DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will be attending the wedding of my boyfriend's best friend in a few weeks. I don't know either the bride or groom well, if at all. We went to dinner once with the couple when we visited their home in the Midwest, and we spent an evening with his friend when he was in town visiting us in the West. I agreed to attend the wedding because I know how much it means to my boyfriend for me to be there. My boyfriend just recently purchased a new home and does not have the money to buy my plane ticket, so I spent almost $300 for a ticket. I'm not sure what etiquette dictates. Should I give them a wedding gift?
GENTLE READER: Considering the enormous favor you are already doing them -- by conferring on them, on this momentous occasion in their lives, the presence of a near-stranger?
Miss Manners is afraid that that does not count, priceless as the experience may be for the bridal couple. Transportation and housing costs are the responsibility of the guests, who may consider the expense a factor in whether or not to attend the wedding, but may not charge it to the account of their hosts, literally or otherwise. Wedding presents are customary from people who presumably care enough about the couple to attend their wedding. Or who care enough about someone who does care enough, etc. This means that you can go in with your beau on a joint present. How you split that cost is up to the two of you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Because I am an employee, I ran our hospital's annual 5K race. The hospital's chief operating officer and CEO -- somewhat above me on the leadership ladder -- ran the race. They began the race on the start line due to their roles, and I started yards behind them.
It wasn't a huge race, and many runners were solo after the first mile; with an age advantage it didn't take me long to pass them both. Should I have been collegial and made some pleasant acknowledgment as I was passing each runner such as "Good pace," or is it rude to draw attention to oneself while going past a competitor -- recalling the old line: "You're not supposed to beat your boss at golf"?
GENTLE READER: That is presuming that your boss wants to employ only cheats (reverse cheats, it is true, but cheats all the same) and toadies. Evidently yours do, or they would base the handicaps on ability, rather than rank.
However, Miss Manners does not care for your idea of collegiality. It is one thing to win a competition honestly, but quite another to sail by while complimenting the other entrants on keeping up a losing pace.