Dear Miss Manners:

My husband has been invited to an ex-girlfriend's birthday party. She did not invite me. My husband does not think this is rude on the part of the ex-girlfriend. I would like your thoughts on this.

Miss Manners is sorry to say that she doesn't care for yours. No, no, terribly sorry--she didn't mean that she doesn't care to hear of your opinion on this matter. Please forgive her. She only meant that she does not believe it is helpful to acknowledge the unpleasantness lurking below the etiquette of this situation.

With the exception of their individual involvement in special-interest groups, married couples are properly invited out together. This does not mean they must both accept, only that they must both be asked. For goodness' sake, even unmarried couples are invited out together nowadays.

So the answer is that yes, this is a rude invitation, and it would be just as rude if your husband had been invited without you to a party for his step-grandfather's 88th birthday.

Dear Miss Manners:

We have just recently returned from several weeks in Europe. At each place setting there was a fish knife, which was never used by anyone. What do you do with a fish knife? How do you use it, and where do you place it when you're finished with it? Everyone in this group had traveled widely and had very good manners, but the knife was never touched, even though we had fish several times. Please enlighten me.

Although fish knives are used to cut and, if necessary, filet fish, Miss Manners finds merit in your group's refraining from using them. It shows that they have been properly taught--even if she is not certain what it is they were properly taught.

One possibility is that they have been correctly taught that it is a high crime to use a meat knife on fish, and they weren't going to take any chances with the instrument at hand. The other is that they were taught the even stricter lesson that fish knives, being a late Victorian invention, are too new and vulgar to use.

Still, one does need help with the occasional recalcitrant fishie. In the absence of a fish knife, the preferred method is to use two forks to pry it open.

But as the fish knife is peculiarly suited to do the job, with its pointed top for slitting along the bone, and is content to be used and parked as the meat knife would be, Miss Manners is willing to overlook its short provenance.

Dear Miss Manners:

A member of my family is moving from one city to another. I know there is a proper way of sending one's friends a card informing them of the change of address. I saw one recently that stated, "We are now residing at . . ." but I believe that is incorrect.

It's a trifle highfalutin for the job. Miss Manners prefers "We've moved," in cards to friends, and "Please note change of address" for business purposes, as they are quite enough to get the idea across.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.

(C) 1999, Judith Martin