Invitations not arbitrary
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.
DEAR MISS MAN
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.