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Miss Manners: My friend sold me a broken sewing machine

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: While sewing thousands of face masks to donate to family, friends and society in general, I decided it made sense to have two sewing machines. A woman in my social circle had a sewing machine sitting unused, so I asked if I could buy it from her.

She was excited to be rid of the machine, and said she needed the $350 to purchase swim clothes. I knew I would have to give the machine a proper cleaning, but I ended up having to take it to a mechanic — another $300 investment on my part. He said it was lucky I didn't try to use the machine, as the threads wound up inside would have caused serious damage.

Although my friend may not have understood why the machine wasn’t working properly, she KNEW it was having problems. Yet she said nothing to me before taking my money.

I have not confronted her. She has a habit of playing the innocent victim, acting like she doesn't understand why someone is upset with her. Instead, I have simply backed off, and excluded her from my friendship. I have not discussed the situation with anyone else.

She's been telling anyone who will listen how awful I've treated her and how she's been left without a sewing machine, as though she made a great sacrifice on my behalf. This is beginning to cause problems with the other gals, who are questioning my treatment of her.

Is there a point at which I should speak up, or should I continue to remain silent?

Your friend may not have sold you a working machine, but she gave you an ironclad response to anyone who repeats her calumnies: “Really? I’m surprised. When she sold me the machine, she told me she was happy to get rid of it as she was not using it. I don’t think she realized that it needed serious repairs.”

Dear Miss Manners: We received a dinner invitation from my brother-in-law because family from another state were visiting. We accepted, and a few days before the planned event, my brother-in-law said he planned on making lamb.

When he realized that I don't eat lamb, he said, “I can throw a piece of chicken on the grill, or would you rather bring your own food?”

Caught off guard, I just said, “Chicken is okay.” In hindsight, I am thinking this was rather tacky, especially because I regularly host dinners at our home without asking anyone to bring anything. How should I have responded — or am I overanalyzing this?

Although Miss Manners recognizes that the accepted opposite of overanalyzing is “moving on” (whatever that means), she cannot help but feel that a bit more analysis is needed.

Your brother-in-law invited you to dinner, gave you a preview of the menu — so that you had a chance to voice concerns — and then, when you did, offered an alternative. You are calling him tacky for this? The response you are looking for is “Thank you,” perhaps with an added apology for being a bother.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin