DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Happy to Lose the Lottery" is just another sign of the decline of manners in our society. Co-workers were notified by e-mail that their names had been "entered in a lottery," the winners of which would receive invitations to attend a "small but poignant wedding." The writer had not been a winner, but was advised to send a gift anyway.
You asked readers if they cared to comment. I certainly do. My reply:
DEAR ELMER AND GLADYS: Like your wedding, my bank account is also a "small but poignant affair," and due to the "physical nature" of cash-flow difficulties, I cannot send gifts to all my friends and relatives.
Per your suggestion, I have "held a lottery with your name included, but alas, you were not on the winners list." When my gift does not arrive, you will know you've invented a "most equitable" solution for any "disappointment problem." I "thank you in absentia." -- MARTY IN SEATTLE
DEAR MARTY: You are a wit, and I'm sure your suggested response will bring a smile to many faces. That letter generated a flood of mail from longtime readers, many of whom had not been moved to pick up a pen and write to me before. Read on for a sample; I only wish I could print more of them:
DEAR ABBY: When I read the "invitation" from Elmer and Gladys, my jaw dropped. Do you think they actually expect a gift and a continuing friendship with those people? I don't think so!
Perhaps it's punishment enough that their invitation would appear in your column. However, I would send them a gift, all right -- a book on etiquette. They need to learn a thing or two. -- TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
DEAR ABBY: To ask for gifts from people who weren't even invited to the wedding is the most tasteless thing I've ever heard. It's a blatant demand for gifts. I hope one of the gifts they receive is an attitude adjustment! -- KAREN IN BARTOW, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: I don't know if this follows the Golden Rule, but it does answer the question, "What are friends for?" This is my response to Elmer and Gladys:
DEAR FRIENDS: Sorry to learn we didn't win the lottery to attend your wedding. In order to celebrate your good fortune, we decided to take the sum of nearly $500 we had saved for your wedding gift and do the following:
We spent the money at a luxurious hotel where we had a three-course dinner and offered a number of toasts in your honor with our favorite champagne in celebration of your future happiness. When you return home, we'd be glad to tell you of all the kind thoughts we had of you in absentia. If you'll take us out to dinner, we can discuss our good fortune. Best wishes to you both. -- HERMAN IN CYPRESS, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: How's this for a response, Abby? "Please don't worry about having to send us a thank-you card for our gift. Since our PRESENCE at your wedding was not required, our PRESENTS will not be forthcoming. Better luck next time!" -- MRS. B. IN L.A.
DEAR ABBY: The invitation from Elmer and Gladys was hilarious, and personally I wouldn't have responded at all. I have known stranger announcements.
My parents received a wedding announcement from a couple that included a note on a prescription pad from the doctor's office that said, "I certify that this girl was a virgin."
My thought on that was, "At one time, we ALL were virgins." -- ABBY FAN
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600