DEAR MISS MANNERS: I grew up without any extra money, and now I make a good living. When I inform someone excitedly that the gift I gave them was expensive, it’s because I am proud of my affection towards that person and want to share my affection with them verbally.
I realize there are more polite means. However, I am happy to give gifts that I worked hard to pick out. In other words, those words have slipped out of me when I’m feeling quite loving.
GENTLE READER: Bragging about the cost of a present creates an effect that is far from loving, Miss Manners assures you. And it may unduly tempt the recipient into trading it in for the cash.
The polite thing to do is to let the receiver notice its value – and for you to modestly demur: “Oh, I know a diamond tiara seems like a lot, but I couldn’t help myself. It just screamed ‘you’ to me.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a group of male friends I genuinely like and with whom I enjoy spending time. None of them expends the effort to organize gatherings, so that chore has largely fallen to me; otherwise we would get together quite infrequently.
They acknowledge this inequality, and even pass it off as me being “so good at it.” I grudgingly accept this role in order to continue having these enjoyable gatherings. Events could consist of drinks out at a bar or something at my house, such as talk around a fire or watching a sporting event.
But a certain practice has become irksome: There are some in the group who will ask who else has been invited, or who has accepted, before they will decide on their attendance. (There are no hard feelings among the group and everyone gets along with everyone else.)
I find this insulting. Am I being too sensitive? How can I respond without seeming petty?
GENTLE READER: “If I am going to be the organizer, then I get to make the rules. If someone else would like to do the honors, complete with fielding questions and follow-ups on Party Paul’s attendance and whereabouts, you are welcome to it.”
A tad petty, Miss Manners concedes, but not overtly so.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a slight case of allergies and occasionally let out a sudden sneeze, which I discreetly attempt to muffle. Those around me sometimes counter with “God bless you,” “Gesundheit” or the like, to which I give a polite nod.
However, there is one person who will bolt upright with alarm whenever I sneeze and exclaim “Well, excuse you!” or, “Why didn’t you give us some warning?!” making everyone stare at me further.
Frankly, it’s an awkward situation and I’d rather not have any additional attention, particularly as I’m scurrying for a tissue. How should I respond?
GENTLE READER: “Believe me, if I had had any warning myself, you would have been the next to know.”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com.
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