DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been friends with a couple for almost 20 years now, and I count them among my closest of peers. They have a 2-year-old child who is an absolute doll, hilarious and cute all the time.
Time has become somewhat of a rarity for us over the past years, and we attempt to have a semi-monthly get-together for a few hours, where we eat, chat and hang out. But now they have begun potty training their son, and while I am over, they will allow him to run around the house wearing only a shirt, and encourage him to bring his potty into the living room with us, and pee or poo when necessary.
I brought up my discomfort with this with them once, but I was firmly rebuked and told that was how it was going to be until his potty training concluded.
While I agree it is their house and their “rules,” I confess I am not particularly interested in going over again next week, knowing the situation I will be in. How should I inform them that I won’t be coming over, in a way that is both honest but the least offensive possible? Also, am I wrong for feeling uncomfortable in this situation?
GENTLE READER: No, but it is not for you to express this discomfort. Miss Manners need hardly point out that when you shared it the first time, it was not received well and didn’t solve the problem.
There are disadvantages to being treated as an intimate member of the family. But the good news is that surely this is a temporary situation. If you feel that you simply can’t stand it, wait for a few weeks to see these friends again. And hope that they — or you — don’t have a child again soon.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper number of times to wipe your mouth while eating a sandwich?
GENTLE READER? As many times as it takes to get the mayonnaise off your nose.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner of 20 years and I have been together so long that getting married, now that it is legal in our state, almost feels like a renewal of vows. As such, we have opted for a small celebration and are avoiding many of the traditional elements that feel either age-inappropriate or wrong at this stage of our life: There will be no church ceremony and elaborate reception with multiple wedding attendants in formal attire.
Because when we met, being gay and getting married was inconceivable, we find ourselves unsure about etiquette. Some of our issues are probably similar to any more established (older) couple being married.
One thing I am unsure about is, must we have a wedding registry? We need nothing, and our wants are specific and expensive. For us, the privilege of being legally married in front of friends and family is truly enough.
GENTLE READER: Congratulations — not only on your coming marriage, but on your wish to apply taste and sense to that spectacle of self-aggrandizement and extortion that has become the typical American wedding. Miss Manners finds it sad that wedding greed has become so institutionalized that you question whether it is proper not to tell people to buy you things. Be assured that you have no responsibility for ordering presents from your guests.