DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I inform someone that he cannot come to my home unless he stops wearing cologne?
Each time we invite our brother-in-law for dinner, he brings his boyfriend, who not only has bad etiquette but also wears the most obnoxious scent. It has caused bad migraines for the rest of us.
I am about to send another dinner invite to my brother-in-law, but I really want to emphasize that he needs to tell his boyfriend not to wear cologne – or just not bring him at all. I am unable to tell his boyfriend directly, as he barely speaks English, and I don’t have his contact information.
GENTLE READER: What a blessing. Because “please don’t stink up the joint” is no way to welcome a guest.
Instead, appeal to your brother-in-law with some version of, “I am afraid that I must have developed an allergy or sensitivity to strong scents – and Francois’ cologne has been exacerbating it. Is there any way for him to avoid wearing it when he comes over? We do so enjoy his company otherwise.”
Failing that, you could declare that you are taking extra COVID precautions and require that masks be worn in the house – if only, perhaps, for its occupants.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My extended family has a history of division – people not speaking to one another for years. I am guilty, too, but it’s a multigenerational pattern I’d like to end in support of the next generation.
I write as we are planning our daughter’s wedding. We are brimming over with joy, but one of my sisters has decided not to speak to me or our other sister.
I have just learned from a mutual friend that Silent Sister is coming to the wedding, and that is good. But I don’t want Silent Sister to feel awkward, lurking about the fringes of the event like a coyote in the brush. My thought is to email all family members, including Silent Sister, asking them to volunteer for enjoyable tasks at the wedding, such as decorating the donkey with flowers or feeding the longhorns so they show up for the photographer.
My worry is that she’ll attempt to create further drama rather than rising to the occasion. Do I let her isolate as she has chosen or welcome her into the joy of this occasion? I want the focus to be on my daughter.
GENTLE READER: If donkeys and longhorns are involved, your daughter can give up all hope of being the focus. She will most certainly be upstaged.
Miss Manners therefore recommends that you focus, as you have been, on including your (perhaps undeserving) sister. Assigning tasks is not likely to accomplish this. If she is set on making a scene, it will be of her own doing.
Luckily, unless she chooses to prowl in the woods during the wedding, she is unlikely to upstage the animals.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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