Q. Every time this situation comes up, I don't know what to do. I am 15 years old and when my mother or father receives a package in the mail, I am very curious as to what is in the box. I would never dream of opening it if it was business-related, only if I had an inclination of its contents. For example, a package from a fish store or a package to my mother from my grandparents. Should I hold back my curiosity and let the receiver open their own mail, or go ahead and open it? I usually call them and ask their permission to open it and usually get it and that is where I am at a loss.
A. You are setting yourself up for a bigger loss -- the loss of privacy. You will not always be 15. You will someday be old enough to receview interesting mail. Your parents will be very curious as to what is in it. Will you want them to hold back back their curiosity and let you open your own mail, or do you want them to go ahead and open it, or even ask your permission to open it?
The proper attitude toward other peopole's mail, especially that of one's close relatives, is to pretend ignorance of its existence and to let the recipient speak of it, show it, share it, or not, as that person chooses.
Beleive Miss Manners, that such a policy will be well worth your establishing. The package from the fish store probably only had fish in it, anyway.
Q. Could you please remind people of a few telephone coutesies? 1. What is the proper amount of rings a caller should wait before hanging up? I dislike the "three-ring phantoms." 2. Who is exempt from introducing themselves as callers? That is to say, "Hi, this is Mary Jane, your mother" is more preferable than, "Hi, whatcha doin?" 3. For a social call -- chatting over five minutes -- shouldn't the caller ask the callee whether this is a good time to talk?
A. 1. Six rings are safer. If you still suspect the person of lurking there, hang up and dial again. The gives the caller two chances to get the number right, and the callee an opportunity to get out of the bathtub.
2. Identifying yourself heads off the possibility of your being insulted by the other operson's failure to identify you. However, "Mary Jane, your mother," seems excessive; only if there could be more than one person in the role should you add your name. The identification "your true love," should always have a name to go with it.
3. Yes. 'Bye, now.
Q. How many weeks or days in advance should you mail out wedding invitations or hand deliver them? Exactly what are the bride-to-be's responsibilities on expenses of the wedding?
A. Wedding invitations should be mailed three or even four weeks before the wedding is to take place. This gives people time to worry about what they are going to wear and how much you will expect them to spend on a wedding present. Any more time is unwise, as it will enable them to speculate on whether the wedding will actually come off.
In theory, the bride has no responsibilities other than looking radiant (and showing up) and no expenses, because those not being met by the bridegroom (license, ring, flowers and clergyman's fee) are taken care of by the bride's parents, who give the wedding. In practice, she had better be prepared to help with them all if she does not want her parents to wash their hands of her before they give her away.