A Slip Of The Tongue Brings Unwanted Guests

by admin on May 22, 2013

I have a story regarding the absence of proper etiquette and I need you, dearest Etiquette Hell readers, to hear it and decide who should be blamed for this gigantic faux-pas.

My girlfriend and I both attend a weekly couples’ outing with several couples who are close friends. Recently a new couple was invited, and had attended for several weeks, when we decided to invite this couple to dinner. We had previously done this with every other couple and it has been a great way to deepen friendships.

Two days before we were to meet for dinner, I approached Bob to ask him if the restaurant was acceptable, as well to ask if he and his partner wanted to come back for a night cap after (as I was always taught to do). Bob replied with, “Do you both drink? Well that’s a relief! We’ll bring some wine!” We don’t drink often, but when we do we like to drink!”

Caught off-guard, I replied that we certainly like to enjoy wine, but to please take care because I’d hate for them to drink and drive, and I’d hate for them to wind up hurt or in trouble because of it. He replied that he would do his best not to. I off-handedly and humorously made the comment, “Good, I’d just hate to be the cause of any trouble. I’d rather you just stayed than get into an accident.” Bob chuckled, and said he and Dale would meet us at our home on Saturday evening so we could drive to the restaurant.

On Saturday, Bob and Dale arrived at our home. As we greeted them, Dale reached into the car and pulled out a dog carrier, occupied by a little Shih-tzu. “We brought Lillan!,” Dale shrieked and was all-too-keen to introduce us to this little wonder. Immediately I was confused…had Bob told me that Lillian would be joining us? Taken aback, I invited them to leave Lillian at our home while we went to dinner. We went to dinner, which was filled with conversation, mostly from Bob, about how people in my line of work were “intolerable” and “grossly incompetent”.  As my girlfriend and I became uncomfortable, Dale began his long and sad life story. In detail, of every year of his life. Since he was four.

After about two hours, and without my girlfriend Belle and I getting a word in, Belle states, “It’s been such a lovely evening, but I’m feeling a bit sick. I’m afraid I won’t be enjoying our night-cap, but thank you for joining us tonight.”

We get back to our home, and as I begin the ritual of saying “thank you” and “we should do this again sometime” Bob goes to his SUV and pulls out an overnight bag. What? Wait, did I miss something?

Bob and Dale then proceed into the house, let their dog out of its travel crate (at which point it relieves itself on the carpet) and start rifling through our kitchen for a corkscrew. At this point, I have no idea what is happening, and feel like whatever is going on, it’s out of my control. I politely decline wine, as does Belle, stating for a second time that she’s feeling sick and needs to go to bed soon.

I see this is become long-winded and I apologize. In short, Bob and Dale finish their bottle of wine by themselves, continuing their one-side conversation (and gossiping about the bad habits of the other couples in our group) when Belle promptly stands and announces she is going to bed. I stated that yes, as much “fun” as we’ve had, it is time for us to turn in. Bob agrees, then asks, “Which room is the guest bedroom?”

Shocked, I stumble over my words and ask if they really intend on staying the night. Bob laughs and asks if the guest bedroom has an en suite. Defeated (and slightly nervous) I lead them to the guest bedroom. It was difficult to sleep that night, and I woke up early in the morning to see Bob and Dale off.

7:30; 8:45; 10:00 all roll on with no sign of Bob and Dale. Finally, around 10:15, both Bob and Dale emerge. When I asked how they slept, the answer from Dale is, “Well, it certainly wasn’t the most comfortable bed, but I guess we go by just fine.” Dale then proceeds to enter the kitchen unaccompanied and ask, “So, what are you cooking for breakfast?”

I politely but firmly state that I haven’t had the time to prepare anything, a resigned Dale returns to the living room with a cup of coffee that he describes as his “lonely little weak coffee”.

Belle, who had awakened at the same time as me, immediately blamed me and made an excuse to leave the house before Bob and Dale woke up. Why would I even make that comment about “I’d rather you stay than drive drunk”? I’m sure she enjoyed grocery shopping more that day than any time previous. I immediately make an excuse on why I must leave due to mid-morning plans, and the couple decides that it is time to leave. Finally, after they’ve departed, Belle returns home and says that it was definitely my fault for the faux pas, because of the statement that I had made, in jest, that was taken seriously.

So, how much blame do I share in this incident? Thank you for hanging on as long as you could; I do realize this is a long story. Thanks. 0520-13

You inadvertently invited Bob and Dale to come into your house for a nightcap after dinner at a restaurant and to stay the night if they happen to get too tipsy.   So, Bob and Dale arrived *planning* to get too drunk to drive home.    But what they did to exploit that offer is inexcusable.   Bob should have confirmed the offer to stay over as valid, Lillian the Shih-tzu should have been left at home or a kennel, Bob should have taken the hint that you were unprepared to host them as house guests when you asked if he was serious, they were rude guests to criticize the accommodations/friends/etc.   The list goes on and on.

