DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a widow who has been seeing a widower for more than a year. He is such a lovely and distinguished gentleman. We are planning on being married soon.
We are both in our 80s and do not wish to live together without being married. We think it sends the wrong message to our children and grandchildren.
I am puzzled as to how I should introduce my gentleman friend to my friends. At our age, is it appropriate to introduce him as my fiance?
GENTLE READER: It is true that the term “fiance” is now used in odd ways. Miss Manners has noticed that in news accounts, if an unmarried mother is beaten up by the father of at least some of her children, he will be identified as her boyfriend, whereas if he is not mistreating her, he is referred to as her fiance. It, and the female equivalent, is often used by couples who seem to have no intention of being married.
But she is puzzled about why you think there is an age limit in using the term correctly, to describe the gentleman whom you do indeed plan to marry. As with the terms “husband” and “wife,” there is no association with age.
Perhaps you are reacting against the sudden descent into girlishness that so often overtakes brides who are independent and over the age of consent — the bouffant white dresses, the summoning of someone to give them away, the notion that others must refurnish their long-since-established households.
Miss Manners is indulgent about those aspects that are merely in questionable taste, although she roundly condemns grabbiness in bridal couples of any age. But though she admires second and late-life weddings that are sophisticated, rather than showy, she doesn’t want to spoil the fun of those who crave all-out pageants.
She would be sorry to think that the show-business wedding had come to be so accepted as the standard that you and your lovely, distinguished fiance could not use the traditional terms.
Serve up plenty
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do you serve for family members at Thanksgiving who have invited themselves over for Thanksgiving dinner but who do not eat turkey or ham?
GENTLE READER: Sweet potatoes and patience.
Napkins as towels
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In our guest bathroom I have a rectangular napkin holder for folded decorative paper napkins to be used by guests for drying their hands. My thought is that I am providing our guests with a more sanitary way to dry their hands rather than guests using the same hanging hand towels.
What is mind-boggling to me is that many guests appear to prefer using the hanging hand towels rather than the disposable decorative napkins. Am I off base in believing that the disposable decorative napkins are a nice and appropriate alternative?
GENTLE READER: The guests are using the guest towels? Shocking! But at least when you slap their hands, their hands will be dry.
What boggles Miss Manners’ mind is why anyone would hang towels in the bathroom when expecting guests who are not expected to use them.
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.
© Universal Uclick 11/25