Monday, January 9, 2012

On the Importance of Dinner Engagements

Dinner invitations must be answered immediately; engraved or written ones by return post, or those which were telephoned, by telephone and at once! Also, nothing but serious illness or death or an utterly unavoidable accident can excuse the breaking of a dinner engagement.

To accept a dinner at Mrs. Nobody's and then break the obligation upon being invited to dine with the Worldlys, proclaims anyone capable of such rudeness an unmitigated snob, whom Mrs. Worldly would be the first to cut from her visiting list if she knew of it. The rule is: "Don't accept an invitation if you don't care about it." Having declined the Nobody invitation in the first place, you are then free to accept Mrs. Worldly's, or to stay at home. There are times, however, when engagements between very close friends or members of the family may perhaps be broken, but only if made with the special stipulation: "Come to dinner with us alone Thursday if nothing better turns up!" And the other answers, "I'd love to--and you let me know too, if you want to do anything else." Meanwhile if one of them is invited to something unusually tempting, there is no rudeness in telephoning her friend, "Lucy has asked us to hear Galli-Curci on Thursday!" and the other says, "Go, by all means! We can dine Tuesday next week if you like, or come Sunday for supper." This privilege of
intimacy can, however, be abused. An engagement, even with a member of one's family, ought never to be broken twice within a brief period, or it becomes apparent that the other's presence is more a fill-in of idle time than a longed-for pleasure.

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