Dear Blake,

My wife and I have been invited to a surprise engagement party honoring a distant relative I’ll call “Elizabeth.” The invitation states, “Shhhh … This is a surprise! Elizabeth doesn’t know about the impending proposal.”

Is this something new? What if she says no? Does everyone go home or stay and endure an uncomfortable meal? Should we take a gift?

Signed, Don
From Melrose Park, Illinois

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Dear Don,

This is the first time I have heard of something like this. But to be on the safe side, I think you should be prepared for the real possibility of that lady turning down your secretive loser relative. Here are some options you should consider. Bring some tissue for him, just in case she says “no”, and he starts squealing like a stuck pig. Or, if she says “no”, you can try to make the atmosphere more lively, but telling your relative that years down the road, he’ll be able to laugh at being made a fool of in front of so many witnesses. Or, how about this idea. If she rejects him after she finished her meal, tell him to tell her that she’s been poisoned, and unless she accepts his proposal, he won’t give her the cure and she’ll be dead within ten minutes. But you should also be looking out for yourself and your wife. So my final suggestion is, eat and try to be full just in case she’s “no”, and bring some Tupperware so you can take with you some food and have leftovers the following day. Yum! Yum! I hope this helps.