August 23, 2010 in Features

Miss Manners: Condense illness report at gatherings

 
On the Web

Visit Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What can I do about friends who spend the bulk of our visits talking about illness?

We are a group of six long-time friends between the ages of 55 and 65 who gather every three months or so to enjoy dinner and conversation together. But ever since Lloyd had heart surgery four years ago, more than half the evening is spent poring over the details of not only his illness, but that of Lois, his wife, and their friends and relatives. Lloyd is a quiet guy, and Lois does most of the talking, with Lloyd chiming in from time to time.

We want to hear what’s happening in their lives, including the bad stuff, but not for so much of our evening. We’ve tried changing the subject to no avail. One couple in the group dropped out because, after several years of this type of visit, they were bummed out.

Would leveling with Lloyd and Lois help or hinder?

GENTLE READER: It would be worse than either. That would lead to a discussion of whether you care about them, which would be even more tedious than hearing about who has gas.

Miss Manners will have to rescue you.

As the same people meet regularly, you can propose little additions to the routine. A useful one, as one ages, is to announce Medical Report early in the evening (“Everyone all right? Any new issues?”). A gentleman of Miss Manners’ acquaintance refers to it as Organ Recital.

That way you not only get it over with, but if someone goes on too long, you can say, “Oh, dear, I hope you’ll be better soon” and turn to the next person. And if attempts are made to revert to the topic, you can say cheerfully, “Medical Report’s over. You’ll tell us next time.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a bride and I’m worried that people will turn up to my wedding wearing white.

I want to know the proper etiquette in dealing with such people. Is it appropriate to have the fashion police present to tell people to go back home and change their dress?

I don’t think I will be able to deal with anybody that tries to upstage me on the most important day of my life. A lot of time, money and effort has gone into the preparations for this day and I don’t want it ruined by people that are rude! I don’t want my photos, video or memories tarnished because of someone else’s bad manners.

GENTLE READER: Oh, a bouncer to eject anyone who might threaten the supremacy of the bride! Why isn’t that a standard role in every wedding party?

Possibly because there are few brides – at least so Miss Manners hopes – pathetic enough to fear that they will not be sufficiently noticed at their own weddings and mean enough to anticipate rivals among their own guests.

Guests must be treated with respect, and that includes anyone who may be dressed in white. What would really tarnish your wedding pictures is the sight of you keeping a steely eye out to make sure no one upstages you, instead of gazing lovingly at your bridegroom.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email