DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it rude to ask the parent of the child who had an overnight party why your son/daughter was not invited?
GENTLE READER: What response do you hope to obtain?
A weak excuse, such as, “Oh, we asked only his very closest friends.”
An honest excuse, such as, “The girls say she’s kind of a drag.”
Or just ruining whatever social life your child may hope to have?
Whether or not you would succeed in wrangling an invitation, you may be sure that the parent you call will talk it over with the child-host, who is not likely to resist letting the other guests know.
Do you really want to have to change schools and move to a different neighborhood to help your child live that down? Miss Manners believes it would be easier on you, as well as on your child, for you to treat it offhandedly, with the explanation that everyone can’t be invited to everything.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A relative consistently refers to the fact that she is a “tenured professor of journalism” to justify commenting on spelling, grammar and usage on items posted on social media.
In other posts, this person has lectured on comments made by others with regard to the tribulations of university instruction, pointing out that she knows how to do it better, not only because she is tenured, but also because her university has, according to her, a higher rank. For what it is worth, the university she is employed by is a state university in a rather impoverished area. The state has a low rank for educational achievement.
Beyond the fact that it seems inappropriate, may I say rude, to correct others in a social setting, I would appreciate your comments on the propriety of claiming expert status as a result of having obtained job security. I recognize that having been granted tenure presumes that an individual has complied with standards established at an institution, and that one achieving it may be proud of having done so. However, it seems pretentious at a minimum to constantly refer to it.
GENTLE READER: You and the university have something in common: an inability to terminate the relationship with this annoying person. So Miss Manners suggests that you try not to let her behavior bother you.
But of course “expert status,” however acquired, does not entitle anyone to go around being a nuisance. (Miss Manners is wildly insulted when people coyly say they had better watch themselves around her, as if she would ever commit such rudeness.) And compounding it by bragging about tenure only makes one feel sorry for the lady’s employer.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the acceptable social response when an immediate family member of the deceased approaches you at a funeral and says, “Thank you for coming”?
Do you leave it simple and say, “You’re welcome,” or something a little more heartfelt like, “This is where I want to be, supporting you and your family”?
GENTLE READER: But if you make that heartfelt statement, they will have to thank you all over again, and you’ll be back with that awkward “You’re welcome.”
Supporting the bereaved is only part of the reason for attending a funeral. Paying respects to the person who died is the other part, and the family is thanking you for that. Miss Manners recommends that, having offered your condolences, you then reply with a statement of how highly you thought of that person.
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