In­vi­ta­tions not ar­bi­trary

Post-Tribune - - Post-Tribunei Iq - JU­DITH MARTIN Write to Miss Man­ners at www.miss­man­, dearmiss­man­ners@gmail. com; or Miss Man­ners, Uni­ver­sal Uclick, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: My fi­ance just got an in­vi­ta­tion in only his name to the wed­ding of his child­hood friend.

This cou­ple is well aware of our re­la­tion­ship sta­tus, as they vis­ited our city twice in the past year and stayed in our home.

I think he should just at­tend the wed­ding on his own, since my un­der­stand­ing is that an in­vi­ta­tion cov­ers only the named in­di­vid­u­als, pe­riod. But my fi­ance says that a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly don’t know that “ar­bi­trary rule” (his words, which are mak­ing me dread the RSVP process when we send out in­vi­ta­tions for our own wed­ding) and that the right thing to do is dou­ble-check with the bride and groom to spare them the em­bar­rass­ment of accidentally ex­clud­ing me.

Can you please guide us in the cor­rect course of ac­tion?

GEN­TLE READER: The pru­dent course would be to en­lighten your fi­ance be­fore — as you fear — his like-minded friends begin dis­tribut­ing their own in­vi­ta­tions to your wed­ding.

First les­son: Rules that are ar­bi­trary may be nonethe­less cru­cial. Whether we drive on the right or left side of the road is ar­bi­trary, but it is cru­cial to obey the pre­vail­ing rule.

Sec­ond les­son: That the hosts, not the guests, do the invit­ing is not ar­bi­trary. Pre­sum­ably, they know whom they want and have planned for the num­ber of those who have ac­cepted. Even if they do a bad job of it — and it is in­deed rude to in­vite only half of an es­tab­lished cou­ple — they should not sim­ply be over­rid­den.

But of course Miss Man­ners will help you do just that.

Your fi­ance should say to his child­hood friend that he knows the wed­ding is small, but won­ders whether they in­tended to have room for you. If the an­swer fo­cuses on the wed­ding size, it means no, and your fi­ance may or may not want to at­tend alone. How­ever, if it was in­deed an over­sight, this should clear that up.

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: I think it is so ugly to hold up your pinky while drink­ing tea. Do you con­sider it good or bad man­ners?

GEN­TLE READER: It has been both in its day, as Miss Man­ners re­calls.

When tea was first im­ported to Eng­land from China, it was wildly ex­pen­sive and kept locked up. It was drunk from Chi­nese cups, which are very thin and, for rea­sons best known to the de­sign­ers, have no han­dles. There­fore, tea drinkers held the cups with as few fin­gers as pos­si­ble to min­i­mize scorch­ing, es­pe­cially of the pinky, which is apt to have fewer cal­louses than the oth­ers and thus be more sen­si­tive.

Be­cause it was a luxury of the rich, that ges­ture came to be as­so­ci­ated with them, and not in a nice way.

As we now have our own teacups with han­dles, the once-prac­ti­cal ges­ture is ab­surd, and only the as­so­ci­a­tion with wealth and, by im­pli­ca­tion, snob­bery, persist.


NERS: My friend, whom I dated a cou­ple of times, asked me to be his valen­tine (I re­ceived a card and gifts). I ac­cepted. Now what should I do?

GEN­TLE READER: How about re­cip­ro­cat­ing by send­ing a valen­tine? And do­ing what­ever the two of you de­cide, as long as you prom­ise not to tell Miss Man­ners.

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