These two do not sound like people worth investing to get to know better.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Dominic May 22, 2013 at 6:40 am

I’m not familiar with the custom of inviting people back to one’s home for a nightcap after dining out in a restaurant. If I want to entertain people in my home, I do, and if not, then a restaurant is a wonderful place to meet and part afterward. The whole story sounds rather farfetched, although strange enough perhaps to fall into the category of “You can’t make this stuff up”! The statements from the OP that the situation was out of his control and that he felt defeated seem strange. If this really happened, once dinner went so poorly, after arriving back at home, the unwanted guests should have been gently told “My girlfriend really isn’t feeling well–I’m afraid we won’t be having that nightcap. Please take your dog, and we’ll see you at the next couples outing.” Since the invite that really wasn’t an invite was conditional on their being drunk, and they hadn’t had the nightcap yet, they couldn’t really expect to stay.

Reply

PM May 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

I don’t know if the OP is at “fault” for his off-hand comment. Honestly, when clods like these have an agenda, it doesn’t matter what you do or say, they will do whatever they want to achieve that agenda.

I do, however, think that the OP should have spoken up the moment he saw the overnight bag, perhaps even when the couple showed up with their dog, i.e. “There seems to be some misunderstanding, we didn’t agree to host your dog for the evening. Perhaps we need to reschedule for an evening when you have made other arrangements.”

Reply

The Elf May 22, 2013 at 6:54 am

Wow, that was a little presumptious of Bob and Dale! The moment to put the kibbosh on the overnight staying was when Belle broke in with feeling sick and Bob pulls out the overnight bag. At this point, they were (I think?) sober enough to drive home. And if not, then you should have said that since Belle wasn’t feeling well, Bob and Dale would be welcome to stay until they sobered up, and then brewed a pot of coffee.

I’m a big fan of allowing drunks to spend the night; in fact we plan for it when we throw a party. For one or two, I know it’s a given. But these people are also my nearest and dearest – not people I just met. There’s also an expectation that when you roll out of bed the next day, you leave when you’ve recovered well enough to do so. I do usually cook breakfast, though sometimes most of my guests have left by the time I do. Mostly this is because I want breakfast, and I’m not going to cook and eat a full meal in front of my guests!

Reply

Lo May 22, 2013 at 7:17 am

“I off-handedly and humorously made the comment, “Good, I’d just hate to be the cause of any trouble. I’d rather you just stayed than get into an accident.”

You sound like a kind-hearted and responsible person and you have been taken serious advantage of. But the above statement was the caues of your trouble.

I always assume my guests are responsible adults and so when have something drink with the intent of leaving later in the evening I let them police their own drinking habits. A glass of wine with a bit of a snack and an hour of conversation or two should be no issue for the majority of adults. If a friend has had a couple glasses over the course of a long evening, before s/he leaves I always ask “are you okay to drive?” With the intent that if they aren’t they should stay a little longer or we can make other arrangements. No one has ever left my home tipsy. No one has ever attempted to do this, in fact.

Therefore the idea that a guest would stay for a nightcap and be too sloshed to drive home never really crosses my mind. Nor should it cross yours until you see it happening because it wasn’t as if you had planned a night of hard drinking. Which is why the offer was completely unnecessary. Of course you should offer to have a friend stay the night if they have too much to drink, this goes without saying. But the offer should be made at the time it becomes relevant. Going into an evening of wine and conversation with this offer makes it exploitable, as in the situation above.

I too would have been too flustered to turn them away, even after bringing the dog, which is INSANE, by the way. I’m a huge pet person but I would never show up at a friends house with one of our babies in a carrier and just expect that to be a normal and acceptable thing to be spontaneous about.

These people misinterpreted your offer and blew it out of proportion. It’s not your fault that they showed up with their dog, expected to have a guest room, expected a meal at breakfast, and basically took advantage of your good intentions. But you really should not have said anything about staying over in the event of too much drinking. This is the kind of thing that should go unsaid. We’re talking about a bottle of wine for four adults, not a night of shots.

((sorry if it double posts, it didn’t go through the first time!))

Reply

Fleury May 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

I’m glad you didn’t let these intoxicated boors drive home. I think though I would have. Insisted upon calling them a taxi and saying something along the lines of “we’re really not feeling up to guests after all this evening. We have plans tomorrow so unfortunately we won’t be here tomorrow when you return to pick up your car.”

