Q: I am a foreign citizen, a student in your country, and I have recently become engaged to an American whom I have known for two years. I am very much in love with him, and he with me, so it troubles us greatly when people insinuate that I am marrying him "to obtain a green card" or "to get to stay in the country."
Ever since our engagement, people whom we considered friends, and, indeed, even members of his family, have repeatedly implied that our decision to marry was made purely on the basis of expediency, and that any notion of our being in love is simply a front. I can't understand why this view prevails with so many people, because I assure you that our feelings are genuine and deep, and that we dated for a long time before arriving at this stage.
How can I deal with these offensive suggestions? Often the accuser claims to be "teasing," but I am tired of putting up with these slurs.
A: Miss Manners never ceases to be amazed at the inventiveness of people who believe that communicating everything that comes into their minds is the way to spread happiness in the world.
"How lovely -- I wish you both happiness" is too tame for these people, who prefer such forms as: "It's about time"; "What's your hurry?"; "Are you sure you know what you're doing?"; "Are you expecting?"; and now the remarks that you report.
Miss Manners would prefer that you limit yourself to saying, with shining eyes, "I knew you'd be pleased for us." But if that is too subtle for them, she will look the other way while you say: "Oh, I hope that's not the custom here. Where I come from, we only marry for love."
Q: A friend of mine is married to a woman who is a little dippy. She has emotional problems, and most of us just tolerate her.
If I run into her in a crowd, she runs up to me, gurgles and kisses me as though we are relatives or intimate friends.
I have no such warm feelings for her. I don't want to hurt her, but I dislike being forced into a public intimacy that I don't feel or wish to perpetuate. What sort of action can I take to discourage her?
A: A broad smile and a firm handshake, if you're quick enough to get these out before she heads for your face. Otherwise, as dippy as this increasingly common practice is, Miss Manners regrets to tell you that you cannot politely leave an acquaintance with lips puckered in midair.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.