Q: I am not a drinker; I do not drink beer, wine or any form of alcohol. Yet I do like to socialize with friends, co-workers and family, and they will always order a drink (but, thankfully, not get drunk).
We are not always in a place where I can just order a cup of coffee, and I really don’t like soda either, so I am wondering if there is an adult equivalent of ordering a “Shirley Temple,” so I can blend in without looking like the one teetotaler in the bunch. Help!
(And just so you know — no, I have never been a drinker. My non-drinking is not a result of any 12-step program. It is just my choice. So, no lectures from me while others imbibe.)
A: Are you asking Miss Manners for drink recommendations? Or just trying to fend off the “Aw, come on” lectures?
She finds that many can be fooled by water or juice and a well-placed citrus wedge. She also finds that asking for the “virgin” version of better-known cocktails is popular shorthand among bartenders.
But surely there must be more to this socializing than discussing what people do or do not drink. So if the request is overheard by the parties you are trying to fool, you need only say, “That’s what I prefer.”
Q: I am a retired widower and am planning a dream European vacation. I offered to pay the way for my married son and my married daughter to go with me since they cannot afford it, and I don’t want to go alone.
I have not offered to pay for my son-in-law or daughter-in-law; therefore, they will not be going. I think this is acceptable since it is my money and I can invite whomever I wish.
My friend, however, thinks I should pay for them as well or not invite my son and daughter. I am not wealthy, and I cannot afford to pay for five people.
A: Unfortunately, you lost Miss Manners’ sympathy when you stated, “It’s my money and I can invite whomever I wish.”
Had you posed the same conflict to your children, the same result might have been achieved, but with better diplomacy: “I would love to have everyone on the trip, but unfortunately find myself unable to finance it. Do you think that Hamish and Brenda would want to come, too? And if so, let’s see if we can figure out a way” garners more sympathy than, “Tough luck for them; it’s my money.”
Q: What’s the best response when you’re wished “Safe travel” or told to “Have a good time”? I presume “Thanks” checks the box, but is there something better?
A: Well, there is “I’ll miss you terribly and think of you day and night,” but not a lot of occasions to use it. At least not without either overexciting or alarming people who only voiced a simple pleasantry.
Therefore, Miss Manners warns you that there are times when it is safer just to check the “Thanks” box.
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.