Reply

Ripple May 22, 2013 at 7:44 am

I totally agree with Admin. However, you missed the perfect opportunity to get rid of the unwanted guests. When Belle said she was feeling sick, you should have said, “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to cut the evening short. Here’s your wine and Lillian. See you soon.” Hand them their wine, open the front door, and stand there until they leave. They’ll be pissed, but Belle will be happy. And I don’t think you want to cultivate their friendship anyway, do you?

Reply

Barb May 22, 2013 at 9:13 am

the OP had no clue how boorish these two were after knowing them for several weeks?

Reply

Stacey Frith-Smith May 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

No. This is a word that needs to come out of your lips when faced with a situation such as you outlined above. You can say it with regret. You can add an excuse. You can say it with a bit of pique. But seriously, use this word- often and early. Repeat as needed.

Reply

NostalgicGal May 22, 2013 at 9:37 am

Man were those two over the top. I think at the point I seen the dog carrier I would’ve done a misstep and faked a massive sprain to end the evening. (My ankles are not strong, I can easily go down and it can look bad).

I think at this point I’d finish growing a spine and delete this couple from my social list.

Reply

Z May 22, 2013 at 9:39 am

I think the only faux pas the OP made was not having a polite spine and telling Bob and Dale, politely, to leave.

Reply

Abby May 22, 2013 at 9:41 am

It may have been inadvertant, but OP, you did sort of invite them to stay overnight. I know you did it thinking there was no way he would ever actually take you up on it, but that’s why it’s good to not make offers, even offhand, that you really don’t want to have to follow through on.

Bob is rude, no doubt, but I feel like inviting someone over that you don’t know well for a nightcap is just begging for trouble. It’s like inviting a guy back to your place on the first date. You don’t know him, and you have no means for getting away from him other than throwing him out, and you hate to feel rude, and these guys tend to be deliberately obtuse.

Next time you want to get to know another couple better, I think it’s best to make arrangements to meet at a restaurant, and leave it at that. Once you get to know them and their personality, *then* you can decide whether you want to extend an open invitation to continue the evening at your house.

Reply

Kay L May 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

Why have a conversation about runk driving in the first place?

Anyone who doesn’t know that its criminal, irresponsible and dangerous to drive drunk has been living under a rock. As these are other adults and not one’s teenagers, why would you bring up the possibility of them not eing able to safely get home?

The only reason I could see bringing this up would be is if one were planning on drinking quite a bit and needing to make arrangements. But, for dinner followed b a nightcap, I would not expect that to be the case.

You would have them for the nightcap and enough time to follow so that they are not out the door and into their car with a fresh infusion of alcohol.

If/when someone is too intoxicated to drive home, one can call them a cab or in some cases, depending on the host, offer them the guest room.

But, yeah, these people were given less than an inch and took a mile but the host went too far in projeting the possbilities for the evening.

Also, while I don’t think it needs to always be brought up casually, if someone mentions bringing what seems like more alcohol than the host intends for people to drink at the event, it is a good excuse– I don’t think we’ll be drinking that much- its not that kind of party and also “we want everyone to be able to make it safely home that night.”

In terms of telling people you would rather have them stay over, I would limit a comment like that to people you really wouldnt mind having stay over, if you need to make it at all.

Reply

OP May 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

From the OP here…thank you for your input so far, EH readers. What has been stated is exactly what Belle mentioned. I don’t know why I didn’t stand up and explain the misinterpretation. I think it was knowing that B and D would be in the company of our other friends afterwards, and I thought it too awkward to correct. Being relatively new to the large West Coast city we live in, and being relatively new to this country, I also was afraid that it may be culturally offensive if I told them to leave. Belle kept ensuring that it would have been appropriate to tell them it was time to leave; I was too weak to confront them.

I realise now what the appropriate actions were to take in this situation. I actually was referred to this site after another faux pas I observed (but was not involved in) perplexed my non-American mind. I now am a faithful reader and your posts are helping me to assimilate a bit easier into my new culture.

Now if only I could shake the habit of eating with my fork in the left hand and my knife in the right, maybe I’ll truly be accepted in US culture! (For those of you outside the USA, it seems very rare to see anyone eat the continental way; mostly I’ve observed the fork in the right hand with tines up!)

Reply

Cami May 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

Dominick: I feel you’ve fallen into the trap of assuming one’s personal experiences are universal. It’s not uncommon to be invited back to a friend’s home for post-restaurant socializing. In fact, I’d say I’ve been invited/invited friends back more than I’ve not. So it’s hardly far-fetched.

