For the uninvited squirrel. Lithe as an acrobat, quiet as a leaf, round-bellied as a stone Buddha, he arrives in a distraction and is gone as quickly as starlight. No one announced him, but there he is at the buffet, bullying your guests and scarfing up the canapés. The hodgepodge hungry wait their turn while he gorges on prosciutto and melon. Turning to the meatballs he catches your eye and freezes. But what are you going to do? He’s so damn cute. Call the waiter: he’ll bring more.
I want not to argue that hosts are obligated to accommodate every dietary preference as if it had been handed down by Moses or Krishna but to ask, instead, what are the mutual obligations of a host and guest, even—or especially—when a matter of principle is at stake.