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Was it just me?

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Phoenix

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First, apology in advance for the length of this thread. I just have to vent.

We were having friends round for dinner last night. They were supposed to have arrived at 7.30pm. It was a sit down dinner with nice chinaware, crystal glasses and home cooked food (pumpkin soup and boeuf bourguignon - all made from scratch, by moi, over the course of 2 days). I heated up the soup, the beef, and put freshly baked bread in the oven at about 7.25pm, just after I'd taken my shower, thinking they'd be nice and hot by the time we get round to eatting (which I expected to be around 8, after some aperitifs and chit chat).

So came 7.30pm, nothing, no-one showed up. So I thought oh ok, maybe they'd just be five, ten minutes late. Came 7.45, I was still thinking, ah..maybe just traffic or something.. then came 8pm, still nothing...I went to check my HP thinking maybe they'd try to call or sms me and I didn't hear them..but nothing, nada, zilche! By 8.10pm, i started to get a bit annoyed, as my bread was now already cooked and the soup and beef already heated up and things started to get cold and we had no idea when they'd be here.

The first couple arrived at 8.15, no apology, nothing. Then the guy started to walk in with his shoes. Now you'll have to understand, in Asia people don't wear shoes indoors. AND we'd just have our place renovated and we have pristine white marble floor. So I asked him to take his shoes off...again, no apology from him (this is someone who never wears shoes inside his own home).

The other couple arrived at 8.30pm, with their child. Now, don't get me wrong, we love children and have had many parties in the past where we'd specifically asked friends to bring their kids. But we'd just moved into our new home about a few months ago and a lot of the furniture (due to the fault of the designers) has not been made kid-proof, like our glass-topped dining table which has extremely sharp corners and our glass-panelled wardrobe doors which are not secured properly and one came crashing down (almost killing me...not exaggerating here). Whilst we're waiting for them to be fixed, we're careful not to have kids around, just in case. They hadn't even asked us and I spent the entire night worrying about this child getting hurt.

We then started to sit down and have drinks and finally sat down to dinner at about 9pm (or thereabout - I didn't check the clock). We had our soup and then when it was time to have the main course, I proceeded to warm up the beef, pototoes and veggies (again!). When I came out of the kitchen with the food, the guests were no longer there at the dining table
! Apparently, they thought it was perfectly acceptable for them not to excuse themselves (to go out to the side patio and have a smoke). They didn't even tell me beforehand to wait for a while (which I wouldn't have minded so much), before I started getting the main course ready. So all this food was sitting on the table getting stone cold (again
) whilst they took their time puffing on their cigarettes. This, despite me going out to the patio and telling them (smilingly or at least trying to smile) that the main course was ready and would they like to come in whilst it was hot. On top of all this, they walked all around the garden and then dragged their muggy dirty feet (it'd been raining during the day) back into the house, leaving dirty footprints all over the marble floor and Persian rugs
.

I was brought up to believe that there are certain rules and etiquette that one has to abide to, especially when one comes to someone else's home. So what was up with all that? Was it just me? Was/ Am I being petty?

Anyway, thanks for *listening*. I feel a bit better being able to "let it out". I'll tell you this, it'd be a cold day in "h..l" before we invited these people back into our home again. Funny thing is, we've had them round to dinner before and I don't remember them behaving like this.
 

poptart

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How close are you to these friends? I am not super picky about people being in my house, but I would have been appalled if they walked around in my clean, renovated house with dirty shoes. And being late without calling, not to mention bringing their kid without asking. I would have been very frustrated, too.

*M*
 

Mara

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lien, no it wasn't just you but i have found that it seems like increasingly often, people just seem to have no manners anymore!!! i have had really good friends or couples and sometimes even my PARENTS who are typically good as gold...be really late for a dinner or gathering or wander away in the middle of something, and act like 'oh were you waiting?'...and sometimes these people are like 20 minutes late and don't even call OR answer their cell phones when you try to call them to find out what is going on. i have a friend who whenever she comes to a party, even if it's a dinner or an event with others waiting, she is always 30-45 minutes late. recently another friend fell asleep a few hours before a dinner party at a friends house, and never even showed up and 10 of us waited for her for over an hour before finally deciding to just eat the dinner (cold at that point) and boy were we glad she was only in charge of a green salad and not something like the main entree!! we called her multiple times and she never heard her cell phone. talk about flakey.

when people come into your house half the time they seem to hardly think about manners or what you might want them to do or not do in your house. also kids can be tough too because of the reasons you mentioned, i can't believe they didn't even ask. it's kind of interesting how i have been noticing more and more that people seem to be getting sloppier with manners. sorry you had such a bad experience...i would really have felt the same way, esp after slaving away in the kitchen for them and having them behave that way.
 

