Toast: A Lesson Learned

There is a fine line between polite and rude. Scratch that -- sometimes we get them downright backward.

Back in college, I traveled to Scotland on spring break with three buddies of mine. We were fortunate to be able to stay many of our nights with friends of my sister (girlfriday). All these folks were inexplicably hospitable to four strangers -- a testament to my sister, no doubt. At any rate we felt right at home wherever we were and enjoyed their company immensely.

One morning in Pencaitland, Mark (our host at that home) made us all coffee and a hearty breakfast. When we'd been eating for awhile, he asked if we'd like more toast. "No thank you, this is plenty." A few minutes later my friend and I passed through the kitchen on our way to the bathroom and noticed a stack of freshly buttered toast lying in a waste basket.

Oh dear.

I never forgot that. It is how I learned the hard way that politely refusing something is not always polite at all. Often the most gracious thing you can do is accept more.

This past weekend, months of planning a high school reunion with three other girls came to fruition. I haven't processed it well enough yet to discuss much. But hosting a large event does give you a unique perspective into social morays. For instance, it is impolite to register and pay for an event but then not show up. "But I've paid and don't want my money back," you say. No matter. While we like having your money in the bank, it's no substitute for adding your warm body to our numbers.

The night of our first event we had trays and trays of cookies, brownies and cupcakes leftover. Luckily we were able to finish them off at the next day's event. Then the next evening after about two and half hours at the semiformal dinner, nearly two-thirds of the crowd left to hit the club scene downtown. Again, it's really no skin off our nose financially that they left -- food has been bought and eaten. But we had planned music, dancing, etc. for an entire evening.

So, the next time you're thinking of canceling your plans somewhere because you're sure there are enough other people attending or you're thinking of leaving prematurely because you've made an appearance, remember your hard-working hosts. Please don't make us throw away the toast.