Q: I received an invitation to attend a Christmas party from an old college friend. He sent it via social media, and I accepted via social media. Also attending the party will be a few other old friends I hardly ever see. I had been looking forward to it.
About a month ago, I received the following message, also via social media, from an old acquaintance who is closer to the host and the other guests than I am:
“Hey I’m wondering if you could not go to Joe’s party so that I can attend. I kind of dislike you that much.
“Much appreciated (signature)”
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I am still planning to attend. I am wondering what the appropriate response to this message would be, and by what medium I should send my response.
A: None. At least not to a person so crude and cruel as to be impervious to decent behavior. It would only provoke further rudeness.
But social media is useful in this case, as you can forward that message to your host, saying that you would indeed like to attend the party and asking what he would prefer you to do in light of the other guest’s attitude.
Miss Manners hopes that person would understand that this is a rare instance in which a dis-invitation is permissible: “I am sorry to learn that the presence of another guest means that you would not enjoy attending my party. Perhaps I will see you another time.”
Should the host fail to do that, you will know of two people to avoid. Merry Christmas.
Q: When I attended three funerals (unrelated to one another), I sent each family a sympathy card with a handwritten note immediately upon hearing of the death.
However, I noticed a basket at each funeral for people to place cards. Because I had sent cards at the time of death, a month before the services, should I have also brought a card to the funerals? It didn’t even occur to me. I’m not sure what the proper protocol is.
A: Well, it shouldn’t be collecting a basket of cards as if they were valentines in an elementary school class. Sympathy is properly conveyed as you have already done, and presence at a funeral is noted in a guest book for attendees to sign.
Miss Manners presumes the bringing of cards is being done by people who are unaware of funeral etiquette, or who want to save postage.
Q: How is a combination of cake and ice cream to be served? On a dessert plate or in a bowl? How is it eaten? Fork or spoon? Is it ever proper to eat from a plate with a spoon?
A: Have you ever tried to eat ice cream with a fork?
You needn’t. Contrary to what many people believe, Miss Manners assures you that etiquette is not out to trick you. When dessert is both textured and runny or gooey, both a spoon and a fork should be available.
It would also be too much of a challenge to have to eat cake from a bowl. The ice cream is properly placed on top of the cake, so that any melting will be absorbed before getting to the plate.
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.