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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners 7/1

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a gift from a family, and the attached card listed all the family members, including a child lost in infancy. I have also received gifts from widows signed “Mr. and Mrs.”

I imagine this comforts the gift givers, but how does one address the thank-you note?

GENTLE READER: It is unseemly to sign correspondence on behalf of deceased relatives, but it is also unseemly to pick fights with the bereaved. Address your response to whoever wrote the letter, and make it so touching and considerate that nobody notices how it was addressed.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hosted a small outdoor brunch for a group of ladies I often socialize with. I invited all of the usual group, including a woman I will call Nellie, who dislikes another woman in the group, whom I will call Tessie.

I let Nellie know that Tessie would be arriving for the latter portion of the party due to a work conflict. This meant that Nellie, who was adamant that she did not want to see Tessie, could still enjoy a majority of the event. I told her that I would understand if she left early.

When I suggested this amicable solution, I was met with an absolute tirade. Nellie called into question our very friendship, saying, “We all know that I’m not going to come if she’ll be there, so I think the plan was always for me not to come.”

I did my best to explain that I did not feel comfortable excluding anyone from the group, and that I was trying to accommodate both her and Tessie. I received a slew of texts in response, many of them with some choice language, insisting that I was being insensitive and that I was not Nellie’s “real friend.” She abruptly stated that our friendship was done and proceeded to block me from all her social media.

I thought her behavior was an overreaction. I have attended parties where people I dislike were also in attendance. I am cordial without being overly friendly, and I opt to talk with other people; I have never yelled at the host over the invitee list. Nor have I ever ended a friendship over that person having a friend I don’t approve of.

I am honestly perplexed. Was there a better way to handle this situation? Is there an optimal way to proceed from here?

GENTLE READER: There is a common misperception that one rudeness justifies another – which would be bad enough, were it not paired with the belief that anything someone else does that you do not like is rude.

Your former friend believes you were rude to her – you were not – and feels that this covers her violent reaction. The truth is that you were extremely accommodating, while she was extremely rude.

Miss Manners approves your conduct to date, and thinks the optimal outcome – ridding yourself of this person – has already been achieved.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website