Q.Every year since our marriage in 1980, my husbandand I have received a request from one of those regional society registers to provide information for a listing under my in-laws' name. Every year we have ignored it, not wishing to be included.
This year we received, along with the same request, a sample of our entry, already typeset, and instructions to make all necessary changes before final galley proofs are set. In other words, the register intends to publish an entry for us without our permission.
We do not wish to appear in Geraldine Thatcher Berry III's Bluebook of Lower Cleveland (not real name) for a variety of reasons:
* We resent that the listing includes only the husband's occupation, and does not allow the wife any title other than Mrs. husband's last name.
*We do not live in the vicinity of the register.
* We prefer that the upper crust of Lower Cleveland not have the opportunity to inspect our family in print.
My in-laws, on the other hand, do enjoy their "listings" and it is possible that they have entered our names and family data without consulting us. Is it rude to write to the register and refuse to be listed? Can the register print without our permission? Who are these people, anyway? A.A. Who are who? Your in-laws? A. Wait a minute, Miss Manners will go and look them up.
No, she won't, actually, because she finds such directories even more tiresome than you do. Why anyone would want to be on a list of presumed high-level consumers, for the exploitation of anyone who wants to know who has money, power or social standing, Miss Manners cannot imagine. The only snob value, it seems to her, is in doing what you are doing, which is refusing an invitation to participate.
Certainly you can decline, but how you do so depends on how you were included. If your in-laws submitted you, you need to be gentle about informing them of your wish to be omitted, and asking them to inform the publisher. If they are innocent, you may inform the publisher directly that the entry is an unauthorized invasion of your privacy.
Arguments will probably not be necessary in either case, but here are two effective ones:
For your in-laws: "We've heard that kidnapers use these lists to find out where the rich kids live."
For the publisher of the directory: "If we are robbed, we will certainly remember that you published our address in a book many people consider to represent the rich."