DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boyfriend's father is a physician, and I have always addressed him as "Mister" since it comes naturally to me. I am 18 years old, and have been dating my boyfriend for three years, and he always makes a point of correcting me in front of his father, saying that I should call him "Doctor." Is it rude or bad manners for me to call him "Mister" when he is a physician?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners certainly considers it rude of you repeatedly to ignore your beau's wishes, and presumably those of his father, on the grounds that it is more important for you to do what "comes naturally." Especially when your natural inclination in this case is to be incorrect. As a matter of fact, medical doctors are properly addressed as "doctor," even socially.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Back when I was preparing to marry, toward the end of the Second Punic War, a bridal shower was a gathering at which the future bride's girlfriends "showered" her with small, utilitarian gifts that fit into the budgets of students or young working women: pot holders, dish towels, assorted little kitchen gadgets and the like. For a real splurge, several guests might chip in for an inexpensive negligee. Serious house wares, such as electrical appliances, place settings of china or silver, casserole dishes, wooden salad sets or silver candlesticks were considered wedding presents.
Now that several of my friends' daughters are getting married, I have been invited to a series of showers organized not by young, impecunious friends of the bride but by groups of prosperous, middle-aged friends or relatives of the young couple's parents. The guests are overwhelmingly women of my own age, some of whom have made special trips from out of town to attend. The refreshments are catered. And the gifts are of the category I remember receiving for my wedding, many of them selected from the registry of the bride's preferences.
The main entertainment is a game of bingo played while the guest of honor opens her gifts. The squares on the cards contain not numbers but the names of various gifts. As the bride opens each package, the guests cover the appropriate square.
I have felt a great deal of pressure to join my friends in celebrating their daughters' forthcoming weddings and therefore have attended. Because the gifts are opened publicly, I have felt compelled to bring something that I consider to be at the lower end of the wedding present range. Then, when the wedding invitation arrives, I have felt compelled to give another gift of equal or greater cost.
This has put me in a sour mood and has made me wonder whether it is really necessary to give two substantial gifts for a single marriage. On the one hand, I have been invited to two celebratory social events, and I do wish the young people well. On the other hand, none of these youngsters is economically deprived, and I feel shaken down at these events. What do you advise?
GENTLE READER: The fact that Miss Manners feels exactly as you do about the over-blown shower does not justify accepting an invitation and refusing to comply with its terms. On the other hand, no one in her right mind should be subjected to playing Gimme Bingo.
Surely there is a less arduous way you can show your good will for the young people. A letter expressing your good wishes would do that, but in cases where you are especially close, you could invite the bride to lunch and give her a chance to tell you all those wedding details she is unable to get anyone besides her mother to listen to.