DEAR MISS MANNERS: Can you tell me what cocktail attire means? Can you wear a fancy pantsuit? Can a man wear a sport jacket and slacks?
GENTLE READER: Nobody can tell you what cocktail attire means. Miss Manners would be surprised if you could even find anybody who had ever attended the sort of event for which this was named.
The two-hour, ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are in our mid-30s. My husband has a twin sister who is married with two children. We haven't seen them in some time due to the pandemic, but they called and asked us to come help them redo their bathroom this weekend. They said they were no longer worried about the pandemic, as we live in a very remote area ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: There seems to be an etiquette ritual of politely protesting when someone offers to do something nice for you. For example:
Person 1: Lunch today is my treat.
Person 2: Oh, that's not necessary. You don't need to do that.
Person 1: But I insist.
Is this necessary? Or is it proper to just graciously accept and thank the ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My loving daughter and her husband have been having dinner every night with us since my wife and I have both been too ill to cook. They bring their meal to our house and share with us. They have been extremely generous and helpful during our recovery time.
My son-in-law has started an irritating habit of holding up fingers as...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: During the pandemic, with restaurants limiting the number of patrons at one table, my friend would often send dinner invites to eight friends, stating that only six could be seated, so the first five people to answer yes could go.
I always declined, as my going would have left someone else out. Is it acceptable behavior to ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am based in the Washington, D.C., area and must correspond with colleagues all over the world, particularly in Europe. When I log in for the day, I see correspondence from them already because of the time difference.
When I respond, should I greet them by writing Good morning, even though it is well into their afternoon? Or...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter married into a very nice family. They are a fairly small group, as are we, so we have celebrated holidays together since our children married, usually alternating hosting.
We did this on Thanksgiving and I hosted. I prepared the same meal I would've prepared regardless -- and yes, it represents a great deal of ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I spent two days cooking a flawless Thanksgiving dinner for immediate family (due to COVID restrictions). It was just us, my partner's daughter and her family (husband, toddler and mother-in-law). That's it.
The guests were assigned to either bring a pie and/or some wine. That was their only contribution. After the meal was ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been friends with someone for many years. For the most part, he is a lovely and thoughtful person and has given us gifts over the years, some of which we have used and others not so much.
When I was cleaning out a closet, I came upon something that had not been used for a while and asked him if he would like the item ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it proper to wear dress pants instead of a dress or skirt to the party celebrating my husband and me on our 50th anniversary?
GENTLE READER: As you are the host (or presumably in close contact with the person who is), you may set the style.
Please promise Miss Manners, however, that you will not confuse your guests by ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How in the world did the current conversational filler word become perfect!? And how do we discourage this annoying grading of everything?
Nowadays, it seems, one cannot have any conversation regarding a transaction without one's response being graded as perfect! by the questioner. It often even becomes catlike with a ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: It appears that I am old-fashioned. I do not have a cellphone. I do not have caller identification. I do not have an answering machine. When I receive a phone call, I have no technological assistance in identifying the caller.
My parents instructed me to always begin a phone call by identifying myself, such as: This is ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was responsible for a dinner party being cut short amidst general consternation. Let me explain:
I was seated next to a gentleman, previously unknown to me, who grabbed my leg under the table during the entree course. Having been much affected by the #MeToo movement and reports of the behavior of certain public officials, I...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm invited to Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws of my daughter. Is it rude to take my own to-go container to bring home leftovers?
GENTLE READER: And a burlap bag in which to take home the silverware when they are finished using it?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am hoping you could settle a minor matter regarding the proper way...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: College dorms can be difficult terrain to handle, and I have had a hard time dealing with a very passive roommate.
I live in a suite, so there's a living room and a bedroom. My roommate plays guitar openly in the living space all the time, but gets annoyed when I sing or hum at all, which feels unfair.
My real problem is I ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I own a battery hybrid car. As these types of cars become more popular, there has been an increase in the number of publicly available charging stations. These stations are typically found at places of business like malls and commercial parking garages, and often (but not always) line up with a designated parking spot.
I have...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband of 31 years died after a short illness. I'd always thought we had a good relationship with his daughter. She's in her 50s and has a very successful career as an elder care social worker.
Over the years, we shared birthdays, holidays and other family events, even though we live in another state. We conscientiously ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am all for children in casual restaurants. But there is one thing I cannot abide in a restaurant, and that is to hear kiddie animated movies, shows and video games with the audio on.
Now I will grant that the parents do keep the volume as low as possible, but apparently they think that makes it OK to run this stuff.
What ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the protocol on fourth weddings?
A friend who is going to have her fourth wedding wants all the hoopla (white gown, tiara, bridesmaids, showers). I feel the wedding should be more reserved: nice dress, flowers and an informal reception.
I don't want her to be the talk of the town in a sarcastic way. I want her to ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was teaching a graduate course in 1978 and addressed the class with, Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, a female student immediately stood and announced the following:
We females are all 'women'; however, not all of us are 'ladies.'
I stood corrected, and told her that I understood; from then until now, so many ...Read more