Miss Manners: It’s a full-time job to describe what you do at home

October 7, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When family, friends and acquaintances find out that I do not work outside the home, I am frequently asked what I do all day. I am a 56-year-old female who worked outside the home for many years, but now when I say I don’t work (nor do I need to; my husband supports us well), I often get, “I would be bored” or “I need to be out.”

I say I like being home, or I have more time for projects, etc., but I really would like to have the words to project that I am not boring or useless, now that I am home, without trying to tell them what my daily schedule is. I feel like I have to justify my day just because I don’t have a “job.”

GENTLE READER: How can you not be bored, having to listen to the same old deprecating cliches that these people think pass for conversation?

Unfortunately, it would be rude to point out your day was fine until they spoke up. Instead, Miss Manners would reply: “You know your list of things you know you ought to do but don’t have the time for? And that other list, of things you would like to do but are too tired for? Well, those are the things I’m doing.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My niece’s wedding dress is ivory. Do the table linens and cake need to be ivory as well, or can they be white? Or does it really matter?

GENTLE READER: It matters only if the bride falls onto the cake and attempts to cover the problem with a tablecloth. Should that happen, Miss Manners believes the color clash would lead the guests to think that not enough attention had been paid to planning the wedding.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received some beautiful red roses from my boyfriend. When he got to my house, he was appalled that I had removed the card. He said it is very inconsiderate to remove it, and that it should be left on the bouquet for all to see.

I have always read the card and then removed it. Is that inappropriate?

GENTLE READER: Not if the flowers were for you. Miss Manners gathers that they were actually meant for all to see that he had sent them.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I spent a lot of money and hours making dinner for a friend. After she got home, she phoned me and told me that dinner went right through her. I think that is bad manners.

GENTLE READER: And an even worse image. If your guest meant to alert you that something might have been wrong with the food, she should have said, “I’m a bit ill, and I don’t know what caused it” — and then waited to see if you declared a similar problem.

Otherwise, Miss Manners fails to see how you would be able to distinguish signs of food poisoning in yourself from a reaction to the way she put it.

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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