Reply

Anonymous May 22, 2013 at 10:15 am

I agree with Admin and Ripple, but I’m not going to cast the OP and Belle into…….well, not E-Hell, exactly, but let’s call it Assertiveness Heck–just Heck, because people really don’t deserve to go to Hell for not being assertive enough. Assertiveness Heck doesn’t have fire and brimstone; just whiny children and SpongeBob/The Doodlebops/whatever your least favourite children’s show is, playing on a continuous loop. There is someone in this metaphorical place who’s fully willing to remedy this by turning off the TV and sending the children out to play, but nobody in Assertiveness Heck is assertive enough to speak up and ask.

Anyway, most people (especially girls and women) end up in Assertiveness Heck because they’ve been trained since childhood to “be nice,” and “share,” and whatever else, and they mistakenly believe that standing up for what their needs is “rude,” if it conflicts with what the other person wants or needs. This isn’t true. I don’t know who said it originally, but being a doormat is fulfilling someone else’s needs while ignoring your own, being aggressive is fulfilling YOUR needs while ignoring the other person’s, and assertiveness is trying to accommodate both your needs and the other person’s, but if they’re mutually exclusive, then your needs come first.

Reply

wolfie May 22, 2013 at 10:20 am

I don’t understand why you invited them over for a nightcap while issuing the dinner invitation. Isn’t that something that you usually do during the dinner if things are going well?

Reply

Livvy17 May 22, 2013 at 10:26 am

I’m a bit confused by the OP’s statement that it’s automatically expected to invite someone back to the house for a nightcap? I’ve never heard of that as a tradition before.

In any case, OP, I’m so sorry. I always like to think that I’d know what to say to these type of rude folks, but in reality, when faced with this level of rude/unthinking behavior, I’m too busy picking my jaw off the floor. Too bad you couldn’t have claimed not to have a corkscrew, or played on Belle’s excuse and done as Ripple suggested. Oh well, at least you know not to invite these people ANYWHERE again!

Reply

WildIrishRose May 22, 2013 at 10:28 am

I’m with all those who say these are not people you really want for friends. Bob was amazingly presumptuous in taking your offhand “invitation” seriously, and their bringing overnight stuff, wine, and their dog without first confirming with you is just as rude as it gets. I find it somewhat amusing that they took that comment to heart, but were completely oblivious when Belle said she wasn’t feeling well. This would be my last couples’ night with them.

Reply

VM May 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

Alas for the world, there are always people who, when given an inch, will take a mile. Bob, self-centered and bitchy, sounds the sort that would think themselves oh-so-clever to exploit a person’s kindness, which they consider weakness. You hadn’t known him well enough to be wary of behaving just the same as you had always done. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But maybe in future don’t issue a nightcap invitation until after a meal’s worth of getting to know the invitee better.

Reply

Allie May 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

The etiquette sins of Bob and Dale are too numerous to list and their tickets to e-hell are non-refundable. I suspect you have learned a valuable lesson – never say, even in jest, something you don’t mean. I also suspect you will get some comments about developing a polite spine. The time to shut this whole affair down was when they arrived with Lillian: “I’m sorry, but we cannot accommodate your dog.” Perhaps it would be wise if you took a little longer to get to know new couples before trying to notch up the friendship. Give them time to reveal their true colours before they are sprawled out drunk on your settee with a dog in one arm and an overnight bag in the other.

Reply

Lisa May 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

I don’t think the host did anything wrong; he was blindsided into this drama.
My friend of 26 years plus has a habit of doing this, and I must admit, the last time she did this to me it caught me off guard even though it had happened before. She says she ‘likes to be prepared’, and keeps in her car or trunk, an overnight bag.

Reply

Anonymous May 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

Sorry, I hit Submit too quickly. I agree that OP and his wife should have told the guests firmly that they had to cut the evening short, because Belle was feeling sick (leaving out the part about how their boorish behaviour was MAKING Belle sick). Then, if they wanted to, they could continue to socialize with this couple at larger group events in neutral locations, but not a “double date” setup, and not at their house.

Reply

ShellyLynne2611 May 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

I agree with Ripple. It should have been nipped in the bud before they even stepped foot in the house. And the dog should have been a red flag. I would have had to ask them why they brought the dog. The overnight bag was another red flag. I don’t understand why you would allow them to even open their bottle of wine after you told them the evening was over. Heck, you didn’t even have to let them in. Just say “I’ll be right out with the dog” and be done with it.

Reply

Shannan May 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

I can’t imagine why you would allow them to just sit in your living room ALONE & drink. I think Ms. Jeanne has used the humorous line “well Honey, why don’t we go to bed so these wonderful people can get home. Bob & Dale, thank you for a most interesting evening.” And then show them out.

Reply

admin May 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

Where is the “like” button?

Reply

ImJustSaying May 22, 2013 at 11:31 am

“It’s been such a lovely evening, but I’m feeling a bit sick. I’m afraid I won’t be enjoying our night-cap, but thank you for joining us tonight.”

