Dear Ms. Plume,

We have been invited to an afternoon pool party. Do we need to take a hostess gift? If so, what would be appropriate?


Dear Sidney,

A hostess gift is always a nice touch. You can rarely go wrong with a bottle of wine or sparkling lemonade. Other suggestions are attractive cocktail napkins, herbs or flowers from your garden, or even treats or a toy if they have a pet. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, it’s the thought that counts.

L. A. Plume

Dear L. A.,

Well, I’ve done it again! Did you know that you can be arrested for calling 911 too many times? I didn’t. I swear I thought I saw my ex-girlfriend brandishing a knife outside my bedroom window one moonlit night; three calls to 911 landed me in jail with my face all over the internet. What do I say to people who saw it?

Bob in Washington

Dear Bob,

First of all, be thankful you no longer live in Beaufort. This is a small town. And no, I didn’t know that, but thanks for telling us. I suggest you get blinds for the windows and use them. How to respond? Nothing may be your best choice; try just looking confused. I’m all for telling the truth, but if people know you live in a condo on the tenth floor it may compromise your credibility.

L. A. Plume

Dear L. A. Plume,

I have a friend who likes to carry her own beverages when we go to a party. The problem is that she will often drink a glass of wine or a bottle of beer when we are driving there. I am usually the designated driver because I don’t drink, but it makes me uncomfortable; what if we should get stopped by the police? I’ve asked her not to drink in the car but she just blows me off and says I won’t get in any trouble if I haven’t been drinking. How can I politely be more forceful?


Dear Candy,

The penalty in South Carolina for open containers in a vehicle is a fine and/or imprisonment. Depending upon the circumstances and discretion of the arresting officer, everyone in the vehicle can be subject to that penalty. If you think that is too high a price to pay to have her company, explain the potential problem and give her the choice of going without her “to go” drink, or getting herself another ride.

L. A. Plume