Miss Manners

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Sunday, November 21, 2010; 12:00 AM

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- Would it be proper to send out announcements announcing the coronation of my daughter being crowned Campus Queen for 2010-2011?

GENTLE READER -- Don't the royal heralds do that by marching through the streets and sounding their trumpets to get the attention of the populace?

If they are not available, Miss Manners recommends your slipping a modest sentence into your conversation or correspondence with people who you have good reason to think would care.

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- I am having some neighbors over for the holiday dinner, and the occasion reminded me of a situation that happened at this gathering last year. One of the "merrier" guests broke a wine glass from my wedding crystal set and did not tell me about the mishap.

I only found out months later, when my husband 'fessed up that he knew but had kept her secret because she was embarrassed and wanted to replace the wine glass.

When a replacement was not forthcoming after a few months, he told me, but I never talked to the guest about it.

What are the rules of etiquette surrounding a little accident such as this in someone's home? Does the gracious hostess recognize that guests will break things when entertaining -- so I shouldn't STILL feel bad that she never mentioned it to me personally? Or should I hand her a plastic cup at the door?

If the guest had mentioned it to me, honestly I would have insisted that she NOT replace it. I just felt bad that she didn't feel she could tell me directly.

GENTLE READER -- Doesn't your now somewhat-diminished collection of wedding crystal belong to both you and your husband, whoever originally bought it?

You are correct that the guest should confess and offer replacement and that the host should demur, but apparently all that happened between the guest and your husband.

Miss Manners might hesitate to reinvite a guest who had merrily tossed her glass into the fireplace. But accidental breakage is a minor hazard of entertaining -- or, for that matter, of family life. If you are not willing to risk that and bear it graciously, you should be leading an entirely paper-cup life.

DEAR MISS MANNERS -- My girlfriend and I have been having a friendly dispute over whether elbows on the table while eating is considered socially acceptable. I claim they are, but she says they aren't.

We agreed to make you the final arbiter on the matter, so any opinion of whether elbows on the table are appropriate under any dining circumstances would be most appreciated.

GENTLE READER -- It is a rare pleasure for Miss Manners to be able to settle a friendly dispute by gratifying both contenders. Usually, someone loses, but here she can toss you a bone, as it were.

The lady is correct that elbows on the table during dinner is forbidden. As we used to say, "All joints on the table will be carved." However, if you loll about the table after dinner, leaning forward on your elbows to enjoy conversation is not a crime.

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

Copyright 2010 by Judith Martin; Distributed by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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