Dear Miss Manners: My boyfriend and I went to the shoe store to return a pair of shoes he bought that were too small. He was a little nervous about it. It all went well, and he was able to get them in a larger size.

As we left, he thanked the saleswoman and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

I'm thinking this is inappropriate. Am I wrong? I know he was just trying to be gracious.

Let us suppose that it had been your unaccompanied father exchanging shoes, and then expressing his satisfaction with the transaction by kissing the saleswoman.

Would you even be asking this question?

Miss Manners is guessing that you would be too occupied trying to explain to the police that this was only his way of saying “thank you.” Perhaps if the report were being taken by a female police officer, he could express his thanks to her as well.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a widow, and find it quite distressing when I receive mail addressed to me as "Mrs. John Doe." Since I am no longer married, what is the proper address? I hate the term Ms., and I usually just use my first name and (married) last name when signing correspondence.

Other times, I receive mail addressed to my first and last name with Mrs. as the title. Since I'm not married to myself, this seems incorrect. I'm at a loss as to how to ask people to address me. I have other widow friends who are also wondering the same.

You are a bit hard to please. And pleasing individuals was the intention of allowing people a range of choices in how they are addressed.

It’s not working. Rather than increased tolerance, it has led to unilateral denunciations of other people’s choices, and unreasonable anger on the part of people who considered themselves insulted by one or more of the available forms.

Miss Manners means you. You hate them all.

“Mrs. John Doe” is the traditional form for a widow, which is now grandmothered in for those who prefer it, but inappropriate for use in the professional world.

“Mrs. Lily Doe” is a common, if admittedly puzzling, variation generally associated with divorcées.

The revival of “Ms.,” a centuries-old abbreviation of “mistress” — a title that used to be respectable and universally applied regardless of marital status, in the way that “mister” still applies to males — was supposed to solve the issue.

But you hate it. Fine. Miss Manners is saddened at the removal of courtesy in addressing people, but don’t ask her to invent something else for you to hate.

Dear Miss Manners: Are people expected to let a host know they are not able to attend a function, or just let them know if they plan to attend?

Are you so annoyed at people who propose to entertain you that you are seeking permission to ignore them unless you happen to want to take advantage of an opportunity?

Miss Manners would have thought that common sense and common decency would make you feel that meeting hospitable offers with silence is rude.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website,

2018, by Judith Martin