Q. I am of a minority that is not usually born to wealth. I was born to a family of migrant laborers; we traveled a lot and worked in the fields to earn our living.
Despite this, we all managed to get an education, and the family is well-off now. My sister is a nurse, and my two brothers have responsible positions with large firms. (One is the No. 2 man in this state for one of the better-known computer firms, if I may be allowed to brag a bit.)
We all live well, and our parents, who are retired, have their own home. We dress well, but not ostentatiously. All of us have positions that require a conservative appearance, so we wear business attire by day and casual clothes in the evening.
Except for our names and skin color, we are no different from most of the people you would meet in the course of the day.
Many people feel this is inappropriate. We are often told that we have betrayed our heritage. Most who say that are, oddly enough, Anglos. Most have radical politics and apparently feel we should not dress well or live well if we are to have any ethnic identity.
We feel we have earned the life we have. Most of those people do not seem to know how important it can be after a day of hard labor to wash, put on clean clothes, and eat a pleasant meal with the rest of the family.
If they choose to be unkempt and have an unstructured lifestyle, that is their choice, but how can we tell them in polite words to mind their own business?
A. In Miss Manners' opinion, some pretty strong words are called for.
Your radical friends need to have it explained to them that poverty is not your ethnic identity. It is an insult to your heritage to assume that misfortune is its legitimate cultural expression.
Whatever political effort they wish to make ought to be devoted to helping others achieve the satisfactions and comforts that you have attained, rather than preventing you from enjoying these. Disparaging such things is snobbery, born of the assurance that one takes them so much for granted that one can afford to despise them.
Q. Our grandson is getting married, and our son told us that the young couple came and told him that it is the custom for the parents of the groom to pay for the bar at the wedding.
My son was shocked, because our custom -- we come from Europe -- is that the parents of the bride pay for the whole wedding. We did, when our daughter got married.
The family of my grandson's bride is very rich and will invite about 100 people. Compared with them, our family is poor, and we will bring only about 10 people.
A. There is no such custom, although Miss Manners regrets to say it is increasingly becoming the rude habit of people who are giving weddings to assign bill-paying to people who in no way volunteered to be hosts.
If the bridegroom's parents want to help out, not only with expenses but with the difficulties of planning, they may ask to do so. Giving the rehearsal dinner is a common way of doing this. And anyone involved may offer to chip in with expenses out of the kindness of their hearts.
This hardly seems necessary in this case, not just because the bride's family is richer, but because they seem to be rolling ahead with elaborate plans almost entirely designed to entertain their own circle. Miss Manners suggests polite resistance.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.