Should I pay to replace a rude guest's shawl?
September 27, 2010 8:40 AM Subscribe
Does etiquette require me to replace the shawl of a dinner party guest that she ruined while out walking our property?
We hosted a dinner party this weekend, and invited one of the new associates at my husband's firm, and his fiancée. She was a rather high maintenance guest who didn't really hit it off with anyone. While we were having cocktails, she asked her fiancée to take her out to look around the property, we suggested that they take the path down to the pond. I offered her a coat and hat, as it was getting brisk out. She declined.
They were gone for about 40 minutes, instead of taking our cut paths, they wandered around the woods, which is fine with us. When she returned, she noticed that her cashmere shawl had burrs in it, and asked how best to get them out. I told her it would just take some time, and to make sure not to make it worse by crumpling the fabric.
As the dinner went on, she was rather demanding. She didn't like the wine we had picked, so my husband brought up another bottle that she requested. We opened the bottle, and then she changed her mind and didn't drink any. She asked if we had any white pepper for her soup, and sighed when we said we didn't. She commented twice that she thought our choice of music was inappropriate. And she suggested that in the future, we would be able to enjoy our own party more if we had it catered with 'appropriate menu choices'. Its not like I was serving hot dogs and cheeotes, it was lobster bisque and coq au vin!
The other partners from my husband's firm were pretty horrified. They tried to change the subject, and smooth over the awkward, but she didn't make it easy for anyone. To top it all off she had an extended monologue about how lucky they were to have hired her man. Her fiancee seemed to ignore her behavior, and didn't say much at all. He has been with the firm for just three weeks. He will work on some things for my husband, but isn't his direct subordinate.
This morning, I got the following email:
"I wanted to let you know that I am not going to be able to get the burrs out of my cloak. I purchased it a few years ago and the store is no longer in business. To find a suitable replacement, you'll probably have to look at some specialty shops. My only requests are that the replacement be 100% cashmere, a winter white and that it have good body to the fabric. Some of the cheaper cloaks are thin and don't look very good. If you would prefer to just give cash, that is okay too, I would just rather not have a gift card so that I can purchase it wherever I am able to find the right piece. We can discuss an appropriate amount. Thanks, XXX"
I was raised by an old school and very proper mother, but I really don't know how to respond. Am I on the hook for replacing her clothing? If not, how do I respond without making things awkward for my husband?