Dear Miss Manners:

Help. After bestowing much diamond jewelry on a woman for five years and being engaged for the last year of that five, she broke up with me.

I have money, so it's not about money. Philosophically and morally I am convinced that I should get the jewelry back. It does not seem right for a woman to break up with a man she claims she did not love but wants to keep jewelry that represents a promise of allegiance. It was given with the intent of a lifetime relationship culminating in marriage. She finally told me she never really loved me.

Am I wrong to want these tokens of romance back?

As it is too late to tell you, a lady does not accept expensive jewelry from a gentleman who is not her husband. And as you are about to find out, someone who is not a lady does not give it back.

The exception is an engagement ring, which by definition is given by a not-yet-husband, and which is recognized, even legally, to be a pledge of troth to be returned if the pledge is not fulfilled for any reason. She certainly should give that back. In fact, she should regard all the jewelry as philosophically as you do, and rid herself of reminders of a mistaken romance. Miss Manners suggests you not hold your breath waiting for this to happen, however.

Dear Miss Manners:

When I celebrated my 17th birthday, I was happy to receive monetary gifts from both sets of my grandparents, but I put off writing thank-you notes due to a multitude of reasons (including forgetfulness and my search for a summer job).

Over a month has transpired since the receipt of my gifts, and I have yet to express my gratitude. Recently, my mother brought to my attention this fact, and I immediately thought about my history with this process.

I have been notorious for being tardy with my thank-you notes, and I am fairly positive that my relatives know about my parents' involvement in demanding that I write the notes. I am wondering: Would it be rude to send a note this late (when my grandparents would know that it was only my parents' involvement that got me around to the task), or would it be better to not write, and not call attention to my tardiness (and possible rudeness)?

Nice try. Your parents are insisting that you do the polite and decent thing, and you turn to Miss Manners for a reprieve. Your thoughtful reasoning is that since you are in the habit of procrastinating, you must run into some sort of statute of limitations by which you get off free.

Sorry. The longer you put off this task, the longer the letter you have to write. It should not contain your paltry excuses but overwhelm them with gratitude for their kindness and enthusiasm about whatever you must have long since bought with their money.

Dear Miss Manners:

As a light-skinned woman in my mid-forties, it is not uncommon for my face to turn quite red several times a day as I suffer through the hot flashes commonly associated with menopause. At times, co-workers or acquaintances will comment on my red face and ask me if I've been out in the sun. How should I reply to these questions and comments? I'm not a sunbather, and besides, they are likely to notice that my "sunburned" face returns to its normal shade after a few minutes.

"Stop, please. You're making me blush."

Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

(c) 2005, Judith Martin