Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Ask Joan

Sir Henry Cole (1808 - 82), The Dinner Party.
(sometimes she may even be right)

Dear Joan,

Is it necessary to send thank you notes after attending a wedding? I’ve never heard of this practice but I was told that it’s always the proper thing to do.

Puzzled on Park

Dear Puzzled,

Since I assume that you have already bought a wedding present for the bride and groom, I don’t know why a thank you note for attending the wedding would also be required. The newly married couple writes their thank you notes to their guests for the waffle maker and the monogrammed salad spinner, but I don’t think a note back to them is necessary.

Dear Joan,

Does one bring a present when going to a dinner party? A friend says she always does and that it’s a way to pay back your hostess.

Wendy on the West Side

Dear Wendy,

One brings presents to celebrate a special occasion. A dinner party is a dinner party. You certainly may bring a candle or a book to your hostess: it’s a nice gesture but it is by no means mandatory. Being an interested and sometimes entertaining dinner partner, plus a grateful thank-you note, are the best presents you can give to your hostess.

(Do not bring flowers unless they’re already in a vase with water. Your host or hostess has more important things to do with their time at the beginning of a party than locating a vase, trimming stems and arranging tulips).

Dear Joan,

Last year at a play date, the three-year-old son of a friend bit my daughter on the leg. Yesterday my friend called to ask if I would write a recommendation for the boy to Buckley. I really don’t want to write a letter for him. How would you handle this?

Admissions-Addled Mama

Dear Addled,

I think that once in a while, one can fiddle with the truth and this is one of those times. Just tell your friend that you have already written several letters for other boys applying to the same class and you will lose whatever clout you have at Buckley if you write too many. And try to limit your daughter’s applications to all-girls schools.

Dear Joan,

I have an acquaintance who natters on constantly about her disdain for cosmetic surgery and her determination to age with grace. Last week I ran into her exiting the office of the doctor who did my brow lift. If she starts her spiel in my presence again, am I justified in bringing this up?

Botoxed In the Bowery

Dear Botoxed,

Since she’s brought it up with you in the past, then, of course, if she mentions chin lifts again, and in a snarky tone, you could mention having seen her at the plastic surgeon’s office. Just say, “Well, my dear, if you hate plastic surgery so much, what were you doing at my plastic surgeon’s office? “ If she says she was there for a flu shot, you could answer, “Well, it’s done wonders for your chin.”

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