TravelingGal

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IMO, part you, part them.

On being late: it''s rude, but it''s the norm. I always expect about 30 mins to an hour to be considered fashionably late...even though personally I am always on time (I like to be there at the dinner bell!) If I were you, I would have served the food when you were ready. Tough nuggies for the latecomers. 9 pm dinner serve when you were planning somewhere around 8 is ridiculous.

On shoes: I understand the asian thing. Considering the person who wore his shoes in doesn''t wear shoes in his own house, I would say it''s weird.

On kids: I specify what the plans are with the kids if I know the person has them. I don''t assume the person is getting a sitter. However, it would have been nice for them to ask.

On smoking breaks: Lots of people smoke when they need to smoke. They probably thought you were throwing a dinner party where they are allowed to move around and socialize. This is where I think you just gotta go with the flow.

On dirty tracking footprints: obviously rude.

Bottom line, when I throw a dinner party, I expect my place will have wear and tear and just get plain dirty. Marble floors can be cleaned. Persian rugs, less so, therefore I think that what they did sucks. I''ve thrown lots of dinner parties and I found the best way to enjoy them is to be relaxed about it. Otherwise it''s too darn stressful.
 

Phoenix

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Poptart, thank you for yr kind support.

We''ve known them for about 2 yrs. In fact, they were my friends first before they became ours. I did like them a lot initially and still do, to a certain extent. Hubby particularly likes one guy (the one who attempted to wear shoes inside our house). I don''t remember them behaving like this before though, weird!
 

Phoenix

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Mara, thanks for yr support and for expressing similar thoughts. Aren''t some people amazing, particularly yr friend who fell asleep?
 

Cehrabehra

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this is going to sound worse than I mean it but - its you! You made the choice to invite this particular group over and if they have kids and you don''t want kids you have to be explicit about that. If you don''t want shoes in the house, you must say so. Nicely, but clearly. People may make poor assumptions about how to behave in your house, but so have you that they will be as you have preconceived. Comments like "make yourself at home" very well might come with someone putting their feet on the coffee table or leaving their shoes in the middle of the floor and curling their feet up on your couch. If you don''t want people who behave casually, you should choose different sorts of people to associate with.

I made the mistake years ago of wanting to have dinner parties like you described above, but the people we attract and enjoy are much more casual than that. I have since decided that as charming as it sounds to have china and crystal, it is just not who we are. If you enjoy casual style friends but you want to play grown up, make it CLEAR that you''re having a particular type of party so they know what to expect. Tell them to dress up and stick their pinkies in the air while they eat and that there will be several courses. When you get up to get the next course, make sure you say, "Now everyone just stay seated, I''ll be right back with the next course."

Oh, and sitting down for dinner just 30 minutes after the invite time is too soon. I find that my friends like a good hour to almost two before we eat. Having something that''s ready to go is nice (which you did) but that means that you don''t stick the bread in until everyone''s there and declared they''d like to eat soon.

I''m sure some people do still live with the formality you describe, but not many and not all the time. If you want an event that IS that formal, you must be very clear with everyone involved what the rules will be.

Showing up an hour late though is absolutely *rude* of them!!!!!

One of the best things about a good hostess is that they let go of needing to *control* the event and just relax and allow the evening to flow anywhich way it does. But I''d still be very clear if you want no shoes in the house.
 

widget

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I always thought "fashionably late" only works for big cocktail parties, openhouses, etc.....for dinner parties, over fifteen/twenty minutes late is rude.

At least your menu wasn''t time-sensitive and could be easily put on hold/reheated without being ruined.

I think it''s great that you intertain formally. I wasn''t sure anyone does that anymore. My kids sure don''t!

widget
 

TravelingGal

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Cehra, I actually agree with you on this. I totally understand what Lien is feeling because it IS frustrating to throw a lovely dinner party and have people behave less than stellarly...

But I only have come to the conclusion that I have because I have thrown lots of parties - some more regimented than others and I agree that the best party is one where the guests can feel at home. I HATE seeing people wear shoes in my house...it actually weirds me out, but I threw a birthday party one time where one of the (non asian) guests did not take his shoes off. Perhaps he was wearing holey socks or something and didn't want to. Either way, I didn't ask him to take them off. I found out much later after the fact that he saw some pictures of the party and realized he was the only one wearing shoes. He was mortified! As an American, it just didn't occur to him at all...and he never looked at anyone's feet. How funny.

