Dear Miss Manners: I have posed this question twice, and realize that you don’t want to answer. Would you mind telling me why women and children loudly say “mwah” when they kiss a person on the cheek? It is only done in this country and is a relatively new custom.
Also, since when do men insist on kissing women on the cheek instead of shaking their hand? It is done by both young and old men. I really would appreciate an answer.
Dear Gentle Reader: Yes, yes, Miss Manners wants to answer. But this is not an emergency hotline, you know. It is true that she can spout any etiquette rule instantly, but there are situations where she thinks things over, as rare as that is in this Twitter-y age.
What has her musing is why she rather likes the “mwah” sound (and whether it shouldn’t be spelled “maaaaa”).
Cheek kissing itself, as an ordinary greeting, is relatively new in the United States, and not limited to males. If anything, they do less, as they tend not to kiss one another. And the rule, which nobody remembers, is that ladies are supposed to initiate the form of greeting, so it is their choice.
Back to the soundtrack: As this sound is made with the mouth open, it cannot be managed while the lips are planted on a cheek. Therefore, it goes with the so-called air-kiss, delivered just beside the face, rather than on it. To Miss Manners’ mind, that is a good substitute for the touch-kiss that not everyone welcomes from acquaintances.
Dear Miss Manners: Is it traditional for the future bride to pick her friends as bridesmaids, or can the future groom suggest a family member?
Dear Gentle Reader: Traditionally, it is the bride’s choice. But while it may not be traditional for her to take into consideration the bridegroom’s wishes, Miss Manners considers it a really good idea.
Dear Miss Manners: My daughter-in-law bought me a designer purse for Christmas. I really do not like it and will never use it. It is not anything close to my style, and I know she paid a great amount of money for it.
How can I get rid of this thing without hurting her feelings? I am just sick about this, as I do not want to hurt her — but on the other hand, I would be ill myself trying to use this monstrosity.
Dear Gentle Reader: How often do you see your daughter-in-law? And how will you dispose of the bag when you decide, as you are on the verge of doing, that the pain of wearing it is stronger than any pain you might cause her?
Miss Manners would like to spare both of you. The only sacrifice she asks is that you keep it for a while, although that would preclude returning it to the store. This is so that if your daughter-in-law mentions it, you can produce it and say that you are saving it for a special occasion. That the occasion is enough time having passed for you to sell it or give it away need not be mentioned.