Q: My upbringing and social experience have taught me that when asked to dinner by a young man, the responsibility for paying the check is solely his.
I encountered a situation quite to the contrary when a casual acquaintance invited me to dine and requested that I please bring along two friends to serve as dates for two of his chums. Being the free spirits we are, my friends and I accepted the invitation (may I add, these gentlemen were a few years older than our 20 years).
When the inevitable check arrived after the meal, the boys willingly took out their credit cards. My date remarked that when boys pay for girls, they deserve something sexual in return. I was appalled by his lack of taste, and told him my friends and I would not be dessert!
Our dates paid, and we all went our separate ways. The next morning, I received a phone call from the young man who reprimanded me for not offering to pay. Nevertheless, his remarks were as tasteless as his after-dinner comment. Were we wrong?
A: Yes, indeed. The question of who pays the check is somewhat up for grabs these days, but the tradition of how to react to insult remains the same, and you have violated it.
Suggesting that a lady barters her favors for meals, or anything else, is, and always will be, an extreme insult. The proper way for you and your friends to react to such provocation was to fling down a sum of money covering the cost of your meals. One never accepts hospitality from people who insult one.
The question of sharing checks is by no means as clear. Under many circumstances, it is now proper for a lady to pay her share or even the entire check. But even without the insult, no lady would have argued against doing so when it was clearly expected.
Q: My daughter lacked two credits to finish high school and decided to acquire them by taking a summer school course and a correspondence course. The high school that she attended honors these credits and has issued her diploma as an honor graduate.
Since she did not graduate with the rest of her class or have the conventional method of announcements and graduation exercises, it is my wish to give her some type of reception to honor her completion of high school. I would like to have this in our home, but as we have many relatives and friends, space is a problem. I thought of an open-house type occasion, where people could come and go during a period of several hours.
Would this be in good taste, and if not, what could I do to honor her completion of high school? If I give some type of reception, how do I word the invitations, and could you please describe the type of invitations I would require?
A: Certainly, you may honor your daughter at a reception (a word Miss Manners prefers to the ambiguous "open house," but the idea is the same), and a lovely thought it is, too. Just, please, do Miss Manners a favor and refrain from finding cute little cards printed with cap and gown or cocktail glass or whatever.
On your own good writing paper, or an informal card (with your and your husband's name and possible address), simply write down what your guests need to know, including the information that it is "to celebrate Esmeralda's graduation." On letter paper, you simply put it into a sentence ("Please join us . . .") On a card the information can stand alone.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.