Life Advice



Cancel The Wake: My Uncle's Not Dead After All

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few days ago, my mother-in-law informed me of the death of her husband's brother. I passed along the news to more distant relatives who needed to be informed.

A day later, however, my father-in-law told us that the uncle in question was ... not actually dead. I updated the relatives, but I had trouble not making it sound like a farce, which seemed disrespectful of the uncle in question.

I am curious if there is a more polite way to tell people, "My mother-in-law is declaring people dead when they're not."

GENTLE READER: "It seems that there has been a mistake and fortunately, Uncle Lou is not, in fact, dead." Miss Manners hopes that the relief this news provides will overshadow the blame of whoever's mistake it originally was.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I enjoy inviting people for dinner, and extend invitations often. I'm happy to cook, and if people ask what they can bring, I often tell them to just bring themselves, or maybe something easy like buns from the store.

These dinners are fun; people bring their kids, who play with ours while the adults usually chat and laugh around the table.


I've been running into a problem lately, though, where I extend an invitation by text and people just don't respond. Or they do respond, but after a significant time lapse -- over a week, in a recent case.

I'm at a loss as to how to manage ignored invitations. It hurts my feelings, but it feels petulant to poke the ignorers with some version of, "Why aren't you paying attention to me???"

Am I out of touch for expecting responses? Is there something I'm not seeing or understanding here about hosting, invites and RSVPs?

GENTLE READER: Yes: that people have two rude reasons for not answering.


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