April 5, 1996 in Features

‘Anything I Want’ Rot Strikes Again

Judith Martin United Features Sy
 

Dear Miss Manners: When friends of ours returned from a six-month vacation, my husband and I decided to give them a welcome back party and invited about 50 couples, many of whom traveled long distances.

A few minutes after the guests of honor arrived, they and another couple proceeded to play cards. At no time during the party did they take a break and socialize with other guests.

In fact, they would ask passing guests to get them plates of food from the buffet line and bring them back to them. Some guests complained and quietly left the party.

When the subject was brought up a few days later, my guest of honor emphatically stated that it was her party and she could do anything she wanted, and I should not have expected her to hold my hand, or any of the other guests’ hands, for that matter.

I replied I didn’t expect that, but I did think it would have been nice for them to take an occasional break and socialize.

Of course my idea of etiquette is wrong, in her opinion. Since then, she has brought it up numerous times in front of others and has had a good laugh at my expense. Our friendship has never been the same since.

Gentle Reader: Oh, so that phrase and that idea have spread, have they? Miss Manners assures you that you need not worry about being rude, but you should worry about such rude people being your friends (as she worries about their claiming to be her followers). That is not etiquette which this person exudes.

Nobody should attend, much less give, a party for someone with such an attitude. Miss Manners advises that when you hear that statement, “I can do anything I want” - run.

Dear Miss Manners: Is one expected to accept the offer of a cup of coffee when having one’s hair cut? If so, is one supposed to sip it while bits of hair tumble down, or just set it aside and not actually drink it?

I could understand coffee if one had to sit in the waiting area or wait for a perm or hair dye to take, but this is not the case, and when I decline the coffee, one salon owner seems hurt, as if I were a guest in her home.

Gentle Reader: This may be a shock, but Miss Manners assures you that even in someone’s home, you are allowed to decline with thanks the offer of a cup of coffee. It is the offering of it, not the acceptance, that symbolizes friendliness.

So much for the etiquette of the situation. The logistics are not really Miss Manners’ department. But since you ask - if you do want coffee, surely you could park it on the sink and reach for it for strength at the moment the hair-cutting stops and you are asked how you think you look.

Dear Miss Manners: When I had some uninspired jewelry broken up, I reset a good quality, quarter-carat diamond in a small lavaliere, intending to give it to my niece on her sixth birthday.

However, a friend suggested that a diamond, no matter how small, is inappropriate for a child of such tender years. I heeded the advice and gave her instead a very pretty pearl on a fine chain, to which additional pearls may be added to mark future occasions.

Would it have been gauche to give a small diamond to a little girl?

Gentle Reader: Regarding how small a quarter-carat stone is, Miss Manners is aware that respectable people get happily engaged on that or less. The engagement was traditionally the first occasion of a young lady’s receiving diamond jewelry. You may argue about the sense of the traditional rule that unmarried ladies were too young to wear serious stones, but at least a gentleman didn’t run the risk of his offering being outshone by what she was already wearing.

Miss Manners is glad that you gave in. A pearl is no trifle of a present and much more suitable for your young friend.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate


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