Miss Manners: Considerate guests clean up their messes

June 26, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a considerate guest assists their host by going after flies with a rolled-up magazine, is the guest also responsible for removing the smashed fly goo from the walls and furniture?

GENTLE READER: Yes. Under the circumstances, one cannot expect the flies to clean up after themselves.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A lifelong friend recently got married (for the third time). The couple requested no gifts, but some of her closest friends (including me) left a few things on the table at the community center where the wedding took place.

It was a very informal affair, a ’50s-style wedding with ’50s music and dancing. I framed an old 78 rpm record of Elvis Presley that I had held onto for 50 years and gave it as a wedding present.

No thank-you or even acknowledgment or comment about whether she hated or liked it has been forthcoming. To me this is most hurtful, and I can’t seem to let it go. It makes me feel like I’m inconsequential in her life. I’m torn between commenting on it or not.

Isn’t it better manners to just let it go, or should I say something? I mean, this hurts.

GENTLE READER: How about drying your tears, pulling yourself together, and asking your friend if she received that present?

Although this is the approved way of shaming delinquent brides, it might also be a way of finding out if you caused your own hurt. Miss Manners has no sympathy whatsoever for thankless brides, bu there are times when the giver is at fault.

As she keeps trying to teach wedding guests, presents should be sent to the home, never brought to the wedding. Couples who are in the act of being married have no opportunity to deal with them there and then. Boxes left lying around in a public place get lost or even stolen, and often the cards fall off.

So please ask about it in a non-accusatory way. You should then either elicit an apology or realize that you owe one.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since hard financial times hit the tourism trade, I found myself unemployed (for quite a long time now). A friend of mine has voluntarily helped me out with gift cards and packages of food. I am grateful and have repeatedly said so.

However, every time we have a disagreement about anything of any type, she goes on and on about how much I owe her and such. How often is appropriate for someone to bring up her help? It really does get annoying, and I have even told her so.

GENTLE READER: Philanthropy does seem to bring out the worst in some people. Miss Manners finds it strange that such a kindly impulse as helping someone in need can be accompanied by efforts to make the beneficiary feel bad.

But so it is with your benefactor. Your only escape is to refuse her presents. The next time she offers, thank her, but add: “I can’t possibly accept. As you know, I am far too deeply in debt to you already.”

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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