seams after four diet Sprites and two hours of resisting the urge to visit the dreaded airline bath-closet (how could we call that a room with a straight face?).  But there are three people already clustered around the stewardess area waiting their turn.

Solution: It depends on your seat.  If you’re middle or window, get up as soon as possible to expand the amount of time between disruptions of your seat mates.  If you’re aisle, wait until there is only one person or no line at all before hopping up.  Also, keep in mind that the people in the unfortunate seating of the last few rows of the airplane shouldn’t have to stare at your backside that hovers directly in their faces as you wait for the bath-closet.

Warm thanks to those of you who sent in great etiquette conundrums.  For those of you who have yet to inquire, feel free to ask about your awkward situation at wordsbecomeone@gmail.com.

4 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

Etiquette for Awkward Situations — Vol 2

At a BBQ

Awkward Situation: You attend a summer BBQ in which the host declined your offer to contribute food or drink.  You normally would bring something anyway, but didn’t want to presume that she would be lacking something.  When you arrive, everyone else has brought a dish or bottle of wine.

Solution: You are now the official helper.  Be at your host’s side when she’s serving food, offering to help with anything in the kitchen.  Be the first to initiate cleanup and offer to pick up any refills at the store.  It might be a little much, but you should even offer to start on dishes.  If she refuses your help, send a bottle of wine with your thank you note, and be sure to invite her for dinner to return the hospitality.

At the Bar

Awkward Situation: You, or a friend of yours, is treating your group to a couple rounds of beer.  You notice that no one in the group is offering to get the next round, and frankly this is getting expensive.

Solution: The simple solution is to cease the offer.  The absence of drinks will always prompt someone to get the next one.  If you’re truly on a budget but would like the evening to continue, simply say in a congenial manner, “Alright, who’s eager to impress by getting the next round?”

At a Wedding

Awkward Situation: You are attending an outdoor wedding and everything is going swimmingly…especially the sweat in your underarms/back/enter-awkward-place-here.

Solution: Against all odds, get up and move.  While it would seem that sitting at your dinner table would be coolest, standing upright and allowing a breeze to do it’s work is much more effective (especially for the ladies…hello skirt!).  Gentlemen, you are completely free to remove that jacket, but the tie stays.  If you need instant cool, grab a beer.

At the Spa

Awkward Situation: You are getting a pedicure and the woman working on your nails just asked you a polite question, but you cannot understand her accent so you have no idea what she just said. You feel horrible and racist and completely useless.

Solution: See if you can catch the eye of a person sitting near you, or another pedicurist.  Emphasize that you are completely mortified that you aren’t sure what was said, and simply repeat back a question that sounds reasonable for the situation.  Most times someone will chime in with what was actually said, and you’ll be saved.  Huge smiles and a tip go a long way, too.

At Dinner

Awkward Situation: You are having dinner with a new friend who recalls exactly what you do at work with great clarity, but you cannot even remember where he works, much less what he does.

Solution: Generalities are best.  Ask open ended questions like, “How busy has work been for you?” or “What are your hours like these days?” that will lead them to talk about their job, wherein you can piece it together.

If you have an awkward situation that needs addressing, please email me at wordsbecomeone@gmail.com.  No guarantees on solutions, but two heads are better than one.

2 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

Hospitality: Large Events

In the world of hospitality, hosting a large event is in a category all its own.  It’s overwhelming, yet nuanced; enormously stressful, yet rewarding.  And if you’ve ever tried to pull one off, you know it ain’t easy.

Having recently attended a major event that went brilliantly, I thought it apt to interview the hostess to discover her tips and tricks (in this case, how to present a keg tastefully).

She is one Annie Snyder, 24 years old, living in Seattle, WA (Greenlake, specifically).   Her favorite holiday is Independence Day, so for the past three years she has hosted a 4th of July party that lasts all weekend.

To give credit where due, Miss Snyder admits she learned everything she knows from Mrs. Snyder – and in fact held the event at Mrs. Snyder’s waterfront home in Gig Harbor.  Together, they made for a killer mother-daughter hostess duo.

But first let’s admit that though bigger events are more work for the hostess, there’s an incredible self-serving benefit:  it’s the host’s friends.  “It’s all of my favorite people in one place at one time!”  Annie says.

However, she concedes, “It’s overwhelming. Sometimes I have to grab people just for a few minutes and get time with only them, otherwise I’ll never see some people.”

But let’s talk turkey.  One of the most challenging aspects of serving more than 50 people is doing so economically.  In this case, Annie’s best tip is to purchase kegs — in multiples.  She purchased three kegs so she could negotiate with the brewery on the price per keg.  She did well:  $48 per keg.  Usually kegs cost up to $120 each.

“It’s easier to serve people with a keg, and also easier to clean up.  We served 65-70 people for less than $150,” Annie reports.

And don’t just leave those ugly gray barrels as they are.  Annie decided to purchase flag-themed garbage can covers and used them to cover the similarly-shaped kegs.

And though it’s great to save some money on the alcohol, avoid skipping major elements of the food you’re serving.

“Don’t be stingy and cheap, because your guests will know.  If you’re going to entertain, fully entertain.  Don’t rely on your guests for staple items.  Once you choose to entertain, it’s on you,” Annie says.

