Annie Lane: Ding-fong! The neighbors are here

Published 5:07 pm Friday, October 7, 2022

Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our 70s, and we have our cocktail hour at 6 p.m. every night followed by dinner at 7 or so. One evening, about two weeks ago, our neighbors came to the door at about 6:30 uninvited. I still had curlers in my hair and was not dressed to receive visitors. I ran to the bathroom, and my husband answered the door. They had come, I think (my husband is not clear on the details), to see our recent home improvements.

He took them around to the back of the house to show them the yardwork, and I sat in the bathroom waiting for him to tell them that we’d love to see them at some other time when I was prepared. But no, he asked them into the house to show them the inside home improvements. After I sat there waiting for him to tell them that we were about to prepare dinner, he finally came in and asked me if I was going to come out and be sociable. I said I was not, but he asked me again. I shouted “NO” loud enough for them to hear in our living room. I figured that when they heard that, they would be embarrassed and take their leave. But no, he got them drinks, and they sat there for another half-hour until they finally left at around 8.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect them to know our schedule, but I think my husband should have nipped it in the bud when they first appeared. All he had to say was, “We’re about to get dinner on; why don’t you come back tomorrow?” He “doesn’t remember” what was said, so I don’t know if they were just being rude/inconsiderate or if he was being wimpy. And when I shouted NO from the bathroom, I’m sure they heard me. Why didn’t they pick up and leave then? I couldn’t believe they all sat there having drinks while I sat in the bathroom!

Should I have taken the time to get dressed, do my hair and makeup and come out smiling to play hostess? Or should he apologize to me for putting me in such an embarrassing situation? Thank you. I read your column every day!

— Host With the Most Embarrassment

Dear Host: It sounds like the perfect alignment of stars is at fault for this awkward encounter rather than any one person in particular.

Just as you were caught off-guard and unprepared for visitors, I’d bet your husband felt the same. Surprised to find guests at the door looking for a tour of your home, he probably didn’t think much further than to show them what they came to see. When it comes to your neighbors, even with the best of intentions or innocent curiosity, it is impolite to show up anywhere unannounced — especially during mealtimes. As for you, the path of least resistance would have been to undo the hair curlers, throw on a quick outfit and say a brief hi to your neighbors before getting dinner underway, no ball gown necessary. Camping out in the bathroom awaiting their departure likely only made an uncomfortable situation worse.

Instead of playing the blame game, I’d chalk this up to a one-off debacle. Smooth things over by giving your neighbors a call and inviting them over soon for a proper visit.

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