Dear Miss Manners: I've just completed my second vaccination shot for the coronavirus and, though I feel lucky and relieved, I've dealt with much resentment from others who have not been able to receive their shots yet.
Pretending not to understand is one of Miss Manners’ favorite techniques for countering rudeness. “Surely,” her quizzical look is meant to convey, “you cannot have meant to accuse me of fraud. I must have misheard you.”
It is particularly effective in deflating those who think they are being charming, funny or genuine, as it demonstrates that you were neither charmed nor amused nor impressed by their inconsiderate honesty. And it avoids the bother of having to take offense at casually offensive behavior.
Dear Miss Manners: I am about to get a doctoral degree, and I am the first in my immediate family to attend graduate school. The school has just announced that each graduate can have two guests at the ceremony.
I'd like to invite my mom and my sister, whom I feel have been the most supportive and interested people during my years in graduate school. When I told my mom this, though, she was upset that I didn't want to invite my stepfather and said he would be heartbroken.
My stepdad and I aren't close, he isn't paying for my school (I am), and he hasn't expressed much interest in my classes other than conversation filler at holiday events. My sister and I went through a long period of not speaking, so she wasn't invited to any of my prior graduations, whereas my stepfather has been at all of them. He did graduate from the same school where I'll receive my diploma — albeit his degree was a bachelor's in another field — but other than that, he isn't really involved with my accomplishment.
Am I obligated to invite my stepfather to my graduation instead of my sister? Will inviting him to an at-home graduation party suffice?
Even if etiquette were inclined to rank family members, that would not solve your problem, which is how to assure your mother that your stepfather would not actually feel slighted. Miss Manners states the problem thus not merely because it is accurate, but because it suggests a solution.
Tell your stepfather how sorry you are not to have a third ticket for him and that you know he will understand that your history with your sister makes it imperative that you invite her. Even if it turns out that your stepfather did want to go, he will have to give his blessing when so approached. And once you have your stepfather’s acquiescence, your mother’s will follow.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
2021, by Judith Martin