DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have received a few invitations to retirement parties that have come with rather a hefty price tag ($150 per couple). This entrance fee is used to pay for catering, photographer, decorations, venue, etc. When I have questioned this practice of having other people pay for someone’s party, I was told that it was OK because technically, the retiree isn’t throwing the party – a friend is.
I don’t believe it is ever OK to throw yourself, or anyone else, a party and then expect others to pay for it. What say you?
GENTLE READER: Unlike the legal system, etiquette does not write its rules into precisely worded statutes that can be pored over by lawyers, judges, and people who are less clever than they believe and have more free time than is good for them. This means that there are fewer technicalities in the etiquette business: Having no letter of its laws leaves etiquette free to concentrate on the spirit. (It also saves the cost of employing lawyers, judges and jailers.)
But whoever told you the rule cited above got it wrong. There are two rules in play: The first is that one does not properly throw a party to honor oneself; the second, that hosts do not properly charge guests for their hospitality. Miss Manners is willing to accept technicalities as honoring the first (a husband throwing a party for a wife’s retirement, for example), but the violation of the second is clear.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m 55. When I was about 12, sitting in the parlor of my grandmother’s Victorian home, she told me that respectable people do not sit in their cars, honking their horns, as a way of calling the neighbors out of their houses. Instead, they shut off the engine, walk to the front door and ring the doorbell.
Assuming that there is plenty of on-street parking and the person who has come calling on the neighbor has two functioning legs, is my grandmother’s rule still generally accepted as correct?
GENTLE READER: Generally, although the nature of the trip and the relationship of driver and rider are also relevant. A 55-year-old driving a 12-year-old to school as part of an ongoing carpool can be excused for keeping her seat, as can a driver picking up a near relation who is looking out the window.
Miss Manners does note one important change: The advent of cellphones allows the driver to avoid honking, which was never, strictly speaking, polite.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When determining dating anniversaries, is it more appropriate to count from the first date or from when the couple decided to “go steady”? Or is it a matter of personal preference?
GENTLE READER: So long as such anniversaries are not inflicted on – Miss Manners meant to say “shared with” – others, etiquette leaves you to enjoy whatever festivities you please in private, whether they date from your first date, your first kiss – or any other memorable events about which she does not wish to hear more.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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