DEAR MISS MANNERS: Two disturbing situations have come up in my singles group, which meets for breakfast every Saturday at a local restaurant. When I became a single person, I found that there aren't a whole lot of singles groups in my area.
Firstly, even though the group has elected officers, Mr. X, who founded the group, likes to run things and is often critical of activities being discussed. Secondly, there is an individual, Mr. Y, who likes to discuss his passion with everyone, whether they are interested or not. The situation could be avoided until recently, when our president resigned and Mr. Y took over the office. He now includes his personal life as part of the business meeting.
Also, Mr. Y heard some of us talking during our meal about how to make our group more inviting to visitors. Mr. Y singled out one woman and told her to shut up. After the meeting we tried to tell Mr. Y he was out of line and he got really irrational. Things are to the point where some of us (four of us wrote this letter) are thinking about resigning or starting our own group.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners has the idea that the Messrs. X and Y do not limit their enthusiasm for joining and running organizations to your singles club. Just about every social, charitable, political, school, garden and neighborhood group she knows has a bossy Mr. X and a blabby Mr. Y who heap tedium and annoyance on people who only want to accomplish the business of the group in peace.
This situation will stir some people up to devise a plot to overthrow the offensive regime. If the organization is a venerable one, that may be worth the effort, although it occupies even more time and often obsesses the revolutionaries until they become as bossy and blabby as their opponents.
Others will resign, either quietly or noisily, to join other groups, or forget the whole idea, or, as you suggest, start a new group.
Why do you hesitate to do this? Isn't the whole idea to meet new people? Besides which, it is a stunningly bad idea to be in a singles group with unattractive people.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited by a friend for a week's visit, and I was brought up to believe that I was obligated to bring my host a gift or present them with a monetary appreciation of my stay. (When I invite someone, I expect no kind of payment or reward.)
Upon leaving, I presented my friend with a $200 check and her daughter, who lives with her, with a $100 check. I overheard her say to her daughter, "We made out pretty good at this didn't we?"
Since I had paid for every dinner of mine when we went out to eat, I thought this remark rude and crude and not the attitude of a true friend. Since then, I have not visited them.
Do you think I am justified in feeling offended? Is it a usual practice or courtesy to pay for a visit to family or friends?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is very sorry to tell you that it is you who caused the offense. She is even sorrier that she is about to cause some herself by casting aspersions on the rule by which you were brought up. She is emboldened to do so because you already suspect that there is a better way than the one you were taught, which is why you offer your own hospitality freely.
Generosity in offering hospitality is a hallmark of civilization. To pay a friend or relative money as compensation for visiting is an insult, which is why gratitude must be expressed through the indirect means of bringing or sending a present, taking them out (not just paying your own way), and, of course, reciprocating the invitation. You should be relieved that instead of turning huffy, your friend turned it into a joke.