DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve drifted apart from a longtime friend. She is recently divorced and has a new boyfriend, and unfortunately, we have very little in common at the moment.
Although we share a “friend group,” my husband and I have been left off of recent group invitations for events such as concerts and dinners. I’m actually OK with this, which says a lot about where the friendship is going.
Now we have received an invitation to a graduation party for her child. This feels selective in terms of the expectation of gifts, versus just having fun. Is it rude not to attend?
GENTLE READER: You are free to accept or decline as your inclination and your schedule permit, without fear of being rude. But if you now assume that an invitation from her can only be motivated by greed, the friendship is indeed over.
In your position, Miss Manners would have taken the invitation to mean that while the friendship is more distant, your friend still wished to include you in important life events.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have long wondered about those tiny straws that one receives in mixed drinks in restaurants and bars: They seem more suited to stirring drinks than sipping them. I always just take them out, and drink the beverage from the glass.
I can’t help noticing that I’m in the minority, though. Are you really supposed to drink through them? Am I being uncouth if I drink directly from the glass?
GENTLE READER: Etiquette is more forgiving of being overly, than underly, formal, and the straw is the tank top of eating utensils. Miss Manners has no objection to discarding it in the accompanying paper napkin, whether you are doing so because you need a stiff drink or because the effort of pulling liquid through such a tiny aperture gives you a headache.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: During my 25-year marriage, my husband’s brother and his wife have looked down their noses at me and have treated me horribly. My husband acknowledges this; however, he continues to interact with them, stating that he does not want to end his relationship with his only sibling.
Now we have retired and moved to another state. My husband has extended an invitation to see our new home, and they are planning a visit in a few weeks.
I refuse to have them in my home, period. How do I address this? My husband refuses to tell them my feelings and does not want me to make the call. I want to be gone when they come to my home, away to a nice spa hotel. Is this the best way to handle the unwanted houseguests?
GENTLE READER: Sympathetic as she is to your predicament, Miss Manners cannot condone the contemplated rudenesses of uninviting your in-laws or being absent when they arrive. Your husband needs to talk to his brother. The likely outcome will solve your problem: Either the in-laws will promise to mend their ways (in which case, you must give them a chance to do so), or they will be insulted and refuse to make the visit.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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