“I stated that yes, as much “fun” as we’ve had, it is time for us to turn in. Bob agrees, then asks, “Which room is the guest bedroom?”
Shocked, I stumble over my words and ask if they really intend on staying the night. Bob laughs and asks if the guest bedroom has an en suite.”

OP DID attempt to stop the sleepover of the dog carrying guests. They ignored that. OP was so in shock that he missed the “polite spine window”. His girlfriend didn’t help by leaving him alone with the obviously pushy guests. She knew enough to fake sickness at the restaurant but not to keep the rude guests out of her house?

If this were to ever happen again I’d suggest girlfriend doesn’t JUMP SHIP and stays outside to chat while only OP gets the dog carrier and “apologizes” for the shortening of the evening.
“”Here’s Lillian for you. No need to come in to run right back outside. We’ll have to have the nightcap when Girlfriend is feeling better. Pop your trunk for me and Lily? Thanks! Lovely evening! Off you go! Bye!

Reply

Another Sarah May 22, 2013 at 11:45 am

Bob and Dale are clearly clods, but you did (accidentally) invite them. I agree with Lo above, the way that you said it did make it sound like an invite, as that’s actually how I read it as well.
Partially this might be a bit of a culture thing, as we are less tolerant of even below-the-limit drinking and driving over here, but I would only expect a nightcap after a restaurant with drinking if the visitor was staying over or planning to get a taxi. If they had driven but we all wanted to continue the night after the restaurant, I would automatically offer them a room.
But the key point of that last sentence is “if we ALL wanted to continue”.
I can understand mistaking the invitation of “let’s have a drink, but if you get too drunk you can stay over” for “Come stay over and we’ll get really drunk!” I can even understand not wanting to leave the dog overnight and bringing her (although it goes without saying that it was unspeakably rude to do so without asking)
But the invitation could only be misread as “Come stay over, we’ll get really drunk!”, and the moment Belle said she was feeling sick and wanted an early night, that plan went out the window. They should’ve curtailed the evening out of politeness for her benefit.
Their additional boorish behaviour just serves to prove Admin’s point. It was lovely of you to want to get to know them better, but now you know them well enough not to invest any more time in that relationship.

Reply

Merrilee May 22, 2013 at 11:48 am

OP, there is nothing wrong with a polite spine. I have been trying to grow mine, but I think even I would have not allowed these people to stay at my home overnight.

At the point where Bob brought in his overnight bag, I’d have started laughing saying “Silly Bob! What a prankster! I guess there was a huge misunderstanding earlier, as I’m afraid we’re not prepared for overnight guests just now, especially as my wife is not feeling well. Let me help you pack up the dog and see you to the door. Don’t forget your wine!” and start packing up the dog/herding to the door.

People like this need a clue by four. And not allowing the obnoxious behavior to continue is what they need.

At least you know where you stand, OP, and that these people are not worth pursuing a relationship with.

Reply

Cat May 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

All I can possibly add is-get to know people better before inviting them to your home. The male half of the couple sounds like a wet blanket that you would really prefer not to know.
As to staying the night, I can just see myself arriving with two mini horses, two mini donkeys and four cats and saying, “Hi! Where’s your stable?”

Reply

Bea May 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

I just wanted to say Anonymous #15, your comment is joining my saved list of favorite things said on the web. Like, ever. :)

Reply

inNM May 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm

If I come off judgmental, I apologise.
So, I’m not familiar with pre-planning to have a nightcap. I always thought a nightcap was something decided during dinner, because the conversation/event was going so well that the host of the nightcap spontaneously offered to keep the party going. I’ve also never heard of the guest bringing the wine for a nightcap (as opposed to a bottle of wine to a dinner party, which I have heard of), so I guess that would have been my warning sign to start dispensing with ambiguity and start laying out clear, concise and definite rules of what was expected.
Unfortunately, I may have ended the night when Lillian the dog made an appearance. Based on my house, I know I am not equipped to have a dog. In truth, only under extreme circumstances AND after I have met and interacted with the dog to ensure that it is in fact well trained, I would dog-sit for a limited number of people as a last resort. Hosting the dog of two relative strangers goes beyond polite and you are well within your rights to refuse to do so.
But you accepted Lillian and sat through the most uncomfortable dinner of your life. Once again, if you were not comfortable, you were within your rights to politely state your feelings, resolve the bill and leave. Think of it this way: If you were female and on a first date with someone who made you fearful for your safety, would you sit through dinner, dessert, then invite them back to your house for a nightcap to be polite? Or would you find the first excuse to get out of there, even if it meant you returned to the restaurant the next day to pay your bill (something I would not advocate unless in the most dire emergency situation, because you would have effectively committed theft until the bill is paid)? The point: you and your girlfriend may politely remove yourself from the situation if the conversation makes you uncomfortable.
Finally, Bob and Dale should have never been allowed in your house after dinner. While you stood at your closed door, Belle should have gone inside to retrieve Lillian, hand Lillian to Bob and Dale, and only you and Belle enter your house, close and lock the door. Entry into your house without your permission is breaking and entering, and is reason enough to call the police. (I know there is a hoax email going around claiming that once a guest is invited, some grandfather clause prevents you from kicking them out; but it’s untrue. A guest is a guest as long as you extend the invitation. After that, they’re trespassing.)
Bob and Dale sound like pests.

