Miss Manners: Forget embarrassing incident co-workers probably didn’t see

September 4, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work for a rather large company and do not know nearly all of my “co-workers,” but do know some of the employees.

Recently, on the way to the building entrance, I “messed” my pants. I had been feeling fine up until then, but it just happened.

Totally embarrassed, I ran back to my car, as it was starting to show through my pants, and drove home. I called my employer and told them I was sick and would try to be in that afternoon.

I did return to work in the afternoon. What should I do if someone noticed this more-than-embarrassing moment?

GENTLE READER: Oh dear. This is the kind of no-fault incident that has one waking up in the middle of the night, feeling momentary relief that it was only a dream, and then remembering that no, it really did happen.

To polite people, you will be relieved to hear, it did not happen. Miss Manners is not acquainted with your co-workers, but if they have any decency, they will take no notice. Someone with no sense of decency who noticed would have said something, and apparently no one did.

So you see -- probably no one saw, but if anyone did, it was someone who put it out of his or her mind. That should help you get a good night’s sleep.

If anyone asks about your health, you can assume that it was because of your brief absence, and you need reply only, “Thank you, it was a just a momentary thing, and I’m fine now.” But try not to look sheepish when you say this.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: WhenI married my wife 30 years ago, our small ceremony became quite a bit larger when Uncle Bob, Uncle Bill and Aunt Mary and spouses needed to be invited because they were “family,” and once we invited Aunt Susan, the rest needed to come. The fact that we regularly saw Aunt Susan and I never even met the others made no difference.

My wife and her sister are now trying to pass on this requirement to our niece, except now it’s the children of one of the aunts. My niece has spent considerable time with two of the children but not the other two. The wedding party will have 200 people. What is acceptable here?

GENTLE READER: Are you hoping to hear that over the years, etiquette has demoted family claims to “only if the bride and bridegroom know them and really, really like them”?

Miss Manners is sorry to disappoint you. Contrary to the idea that you and many others espouse, a wedding is not just “about” the bridal couple, but involves two (and these days sometimes more) families. Relatives whom the parents deem important should be invited, and yes, this may affect the size of the wedding.

But there are other ways to deal with the size problem. Those 200 people on the list -- relatives? Close friends? Or perhaps co-workers the couple otherwise never sees socially?

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

2011, by Judith Martin

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