Dear Miss Manners:
I am a divorced man in my late forties. My religious belief prohibits my ever remarrying as long as my former spouse is living.
I would like to entertain in my home; however, since I never date anymore, I am hesitant. I would like to give a decent party, and nearly all my guests would be married couples. I've always been told that my parties were great, but I am afraid that not many people will show up.
What do you think would be proper? I am talking about an 8 to 11 p.m. no-alcohol party with catered refreshments, a couple of games, a door prize, conversation and dancing.
Even though I am very masculine, rude remarks have been made because of my status. A woman wouldn't have this problem.
Miss Manners can think of another reason that you might not be as popular as you would wish. If you confided your notion that ladies would not have such problems, you will have offended those who know better. Rude speculations to which unattached ladies are routinely subjected range from their not being attractive enough to be married to their being eager to snag the other ladies' husbands.
Miss Manners can also think of a worse reason that your invitations might be rejected. There are people who cannot imagine social life without alcohol and are outraged at the very idea of spending an evening without a drink. You are better off without them, since anyone so fixated is likely to be hard on the furniture.
This should leave plenty of people who would enjoy a purely social evening, now something of a rarity in our networking society. But you will never know until you stop fretting and issue those invitations.
Dear Miss Manners:
I am a woman in my early thirties who is overweight. I have maintained my current weight for about the past five years. I carry my weight proportionately, and can still wear my clothes well, so I don't feel overly self-conscious about my appearance.
I have come across a number of people who upon seeing me for the first time in many months have commented that I must have lost weight and look much better than since they've seen me last.
That of course is not true, and I tell them I weigh the same as when they saw me last.
These comments are very upsetting to me, because it implies that their memory of me is distorted into that of a much larger person than I am. When they see me, their memory doesn't match reality, and that is so surprising to them they assume I lost weight, when I haven't.
I can't help becoming angry with these would-be do-gooders. How do I convey my un-appreciation for these comments and get people to remember me accurately?
For reasons that escape Miss Manners, many people consider that there is no higher compliment than suggesting that someone is getting thinner or looking younger than is actually the case. Obviously, in your case it has nothing to do with actual weight.
So you have already conveyed your lack of appreciation. They expected you to look thrilled and say, "Thank you."
Dear Miss Manners:
I'll be beginning college next fall, and my grandmother sent my father a large sum of money to help pay for my tuition. I want to write a thank-you letter, but am not sure the correct way to express this, as the gift wasn't sent to me.
Can I just say, "Thank you for your generous gift, I appreciate the help very much," and go on to talk about the typical things I say to her in letters (school, friends, summer plans)? Is that enough of a thank-you note? Do I need to say how much was given, or mention that of course I will apply it to my tuition? Should my father send one, too?
Miss Manners would consider the formulaic letter you suggest passable if your grandmother had given you a sweater. But she is helping to give you a college education! What would she have to do to get your full attention and a gush of gratitude?
Of course you mention the present itself -- not the amount of money, but what it represents and what you plan to study and what you think you might do with your education. This should be a You Changed My Life letter. And if your father has any doubt about whether he should take formal notice over the fact that he has been relieved of thousands of dollars worth of debt, the answer is: yes.
(c) 2005, Judith Martin