Antelope Valley Press


- By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Dear Miss Manners: I am in a pickle. Every year, my family hosts a formal Christmas dinner for our closest friends. We are limited to nine couples at the table.

We usually have more friends than we have seats. We request RSVPs early so we can invite other couples in case somebody cannot make it.

This year, we invited two new couples to the party, and one of them replied that just one person is attending because her significan­t other won’t be around.

What do I do now? Go on with the party even though she will be the only “solo” person, or explain that it is a couples party and move to the next couple in line?

Dear Gentle Reader: What you can do is to rid yourself of the concept of a “couples party.” Miss Manners doubts that you are playing bridge on Christmas, and can think of no other decent activity that requires guests to attend in pairs.

Dear Miss Manners: When I refer to doctors, whether in an email or in person, I use “Dr.” and their last names, as I assume most people do. What is the proper way of addressing a nurse, nurse practition­er or physician’s assistant?

They have all put a lot of effort into earning their degrees, but “Physician’s Assistant Smith” seems awkward, and “Ms./Mr.” doesn’t acknowledg­e their degrees at all.

Even though they want to call me by my first name, I prefer not to do the same. Would Miss Manners offer a solution?

Dear Gentle Reader: “Physician’s assistant” only sounds awkward until everybody gets used to it. And the profession ought to be teaching them to do so. On a letter, you could put “P.A.”

Miss Manners is less interested in profession­als displaying what degrees they earned than she is in patients knowing where they are in the medical hierarchy. Badges and explanatio­ns help, but a title establishe­s the answer to, “Who is this person in the examining room?”

First names are not the solution for anyone involved in this situation. When you are concerned about your health, you want a skilled profession­al, not a new friend.

Dear Miss Manners: I am a receptioni­st at a surgical center who checks in many patients each day. On occasion, the person I am checking in turns out to be a doctor, and often becomes offended that I do not address them as “Dr.” rather than by their name.

There is not any indication of their profession on their driver’s licenses or insurance cards, and that is usually the only informatio­n I have about them, so I am unsure how they think I would know.

These doctors get so upset and it sets us off on the wrong foot. Do you have any advice for how to repair the unavoidabl­e insult I keep repeating?

Dear Gentle Reader:

Are they really that haughty as to assume that you would recognize their status without any documentat­ion or other signs?

You have not insulted these people. It is only necessary to say, “Yes, doctor.”

Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanner­s. com; to her email, dearmiss manners@gmail. com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndicatio­n, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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