Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How to accept wine refills at parties without getting drunk

Plus: Avoiding kisses from visitors, and resolving a family double-booking

2 August 2014

9:00 AM

2 August 2014

9:00 AM

Q. At a drinks or a dinner party, when very attentive waiters are hovering, I tend to let them keep topping my glass up since the alternative — continuing to say ‘no thank you’ — is so disruptive of conversation. However, my wife tells me that other men clearly manage to find a way of keeping track of how much they have had since other men don’t seem to get as legless as I do. What do you suggest, Mary?
— R.B., Exeter

A. Have 20 coins in your right-hand pocket. Each time the waiter fills you up, mark his input by discreetly transferring one coin into your left hand pocket. Assuming that a waiter refills no more than a third of a glass at a time, by the time you can feel ten coins in your left-hand pocket, you’ll be ready to switch to water. If your wine glass is already filled to the brim, the waiter won’t bother you on his next round.

Then measure your intake of water by the same method, i.e. each time you finish a glass send a discreet coin back to the right-hand pocket. By the time you have only five coins left in your left-hand pocket, you can start accepting the wine again. By then you won’t be quite so thirsty.

Q. On my last day on holiday in France, I was lying by the pool next to my host who suddenly suggested we play tennis just at the same moment as his son texted me from the house to suggest he and I go on a walk together. I desperately wanted to go on the walk, but because the father looked irritated that I’d been distracted by a text, and also because he was my host, I was too shy to say anything and ended up playing tennis and missing my opportunity. What should I have done?
— Name and address withheld

A. You should have cried: ‘What an amazing coincidence. Look at the text your son’s just sent at the same moment you were suggesting tennis. What should I do?’ Having placed the ball, so to speak, in the father’s court, he would have made the decision for you and would certainly have found himself insisting that you go with the son.

Q. I’ve joined a fund-raising committee and we are going to have the meetings in my house since I have the most space. I don’t want all these (very nice) people to feel they have to kiss me on arrival and departure. Any suggestions?
— Name and address withheld

A. A large ottoman in a hall is invaluable. Make sure it is always standing between you and the person who might otherwise try to kiss you but will instead have to receive your friendly extended hand since your cheek is out of reach.

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