Glad You’re Here! Now, Leave (yawn)

The other night, when my husband got home from work at 8 p.m. (new job at a startup company), he was surprised to see the table set for seven people.
“Don’t you remember?” I asked. “I invited Ted and Amy and Rahel and Greg and Emlen over for dinner.”Before he could answer, the doorbell rang. It was the next-door neighbors — they’re so sweet! — bringing over a bottle of wine to thank us for taking in their mail while they were on vacation.

“Have you eaten?” I asked them. “You’ve got to stay for dinner.”

How I love entertaining. I’d been looking forward to this all day. Of course I had enough food — and candles and wine — and was just settling into a good conversation when I glanced at the clock. By now it was 8:15, my husband’s bedtime.

He behaved pretty well, for him, and by the time the second to last guest left at 10:30, he had also singlehandedly done the dishes without complaint. True, after Rahel and I settled in for some catching up in the backyard, I did hear the window in our bedroom slam around 11:30. But maybe the window was loose on its hinges.

The next day, however, he confronted me. “How could you do that, on a school night?”

“You don’t go to school,” I said. “You’re a grownup.”

“But I like to go to bed early,” he said, “and if you looked around the table, you would have seen that all the other men wanted to be home asleep, too.”

Was this true? This is a delicate etiquette issue. Now that he mentioned it, it’s true that many of my female friends like to sit around and socialize into the night (“late stayers,” my husband dubs them), but the men? Not so much.

Some guests are night owls, others are early birds. I suppose one solution would be to invite people over only for brunch — a meal served at an hour when everyone is mostly likely to be awake — but that sounds kind of drastic.

Is there a better compromise? How would you handle the situation?

(image via RealSimple.com)

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