As far as fashionably late goes...I agree that 1 hr is late, period. But we have something known as "Korean time." I think other cultures have something similar. I really despise korean time myself, but I've learned to work around it.

So I think Lien could learn something from this, but I definitely don't think it was all "her". As guests, we have a responsibility to be courteous in someone else's home.

Speaking of parties, I have to be at someone's home by 8...and I'M the one making dinner for everyone over there!
 

Phoenix

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Traveling Gal, thanks for yr reply and yr insight.

I think my being puntual and expecting others to be so too, very much has to do with my being a Brit, especially when it comes to a sit down, intimate dinner (which this was, only 6 of us, including ourselves). I have to say most of our friends are quite puntual, especially for sit down dinners. If it is a something like a large casual gathering, or a barbecue, let''s say, then I do expect people to show up at different times. For me, being late more than half an hour for a sit down dinner is a bit OTT. I think in the future, I will do what you suggest and proceed to serve dinner at the expected time, and just too bad for those who show up late. Mind you, this would have been a bit difficult with both couples being late.


Yeah, the shoes thing is weird.

On kids, I didn''t specify because I didn''t want to sound like we don''t like kids (which we do, very much) or didn''t want theirs around. I just assumed (maybe stupidly) that when someone invites you and not mention to bring along kids, that you just don''t.

On smoking, yes, I know people do smoke and I was prepared for that. But they didn''t excuse themselves when they left the dinner table or asked if I wouldn''t mind not bringing the main course out whilst they took a break. Even after it was served, they didn''t say anything at all. If they''d said something, I would have been ok.

Funny thing is, we had another similar dinner party last week and it was a smashing success, everyone was on time, more or less, people were perfectly well mannered. They also took a break and wandered outside but they did excuse themselves and at no time, was I left feeling unappreciated.

But you know what? You''re right, I should learn to be a bit more relaxed. More to the point though, we should choose more carefully whom we invite round. That way, I won''t be so stressed out and will be able to enjoy myself more.
 

Harriet

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Cehra,
Where Lien lives (and where I grew up), everyone takes their shoes off when they go into someone else''s home. It''s customary. In any case, as the hostess, it was her prerogative to ask the offender to take his shoes off. Hope that clears up at least 1 issue.
 

Phoenix

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Harriet, you don''t need to worry.
. From what I''ve read here from you and our *conversations*, you seem like a perfectly well mannered and polite young woman and I mean that sincerely. I will be glad to have you visit, anytime.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:35:12 PM
Author: lienTN
Traveling Gal, thanks for yr reply and yr insight.

I think my being puntual and expecting others to be so too, very much has to do with my being a Brit, especially when it comes to a sit down, intimate dinner (which this was, only 6 of us, including ourselves). I have to say most of our friends are quite puntual, especially for sit down dinners. If it is a something like a large casual gathering, or a barbecue, let's say, then I do expect people to show up at different times. For me, being late more than half an hour for a sit down dinner is a bit OTT. I think in the future, I will do what you suggest and proceed to serve dinner at the expected time, and just too bad for those who show up late. Mind you, this would have been a bit difficult with both couples being late.
Ha...this is where you should have crumbs (or whatever) leftover on your face when they showed up and grin sheepishly while saying "Aww...too bad you missed it. It was mmmm mmm gooood. We can order in some pizza if you're hungry."


And yes, I expect people to be punctual too. But some people have late disease. They want to be on time, but it never happens. I find that expecting it doesn't help it along to happen. Believe me, I've tried!

ETA, and on kids, I am with you...I do think that unless you say kids are invited, people should assume not. But I have found out that a lot of my friends think the opposite...that I should KNOW they have kids and unless I say no kids, they are allowed to bring them!
 

Kaleigh

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I'm gonna take your side on this. Cocktail parties, it's ok to be late, as they generally go for a few hours or so. But dinner parties. That's another matter. You have to show up on time within a 1/2 hour, otherwise I feel it's rude. I am sorry you had this problem lien. Your guests should have taken off their shoes, as the weather was a mess. I really don't know what to say. But I don't fault you at all. People these days just do as they please. Which really annoys me to end. Where are their manners???
 

