Amy: Dinners on deck are free-for-all

Dear Amy: We have dinners on our deck and serve the meal buffet-style. Guests are served first, and I finish up by covering the dishes with plastic wrap after I have my plate filled. I am frustrated because guests don’t wait for me to join them, but are halfway done with their meal before I even sit down! When I am a guest I wait until the host is seated before I begin eating. Should I ask my husband to wait? He goes with the group.

Amy says: Some hosts hate to see people wait to eat because they fear the food will get cold.

Here’s what I think you should do: Bring all the food to the buffet table already covered before the meal (the last person through can simply replace the wrap or lid). Gather all of your guests together on the deck and join them there before serving.

Even if people are already eating by the time you join the table, you or your husband should “officially” start the meal on the deck with a toast or greeting, thanking everyone for coming. This will inspire people to stop stuffing their faces in order to take a polite pause.

Of course your husband should wait for you to be seated before he starts eating (he should also serve himself last occasionally). Eating alongside you is the least he can do to recognize the hard work you’ve put into the meal.

Friending and unfriending

Dear Amy: What do you think about unfriending on Facebook? I’m in my 60s and have noticed the younger generation has a different set of Facebook rules. One young woman I’ve known for several years has been to my home; I helped her move; we’ve exchanged little gifts, and I followed her on Facebook. One day, an hour after posting on her wall, she unfriended me. She told others that she was thinning down her “friends” list.

So far I’ve greeted her when in a group, but I didn’t know what to say beyond that. I sent an e-mail asking her to coffee but got no response, so I’m guessing she really doesn’t want my friendship.

I can see hiding or blocking someone’s posts or, as I do, simply not reading them. Unfriending a person seems rather hostile. What do you think?

Amy says: Younger people tend to have smaller lists of friends, and are much more tightly controlling this contact. Yes, just as “friending” seems friendly, “unfriending” seems hostile. In the case of your younger friend, because she is being so unresponsive to you, you should assume that she wants to have only a nodding relationship.

Ultimately, you have to choose how to interpret online behavior, as people exercise a whole new way to demonstrate how very complicated human relationships really are.

Contact Amy Dickinson via e-mail at askamy@

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