Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Are Cordially Un-invited

Dear Grace,
I have a group of friends who lunch out occasionally. It is a pretty informal thing and we often invite others to join us. Recently, I organized a birthday lunch for one of the women in the group. It was a more intimate group than the wider "come one, come all" lunch set and designed to be a small gathering of her dearest friends at a very pricey restaurant. Unfortunately, one of the dear friends did not get the whole story and invited another woman to join us. She is not a friend of the birthday girl (who, in fact, dislikes the invitee) and it really messed up my arrangements. How do I deal with this?

Grace Says:

This goes back to my thesis that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. You are in a tough spot. As I see it, you have three options, none terribly tempting:

1. Explain to the unintentionally invited guest that there was a mixup. Say: "Julie, I am so sorry that Anna got her wires crossed. I had organized a small birthday lunch for Louise but Anna thought it was our Ladies Lunch group. When she invited you, she didn't realize that I had arranged a lunch for four, made a reservation accordingly, and set this up as a birthday gift for us to treat Louise for lunch at Chez Cher. When we organize our next Ladies Lunch, you are first on the list." Hopefully, Julie will be reasonable and back out Graciously. The not very subtle hint that she will be expected to pay for Louise's lunch should deter her. And even most Grunts will back out if it is made clear that they are not really welcome.

2. Make Anna do the dirty work. She's the one who made the mess, so she should clean it up. But there is a risk: Anna has already made one significant boo-boo. You might think twice before putting this in her suspect hands.

3. Cancel the lunch and reschedule it for another time and place.

Either way, Vodka Stingers go a long way to a point. But that's a topic for another day.

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