Harriet

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:41:50 PM
Author: lienTN
Harriet, you don''t need to worry.
. From what I''ve read here from you and our *conversations*, you seem like a perfectly well mannered and polite young woman and I mean that sincerely. I will be glad to have you visit, anytime.

Incidentally, I don''t understand why some people are habitually late. Is my time worth less than yours?
 

Harriet

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:42:37 PM
Author: lienTN
Harriet, thanks for clearing that up for me!
My pleasure. Even in the US, where shoe removal is not customary, I make that request of my guests. It is my home, afterall.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:45:09 PM
Author: Harriet

Date: 4/21/2007 9:41:50 PM
Author: lienTN
Harriet, you don''t need to worry.
. From what I''ve read here from you and our *conversations*, you seem like a perfectly well mannered and polite young woman and I mean that sincerely. I will be glad to have you visit, anytime.

Incidentally, I don''t understand why some people are habitually late. Is my time worth less than yours?
I don''t get it either. Tardiness is my pet peeve. It''s rude, and completely disregarding of others. I had to explain it that way to TGuy. One of my girlsfriends is always a few minutes late, and I asked her...how HARD is it to be on time, especially since it''s just a few minutes that you are late? What are you doing in those 5 minutes? Another one of my friend''s husbands found out how much I hate it when people are late, and he must respect me or something because he rushed them out of the house saying "Hurry up...you know how she hates it when people are late!" Hehehehe.
 

Cehrabehra

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Date: 4/21/2007 8:45:24 PM
Author: poptart
How close are you to these friends? I am not super picky about people being in my house, but I would have been appalled if they walked around in my clean, renovated house with dirty shoes. And being late without calling, not to mention bringing their kid without asking. I would have been very frustrated, too.

*M*
This is one of those things that often changes when a couple moves into parenthood.... as a childless couple the (frequent) assumption is often don''t bring your kids unless they''ve been specifically invited..... as parents the (frequent) assumption is, if you''re inviting "us" over, you mean our family. Its easy for people without kids to see the kids as these removable apendages that are optional, but as parents they are so incorporated into our lives that it is very easy to not even think about bringing them wherever you go.
 

Harriet

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Travelling Gal,
Thank goodness there is no such thing as "Singapore time."
 

Phoenix

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Cehra, thanks for yr reply and suggestions.

Maybe I did have less than realistic expectations of these people, but pls see what I said above about kids (maybe in the future, I will specify if we don't want kids around). And I did tell them that I was going to serve the main course, only to turn around and have them all wandered off. And we'd had the same exact people round before and I don't remember having the same issues.

Mmmhmm, on the 1 to 2 hours to start eating after arrival, is that the same for everyone else? I'd really like to know, as everywhere we go to, it is usually half an hour or so.

We do have different kinds of parties, some more casual than others. Sometimes though, I just think it's nice to have a slightly more formal dinner party. Some of our friends do this also and we really appreciate being able to dress up and eat with nice "stuff" and being a bit "different".

Yes, I do agree that being an hour late is appalling, esp. when they don't call or sms beforehand to let us know.

Again, I agree that I should learn to relax a bit more.
 

lumpkin

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Lien, Americans (US at least) have such a diverse upbringing, and what is acceptable etiquette in some areas is not in others. The other thing I''ve found is that people who rarely entertain, or only entertain casually, don''t really think about things from the host''s point of view, especially if it''s formal. I am the worst offender. As the very youngest in my family (besides my kids) by over 10 years, no one ever came to my place. Given a window of time, I sometimes came at the very last minute or showed up a little early. It wasn''t until I started entertaining that I realized how difficult it can be to get everything to come together at a specific time. Now I am much more aware of that.

Most people in my area just don''t entertain formally. It''s almost considered pompus. What a shame. There''s nothing like nice crystal, china and cloth linens, not to mention a place card and a well prepared meal. Around here it''s hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill. I tried to do a formal breakfast for Christmas one year, including champaign (well, California sparkling wine actually) place cards, etc. My husband''s family actually rearranged the place cards because they wanted to pick their seats. As the host I really should have considered my "audience" and realize they just aren''t formal breakfast people (and no one else is either, I''m the only one who would even attempt it). Another time my husband''s parents showed up about an hour and a half late because they were having tires put on their car -- like they didn''t know about our plans???

Guests can be so rude. I even had a guest tell me I didn''t cook the brisket right and proceeded to ream me because he was expecting real brisket, not a roast. Unfortunately you can''t pick your family, LOL!