But if you do ask others to contribute, don’t say, “Please bring a dish to share.”  As Annie says, “Be specific in knowing what you want others to bring.  It’s my biggest pet peeve when people stray from simple instruction, like if I tell you to bring a side, bring a damn side.  Don’t bring a dessert.”

But atmosphere is crucial as well.  And even though Annie attributes any party’s success to the people who attend, she says that decorations don’t hurt either.

“You can’t have too much patriotic paraphernalia on the 4th of July,” she says.  “We bought four dozen hats, tons of red, white and blue fringe, and even temporary tattoos.”

It’s true.  The decided the look of the weekend was to have a “tramp stamp” on everyone’s lower backs, except in this case rather than a typical tattoo symbol, there were American flags and George Washington’s face.

It’s important to keep your role as host in perspective, Annie reminds us.  Your role as host is not to provide a personal experience of happiness for each guest, but rather to create a place where a great time can occur.

“The fun is already happening – I don’t have to entertain fully, I just say ‘here you go, here’s the party.’  As host, YOU’RE not the fun, you’re the springboard to the fun,” she says.

And not every moment is bliss for the host.  Sometimes, guests hog your time.

“People trap me in a 20 minute conversation and I’m stuck,” she confesses.

And how to get out of such a situation?  Initiate clean up.

“Some people take advantage of the situation, like especially when it comes to clean-up.  You know who your friends are when it’s cleanup time and others disperse to leave,” she remarks.

But while they’re around, keep them happy with snappy tunes.

“Definitely compile a good play list…heavy on the Rhianna,” Annie recommends.

Annie credits a great turn-out with word-of-mouth. She says that “the measure of a good event is how well you pitch it.”  And she must have pitched a home run, because even newcomers were impressed.

“I love when people come up to me and say that they’re having such a good time,” Annie says.  “Like my friend Catlyn said “I knew I was going to have fun this weekend, but I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun.”

A successful event, indeed.

4 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)

Etiquette for Awkward Situations — Vol 1

In the spirit of summertime social situations (how’s that for alliteration?), let’s address those awkward encounters that we find all too frequently — and what we can do about them.

And by “we” I mean that these are true stories of my own, or friends who shall remain nameless.

At the Bar

Awkward Situation: You make last minute plans with a friend to go to happy hour, despite being dressed in a red Mickey Mouse t-shirt and neglecting to shower that day.  Naturally, this is the one happy hour in which you run into your best friend from high school that you haven’t seen since graduation, and she looks immaculate.

Solution: Greet her warmly and emphasize being “so busy” at work, as an implied excuse for your attire.  Ask her endless questions about herself (on the off-chance that she’s self-involved), and she will be so consumed with relating her life that she will forget about yours (and Mickey’s).


Over Email

Awkward Situation: You receive an email from an acquaintance explaining that you are indeed invited to a mutual friend’s bridal shower this weekend, despite failing to receive a timely invitation due to a “miscommunication.”  But won’t you please still come?

Solution: Without a trace of commitment, blithely reply that she needn’t apologize since you have plans that day anyway, but should the opportunity arise you may make an appearance.  Still go if you can, because after all, your engaged friend shouldn’t suffer because of this acquaintance’s forgetfulness.

 

In the Office

Awkward situation: You and only one other person are walking down the hallway toward each other.  He kindly says hello and initiates a conversation as he walks toward you.  As you smile broadly in response and open your mouth to reply, you find there are not just two of you in the hallway.  This person is speaking to the nice man behind you.

Solution: Pretend that smile was just the daily one you give to everyone.  Also, always carry a mug so your hands are occupied, and you can use it as a decoy to look purposeful – hmm, is my cup empty?  Let me spend three seconds looking inside.

At an Event

Awkward Situation: You are at a social event, and here comes that woman who clearly knows exactly who you are and is thrilled to greet you – but if your life depended on it you could not recall her name.

Solution: Grab your date/husband/person-standing-nearest-you and cheerfully ask Mystery Woman if she has met the person whose name you actually know.  That will automatically prompt her to introduce herself, providing infinite relief to you as you say in your head, “YES!  I knew it was REBECCA.”  Then try to use her name at the beginning/end of a sentence at least twice before you move on to get a much-needed drink.

 

On the Phone

Awkward Situation: A friend innocently asks “What are you doing on Saturday?”  They could be inviting you to the best party of the year, or asking you to help them move apartments for six hours.  You simply can’t tell by this open-ended question.

Solution: Since this person thinks it’s OK to back you into a social corner, you are free to be direct.  Briefly say, “I’ll have to check – what did you have in mind?”  Otherwise, if you should say, “Nothing, I’m free,” your friend could say, “Perfect!  I need someone to help me sort through my Tupperware,” and you’re trapped.

This situation is awkward enough that it merits an extra tip: when inviting people to do something, just straight-out ask them.  For instance, “Hey, I’m going rock-climbing this weekend, would you like to join me?” is so much more inviting than, “You free this weekend?” which seems to imply that your invitee has no life.

To have your most pressing etiquette questions addressed, please write to wordsbecomeone@gmail.com.   Also, if you think it’s funny to write to me as “Dear Abby,” you already have an etiquette issue we need to address.

4 Comments

Filed under Good WORD (Etiquette)