DEAR MISS MANNERS: So far, the only point of contention for my daughter's wedding is the seating arrangement for the dinner reception. Instead of sitting with her attendants at the parents' table, she insists on a "sweetheart table," one where just the bride and groom sit.
I've been at a few weddings where this was done. Frankly the bride and groom looked silly sitting by themselves. However, my daughter thinks this is "romantic."
Speaking of trends, almost every bride these days, even at high noon, wears a strapless gown. My daughter is getting married in the evening, but she wanted something with sleeves. She found something, but not without difficulty.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners is constantly amazed at the amount of creative effort people put into weddings. She wishes they would stop.
Isolation and straplessness are both bad ideas. Ignoring the guests the couple invited to their wedding to be alone together is rude. Dressing for the ceremony as if it were a ball (as opposed to wearing a modest wedding dress and shedding the sleeved part for the party) is frivolous. A wedding is romantic, not to say sexy, by definition, and crude attempts to emphasize this have the effect of detracting from it.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Of all the gewgaws invented in our modern language that people readily take into their daily usage, I don't think any competes with the words many use to conclude a phone conversation: "I'll have to let you go now."
Invariably, this is said by the person instigating the call, so the person called has the option of various interpretations, i.e.:
1. "I'm sick and tired of listening to you so hang up!"
2. "I've spent quite enough money on this phone call, so shut up!"
3. "Stop talking for heaven's sake, and let me do something worthwhile."
Almost any words to end a phone conversation would be more palatable. "There's someone at the door," "My timer just went off on the oven," or "I have to let my dog out" would all be kinder. Anything you can say to get this phrase erased from phone lines would improve the air. "I'm gonna let you go now" is just like a slap in the face.
GENTLE READER: Could Miss Manners persuade you to go back to picking on the misuse of "hopefully"? Or "loan" used as a verb instead of "lend"?
It so happens that she finds "I'll let you go now" to be a rare example of a new conventional phrase -- a fresh clichC if you will -- that serves a hitherto neglected polite purpose.
What she hears in it are not the insults you suggest, but an acknowledgment that one has chattered long enough at someone whose time is important.
This is in contrast to the I Think I Hear My Mother Calling Me sort of excuse you recommend, in which the emphasis is on one's own commitments. Besides, those may bring on an even more dreaded phrase: "Then I'll call you back later."