What’s the right time, place for pop­ping the ques­tion?

Orlando Sentinel - - OBITUARIES - Judith Martin

Dear Miss Man­ners: At 58 and as a life­long bach­e­lor, I have fi­nally found the per­son I wish to marry. She, I’m sure, feels the same. The is­sue is pop­ping the ques­tion.

We live to­gether in the Midwest, very near her fam­ily. We spend two weeks every year with my fam­ily in the East. I would like to ask her there, so I may im­me­di­ately con­vey the Big News to my mother in per­son and share the de­light I am cer­tain she will feel.

I rec­og­nize that eti­quette no longer re­quires I speak to my in­tended’s fa­ther first, but I won­der whether it is im­proper for me to ask at my con­ve­nience, and so de­prive her of the plea­sure of im­me­di­ately in­form­ing her fam­ily in per­son. My hope is that the fact of the pro­posal will be enough for her.

Need­less to say, I’m in no po­si­tion to find out her thoughts on the mat­ter. But I thought I might find out yours.

Gen­tle reader: And yet Miss Man­ners has in­fin­itely fewer per­sonal feel­ings about the out­come than your po­ten­tial be­trothed. This lady will pre­sum­ably have many — and think­ing of her first would be a good way to set prece­dence for any fu­ture you may have with her.

A com­pro­mise might be to ask the fa­ther for her hand — not as a means of con­sent, in this case, but as fair warn­ing for the fam­ily, ask­ing them not to spoil the sur­prise for your in­tended. This method also has the added ben­e­fit of be­ing charm­ing and sub­tly dis­mis­sive to­ward any ques­tion of your friend’s age and ob­vi­ous in­de­pen­dence from her par­ents.

Dear Miss Man­ners: I am a quiet, shy, in­tro­verted per­son who tends to have a slow re­sponse time and doesn’t like to in­ter­rupt.

When in con­ver­sa­tion with quick-wit­ted, talk­a­tive peo­ple, I of­ten don’t end up say­ing much. Which is fine, ex­cept when part­ing, the other per­son some­times says, “I feel like I’ve done all the talk­ing.”

I am al­ways at a loss as to how to re­spond in a po­lite way. Help, please.

Gen­tle reader: “Not at all. I en­joyed lis­ten­ing.” No doubt, rather than find­ing you bor­ing, these con­ver­sa­tion­al­ists will find you all the more fas­ci­nat­ing by be­ing in­ter­ested in them.

Dear Miss Man­ners: A good friend’s sickly, el­derly brother died in his sleep. We con­verse on a daily basis, so I found out rel­a­tively quickly. An­other good friend of mine is also a mu­tual friend, but they only see each other a few times a year.

Should I tell my other friend about the death of the brother of our con­nected friend, or is it not my place to do so?

In this par­tic­u­lar case — since the two friends don’t see each other that of­ten — it’s not likely that the de­ceased’s brother will see or con­tact our mu­tual friend in the near fu­ture.

Gen­tle reader: Un­like good news, bad news is not gen­er­ally some­thing the prin­ci­pally af­fected per­son is ea­ger to con­vey, Miss Man­ners finds. And cer­tainly news of the de­ceased does not pos­sess sole own­er­ship. You may in good conscience tell your friend the news. And then it is up to him to con­vey con­do­lences. Dear Miss Man­ners: I have a friend who is kind, in­tel­li­gent and in­ter­est­ing. But she has a habit of do­ing some­thing that re­ally both­ers me, and I’m not sure how to han­dle it.

She is not the kind of per­son who hands out com­pli­ments, and when she does, it doesn’t feel like one. Right af­ter our youngest daugh­ter’s wed­ding, she sent me a text to tell me how nice it was, but that she liked our other daugh­ter’s wed­ding venue bet­ter.

I didn’t ask for her opin­ion. She did the same thing af­ter we moved to a new house. I in­vited her over and with­out my ask­ing, she told me our first house was her fa­vorite. Again, I didn’t ask.

Why would you of­fer a com­pli­ment about a pre­vi­ous event or pur­chase dur­ing the cur­rent one? It’s so ex­as­per­at­ing! And rude. I have al­ways com­pli­mented her on her taste, her ap­pear­ance, etc., and she never seems to have any­thing con­struc­tive to say to me. It seems so petty to let this bother me, but it does, and I’m not sure how to re­spond. What do you ad­vise?

Gen­tle reader: That you get a bet­ter class of friends. Miss Man­ners re­calls you start­ing this ques­tion by stat­ing how kind and in­tel­li­gent your friend was. Ev­i­dence seems to point other­wise.

You might re­spond, “I am so sorry that you feel that way, but it seems there is noth­ing we can do about it now. I hope that you were/will be able to en­joy the evening, nev­er­the­less.”

To send a ques­tion to the Miss Man­ners team of Judith Martin, Ni­cholas Ivor Martin and Ja­cobina Martin, go to miss­man­ners .com or write them c/o Univer­sal Uclick, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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