Q. I'm employed in a semi-military Civil Service vocation. I'm always in a quandary when introducing my relatives or friends to my superior at an informal function, such as a picnic, dance, etc. Normally, I say, "This is my captain, John Smith, and this is my brother, Ed Brown." Is this a proper introduction? And do they henceforth call each other "John" and "Ed," or otherwise?
A. The rules of polite society in the matter of introductions apply even in the semi-military Civil Service. On social occasions, the female gender has precedence over the male, and, when introducing two members of the same gender, the higher ranking person is the non-relative, unless the relative is very much older than the other person. Thus, your brother should have been presented to your superior -- "This is my brother, Ed Brown. Ed, this is my captain, John Smith."
Miss Manners sincerely hopes this does not lead directly to their chumming each other with Eds and Johns, but that is out of her control, as well as out of yours.
Q. My daughter is getting married soon, and we are sure she will get some gifts of cash. When writing thank-you notes, how do you gracefully say thank you for a gift of money?
A. The most gracious way is to do the gift selection that the giver should have done in the first place, and then thank that person for the object. "Robin and I had been longing for a statue for the front lawn, (cellophane tape dispenser, or whatever would approximate the buying power of the cash) and you made it possible for us to rush right out and buy it."
Admittedly, this taxes the imagination of the bride, especially if she is receiving several such presents. In that case, the person may be thanked for an "incredibly generous" (over $500), "extremely generous" ($100 to $500), "very generous" ($50 to $100), "kind" ($25 to $50) or "thoughtful" (under $25) present.