Ask Arden Anything

There was no edition of “Ask Arden Anything” last week while Arden enjoyed a spa vacation in Sun City West.

This week’s letter:

Dear Arden,

My partner and I have hosted dinner parties in recent weeks at which
invited guests have called at the last minute to ask whether they can
bring someone else along. I wouldn’t mind this for a house party, but
for an intimate dinner for which I have planned for days and carefully
considered the guest list, this is rude on many levels. I have
assented on all three occasions, and everything worked out fine, for
the most part. Still, it bothers me, especially when I value these
friends and wouldn’t anticipate such behavior from them. How do I
tactfully turn down further requests?

Assenting P. Tooniceity

Dear APT,

Sometimes my owner takes me to the dog park, where, as I’m sure you can guess, dogs pretty much roam free without their leashes on. It’s an important time for us to experience the luxury of freedom we think humans take for granted. While we don’t mind being led around and told what to do all the time, the dog park represents a kind of sloughing off of our major responsibilities and concerns.

I think people have dog parks, too, but the fences around yours are less succinct. Bad behavior that dogs might save for the park instead creeps into the more structured areas of your lives, where etiquette formerly reigned supreme. If dogs know anything, it’s etiquette. We have carefully observed rituals for greeting, for assessing each other’s value, and for dating. You refer to much of this as “sniffing butts,” but I’ll tell you it’s more than that: we want to understand each other.

Cleary, your problem stems from two things: a lack of respect for boundaries on the part of your guests and a lack of understanding of etiquette.

Since it sounds like different guests are committing the faux pas each time you host, your problem is wide-reaching. But what’s the harm in saying no? For example, whenever I want to eat a kitten, my owner shouts a stern “NO!” and I understand that this behavior is unacceptable—that I am stepping out of the boundaries of etiquette. Perhaps you should take this example to heart, APT, and give your guets a sternly shouted “NO!” when they call.

I wouldn’t stop there, though. You can help them understand the rationale for this rule by explaining that dinner parties involve limited resources, a hierarchy of the pack, and a series of rules that must be followed. When dogs live in the wild and kill a small animal, clearly that animal cannot feed any strange mutt who wanders up to the carcass. And dogs wouldn’t go around dragging strays over to their food dish, either. Why humans believe they can drag strays to your food dishes is beyond me. It really just spoils the meal (or the carcass if you are serving this meal in the wild).

Thanks for writing, APT, and please write again to let me know how this issue progresses.

Arden answers your questions every Friday here at Kinemapoetics. Submit your question by emailing chasjens ATyahooDOTcom with the subject line “Ask Arden Anything.”

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