DEAR MISS MANNERS: If I agree, my husband plans to invite his ex-wife, who is the mother of his four grown-up and married children, to the big party he is throwing for his 75th birthday. It will be a three-day event in his home country for about 100 members of his family and close friends.
He wants to do this and thinks the children will enjoy having her, but only if I have no objection to it. I barely know the woman (I am from another country where there are no ex-spouses) and have only seen and met her at two of the children's wedding parties. I don't dislike her but believe she belongs to my husband's past (they have been divorced more than 25 years) and should be left there. Am I being unreasonable in thinking and feeling so?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps, but you may be relieved to hear that Miss Manners is uncharacteristically liberal about letting people harbor unreasonable thoughts and feelings. You may be less relieved to hear that she expects people to ignore such feelings and behave reasonably.
Reason should tell you that looking back over the past is chiefly what a 75th birthday party is about, especially this one, being held in your husband's home country rather than where you and he live now. Reason should also tell you that his specifying that he would not invite his former wife if you objected indicates that he considers your feelings more important than his own in this matter.
Couldn't you manage to be equally gracious and defer to him on his birthday?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a younger sister who is 11 years old and sometimes gets nosebleeds when we are eating in a restaurant. Now, rather than have her leave the table to go to the bathroom, my family members think it is fine to let her sit there and use the cloth napkin to stop her nosebleed. I protest but get yelled at because I think it is very rude to leave it there for some poor waitress to have to pick up. Please tell me whether you think it is proper for my sister to stay at the table and make me watch her nosebleed.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners hopes that you react better to this situation when it happens in restaurants than she did when reading of it in the privacy of her boudoir. And she, fortunately, was no where near any food.
Dangerous medical emergencies must be dealt with when and where they occur, and one trusts that those who are inconvenienced will rise to the occasion. But the way you tell this, it sounds like no such thing. It sounds like outrageous lack of consideration for everyone in the restaurant -- staff, family and strangers.
However, Miss Manners wants to make sure that you are compassionate toward all, not just toward those outside the family. Promise her, please, that you weren't setting them all off by making callous comments when your sister was stricken.