The actual offense.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve known my friend “Miriam” for a lot of years. She is single. Several years ago, I introduced her to another couple, the “Smiths.” We all have a lot in common and take turns inviting each other for dinner. This group and a couple of other couples are the only people in my social circle I have seen periodically during this pandemic.

Two weeks ago, Miriam invited my husband and me and the Smiths for dinner. Three days before the dinner, Miriam sent me a text that the Smiths will be bringing another couple, and she wanted to be sure it was OK with us. I called her immediately and told her that with the spike in COVID cases, I wasn’t comfortable having a close dinner with a couple who wasn’t in my social circle. She said she was “sorry,” meaning if I didn’t like it, my husband and I could stay home.

I’m extremely hurt and angry and am losing sleep over this. I feel Miriam should have asked us before adding this other couple to our dinner. I feel like sending her a letter saying that no friend should treat another friend like this, that I guess she’s not really a friend and end the relationship. My husband is stopping me from sending such a letter. Am I overreacting? — ANGRY IN OREGON

DEAR ANGRY: Yes, you are. You have blown this out of proportion. Be glad you have a husband who advised you as he did. Miriam did the right thing by telling you the guest list for the dinner had grown so you could opt out if you wished. Because she was the host, she was not obligated to ask permission to include the extras. (c) DEAR ABBY

How is it always that the husband’s the voice of reason?

I completely agree with Dear Abby in a strict logistical sense, but I suspect that the offensive aspect of this might have been the way that Miriam handled it. Maybe it went like this:

Miriam: I invited another couple. Are you still on board? 

Letter writer: What? No, that’s too many people. I’m worried about the coronavirus. 

Miriam: Well, tough! Deal with it already. 

Or, more likely, that’s how the letter writer perceived it to occur. Having reacted similarly to the letter writer my whole life, I can spot hurt feelings a mile away. I’d guess that this isn’t about being excluded because another couple was invited; rather, it’s about feeling hurt by how it was handled.

She said she was “sorry,” meaning if I didn’t like it, my husband and I could stay home.

Yeah, that was insensitive. Miriam should’ve handled it better:

Miriam: Sorry! I guess you can’t come then. Err… [grimaces]

Letter writer: What? But… but… you invited me first. 

Miriam: Ugh, I know. Sorry, I flaked out. I just didn’t think it through very well. Forget the party. No one’s going to enjoy it anyway because Glen drank all the nog. [Loud wailing and screeching can be heard in the background.] Glen! You’re drunk. Lie down and quit singing carols. Uh, anyway, do you want to get together this weekend, just you and me? We can go Christmas shopping. 

Of course, real life rarely happens that way. (But it should!!!) So I’m starting to suspect that allowances should be made for these situations. I’d urge the letter writer to consider that Miriam was put on the spot by the letter writer’s response of no, that’s too many people. Miriam didn’t know how to react or what to do at that point, so she shut down and muttered something like, “Oh, well, too bad, so sad…” which was kind of hurtful but hopefully not intended to be. I think it was more of a desperate attempt to reply, because it’s not like Miriam was in a position to uninvite the other couple. That’s not polite.

So that’s my take on it.

2 thoughts on “The actual offense.

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