Bring­ing back the ‘salon’ to fa­cil­i­tate friend­ships

The Commercial Appeal - - Mlife -

Dear Miss Man­ners: I’m al­most in tears and I’m not even the one af­fected.

I have a dif­fi­cult cousin who is get­ting mar­ried. She has no friends. No one is stand­ing up for her, there are no show­ers or fes­tiv­i­ties, and the one abortive at­tempt at one was can­celed be­cause no one would come. I’ve had trouble with this per­son in the past, but I wouldn’t wish this on an en­emy, much less a rel­a­tive.

As I re­flected on what I could do for her (I’m throw­ing a small party in her honor and pre­vail­ing on my own friends to come meet the bride), it oc­curred to me that I am sur­rounded by lonely friends, rel­a­tives and ac­quain­tances who are liv­ing like vir­tual her­mits. They only hap­pen to brush up against other peo­ple at work or gro­cery shop­ping and they are de­pressed about it. I’m hardly a pop­u­lar per­son, but I try to make in­tro­duc­tions.

What can the some­what-more-pop­u­lar peo­ple do to re­lieve the friend­less­ness of the less pop­u­lar peo­ple they know and care about? What has hap­pened to so­ci­ety, Miss Man­ners?

Gen­tle Reader: Some of the things that hap­pened to so­ci­ety: Screen time. Longer work hours. The shirk­ing of guest re­spon­si­bil­i­ties – in­clud­ing answering in­vi­ta­tions, show­ing up and re­cip­ro­cat­ing – re­sult­ing in an un­will­ing­ness to en­ter­tain.

The shirk­ing of host re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, so that those who do en­ter­tain rarely have their hos­pi­tal­ity re­cip­ro­cated.

The no­tion that any gath­er­ing must be about an oc­ca­sion and one that in­volves presents for the hosts.

The re­def­i­ni­tion of “friends” to de­scribe strangers.

The el­e­va­tion of the im­por­tance of the menu to the ex­tent that at­tempt­ing to pro­vide a com­mu­nal meal, even within a fam­ily, means cater­ing to a be­wil­der­ing va­ri­ety of re­quire­ments and pref­er­ences. Bless you for try­ing to fix this. But Miss Man­ners has a sug­ges­tion – one that she has plucked out of the past. At its grand­est, it was called keep­ing a salon; the more mod­est ver­sion was hav­ing “a day” when one would be “at home.” The idea was to have a reg­u­lar time when ac­quain­tances may drop in with­out no­tice.

They needn’t com­mit them­selves, but would al­ways find a wel­come. Those who find it in­ter­est­ing will soon in­tro­duce oth­ers. And ac­quire friends.

Please send ques­tions to Miss Man­ners at www.miss­man­ners.com; to her email, dearmiss­man­ners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Man­ners, An­drews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

By Judith Mar­tin and Nicholas Ivor Mar­tin

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