Miss Manners: Woman wants to rain on possible baby shower

January 8

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a way to politely drop the hint that a baby shower at work is unwanted?

I began my new job and my pregnancy at the same time (not that it was quite planned that way), and as time goes on, I find that I am less and less comfortable with my co-workers socially (in the modern patois, “I find we are a poor fit”). There are many whom I do not want to mix with socially, much less be the object (or the mother of the object) of one of those forced in-office celebrations.

Also, my family will be showering me, as well as a group of friends. Is there any way I may use the “embarrassment of riches” excuse? Or is the only correct thing to do to allow my co-workers to express their (willing or unwilling) delight at my pregnancy as a social duty I must perform?

GENTLE READER: Has anyone actually mentioned throwing you a shower, or are you just afraid of the possibility?

If someone asks you directly, you may politely demur, not by citing your popularity outside of the office, but by insisting you wouldn’t want to burden people in the workplace. If they’re planning a surprise, however, you must endure. With all of the thank-you letters you’ll have to write, surely you’ll find something socially redeemable in your co-workers.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was wondering if there were any clear-cut rules for encountering, working with or confronting a person with disabilities?

GENTLE READER: You deal only with the person. Unless you have been hired to deal with the disabilities, Miss Manners assures you that they are none of your concern.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my nephew was married, the soon-to-be mother-in-law insisted that the invitation read, “Dress to impress.” Most guests were a bit put off by this, but she was very serious.

On the wedding day, most of the guests were dressed nicely, but some were much more casual. This is when the bride’s mom went to a few of those and chastised them for being underdressed and reminded them of the invitation.

Many of the other guests, including myself, felt this was very wrong, and since then, our families have fallen at odds, with many not even talking.

If this is acceptable on a day when these guests are at her daughter’s and new son-in-law’s wedding to wish them happiness, I would be very grateful to know. And if my feelings are wrong, I would apologize to this person!

GENTLE READER: As you undoubtedly know, you are not taking much of a risk. How likely is it that Miss Manners would approve of running around scolding one’s guests, especially about something that they can no longer do anything about?

Besides, the lady accused these people falsely. Her wording did not specify whom the guests were supposed to aim to impress. Some may have wanted to impress people whose tastes differ from the conventional.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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