Manners matter if you value respect

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister and I are having an argument. She says that saying “please” at the dinner table is begging. If someone wants something, they should just ask and it should be given.

Some of this stems from an abusive father who would taunt people at the table and insisted on “please” and “thank you” and then, after the taunting, would say no or just ignore you.

Am I just too old-chool? Is it really important? I think it is, and this will hurt the kids in the future.

GENTLE READER: It is only important if you don’t believe that those to whom your sister and her family keep issuing orders and ignoring presents will love and admire them for their sincerity.

No doubt your sister is right that she does not sincerely feel respect or gratitude, even to people who do her favors or give her presents. But as she should realize from her father’s cruel behavior, even such minor favors as passing the salt need not be granted.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Although I am of the conviction that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and woman, I am blessed with wonderful friendships with people who do not share such convictions, including two women who consider themselves a married couple.

I would like to invite both to my wedding, but I am concerned about how to address their invitation(s).

I don’t wish to address them as I would a married couple, because I feel that would violate my own beliefs. Is there a polite way for me to hold to my convictions without causing offense?

GENTLE READER: The etiquette problem that troubles you does not exist. Any two grown-ups, whatever their relationship, who live at the same address but have different surnames may be sent one invitation, which is addressed by using two lines for their respective names.

What troubles Miss Manners is a deeper problem: that in celebrating your own union, you want to make it clear that you do not recognize your friends’.


Click here to comment on this story »



Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
Customer service:
(509) 747-4422
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Back to Spokesman Mobile