Q: I’m looking for the right thing to say in signing a card to a man I do love; however, I don’t want to write the word “love.”
I’ve come up with “your loving friend,” but I need some other ways to express admiration without sending “I love you” or “With admiration and love …”
What would you say? I don’t want to push him away, but would love to express myself lovingly without actually saying it. Does this make sense?
A: It doesn’t have to. It’s love. Hesitant love, but love.
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But Miss Manners supposes that the gentleman might try to make sense of it, in which case “Your loving friend” might be interpreted as the current, rather chilling use of “friend” in a possibly romantic situation, meaning, “I’d rather just be friends.”
How about “Affectionately yours” or “Fondly yours”? Now that the “yours” is improperly so often dropped from “Sincerely” and “Very truly” (for those who have not yet succumbed to a mere “Best”), it might seem promising.
Q: A friend of mine from whom I have grown distant has invited me and three other friends to a members-only club for a dinner next month. I would feel very out of place at this type of establishment and have no interest in going. This friend has a new relationship with a wealthy fellow, and her lifestyle has changed since we first met.
The three other friends who are invited are excited to go to a private club. It took many attempts to pick a date for the four of us to meet. How do I back out graciously?
A: A bit snobbish, are we?
Miss Manners is not referring to your friend. That lady may have changed her dining venue, but she has invited her old friends to come along. It is you who feel that where you eat is more important than with whom.
All right, you can merely thank her and decline the invitation on the grounds that you find you cannot make that date after all, no specific reason necessary. But unless the club has a policy of discrimination justifying a boycott, this strikes Miss Manners as snobbish.
Q: I like to host dinner parties, and before I plan the menu, I always ask guests if there are any foods they cannot eat.
However, now my partner has started to ask our guests for their suggestions as to what we should cook.
I always thought it was up to the host to decide what foods to cook and what wines to provide. I am very uncomfortable with suggestions from guests.
A: As well you should be. Your partner is abdicating the position of host to become an unpaid restaurateur.
Miss Manners understands that it is now necessary to inquire if prospective guests have any food restrictions. And she suspects that the extension of this beyond medical, religious and ethical concerns, to where people feel free to declare their mere tastes, could easily drive a cook crazy.
But even letting them place orders will not solve the problem. Wish your partner luck in getting all the guests to agree.
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.