Q: Am I the only one who is uncomfortable when the person on the other end of a telephone call does a loud Archie Bunker-type flush in the middle of the conversation? It makes me feel like I am in the bathroom with the individual.
A: Indeed. “Oh dear, I seem to have caught you at a bad time. Perhaps I should try you later when you are not quite so indisposed.”
Q: My college roommate and I have remained close friends over the years. She called to tell me that she was engaged and was planning a small wedding next fall. As this is a second marriage for both, her plan is to keep the ceremony and reception small, with only family and very close friends.
I was happy with her news and offered to host a small dinner before the wedding. She seemed thrilled and accepted with much expressed gratitude.
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As the wedding approaches, my former roommate and I have talked about the various plans going on, as well as my dinner. At the end of a follow-up call, she said: “Invitations have gone in the mail today, and while you are invited to the wedding, your husband is not. I really don’t care for him.”
I was at a loss for words and ended the call. We have been close friends for 40 years and have named children after each other. I’m in a state of shock.
What should I tell my husband, and what advice do you have for me?
A: While Miss Manners is far from justifying this atrocious behavior, she is hoping, for your sake, that this woman is suffering from an acute case of a common, if unacceptable, affliction: bridal monstrosity. Surely when she comes to her senses, she will apologize profusely.
But Miss Manners would be happy to help you speed up that process by suggesting you say in your most measured tone, “Well, I am afraid that my husband and I come as a set, something I’m sure you and Travis would want to be considered once you are married. And I’ll assume, therefore, that you won’t be wanting us to host the dinner, since my husband and the house also come together.”
If the first statement doesn’t wake her up, surely the cancellation of the party, for which she expressed so much gratitude, will.
Q: I am going to my husband’s first Christmas party with his company. I have been informed that one of his employees thinks that he is the smartest person in the company and lets you know it at every opportunity.
Any suggestions for comebacks that are not immediately known as a letdown?
A: What a helpmate you must be to your husband. Does he also help you by deflating your colleagues or acquaintances?
Miss Manners’ suggestion of a comeback to bragging is “How nice for you.” As your husband is this person’s employer, you might add, “I’ve heard so much about you,” without consenting to elaborate.
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.