DEAR MISS MANNERS: My cousin “omitted” to tell me that her husband tested positive for COVID-19 while he was abroad.
We have been talking quite often during this time, and when she expressed her fears regarding the virus, I assured her that any person can take some basic steps to prevent contamination.
She had mentioned that some of his colleagues were found sick but never said anything about her husband. She only confessed that he had been sick after he returned, probably thinking that I might have found out anyway from another source.
Her attitude was, “He tested positive; haven’t I told you?” No. You haven’t. “Um, OK. He was sick, but he’s fine now. He’s doing well, and we expect a quick recovery.”
There was no other information after this news. I have had mixed feelings considering the dishonesty and lack of communication, and I have even questioned our friendship.
Later, I felt a little sorry for her situation and planned to make a sympathy call to ask her if they needed any help. Just minutes before this planned call, a relative mentioned that my cousin’s family went on a trip to the mountains together with his brother’s family.
I feel very confused, and I don’t know how to proceed when I see her next.
GENTLE READER: If your cousin had come to dinner without telling you her husband’s medical condition, Miss Manners would better understand your complaint. Such an omission could have put your family at risk.
But she did not. She did not even omit to tell you – she simply delayed, possibly out of embarrassment, and then tried to cover that delay in a clumsy way.
None of this makes you the victim. Since it is past time for you to express sympathy and support, when you do call, you may have to accept gracefully any coolness of tone on the part of your cousin.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend’s wedding was postponed from last spring due to COVID-19. I had RSVP’d yes before positive cases in my state soared.
I have now rescinded my RSVP, because the event is unsafe. The bride is angry and doesn’t believe the deadly pandemic is real. Should I still send a gift?
GENTLE READER: Whether you should want to send a present will depend on how significant a rift was caused when you told the bride that she was endangering people’s lives.
It was once enough for Miss Manners to point out that doing so is not more polite simply because it is true. This was in the days when public health pronouncements were made by trained officials to the public (for whom there was always an exception to the above rule), rather than the other way around.
It remains true that the bride is unlikely to take the news well. A present might heal the rift, and you can even order it online while you are on the telephone discouraging Grandma from attending.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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