DEAR MISS MANNERS: During the toast at a birthday dinner for a dear friend, the birthday boy was hesitant to raise his glass, saying he’d heard that you’re not supposed to toast yourself.
No one else at the table had heard of this rule, and while we all agreed that we didn’t consider it bad form to raise your glass once someone else gives a toast in your honor, we’re curious: Is it proper for the toast honoree to refrain from raising their own glass?
GENTLE READER: Absolutely. Miss Manners is reminded of the story that King George VI of England (most recently of “The King’s Speech”) was asked by his younger daughter whether, when his subjects sang “God Save the King,” he should sing “God Save Me.”
The answer is no, you do not tout or toast yourself. Please pass the word to your friends and to anyone you know who is getting married.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our aging but healthy father was recently brutally murdered in his home in another country. Dealing with his death, the facts of his murder, and the opaque bureaucracies of the other country has all been extremely painful, as you can imagine.
But others cannot. So some of them respond to hearing this news by launching into their own tales of woe.
To be sure, some of the tales are indeed woeful, but these people are not in the second week of this particular nightmare. It’s almost as if, now that they’ve found someone who is suffering, they believe they’re in good company, company that will happily listen attentively and be warm and soothing to them.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We want them to mumble condolences and then ask us what we need or just shut up. What do we say to people who do this?
GENTLE READER: You are kind to interpret this as the presumption of sympathetic understanding. Cynical old Miss Manners sees it as an attempt to trump your tragedy and focus attention back on themselves.
She suggests cutting this off with a gentle, “Forgive me, I do sympathize with you, but right now I’m dealing with all the tragedy I can bear.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I really can’t stand the sound of someone slurping their coffee, tea or soup. Is slurping rude and done by someone who has no manners or should I need to put up with it?
GENTLE READER: Yes on the first half of your question and probably yes on the second. Unless the slurper happens to be your own minor child, in which case you can say, “Stop – you’re driving me crazy” several thousand times. On behalf of all of us, Miss Manners wishes you good luck with that.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At my daughter’s 6-year-old birthday, she received a gift she already has (a game, so we don’t need another). What is the correct thing to do? I’d like to return it while showing my gratitude for their generosity.
GENTLE READER: Fine. Miss Manners only asks you to please keep in mind that these are two separate actions.
1. You thank the givers for the present. You do not tell them that your daughter already has one, and you caution her not to do so.
2. You return it, give it away or sell it.