DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a material girl who appreciates many of the finer things in life. I was raised by wealthy parents who taught me to only have the best. Therefore, I wear designer clothes, attend the theater and symphony regularly, and only travel first-class on airplanes.
When I started dating my boyfriend one year ago, I was informed that he had a very similar childhood. Our families were supposedly very much the same. He made a point of telling me repeatedly that he made a lot of money and liked to have a good time with it. He wanted to spoil me.
My boyfriend and I are very much in love. We have a wonderful time together and have many of the same goals in life.
The problem is that he is what I consider a "cheapskate." I bought him a very lavish Christmas gift. He purchased me a nice watch and a few other nice things. This may sound hideous, but I totaled up the cost of my Christmas gifts. It was less than half of what I spent on him.
I know that feelings cannot be "totaled up" with a monetary value. However, I feel like I may be signing myself away to a lifetime of coupon clipping and two-for-one dinners.
His cheap behavior is something that has been instilled in him from a very young age. For his birthday, his parents took us to dinner. It was him, me, his two brothers and their significant others seated around a bowl of spaghetti and a pizza at a family-style restaurant. I did not dare order a drink or ask for more food -- even though I had to eat dinner when I returned home that night. I thanked his parents for a lovely evening and sent a thank-you card for their generosity a couple of days later.
I would like to know how I should approach the subject of his cheapness. Even if you advise me to wipe away the tears I cry with my Armani dress as I whine.
GENTLE READER: Wipe away, because Miss Manners is sorry to inform you that this would be a most unsuitable marriage. Your backgrounds are far too different.
Love has been known to overcome vast differences of incomes. Even differences of goals may be rendered compatible. But not basic differences in manners. A marriage between someone who was brought up with a major sense of entitlement and someone who was reared on the modest code of simplicity is doomed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper response when a store employee asks how you're doing? Should you respond and then ask them how they are? Or just respond? Or just get on with the task at hand? Does it make a difference if the employee is a cashier vs. a floor person, or if there's a line?
GENTLE READER: It depends on how you are doing.
If the answer is fine, say so and move on. Such questions are greetings, not conversation openers. However, if the answer is that you are going nuts trying to find where the socks are hidden, Miss Manners suggests that you speak up, although in more polite terms.