Q. On several recent occasions, I have received invitations to social functions from a person who formerly rejected my overtures to courtship. The rejection was accomplished in a glacial conversational manner, with no attempt to assuage any bruised feelings I might have had, and with some dishonesty, I believe, as this person had subtly solicited my attention for some time. I will not attempt to describe to Miss Manners my humiliation and anger over being so treated, but I am sure Miss Manners will understand anyway.
The problem? No one in my circle is aware of the situation between this person and myself. I have refused two invitations issued by this person on the grounds that an embittered guest defeats the purpose of a sociable occasion, but I worry about refusing too many invitations, as I don't wish for other people to notice or speculate on the reasons for my not attending.
Can Miss Manners suggest a compromise that will allow me to accept an invitation with the expectation of feeling comfortable socially, yet allow me at the same time to preserve a social distance between this person and myself? I am perhaps asking the impossible, but I find this situation depressing and hope for a solution.
A. No -- You have a solution. That consisted of reversing the depressing arrangement by which you did the asking and the other person did the refusing, so that you are now doing the refusing. What you want is to continue this to another level, while not forfeiting your advantage.
Miss Manners admits that this is difficult. Accepting a person's hospitality while maintaining social distance is not possible.
However (you had faith, didn't you, that Miss Manners would find a however?) it is possible to close the social gap while maintaining an imbalance in the more intimate grounds that you had hoped to establish when you were rebuffed.
Why don't you go to this person's house and, in keeping with the duties of a guest, have a marvelous time flirting with another one of the guests, taking care to express your appreciation afterwards for the thoughtfulness of the person who brought you together. Or, if you don't want to take such social pot luck, you could reply to the next invitation with the information that you and so-and-so are going about socially as a couple these days, perhaps eliciting a double invitation. Then stage your flirtation with the person of your own (second) choice.
Miss Manners, who does not usually approve of asking to bring dates to other people's houses, is trusting you to keep this display within the bounds of good taste. Is that a deal?
Q. A very dear relative of mine has all her plans made for a big church wedding in September. The invitations are back from the printer, and since her mother is dead, her father's name is of course on the invitations. Now the tragic part. Her father died very suddenly last weekend, and the poor girl doesn't know what she is going to do.
Knowing her father as well as I did, I know he would want all the plans to go ahead as though nothing were changed. If the girl decided to go ahead with the big wedding, what should we do about the invitations? What is the proper thing to do?
A. Knowing the bride's father not at all, Miss Manners is certain that he would not want the bereaved to go merrily on their festive courses, taking no notice of the fact of his death except for the unfortunate detail of having to send out or throw out formal invitations issued by someone now in his grave. Miss Manners also assures you that many, if not all, of the guests will take the same view, which will put a decided damper on all this blithe gaiety.
The thing to throw out is the wedding plans. The daughter may still marry in September if she does it quietly, but if she still wants a big wedding, she must wait a decent interval. The out-of-date wedding invitations may be used as scratch paper for the new plans.