Dear Miss Manners:

A dear friend and I seem to have a difference of opinion at the grocery store.

When we are in a relatively small aisle and people need to pass, my friend is content to simply move herself (and me) out of the way. But, Miss Manners, I was brought up to hear and say, “Excuse me,” when someone needs to pass by, otherwise the person (or I) won’t move. Is it unrealistic to expect this courtesy from people?

Is it unrealistic to block the grocery aisles for anyone of whose manners you do not approve?

Yes, if you value your toes. And rude, too. You will have to excuse them, whether or not they are polite enough to ask.

Miss Manners herself cannot go around teaching manners to strangers who are minding their own business. Nor would she sacrifice her dainty body to act as a point guard between hungry people and their food.

Dear Miss Manners:

Five days after my daughter received a birthday present from her grandfather, she received a sarcastic form letter from him, reminding all his grandchildren that they must send thank-you notes.

While the thank-you notes for all her presents were on her list of things to do, she had not gotten them all done at the time she received the note from her grandfather. What is the accepted time frame to send thank-you notes for gifts?

Before Gramps goes off the deep end.

When that is, for this particular grandfather, is something that you are in a better position to know than is Miss Manners. The gentleman obviously has a history of being ignored by his grandchildren, among whom the chief offenders may be from other branches of the family.

All the same, the rule is to write thanks as the presents appear or are opened. If your daughter is entertaining friends on her birthday, she should at least accomplish that the next day.

If you want to defend her this time, you could enclose a note with hers that says: “Isabella took more time than usual to write to you because she is so thrilled with the present you gave her that she kept searching for the words to express how much she appreciates your loving kindness.”

Dear Miss Manners:

A friend who is getting married is trying to cut costs as much as possible. She and her fiancee have to pay for everything themselves.

I received a wedding invite from a different friend yesterday. The RSVP was to either call or respond via e-mail. So I told the first friend about that in hopes this would help save some cost of a return envelope, stamps and labels. Is an RSVP for a wedding via e-mail appropriate these days?

Good news for your friend: She does not have to answer her own wedding invitations.

Miss Manners realizes that the idea is common now that the hosts must supply the means for replying, but that is ridiculous. According to the vast number of complaints she receives about unresponsive guests, it doesn’t even work. Let your friend simply indicate that she expects an answer, and allow the guests to figure out how to do this.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

@ 2011, by Judith Martin

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