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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, April 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: In-lawns can’t seem to leave the camo at home

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother-in-law and his family have far-right political leanings that are not in line with many of our friends and my family, including my husband.

On all occasions, even at a recent memorial, my brother-in-law dresses in jeans, camouflage gear and an NRA “gun rights” baseball cap. I am hostessing a wedding for my son and future daughter-in-law at our home. How do I tell this person that this attire is not welcome at the wedding?

It does not appear my sister-in-law understands how to guide him in this area, and naturally he does not read the wedding invitation instructions, nor care to. Any guidance is appreciated to navigate this issue without creating family drama!

GENTLE READER: Clearly, that is not a concern for your in-laws, who seem to be actively courting it.

“I do hope, for the sake of our happy couple, that we can put aside any political statements” is what you need to say. If they disregard you and come dressed for combat anyway, Miss Manners recommends that you ignore them and greet them as you would any other (properly attired) guest. This will likely annoy them much more than the chance to argue their politics.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A longtime friend and I had a falling out, with responsibility equally split between us. I moved away for 15 years with no communication.

Now I have moved back, and I ran into this friend face to face. We chatted pleasantly and she asked for my phone number. I was hesitant to give it to her, but to avoid being rude, I did. Four years later, I received, via the U.S. mail, a computer-printed invitation to dinner at her home.

My husband and I have no interest in rekindling a friendship, so I declined via handwritten note. In my note, I provided no reason for the decline, only thanking her for the invitation, regretting we could not attend, and wishing her the best. My husband said I should have provided a reason for the decline. There was no reason other than not wishing to see her again. Should I have made up a reason?

GENTLE READER: Sigh. Miss Manners has made it so easy to avoid any unpleasant social situations, if only helpful people like your husband would not try to assist. If we all could just stick to the phrase: “I am so sorry, but I am afraid I cannot attend” and not follow it up with excuses of real or invented sickness, dislike of the hosts, dislike of the guests, better use of funds, not feeling like it, a better invitation, itchy feet, a bad hair day or preferring to watch TV, Miss Manners would happily allow you to indulge in all of those things without remorse.

Please tell your husband that your answer was sufficient – and perfectly true. A made-up excuse would not be. And following it up with an “honest” explanation would not only unnecessarily hurt your already-former friend’s feelings, but likely rekindle communication. Neither of which you – or your husband – claims to want.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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