My whole family was invited in May of 2010 to a high school graduation party. My younger sister and I spent several years competing on a privately owned dance team, and the girl graduating had been our teammate. The two sets of parents also became friends through dance company events and competitions. My sister is a year younger than this girl, and I was 20 at the time this story took place.
The graduation party invite was for a BBQ-style get-together in the backyard of the family’s home from 5 to 7pm. The event also served as a sort of family reunion centered around our friend’s graduation; many of her family members from across the country came to support and congratulate her, and there were very few non-family members in attendance at the party. We felt honored to be considered close enough friends to be invited to the intimate, family-oriented event. The party was enjoyable, my sister and I had a great time catching up with the graduate, and our parents enjoyed the opportunity to catch up as well.
Around 8 or 8:30, when some family group pictures started to be taken and the party began to noticeably wind down, my family decided it would be best to make our exit. It was well past the end time specified on the invite, and though the party had comfortably and naturally carried on longer than expected, it was beginning to slow down and we felt it best to head out. The etiquette breach occurred as we were saying our goodbyes to the graduate and her parents, and was committed by my father, who dragged my sister and I unwillingly into the flames of etiquette hell with him.
My father is substantially lacking in social graces, but more or less manages not to be too terribly appalling in public; this was, unfortunately, not one of those lucky blunder-free instances. He announced to the graduate’s parents, with her standing right there, that my sister and I both had plans for that very evening with our respective boyfriends and thus we all needed to be leaving. My sister and I were mortified and stood there in stunned silence, probably with mouths slightly agape and eyes wide. The gracious hosts thanked us all for coming and suggested that we would all have to get together again soon, on a night when there were no upcoming plans with the boyfriends. My sister and I, and my mother too, later agreed that we were horrified by my father’s tactless transition into party exit mode.
While my sister and I did in fact have plans scheduled for later that evening, that is nothing we would have ever revealed to the hosting family. No awkward, tacky explanation for leaving the party was needed when the event was clearly ending and it was perfectly appropriate to excuse ourselves politely, thank the family and congratulate our friend, and leave. Why my 50-something year old father couldn’t grasp this, but his 17 and 20 year old daughters could, is beyond me. I only hope that the family forgets all about the incident and that my sister and I don’t burn in etiquette hell next to my father! So embarrassing! 0227-11