GENTLE READER: Getting married to have sex? Must be. But on to the etiquette angle.
It is true that proper showers are given before the wedding. These are also supposed to be informal and lighthearted events, given by friends, not relatives, with amusingly trivial presents intended to help outfit a first household, not an auxiliary set of wedding presents.
However, Miss Manners would advise your politely declining and not giving it another thought. She hasn’t heard anyone weigh a bride’s qualifications for wedding trappings since the days when nasty-minded people speculated about whether this one or that one was “entitled” to wear a white wedding dress.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do you know the protocol for presenting bouquets of flowers to soloists when singing with a performing choir? Usually they seem to be given only to the women. Sometimes our group has chosen to present gentlemen with a bottle of wine. Is this proper?
GENTLE READER: Only if you want the audience to think a quick delivery of alcohol was promised as a reward for staying sober during the performance.
Traditionally, gentlemen are not presented with bouquets on stage, but may be pelted with flowers by hysterical admirers. If you want to update the tradition by treating the basses and tenors the same as the mezzos and sopranos, Miss Manners suggests checking with everyone first to avoid flabbergasted looks in front of an audience.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For the past few years, the pastor of my church has unknowingly played a huge part in my spiritual growth. He gives the most amazing sermons I have ever heard, and I have been a churchgoer all my life and have heard hundreds of sermons.
I have been able to take away and keep in my mind and heart at least something from almost every sermon he has given. He is also the most “real” and down-to-earth person. He is willing to (appropriately) share in sermons things from his own life. In doing this, he puts himself among the congregation and not above them.
Would it be appropriate to send him a note card expressing my thanks? He is my age. I like his wife and respect her, as she shares some of the same qualities that he possesses. I am not married, but I seriously doubt either one of them would be uncomfortable if I sent a note.
GENTLE READER: Then why do you have any doubt about the propriety of sending the deep appreciation that you expressed here to the person who would be most gratified by it?
If Miss Manners were not so high-minded, your doubt alone would make her suspect sweeter feelings than gratitude. Pastors, like professors, often inspire that sort of thing, which is harmless as long as it is left unexpressed. If you are worried about your wording, you might include the wife in your praises, as you say she has the same admirable qualities.
Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.
2011, by Judith Martin
Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS