DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s daughter had her first child on my birthday. I’m trying not to appear selfish, but the first birthday next year, which is many months away, is already being planned. My husband wants me to go to the city the night before (actual birthday) for a visit and nice dinner, just the two of us. The next day will be all about the baby.
I don’t particularly care for the city she lives in, and it would not be a vacation destination for me. Plus, all the wonderful recommendations given over the years have not been to my taste.
How do I politely tell my husband that this is not how I want to celebrate my birthday? I feel I need to set a precedent.
Let me also say that I have told him many times he can visit on his own as often as he wishes without any repercussions at home, as I appreciate the “me time.”
GENTLE READER: Do you really think that you can set up a competition between yourself and an infant grandchild without appearing selfish?
Grown-ups are supposed to be — well, mature. If you want your birthday dinner to be in your own city, why can’t you have it before or after the actual day? George Washington and Abraham Lincoln regularly move their birthdays around for the convenience of others.
Miss Manners can relieve you of the worry about setting precedents. Once the child is in preschool, he or she will want to have birthday parties for playmates, and will be flexible to receive relatives on another day. And you will have been out-matured.
A rant over raves
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Last night I attended a play. It was good, and I enjoyed it, but at the end a few people in the audience got up and gave a standing ovation. Then other people felt compelled to stand up, too.
While I did like the play, I didn’t feel it deserved a standing ovation, and I remained sitting. I feel that originally, the standing ovation was meant to be a sign of an exceptional performance, but now it seems to be given at the end of every show.
Was I being obstinate and rude for not standing up with everyone else? Should I just accept that the standing ovation has been devalued, or can I remain sitting even when everyone else is standing? If I should have stood, how many people constitute a standing ovation that everyone should get up for?
GENTLE READER: Ovation inflation annoys Miss Manners, too. She would think it would annoy performers, knowing that their best work is received no differently from their worst. But she is aware that that is about as likely as students getting upset about grade inflation.
There is no reason for you to abandon your judgment to follow the crowd. If you remain seated, applauding or not as you think fit, perhaps other discerning souls will join you.
It’s her hair
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend said she wants to dye her hair purple. I really don’t think it’s going to look good on her. How do I tell her without sounding rude?
GENTLE READER: Do you suppose that your friend is doing this with the hope of courting universal approval? Unless she has asked for critical advice, Miss Manners sees no reason to give it.
Besides, how do you know it won’t be becoming, if she hasn’t done it yet?
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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