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

Miss Manners: My friends laughed when I told them I fell

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I suffered a fall at a social gathering. I got hurt pretty badly and ended up with large scrapes and bruises for over a week. I’m lucky I did not break a bone, but I was pretty shaken up.

When I later shared this news with close friends, two of them started laughing hysterically. I said that I was ultimately OK, considering how serious the fall was (not that they asked).

I know that there are endless videos online of people falling down, and that these cause laughter, but this is something I shared with people close to me. When did it become acceptable to laugh out loud when someone is describing an event that could have caused serious injury? Am I missing something?

GENTLE READER: How funny is your telling of the story?

Miss Manners know that any humor was unintentional, but perhaps your tone was misconstrued.

Setting them straight – by looking at them quizzically and repeating that the experience was frightening and painful – is about the most you can do. But no, it is not acceptable to laugh at others’ misfortunes. Even the online videos give disclaimers that no one was harmed in their making.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a 30th birthday party for my best friend’s husband at a restaurant. We arrived, gave him our gift and then ordered. Two days later, my friend texted me to send her the cost of our food.

We gifted them a fairly pricey bottle of alcohol that was about the price of our two meals. Is it acceptable to simply not bring a gift in the future, knowing that this couple expects us to pay for our dinners as guests? And is there a way to gently let her know how rude this comes across?

Or should I just keep my mouth shut? She is close enough to me that she is going to be my maid of honor, and I don’t want people to think poorly of her (as I, frankly, am doing right now).

GENTLE READER: If it is possible to say in a nonaccusatory way, Miss Manners suggests, “I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood. I thought you had invited us for dinner.” This will not likely get you out of paying for this particular dinner, but it will make the point that the person who does the inviting should pay.

Of course, Miss Manners is painfully aware that self-hosted birthday parties are considered exceptions to this. So if people insist on continuing the practice, she will have no choice but to condone forgoing birthday presents on top of the already pricey dinners the payers did not choose. It seems only fair.

In exchange, however, please promise Miss Manners that, having rightly been put off by this friend’s behavior, you will not seek revenge when she is your maid of honor. Brides like to exploit this role even under the best of circumstances. Assigning the planning and hosting of extensive parties or showers to your friends is unseemly – even if, in this case, it may feel justified.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website