It''s not entirely you, but maybe it''s a lesson about entertaining formally and considering whether the guests on the particular lists will actually know what is expected and appreciate the effort. I think in many Asian cultures entertaining is an art, in a lot of US cultures it''s just much more casual. And like I said, what a shame.
 

Cehrabehra

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:31:21 PM
Author: TravelingGal
Cehra, I actually agree with you on this. I totally understand what Lien is feeling because it IS frustrating to throw a lovely dinner party and have people behave less than stellarly...

But I only have come to the conclusion that I have because I have thrown lots of parties - some more regimented than others and I agree that the best party is one where the guests can feel at home. I HATE seeing people wear shoes in my house...it actually weirds me out, but I threw a birthday party one time where one of the (non asian) guests did not take his shoes off. Perhaps he was wearing holey socks or something and didn''t want to. Either way, I didn''t ask him to take them off. I found out much later after the fact that he saw some pictures of the party and realized he was the only one wearing shoes. He was mortified! As an American, it just didn''t occur to him at all...and he never looked at anyone''s feet. How funny.

As far as fashionably late goes...I agree that 1 hr is late, period. But we have something known as ''Korean time.'' I think other cultures have something similar. I really despise korean time myself, but I''ve learned to work around it.

So I think Lien could learn something from this, but I definitely don''t think it was all ''her''. As guests, we have a responsibility to be courteous in someone else''s home.

Speaking of parties, I have to be at someone''s home by 8...and I''M the one making dinner for everyone over there!
I agree with everything you said, including the part in the yellow.... the only part I would add to the yellow is that since we cannot control anyone else and can only control ourselves, it isn''t all that helpful to think about how rude they are (other than to remind ourselves how to behave the next time we''re at someone else''s house), its more helpful to think about what *you* can do (or let go of) to *allow yourself* to enjoy your time more :)
 

Phoenix

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Traveling Gal, you''re too funny!
. You really make me laugh!
. Thank you.
 

Gypsy

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I have to agree with part but mostly them.


Late without excuse? Just plan rude.

Tromping mud all over the place... if you have a mat outside or inside to wipe shoes on... just rude. If you don''t... get one.

I agree that with dinner parties you have to go in expecting that the house will be mussed up.

I''m wicked anal about my persian rug personally, so I get you there... My families homes all have marble floors... and well, they aren''t that hard to clean if they are properly sealed, they''re going to get messy.


As for the smoking and excusing themselves. Well, that''s why I usually don''t do formal sit downs without making it clear to the guests before hand that that is they style of party it''s going to be.

Buffets are usually easier. And you do have to go with the flow when you have guests over.

That said ... I''ve never had any get up in the middle of dinner to smoke!

Kids... well. If I invite people with kids I make sure to make it clear whether or not they are invited.
 

Cehrabehra

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:36:04 PM
Author: Harriet

Cehra,
Where Lien lives (and where I grew up), everyone takes their shoes off when they go into someone else''s home. It''s customary. In any case, as the hostess, it was her prerogative to ask the offender to take his shoes off. Hope that clears up at least 1 issue.
all of our friends do this as well and only one is asian.... it''s actually not uncommon anymore :) but still, not everyone *thinks*.
 

TravelingGal

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:55:22 PM
Author: Harriet
Travelling Gal,
Thank goodness there is no such thing as ''Singapore time.''
That''s great. I have never been to Singapore, but I would imagine based on how clean and orderly I hear it is that such tardiness would be rare.

I am not sure if Korean time is a Korean thing...or something we adopted here in America. Either way, it''s annoying. At a restaurant, the good natured waiter said "your food will be here in a mexican minute!" I replied, "HEY, I know what that means!" Sure enough, it took another 10. I guess Koreans are the only ones who joke about tardiness.
 

Phoenix

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Widget, thank you. I feel the same about different kinds of parties. We don''t entertain formally very often, only once in a while. The rest of the time, it''s just casual get-togethers with friends where we can let our hair down and drink and chat abt what''s been going on in our lives, current affairs etc.
 

Cehrabehra

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Date: 4/21/2007 9:42:02 PM
Author: TravelingGal

ETA, and on kids, I am with you...I do think that unless you say kids are invited, people should assume not. But I have found out that a lot of my friends think the opposite...that I should KNOW they have kids and unless I say no kids, they are allowed to bring them!
see? I think people with kids are just approaching the situation from a WHOLE different perspective LOL its life changing to have the little beasts in every way...
 
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