Reply

Hannahbobama May 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

The only one thing I think OP should /could have done was better defining a nightcap. When they said ” we really like to drink” the. OP should have said ” wow, I’m just talking one drink here fellas, I’m afraid, we know you’ll have a ways to drive back so I wouldn’t offer any more than that.” Hindsight is 50/50 of course!

Reply

Amanda H. May 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm

OP, I can totally understand making the offhand comment about rather having the other couple stay over than drive drunk. I don’t think that’s where the slip-up was, since it was still in the context of trying to dissuade the other couple from drinking too much. Where I think you missed the mark, really, was when they showed up with their dog and an overnight bag and you didn’t immediately take the opportunity to state that you couldn’t accommodate them. Especially when Belle gave you the opening of being “too sick” for the nightcap. I’ll second I’mJustSaying’s commentary of how you could have dodged things. (And the sentiment that Belle could have been a bit more supportive in getting them out of the house; maybe the two of you in tandem could have avoided the whole mess, but she jumped ship and you got flustered and that left Bob and Dale room to run roughshod over you.) Learn when to put your foot down and say “I’m afraid we can’t accommodate that.”

As for eating continental style…don’t worry about it. I know plenty of Americans who do that, and not all of them do it because of time spent abroad. I’ve only been outside the U.S. once (brief vacation to parts of Mexico), and I still do it because I’ve learned it can actually be easier when eating things like steak that need to be cut constantly. So go ahead and continue to keep your fork in your left hand.

Reply

Hannahbobama May 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Oh and also, as I see OP is not from here, in my neck of the woods we use the term “nightcap” to mean anything from drinks to coffee & dessert, which we frequently serve after a restaurant date with other couples , so where I live I would not have assumed it even meant drinking.

Reply

Tanz May 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm

The trouble is that often the ‘polite’ way to say something is more of a hint than an outright statement (the difference between “Oh, I’m feeling ill” and “I’m sorry you can’t stay here overnight”). I’m just wondering, OP – are you of Australasian extraction by any chance? I know we’re often very uncomfortable with simply stating things, it sounds ‘rude’ to our ears to do so. But sometimes I’m afraid that bullet has to be bitten. If you’re ever in this situation again you might like to make your statements a little less hint-y and more definite. If it annoys the person on the receiving end, well, that’s just another example of their boorishness.

Reply

acr May 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

OP, I am wondering how these people managed to be pleasant enough that you and your GF invited them together, and then they apparently had personality transplants? I am wondering if you were the person who invited Bob and Dale and your GF went along with it?

Reply

ferretrick May 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

OP,I truly can’t imagine anyone in US culture cares which hand you hold which utensil with (I would assume it’s a matter of whether you are right or left handed). And, if they actually do, they are ridiculously uptight and their opinion can be ignored. If you aren’t shoveling the food into your mouth at a rapid pace, talking while chewing, chewing with your mouth open, chewing loudly or otherwise doing anything with your food that’s disgusting, you are fine. That’s about as rigid as we get about such things in 90% of US dining situations.

Reply

Elle May 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Hmmm, I would say that this is 15% y’all’s fault. 5% on your GF for retreating and leaving you on your own. 10% yours for your accidental invite and 10% for not standing up to them, divided in half because you’re from another culture.

But yeah, Bob and Dale were not normal.

Reply

schnickelfritz May 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Wow! My first reaction, who really does not want to wake up at home, in their own bed! I can see if best friend couples are out late at an event, and pre-plan for convenience, not to be driving at 3:00 a.m. But to pre-plan an overnight, with “newish” friends, after a casual dinner – strikes me as odd. I wonder if they “swing” – or something, hoping for more than a night cap, and Bob took the OP’s off-handed suggestion as a way to broach this idea? (Though Bob’s comment by no means indicates that type of suggestion.)

