Dear Miss Manners: A series of questions, some of which might involve morals rather than etiquette, but here goes:
1. Our house is historic, open to guided tours for free. We received the proverbial gift of a red plastic statue with a clock in its stomach from a beloved relative.
Would a week on the mantel and gradual demotion to the rear - and finally outside the house - be acceptable?
2. There are no rules or restrictions in our house for our guests, friends, relatives and acquaintances, except that none, but we and servants, if available, are allowed in the kitchen.
New acquaintances are courteously and self-effacingly informed of this if they offer or attempt to enter the kitchen.
Due to insistent and sneaky guests and relatives, we’ve installed a lock on the door. Are we truly evil or merely discourteous? Perhaps neither?
3. We have occasional formal (actually, merely black-tie) dinner parties. Must we periodically invite close relatives and friends who loathe formality itself but hear of these parties through the grapevine? They resent their exclusion due to their choice of clothing and insistence on informal behavior and customs. (We are Texans and hold plenty of down-home barbecues, beer busts, ultra-casual and assorted neighborly gatherings, being of ranching folk.)
4. Whatever happened to costume balls? No matter what the invitation to one says, my wife and I are always the only attendees in costume.
Gentle Reader: The moral principle, when you have friends who are 1. tasteless 2. nosy 3. uncooperative and 4. no fun, is to avoid pointing this out to them. Provided you can manage that, Miss Manners is happy to assist you in preventing them from spoiling your fun.
1. The statue can certainly work its way out the door, or better yet, to the attic or basement, where you may remember to fetch it before your beloved relative’s visit. Miss Manners can make an argument for the charm of displaying such an object, and friends who know your general taste will understand this as a triumph of the overflowing heart over the discerning eye. But strangers seeing your house on a tour can hardly be expected to make such a presumption.
2. Yes, you may lock your door, as polite guests would never discover that you have done so.
3. It is only hospitable to invite guests to the sort of festivities they enjoy, and to spare them the pain of having to suffer through something they have clearly demonstrated they do not. The fact that you entertain these people on other occasions, in the style they prefer - and that you entertain them at all, considering that they first violate the terms of your invitations and then criticize you for not encouraging them to do it again - impresses Miss Manners as exceptionally generous.
4. Correctly dressed guests should not be troubled if others rudely fail to follow the terms of the invitation. This rule applies even if those correctly dressed guests are wearing clown faces or bunny suits.
Dear Miss Manners: My son was advised that it is OK to ask for monetary gifts on his wedding invitations. Personally, I do not agree. Do you?
Gentle Reader: How much are we talking about? And what would be Miss Manners’ cut of the take? Just kidding. No, Miss Manners does not believe in mixing hospitality with bill collecting.
The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Judith Martin United Features Syndicate
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