Dear Miss Manners • What is the most appropriate way to grovel? I once stood up a former co-worker for lunch by complete accident — the first, and hopefully only, time I have ever done so. I called and left a mortified message, and sent a similarly remorseful email. I promised if he would give me another chance, lunch would be my treat, but frankly, this seems insufficient. Should I send him an “apology bouquet”? A bottle of wine?I just feel terrible!
Gentle Reader • Groveling in such a case is entirely appropriate, but you have mastered that. The question is, when to stop groveling?
Miss Manners feels that three apologies are sufficient for your infraction. The first should be verbal — preferably in-person — for which we will count your call and voicemail. The second is a handwritten letter, for which your email can be a partial substitute. Rather than seek out an opportunity to make the third apology, await actual contact. After that, you will have done your duty, and can revert to a neutral (not aggrieved) tone in further dealings.
Dear Miss Manners • We recently attended the wedding of the daughter of a friend of ours. They had an open bar while the wedding party took pictures after the ceremony, and a buffet dinner following. We were seated in a crowded balcony area, and could not see the majority of the people who were seated on the main floor.
My husband and I knew very few people other than the parents of the bride and the bride herself. We spoke a couple of times to them. After three hours, we discreetly left.
Later, the mother of the bride texted me to say she missed saying goodbye to me. She mentioned that she had not seen me on the dance floor. I responded that I did not have my dancing shoes on, but I think she knew we left shortly after dinner.
As they spent a lot of money on the reception, including a party afterward, should we have declined the invitation, knowing that we are wallflowers and would not stay all night? Or was attending the wedding and the dinner for three hours enough?
Gentle Reader • Three hours is a decent showing, for which you cannot be justly criticized. But you apparently neglected to say goodbye to your hosts when you left. This was a breach of etiquette that carried its own punishment: It left you open to your hostess’ subsequent (and tactless) criticism.
Had you sought out your hostess and thanked her before leaving, Miss Manner assures you it would have been harder for her to object to your departure. And even if she had, it would have been easy to deflect: “Oh, thank you so much. We loved the ceremony. The dinner was really wonderful. We’re so happy for your daughter and Everett. But it’s our bedtime now.”