When out for dinner and drinks, first and foremost, to me, everyone wants to get to back their own home safe and sound, and sleep in late, in their own bed. When it happens that you can’t drive, that is so awkward, but you are thankful for a safe place to stay until early morning, and get the heck up and out, so as not to inconvenience your hosts. I would sneak out really early, so as not to wake the hosts, and then go home and sleep late in my own bed. It is odd to me, that both Bob and Dale, thought this was OK. Especially, they didn’t open the wine until they got back to the home. I really suspect they wanted / were hoping, to “swing”. What couple really wants a “sleepover” after a dinner, unless a really special, event, like a late night drive home from an out of town concert or something cool.

Also, I like the points above, as a reminder, you don’t suggest night-cap, until it is time to give up your table, and you want to continue the fun (especially with new friends). Also a good reminder, about a lady on a date (above poster inNM).

Reply

Rosie May 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I agree that it can be difficult to know how to approach other adults about drinking and driving concerns. I generally trust that other adults know their limits and can get home from my house or the restaurant safely, but there are times when I am surprised by guests that have knowingly had too much to drink and then expect to stay. My husband generally treats his drunk friends like children (and they are mostly his friends), like they can’t really be expected to control themselves and we as hosts have to indulge their behavior. By the time they are drunk, I agree, it’s better for them to stay over, like Bob and Dale in the post, but I just find it so rude that people would come over and proceed to get sloshed without thinking about what comes next. At a recent party we hosted, with over 60 guests, I had to dodge a guest’s attempt to invite herself and her husband to sleep over. She and I were talking about a mutual acquaintance, and I casually asked if she was staying there that night, since they were visiting from out of town. She replied that no, they weren’t really sure where they were going to stay (it was 9pm by this point) but they had their sleeping bags and a tent in the car outside, and then goes on to say, “Well, we’ll just see how it winds up since my husband will be drinking a lot and I might be too drunk to drive also. Maybe we could just pitch our tent outside or in a nearby park.” I realized that she was trying to weasel an invitation from me, but I was just so shocked that she was planning to start drinking (she wasn’t drunk at the time) despite not having a plan for where to stay or how to get there that I just let the subject awkwardly drop. We already had house guests staying with us for the party, and couldn’t accommodate anyone else inside, plus our backyard is mostly hard-surfaced so there isn’t a good place for a tent, not to mention all the guests were outside in the backyard and not likely to leave until late. Luckily, a friend of mine was listening to the conversation also, and she is both wiser and kinder than me, so she wrapped things up by saying, “I’m going to head home and you’re welcome to come camp in our backyard if you need to, but the backyard here is probably too hard and people will probably be up late.” A bit later I excused myself from the party and went upstairs to bed (it was really my husband’s party and his friends, plus I had to get up at 5am the next morning), so I don’t know where the would-be house guest and her husband wound up staying–but it certainly wasn’t at our house! I felt a bit rude to just ignore her implication about needing a place to stay, but I just was floored that a) she was so unprepared, and b) she was planning on drinking anyway, limiting her options to leave, and conveniently solving her accommodations problem at our expense.

Reply

MollyMonster May 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Yeah, OP while you might have been slightly at fault for the off-hand invitation (though I actually read it as you’d rather a person stay (at their own home) than drive drunk), your guests are definitely EHell bound. Or at least so socially tone deaf (or completely selfish) that you might not want to keep them on the friends list. That said, your girlfriend also bears some responsibility for not helping you oust the interlopers. She did great with the “not feeling well” but didn’t back it up with any more “get the hell out of my house” stuff. A sick person can get a lot of leeway in rudeness. If she was under the impression that you wanted to continue the friendship with the two clowns, that would be one thing, but it seems that from your story, you were both on the same page in wanting the evening to end. She definitely could have done more since it appears you are not a native of the country/area and are still learning the norms and didn’t have the correct ammunition to evict these guys.

Reply

Katie May 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Hmmm – if my husband and I were invited to dinner at a restaurant with another couple that we didn’t know very well and we were invited back to their house for an after-dinner nightcap well before the dinner had even happened, I’d be more than a little alarmed that the “nightcap” was code for some other “shared” after dinner activities.

I think you got off lightly OP.

Reply

Anonymous May 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Yeah, I was going to say what inNM said. You don’t issue a “nightcap” invitation along with the original dinner invitation; you bring it up during dinner if the meal is going well, and you want to continue socializing with these people. Actually, most people just linger over dessert and drinks at the restaurant, but my point is, when meeting with someone you don’t know well, you start with just one thing, because that way, you can gracefully wrap things up at the end of the originally-planned event if things don’t click for whatever reason.

Reply

Marozia May 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I have to say this, OP. It was very nice of you to do this for new friends, but very stupid. When your friend Bob started criticising your profession, that’s when you should’ve put a stop to it. You must’ve have known that these guys drink, why didn’t you say you & Belle don’t drink after dinner.
My dad always used to say “Never attribute to malice what can be explained away by stupidity” and “Loose lips sink ships”. Think before you offer. Also, with new people in your group, don’t be so eager to make friends quickly. Be friendly, polite, etc, but sum up the character of people before you jump into the quicksand.

