Friday, February 26, 2010

JUST ASK JOAN - The thorny world of seating

(sometimes she may even be right)

This week, there were questions about the thorny world of seating guests at dinner parties.

Dear Joan,

I gave a birthday dinner for my husband last month and spent hours finalizing the seating plan. On the day of the dinner, I got several phone calls from guests, pleading, “Oh please, don't sit me next to Tom,” and “Make sure you don't put Susie next to Harry. They hate each other.” Wanting to make everyone happy, I redid the seating plan, put place cards on the tables and then some of my guests changed the place cards around anyway. What would you do?

Mad in Mayfair

Dear Mad In Mayfair,

It’s your party and as Leslie Gore sang, you can cry if you want to, but you don’t have to redo the seating. Where people sit is your decision. If they don’t like it, they’ll just have to learn to put up with it for a few hours. And I would scratch them from any future party lists.

Dear Joan,

I was recently invited to a dinner party. When I arrived, I checked to see where my place card was and was very pleased with my dinner partners. However, when we were actually seated, my place card had been moved to a less desirable location. I later learned that the card was changed by the wife of one of the gentlemen I was originally seated next to. Should I have moved the card back or said anything to my hostess?

Uneasy on the East Side

Dear Uneasy,

Guests moving place cards at a dinner party is almost as serious an offense as money laundering. I think you should have notified your hostess and she should have moved the cards back to their original location. The hostess or host makes the decision where their guests are to sit, not the guests themselves. I would hope that your hostess crossed these people off her list forever. I would also imagine that the woman who shifted the place cards has never given a seated dinner party on her own. And if she does in the future and invites you, I would encourage you to go to a movie instead.

Dear Joan,

My husband is on his Blackberry constantly and I can understand his dependence, especially in terms of his business. But shouldn't he stop the incessant use when we're at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and dinner parties? (Actually, he's come a long way, technologically speaking, since the day he first bought one and referred to it as his Burberry).

Fed-Up on Forty-eighth Street

Dear Fed-Up,

Since weddings, dinners and Bar Mitzvahs very rarely take place during business hours or the work week, and unless your husband is involved in a real estate deal in China and he's missing out on a business lunch in Shanghai, he should tuck his Blackberry into the pocket of his Burberry, enjoy the occasion and talk to the other guests. He can always step outside and check his messages. (At the risk, of course, of missing out on Uncle Joe's drunken toast that people will be talking about for weeks to come.)

Dear Joan,
At what age should I stop wearing mini skirts and bikinis? 
Age Undisclosed

Dear Undisclosed,

In terms of miniskirts, if you remember buying them when they first became popular, you're too old to be wearing them now. When you go out in public, you want people to talk about the attractiveness of your skirt, not its length.

As for bikinis, if you have any doubts about donning them at your age, toss them out. Unless you're French or Italian, in which case you can wear them to the beach, surrounded by your grandchildren, and no one will question your fashion sense. And if anyone can figure out why Mediterranean women still manage to look chic at any age, let me know. I'll be the one in the caftan.

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