DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a bad habit of interrupting people. My mom says that every time I interrupt people, I owe her one dollar. I need help and advice.
GENTLE READER: “Listen to your mother” has evidently not worked, which is why she is upping the stakes. Your mother is guessing that eventually the cost of noncompliance will force a change in behavior. Miss Manners’ advice is therefore either to stop interrupting or to stop spending – so you can pay your mother.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a dear, older friend who is celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. I’ve offered to help throw her a party after it became clear her kids wouldn’t be doing that.
But we could have a problem on our hands. She has invited 100 or so friends to a resort, and wants everyone to join her and her (very nice) husband for dinner. I’m putting together her invitations and doing all the coordinating.
She has instructed me that she wants this to be a no-host dinner – she’s inviting people who will be paying hotel, transportation and other expenses in a pricey area – and then asking them to pay their way through dinner, as well. It’s a little awkward, and I can’t help wondering how she will be received.
GENTLE READER: Your friend has co-opted you into abetting her own rudeness: One does not throw parties to honor oneself, much less expect other people to pay for them.
Miss Manners sees that, having come this far, you cannot easily back out. But she suggests you think of yourself as the servant – a passive, and therefore not responsible, pair of hands – while cultivating an inconspicuous disposition.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are a retired couple who received an invitation that read: “John and Jane Doe request the honor of your presence to celebrate Event 1, Event 2, Event 3.”
(All of the above had already occurred when we got the invitation.) “RSVP. Dress to impress.”
We are not familiar with “dress to impress.” What is the correct attire for such an occasion? Is this a new term?
GENTLE READER: While your would-be hosts did not themselves invent “dress to impress,” they, like everyone else using the phrase, have failed to supply a useful definition.
Miss Manners does not count “Oh, wear whatever makes you comfortable” – the likely answer to a closer inquiry – as useful. She is inclined to say that those who invent vocabulary have only themselves to blame when the people with whom they are supposedly communicating cannot divine the intended meaning.
But she realizes that this still leaves the would-be guest standing in front of the closet with a blank expression. If the host truly cannot supply a meaning, then consult with other guests, if possible, and dress for the occasion: Weddings are more formal than potluck dinners. Fortunately, in this case your host has spared you from any consequences by sending the invitation after the events occurred.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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