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that’s entertaining

I recently hosted a party for my in-laws, and two couples were no shows. Both couples had confirmed that they were coming. One couple called three hours late and apologized; a phone call from the other couple has gone unreturned.

I don’t want to cause issues with the in laws (I actually like mine), but I would have made some changes to the time of the party, food, and the amount of food had I known that these couples weren’t going to be coming. I understand that things come up unexpectedly, but is a quick phone call too much to ask? Any ideas on how to proceed?


The Practical Cogitator says: Rude, rude, rude! Not even a call to decline? Or a flower arrangement the next day with a note of regret? I think you are in a good position to black-list these couples from future engagements. And with all that extra food you had prepared, I hope you opened your door and invited the neighbors in. I’m sure they’ll be grateful guests, the recipients of an impromptu dinner party. And who knows, you may just get invited back to their homes in the future.

The Party Crasher says: All you people with your invitations and your RSVPs—God Bless You! I’ve spent so many years eating fabulous food, enjoying copious drinks, and engaging in scintillating converstion at parties I had no business being at. Here’s how I do it: Once I catch wind of a friendly get-together, I dress nicely, grab my airplane carry-on bag and take a cab to the place. It’s best to arrive a bit late, when the event is starting to pick up a little steam. Then, I walk up to the front door and ring the bell. While I’m waiting, I pull out the crumpled little piece of paper on which I’ve written the address of the party. When they answer the doorbell, I try to appear a bit lost, and say, “I’m sorry. I’m looking for Louise.” When they tell me there’s no Louise there, I look at the slip of paper and say, “This is (such and such) Elm Street, isn’t it?” They confirm. I then explain that I’ve traveled all the way from San Diego...just got off the plane and took a taxi here to be reunited with my sister Louise—my little sister, whom I’ve not seen since we were children. I explain that I only have this scrap of paper with the address and phone number because the airline lost my other bags, and I remembered tucking this little clue into my wallet—but it’s all I have to go on.

At this point, I pull out my cell phone and pretend to call Louise right in front of them, and sigh as I begin to leave my message. “Hi, Louise. I made it into town, and I’m standing in front of (such and such) Elm Street, but these nice people here say I’m at the wrong place. Hope you’re OK. Give me a call when you get the message. Can’t wait to see you.” Then I pocket the phone, sigh, and apologize for interrupting the evening. Within ten seconds, I am invited through the door.

I love parties, and I’ve been to several this way. I don’t understand anyone blowing off a genuine invite the way you describe. But then again, nobody understands a lonely bachelor who lies to perfect strangers about an imaginary rendezvous with a non-existent little sister—just to mingle, briefly, and feel almost loved.

political pop

My son has a friend at school who is the son of a politician I despise. I give both boys rides to soccer games, which I don’t mind. The thing I mind is that this politician NEVER steps up to offer rides or anything. His wife does on rare occasions, but even then she makes a point of saying how busy they are—what with her husband’s JOB and all. Seriously, these people act like they are the only ones with hectic lives. Then I’m always seeing on TV or reading in the paper about how these politicians are always in recess, or sucking off the state financially. The worst part is I find myself pitying this politician’s son. He’s really a good kid, and when we talk, I hear him say things like, “My Dad was gonna take me camping once, but then he had to go to a fundraiser.” That makes me even more angry at this politician I detest. I’m thinking of going over to his house and getting a few things straight, but I’m afraid of all I might say. He’s a politician with a vindictive streak, and I could picture myself screwing up the kids’ friendship somehow. Maybe it’s just election season, but I’m all fired up and don’t know how to let my voice be heard. Any suggestions?

—Dad as Hell

The Practical Cogitator says: Do not cast the sins of the father on to the son. Take the boy to soccer, baseball, the movies, etc. Talk to him, and offer him a familial environment. Clearly, you can see the child needs some stability and nurturing. In the long run, your son will be happy that he has a buddy, you’ll enjoy watching the boys grow, play and develop. Whereas Political-Paul will have memories of fundraisers and political back-stabbing, schedule juggling and meetings. Stop asking what the political father can do for you, and ask what you can do for the boy.

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