Q: What would perfect manners do for the world?
A: Besides put Miss Manners out of business? The very idea sets her dreaming of happy times, rocking on the porch as she contemplates a peaceful world.
However, this might also create problems for other trades, notably the munitions and entertainment industries.
Still, wouldn’t it be worth it? No shoving or shouting in lines, on subways or in the streets. No demands to contribute to other people’s honeymoon or children’s college funds, but prompt thanks for kindness and generosity. People would look one another in the eye instead of bending over their telephones. There would be substantive conversation because differences would be debated respectfully.
Perfect harmony would reign: no wars, no murders, no divorces.
Oops, wait. Miss Manners was carried away. Human beings would still be human. Manners restrain impulses that annoy others; they seldom govern the great passions. It would take perfect morals, not just manners, to nullify the greater ills of the world. Over to you, Miss Morals.
Still, wouldn’t it be pleasant to get through the day without fear of anyone’s offering to tell you what’s wrong with you for your own good?
Q: Is my dress, as mother of the bride, to be a similar style to the bride’s?
A: Have you discussed this with your daughter?
Miss Manners has heard that gentlemen contemplating marriage should check out a prospect’s mother, on the idea that she is what a young lady will grow into resembling.
Maybe yes, maybe no, but is the wedding the occasion to test this?
If only people would stop thinking of weddings as costume dramas. The mother of the bride should dress in a becoming, dignified way, according to the degree of formality of the wedding. But she does not have to match the bridegroom’s mother, much less the bride.
Q: There are four of us ladies who have decided to play bridge together. We are meeting tomorrow at one of the ladies’ home for our first get-together. She will provide refreshments and would like to rotate homes/refreshments. We agree on this.
Two of us really don’t know how to play, but the others are willing to teach us. Since they are being so kind, should I bring something over as a thank-you for doing this? If so, suggestions would be appreciated.
A: Fresh cards, when the ones being played begin to get sticky. Score pads when they run out. Trump markers. Apologies when you trump your partner’s ace.
Actually, Miss Manners is not requiring you to stick to the bridge necessities. It may well be that the veteran players are well supplied, and you are in a position, as she is not, to notice this, and to guess at alternatives.
She is only trying to steer you away from bringing refreshments, which will make the others feel that they have to do so as well, and thus ruin the workable system of rotation that has been planned.
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.