Q: How does one go about informing a certain gentleman that his advances would not be unwelcome?
A year ago, I was hired as secretary to a manager of a stock-brokerage firm. The moment I met him, I felt that pleasant rush that poets try so vainly to describe. I also noticed the wedding ring on his finger.
Being somewhat of a realist, I decided to act calmly and sensibly, treating him with the respect due one's employer. However, lately I have reason to suspect that my employer not only returns those pleasant feelings, but is suffering a severe torment because of it.
I share his anguish, because not only is he married, but he has two young children whom he adores and a sweet wife whom, I am certain, he would not willingly hurt, despite his lack of special feelings for her.
Am I being too polite?
Are you being too what? Oh. Well, uh, no. Just polite enough, Miss Manners would say. Don't move, or you'll spoil it.
The problem, as Miss Manners understands it, is not exactly what you state. What you wish to do is not so much to announce your availability as to enter into the battle this gentleman is having with his conscience, in the hopes of influencing the outcome.
That is not nice. Nor is it wise. You must let him conduct this alone. Should he lose the battle (or win, depending on your point of view), you will find it much more plausible for you to continue saying graciously sympathetic things about his family if he knows that you did not help persuade him to leave them.
Q: The restaurant my family and friends and I can afford almost always serves baked potatoes wrapped in foil. This is one of my favorite foods, but I never know if I should unwrap the potato completely, or just fold back the foil.
If I unwrap it, what do I do with the foil? The best part is the potato skin, but it is terrible to have a small sliver of foil in your mouth because the potato is still resting on top of the foil.
Recently I had dinner with seven other adults and was embarrassed to find that I was the only one who had removed the foil.
A: The issue of trash on the restaurant table -- sugar packages, cellophane from crackers, potato foil -- puzzles people because they assume it has a right to be there. They also assume that restaurants meet the social standards of correct service, so there must be a correct way of dealing with all that rubbish.
Oh, Miss Manners knows about health regulations and all that. She is not trying to ban the little papers but is only cautioning you that they are outside the dictates of proper service. Therefore, you must deal with them in the simplest, most practical way, which is to remove them, crumple them to reduce the volume and place them out of the way on the side of the table.
Q: A family in a small church verbally invited church members to their daughter's wedding. Some, who were close friends, also received written invitations.
Some people said you could only attend the reception following if you received a written invitation. Others thought as long as you brought a gift, it didn't matter.
A: The Y'all Be Sure and Come invitation may sound friendly but it is, in Miss Manners' opinion, a disaster.
No one feels particularly flattered by it, because there was no indication that he or she was wanted.
The generality of the invitation encourages the already rampant notion that guests are entitled to entertain their own guests at other people's weddings.
As some invitations are often made to individuals as well, it becomes clear that there are two classes of guests -- a rude notion.
In this case, Miss Manners guesses that the family was inviting people to the ceremony but not the reception. Technically, all church ceremonies may be attended by any church member anyway, although it is not considered polite to take advantage of this.
However, she would not blame any potential guest who misunderstood and, interpreting "wedding" as meaning all connected events, felt invited to the reception.
No, wait, she does blame some -- the ones that thought that a present would serve to buy their way in. If one cares enough about a bridal couple to attend their reception, one is supposed to send them a material expression of this affection, but wedding presents, Miss Manners keeps telling both bridal couples and their guests, cannot be considered tickets of admission.