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Ask Anyone

what a swell party is was!

Over the holidays a guest in my home became intoxicated and unruly. Frankly, I think he was a bit lit up when he arrived. He clearly thought he was being comical and charming when he did things like pursue tropical fish in my aquarium with the net, pour an unfinished cocktail into a floral arrangement, and emerge from my bathroom with a prescription bottle asking what a certain medication was for. I tried to remain good-natured, but when he began to wrestle me to the floor of the living room, I gave him a swift knee to the groin. Other guests told me that as host, I was out of line! Was I?

—Jean-Claude Van Damn!

The Smart Money says: Hmmm…I’ve done a fair amount of wrestling at parties. Yes. It’s true. Sometimes I’m the wrestler and sometimes the wrestlee.

But I’ve never engaged in any of that other tomfoolery. Therefore, I do not think you were out of line. If it was just the wrestling? I’d say you were really uptight. But that asshole was effing with your fish! And then he told everyone about your little problem (whatever that is, I’ll assume herpes as I find the word amusing). You should have kicked his ass out long before he got affectionate.

By Design says: It shouldn’t be your job to babysit your guests, but if someone is acting out of line you should have probably asked for help and put your friend in a cab home. The situation should have been dealt with before it escalated to physical assault. Your guests will also be more sympathetic if you aren’t seen as the one beating up on the drunk guy.

The Straight Skinny says: The knee to the groin was a bit excessive, yes. Or were you in danger? That’s all right, but otherwise, you should have called him a cab about an hour earlier.

rsvp please!

We entertain quite frequently, especially during the holiday season, and I know it is a tired complaint, but why is it so difficult to get people to pick up the phone to accept or decline an invitation so that we can plan appropriately? This becomes especially stressful with a sit-down dinner, and it has gotten to the point that I don’t even want to invite friends who have a history of keeping me hanging or of calling on the afternoon of a party with the inevitable, “Oh, I hope it’s not too late to say YES!” Agggggh! This year there’s a new complication: people who expect me to remember that they’ve responded when what they’ve actually done is see me out in public or at another social event, often in the midst of 50 other people, and dropped a causal, “Can’t wait for next week!” into the middle of an unrelated conversation. Is that an acceptable RSVP? Am I actually expected to memorize my guest list and all the responses so that I can do mental edits and additions to the roster at a moment’s notice while at a cocktail party or while grocery shopping? How do other people handle this?

The Practical Cogitator says: How lovely that you are hosting a sit-down dinner! Parties today are so often a meet, mingle, and linger over the snack table or bar area. While these kinds of gatherings are fun and social, a sit-down dinner seems so elegant and thoughtful.

Now, on to your question. If your guests are confirming in the market or at another social gathering, I see nothing wrong with responding “I’m so glad you can make it! Please, would you mind calling the RSVP number on the invitation, the attending list is by the home phone and not with me now. See you next week!”

By Design says: It is Manners 101: Respond in a timely manner to an RSVP, Bring a host/hostess gift, and write a thank-you note soon after the event. While not always necessary, I’ve never had anyone complain that I was being overly courteous. If your friends don’t have the courtesy to RSVP until the day of the event, politely decline them and say that you won’t be able to accommodate them. You may start a fight, but will likely get the respect you are looking for next time

The Smart Money says: Shit. I’m a horrible guest. But I blame all of the people who have never responded to an RSVP.

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