DEAR MISS MANNERS: There is nothing nicer, most would agree, than having a friend say that he or she is thinking of you. Lately, I seem to be having friends and acquaintances tell me this more and more.
They are doing so from their cellular phones, generally from the line at the bank, the service station or on their way to dinner with a more deserving friend. It's becoming increasingly clear to me that their intention is not to tell me that they are thinking of me, but to kill time during their tedious routines.
More often than not, when I receive these calls, I am involved in a routine myself, but my routine often consists of eating dinner, reading a book or playing with my dog.
Miss Manners, how can I, without sounding utterly harsh, tell them that I would be glad to hear from them when they return home or schedule a time to meet for coffee so that I am not barraged by background noises of honking horns or bank tellers noting that postdated checks are not acceptable?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners' idea of progress is when the invention of potentially intrusive gadgets is matched by the invention of protective gadgets. That way, with a little effort and a lot of money, we can end up where we were before the cycle started.
Thanks to the cellular telephone, your friends are now able to reach you wherever they happen to be. But thanks to the little button on your telephone, you can turn yours off and let it take their "Thinking of you -- oops, dropped my deposit slip" messages.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At my baby shower, a friend of mine asked my elderly mother if she was excited for the baby to come. My mother replied in complete seriousness that she was indeed not excited and stated that she already has 20-some grandchildren.
While I realize the truth of this statement, I feel hurt that she could have said as much at my baby shower to my friends. Isn't there a time when not uttering the truth might be the right thing to do? How do I approach her about this, or should I even bother? It seems to sit in the back of my mind.
GENTLE READER: There are plenty of times when not uttering the truth is the right thing to do. One such opportunity is to refrain from telling your mother that you are annoyed at her for an awkwardly worded statement.
The only purpose of that silly question is to allow an opportunity for the expression of pride. That your mother chose to highlight her wealth of grandchildren, when it might have been more graceful to focus only on your child, does not mean she is bored with having grandchildren.
Miss Manners suggests you clear that grudge out of your head. You will soon need that space to sympathize with mothers whose children keep too strict an account of their grievances.