Q. I have had no problem meeting men through the personal ads, singles bars and dating services. There is no lack of the not-serious, the game players, and the immature and married. And I'm not seeking perfection.
Can you offer any alternatives and suggestions? Sometimes I've been attracted to men in public places (usually malls). They appear mature and serious, but even after eye contact, they look lost as to what to do next.
Am I sending the wrong signals? How does one approach a male, with class and dignity, in public?
A. Undoubtedly you will pronounce Miss Manners unbearably stuffy about this matter, which, she assures you, will not faze her.
It is simply inescapable that the signal sent by a lady attempting to pick up strangers in malls is that she is the kind who picks up strangers in malls.
There is no way around this. The idea that such a person may be shopping for a mature, serious, unmarried, etc., gentleman where she buys her other supplies, is not readily apparent.
Therefore, the sort of person you will pick up in this fashion is the sort of person who does not object to pickups, which is what you apparently wish to avoid. Easy pickups lead, as you have discovered, to easy put-downs.
Respectable people meet through people or organizations they are acquainted with. To increase the number of people you meet, you could increase the number of activities -- social, community, religious, or whatever else may interest you -- in which you participate.
Miss Manners is sorry this process is so cumbersome, but you yourself have supplied the evidence that shortcutting it is counterproductive.
Q. My elderly mother's life revolves around her five grandchildren. My daughter, 28, has had more difficulty than the other four in getting a job and supporting herself. Because of this, my mother has taken from her modest funds to help her with tuition, a monthly allowance and gifts of clothing.
My daughter rarely thanks anyone for gifts, but I find this particularly reprehensible in the case of my mother's gifts. I did not bring her up this way. What should be done?
A. Something should be, although Miss Manners appreciates the fact that you tried, and that a 28-year-old is beyond the reach of child-rearing.
You might tell your mother how you feel. You might even hint that you think it futile to help support someone who has no recognition of what this means. Miss Manners cannot help thinking that the etiquette problem is not unrelated to your daughter's other problems, and the jolt of finding that ingratitude does not inspire generosity may be useful to her. Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.