Q: As a young, attractive, single woman fresh out of boarding school and well on my way in my chosen career, I have recently stumbled onto a situation requiring more social skills and a cooler head than even I possess.
Several months back, while perusing a highly respected national publication, I happened upon an article featuring several eligible and successful young high-society-type bachelors. One of the scintillating personality profiles in particular piqued my interest. After a perfunctory bout of propriety, I threw caution to the wind and placed a long-distance call to this too-good-to-be true bachelor (he lives 100 miles away in a major metropolitan area).
To make a long story short, my potential suitor seemed flattered by my attention and eventually asked me to meet him in person at a halfway-point between our homes: a truckstop!
Well, needless to say, I had my doubts, but primped all day long, in glorious anticipation of better things to come. I showed up dressed to kill, dripping in family jewels, only to have an unshaven gentleman in sagging trousers come roaring in on a mud-splattered Kawasaki. My heart sank.
Rapidly losing faith in my newly liberated ways, I nonetheless proceeded to accompany him to his sprawling estate. Once there, he did have the presence of mind to offer me a drink, although there was not so much as a mention of hors d'oeuvres, to say nothing of the elegant dinner he had promised. After several hours of strained conversation, no food and too much wine, I bid him adieu, certainly leaving no emotional involvement behind. However, he claimed to have fallen in love with me during the course of this appalling evening.
The next week, like a bolt from the blue, I was forced to face the realization that I had, against all reason, actually fallen hopelessly in love with this unconventional fellow, and could gladly learn to overlook his all-too-obvious shortcomings.
My problem now is that in the ensuing weeks, he has all but ignored me, to my great consternation. He did call once, in order to attempt to arrange a spur-of-the-moment rendezvous under highly questionable circumstances, but being a lady of impeccable breeding, I graciously declined, perplexed and offended that he had so little regard for me and for established rules of etiquette and common decency.
Still, I remain inexplicably hung up on this eccentric young gentleman--after all, he is wealthy, handsome and highly intelligent (ask him: he'll tell you). Trying painfully to regain his interest, I have penned several heartfelt letters and placed numerous phone calls to him, all to no avail.
What, Miss Manners, should I do to get this pathetic relationship back on track, or to purge him from my mind, if necessary? Am I the victim of unrequited love, or just an over-active imagination? In this era of anything goes, did I go too far by instigating this mess? I want to resolve the crippling self-humiliation I feel, before I look even more like a chump in the eyes of my friends. I am confident your sage wisdom can save me; you need mince no words in denouncing either his or my lack of social savvy.
A: What you have here is not an unconventional and eccentric gentleman with no regard for established rules of etiquette or common decency, but a conventional gentleman who understands the conventional rule that a lady who has lost her bout with propriety need not be offered hors d'oeuvres with her drinks.
However, common decency does require that Miss Manners refrain from saying "Nyah-nyah" to people who suffer the consequences of abandoning propriety, and respectfully answer the questions that she is asked. Bummer.
What you have done is to initiate a pick-up situation and then demand that it be conducted according to the rules of courtship. Impossible; but it will also be impossible for you to get over your humiliation if things end as they are.
Therefore, your only hope is to change the situation--drastically. Apply your ingenuity to getting yourself into a proper social situation with this man (research should turn up a connection with someone in his college class or his mother's garden club) and then cut him dead.
Yes--you heard Miss Manners. This will show that you, too, understand the difference between the drawing room and the truckstop--that you, in other words, can be as ruthlessly conventional as he. It will, Miss Manners promises you, re-awaken his interest.
Whew. Now can we please have a question about the proper use of the oyster fork?