DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 51-year-old woman who has a lot of friends. I’ve been to engagement parties, weddings, baptisms, first communions, kids’ birthdays up to the age of 18, etc. I’m blessed to have so many friends. I have never been married or have kids. I do not make a lot of money, and my friends know that.
I have dear friends in Australia who are paying my way next year to stay with them for 31/2 weeks. I am not a selfish person, but the idea came to me that, given all the things I’ve been going to, it might be my turn to have a celebration for me. I would be able to use that money for spending.
GENTLE READER: How fortunate you are to have those spontaneously generous friends in Australia.
And how sad it is that instead of inspiring gratitude, this leads you to begrudge your own past generosity and think about extracting payback from other friends. If that’s the way you believe that friendship should work, Miss Manners suggests that you start worrying about the time when your hosts tally what they spent on you and plot to get an equivalent return.
No need to play postman
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We get (real) mail in a mailbox attached to the wall just outside our door. I often do not pick up the mail the instant it comes because I am doing something else, and I want to get the mail when I can deal with it.
Usually if someone comes to the door while there is mail in the mailbox, they will take it out of the mailbox and hand it to me, or sometimes if they are coming in, they will bring it in with them and put it down someplace random, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid by not bringing it in until I was ready to deal with it.
I am utterly baffled as to why anyone would think that this is helpful, but so many people do it that there must be something I am missing. If it were just one or two people who did it repeatedly, I would find a nice way to ask them to stop, but how do I prevent nice, friendly people from doing this?
GENTLE READER: Short of putting a mousetrap in your mailbox — or a lock — Miss Manners does not see how you can prevent an endless stream of nice people who are ignorant of your habits nevertheless trying to be helpful (which is why they do it). She is just grateful to be given a problem in which everyone means well.
Too soon for a kiss?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: New relationship, very early stages. Should I put a kiss on birthday card?
GENTLE READER: Not before you know the person well enough to predict whether the reaction will be pressing the card to the recipient’s cheek or dropping it and going off to wash the hands.
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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