Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham

Just Behave


Just Behave: Wrong Pitch

Our etiquette experts answers your questions.

My friend invited me to attend a spring training game with her and sit in the VIP section. It was with her work/company, so I assumed the ticket was free. I was really embarrassed when I found out the tickets were more than $100 each and she expected me to pay for it. If I had known, I wouldn’t have attended. I guess I should have asked. Now, I don’t know what to do. I’m angry at her, and at myself. — Betty, Fort Myers

Dear Betty,
Your friend threw you a curve ball when you deserved her pitch right down the middle. She should have told you about the price and conditions up front. Be honest and tell her you would have taken a walk if you knew you had to pay. Maybe she’ll reimburse you for the expense or split the cost with you. If not, just know that at ballfields, as in life, there are times when you have to accept a loss and move on.

I invited a friend to join me, my father and my sister to dinner at my father’s house. My friend kept his phone on the table and checked emails and texts throughout the meal. My sister got up and left the table in disgust before the meal ended. I didn’t do or say anything but was so embarrassed and angry. What should I have done? — James, Naples

Dear James,
There should be a padded cell for cellphone abusers like your friend. Just kidding, but dinner gatherings are best served with fine food and drink and lively conversation—and the one thing a guest might bring to the table is perhaps a nice bottle of wine, not a beeping cellphone. It’s sad and shocking that people lack proper respect for others and for techno etiquette (where guests just don’t bring mobile devices to the table). As the one who invited your friend, you should have spoken up, saying something like, “The dinner table at my father’s house is a cell-free zone.” It might have embarrassed your friend, but he deserves the call-out. If such behavior persists, you should declare it a guest-free zone for him going forward.

Recently I’ve gained some weight, and I know people have noticed. I’m embarrassed, and it makes me want to stay home and hide. I know I should get out, but the times I have, my friends have commented that I should start exercising again. How do I tell them it hurts my feelings when they make these suggestions? Do they think I can’t see in the mirror? — Peggy, Fort Myers

Dear Peggy,
I can understand your situation. My pants are little tighter right now, too. I am sure your friends don’t mean to hurt your feelings but just want to help. Thank them for the suggestion and tell them maybe you can join them in a walk or an exercise class sometime. Then change the subject. Take charge of the conversation and stay upbeat about what’s going on in your life. If you’re fine with your body the way it is, good for you. If not, do whatever it takes to be the person you want to be. Either way, you’re the boss of you and not dependent on what others say about how you should live your life.

Suzanne Willis is a hospitality consultant and the founder/CEO (Chief Etiquette Officer) of Mimi’s Manners, specializing in dining etiquette for children, teens and adults. Have a question for Suzanne? Email justbehave@gulfshorelife.com.