Q. What is proper business card etiquette? Also, is there a way of folding the corner of the card to let the receiver of the card know how the card was left?
A. Funny you should ask. Miss Manners occasionally brags about being the last living person to know the code of card-turning, and then waits in vain for someone to say, "Well, then, what is it?"
The code was not intended for business cards, but social cards, which are hardly used now that people imagine they have better things to do with their time than to ride about in their carriages all morning, paying calls on one another. So you may as well amaze and delight your business acquaintances, as well as mystify the, by turning cards on them.
There are four statements you are able to make just by bending little bits of pasteboard. They are, with their French names: visite, meaning that you have appeared with the card in person, vous-meme; felicitation, meaning that you congratulate the recipient; conge, which announces that you are leaving town; and condolence, which is, of course, an expression of sympathy.
Turn the upper left corner of the card for visite, the upper right for felicitation, the lower right for condolence, and the lower left for conge.
If you promise to revive this custom, Miss Manners will permit you to get funny with it by, say, turning both bottom corners for "Too bad, I'm leaving you" or both right corners for "Congratulations on your loss."
It is possible to express the same sentiments in abbreviated writing; "p.p.c." means "pour predre conge," or "Bye, bye, you will see me no more."
But that is making it too easy, don't you think?
Q. Recently, our family had a wedding -- our son's. The bride was upset because my mother-in-law showed up in a white dress. Was this a gross error on her part, or is this piece of wedding etiquette made acceptable these days? The strange thing about it is -- the bride pointed out this "broken tradition," yet the tradition of the bride's parents paying for the wedding was shattered.
Even though they are much, much, better off than we are in every way, we paid a third, they paid a third and my son and his wife paid a third, because her parents supposedly don't "believe" in this tradition.
Okay, so we went along with this reluctantly although I had to work overtime on my job till I saved enough money, whereas the bride's mother doesn't even work. I guess that's why I resent her pointing this out. By the way, my mother-in-law was told by one clerk in her shopping that it did matter, and another told her it didn't.
A. For a wedding guest to wear white is not a "gross error," it is a tiny error. A gross error is for a bride to criticize her new grandmother-in-law; and the grossest error is to put down people from whom you are simultaneously demanding money.
Q. Is it true that husbands and wives are never supposed to sit next to each other at dinner parties? If so, I have violated that rule many times.
A. It is delightful for a married couple to want to sit together during dinner, but, like some other marital pleasures, this one should be enjoyed in the privacy of their home.