Dear Short Answers >> What do you do about friends who have dogs and bring them every where? I love dogs, but it just strikes me as a bit weird that some people can't be separated from their pets for a minute. They take them shopping, they take them on vacation, and if possible, they take them to work.

I'm hesitant to invite these people over for dinner because I know that the dog will come along, too. And if I tell them to leave their dog at home, it makes me feel like the bad guy and I don't think I am. How should I handle this?

— Joe

DEAR JOE >> Just tell them to leave their dog at home — no apologies, no excuses, no explanation required.

Sometimes, timing is everything

Dear Short Answers >> I recently went to a dinner party that started at 7 p.m. I assumed there would be a cocktail hour before dinner, but by 9 p.m. there was no sight of any food except for a bowl of nuts.

I told the host (nicely) that I was starving and asked if we were going to eat soon. She laughed and said we were having such fun chatting that we probably wouldn't eat for another half hour or so.

I smiled and said in that case, I am going to get a pizza. So I left and got a pizza on my way home. I know it was rude of me to do that. But was it unjustified?

— Unbelievably Hungry


DEAR HUNGRY >> Well, your reaction was a bit intense, but we feel you. If the cocktail hour is prolonged, there certainly should be more than a bowl of nuts to sustain one's guests and mitigate drunkenness.

Offense taken

Dear Short Answers >> I have a terrible aversion to nail biting. I don't know why, but it makes me shudder to watch people chew their nails and cuticles off. Unfortunately, some close friends and co-workers do this. I've, on occasion, asked them to stop, but it's not always appropriate. What's a polite way to point out to a friend that he's doing something I find offensive — without offending him?

— Grossed Out

DEAR GROSS >> Sorry about your aversion — but it really is none of your business. Your co-workers and friends are aware of their issue and pointing it out to them is offensive.

Freedom of religions

Dear Short Answers >> I have become more and more uncomfortable with organized religion as the years go by. I hate being in churches, temples, mosques — they all creep me out. Can I reasonably refuse to attend the religious ceremonies of friends and family?

— The Atheist

DEAR ATHEIST >> The religious ceremonies of friends and family are not about you — they are about them. Respect for your views demands reciprocity -- go to their events and work at NOT exuding attitude.

Dear Short Answers >> I was recently invited to a black-tie event in another city. I took the invitation seriously and schlepped my tux 2,000 miles. But when I got there, most people were in jeans and checked shirts. I am very annoyed ... whassup with this?

— Tuxxed Off

DEAR TO >> We agree. Black tie means black tie or at least dark suit/white shirt/dressy tie. Maybe next time phone ahead and ask if they are serious.

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