DEAR AMY: I recently hosted a summer potluck dinner for more than 50 guests. One friend called me three times to ask if I was going to assign what dishes people should bring and how many people were coming. I told her that I was not assigning dishes, since in my experience potlucks usually work out just fine, and that I had no idea how many people were coming, since people seem incapable of sending an RSVP these days. I gently suggested she might like to bring a salad or side dish. The day of the party, she and her boyfriend arrived with 12 cookies and proceeded to fill their plates. The boyfriend had two plates! My questions are a) what is appropriate etiquette when a couple attends a potluck; should they bring two dishes? and b) how can I politely tell my friend that it is inappropriate for two working adults to bring 12 cookies to a potluck dinner?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Let’s review: Your friend asked you three times what she and her guy should bring. This might have been your signal that she was confused or anxious about it. You refused to assign them a dish, saying that these things have a way of working out.
And then, after things seem to have worked out (did anyone at your party go away hungry?), you have a serious problem with the choice they made.
A couple coming to a potluck dinner should bring one dish. Their dish should serve between five to 10 people. Twelve cookies is a meager offering for a large potluck dinner, but, then again, as you say, these things have a way of working out. Don’t correct your friend after the fact.
DEAR AMY: I have been invited to (and am planning to attend) the wedding of a relative. Only a few people have been invited, and many of the usual collection of cousins and other relatives were not invited. I have not mentioned the wedding or that I am going to the noninvited relatives. I received a call from one of the cousins. There was no mention of the event, but I surmise from the timing of the call and other circumstances that it was an attempt to see whether I had been invited. It’s not my place to explain who was or wasn’t invited. How do you suggest I handle the situation?
DEAR DOWN LOW: You should handle this exactly as you are — discreetly and politely. You have no need to broadcast news of this event to people you know have not been invited. However, if you are asked directly about it, you should be honest.
DEAR AMY: I need help. My dear wife of 56 years is wonderful, lovely, loyal, law- and rule-abiding. She is perfect in every way. When it comes to recycling, saving electricity and water, she is on it. If I should rinse my coffee cup under running water in our kitchen sink for more than a few seconds, she reminds me of the necessity to conserve water. Of course, she is right; we live in California. So, what’s the problem? Because I am chronologically challenged, (we both are), I have to get up more than once during the night to urinate. I do not flush the toilet each time. There is about a gallon of water already in the bowl, and my small addition is barely noticeable. By not flushing, I reckon I am saving more than 100 gallons of water each month and 1,200 gallons a year. I feel pragmatic and virtuous. However, my wife insists that by not flushing, I am creating an unsanitary condition in our house. Her bathroom is at the other end of our house, and I do not monitor her water usage. I must say, our dishwasher and washing machine are doing a great job of “sanitizing,” especially the dishwasher, which gets a lot of use during the week. We are compatible, agreeing on important things such as how to mount the toilet roll . . . with the flap into the room. Also, we both lower the toilet seat lid, the only people to do so in the country, it seems. My wife is not a control freak nor is she a nag. So, what gives?
A lucky husband in CA
DEAR LUCKY HUSBAND: I am running your letter in my column because I am in love with both of you — married for 56 years and only bickering about a tinkle in the toilet.
You two don’t need my help. You are doing everything right.