Reply

AIP May 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Belle might be being a litte hard on OP, she didn’t mean to invite them over for B&B with extra kennel duty. I can see them mistakingly thinking it was a real invitation, but bringing the dog over was completely extracting the Michael!

Reply

Mer May 22, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I have to admit that I’m one of those persons who think that if you drink any alcoholic beverages during the evening, you won’t be driving that night, no matter if it is only one glass of wine. Enjoying any alcohol means automatically one of the following things: You either spent the night, take a cap/other public transportation/walk if within walking distance or have designated driver for that evening who does not drink at all. So from that point of view, I think I might take even offhand invitation as a serious one, as basically, if nightcap is involved, I or my BF wont be driving before next morning. However, especially with relatively new friends and suchlike I would definitely make sure that invitation was real one or more likely just assume we would be taking a cab.

And as for other behavior, it is unacceptable to bring animals without asking permission and as a guest one should always guard against overstaying your welcome. I have a relative who is bit inconsiderate with his dog. The dog is nice and well behaved but they don’t seem to grasp that even if my parents aren’t allergic, my siblings are and we of course spent time with our parents, in their house (as this is something they especially wish that we do). Bringing dog there means that my sister will be having rough time sleeping there. And as she lives quite far away (like opposite side of the country -far), if we have some relatives gathering with my parents, she has to be able to sleep there and surprise dog is kind of ruining it.

One of the hosts stating that she is not feeling well is dead giveaway that you should be going home. Immediately, unless the person clearly states something like “I must lay down for a while, but I hope you can still continue to have fun evening with DH”.

Bit off topic, but I was actually bit shocked how most here were okay for other people to drive after even some drinking. Zero tolerance is far more common attitude around here, though one wont be burned at the stake for taking one and driving sometime after that. But I feel most don’t want to risk it. If you hit police raid and they measure some alcohol in your breath it’s not good even if it’s under legal limits for drunk driving. Even if there is no legal consequences when under the limit, especially if you are a bigwig, it’s not good publicity if you need to comment for local newspaper next morning that “yes yes, I took one at dinner but it was under the limit. It really was”. And it probably isn’t nice if you have to go to the blood tests and so on if the value is somewhere near the limit.

Reply

Library Diva May 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I think the nightcap thing must be a cultural difference. I don’t usually do that either, but it’s clearly something that OP was raised to do. While this story illlustrates a major pitfall of this practice, it’s up to OP to continue doing it or not. Other than that, Bob and Dale took stunning advantage of you. It’s such bizarre behavior that I can’t even see it from their perspective at all. You’re not well-known to them: why on earth would they want to trust you with their dog, sleep over in your home and expect breakfast the next morning? They don’t know what they’re getting into, and it’s not like it’s staying at a hotel. I don’t think OP bears any fault and could have been more assertive with these two weirdos at any point along the line, preventing this odd sleepover. Twisting an offer of a place to crash if you get too drunk to drive into a full-on invitation to spend the night is just insane.

Reply

David May 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Bob and Dale have a screw loose to me. I would not have taken the “Good, I’d just hate to be the cause of any trouble. I’d rather you just stayed than get into an accident” as an invitation to get drunk and spend the night. It followed a conversation about not getting so drunk you couldn’t drive. I would have taken it how it was meant – as a last resort if I couldn’t watch myself like an adult.

But to spend all of their time insulting you and your hospitality on top of everything else is just poor. I would not invite them to dinner again.

Reply

OP May 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thank you all for your feedback. I believe I have learned my lesson: apparently inviting people over for a night cap is unusual in this culture. In my culture, inviting someone into one’s home is the only way to appropriately be welcoming in a social atmosphere. Where I’m from, we would have catered a meal at home. I thought that going out to a sought-after restaurant would be a great blend between my culture and normal West Coast culture. I was wrong!

I will take care in the future to take social queues better and remember what a “night cap” may imply. That said, I also will make sure I am more assertive next time. Thank you all.

Reply

Michelle C Young May 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Well, at least you now *thoroughly* know that these people are not for you. You found out early in the relationship, and can now avoid them.

Be grateful you did not invest more time in this relationship before they showed their true colors.

While I dislike their behavior, I have to give them some (minor) kudos for honesty.

Reply

Heather May 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I feel like this is a particularly good discussion–it’s introduced a couple really good concepts that I think could stand to be incorporated into Ehell jargon. Assertiveness Heck from Anonymous #15 is one of them, and also “missing the polite spine window” from ImJustSaying. (Boy have I ever done THAT before. That seems to be the main problem with my spine.)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: