DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have several people I am fond of whose more frequent contact with me is e-mail. Occasionally we get together in person, but we keep in touch by e-mail.
Unfortunately, they like to write me only one or two sentences inquiring about my life. I respond with a thoughtful update, usually putting in personal comments about our relationship like "I tried that restaurant you recommended and it was great." Generally no more than two or three paragraphs of interest and addressing a question they might have sent me like "How was the garden expo?"
But I am starting to tire of answering their e-mail with thoughtful responses. I feel like I'm some sort of entertainment. I've tried answering back with a short "I'm doing great, the expo was fun. How is your dog?" hoping they would get the hint. But I fail to get more than a line of "doing fine here."
It would be great if they followed up with a phone call or notes about their lives, but they never do. To be fair, if I initiate the e-mail, I usually get slightly more detail.
It's especially irritating when I haven't heard from them in several weeks and all of a sudden I get a "What are you doing lately?" note, and the expectation is that I write them back with a note that actually takes time to compose. Worse yet, they respond to my note by simply injecting a line or two in the note I wrote. Am I wrong to perceive this as rude? Should I just say "I hope you e-mail me with more detail about your life." Or should I "write them off," literally?
GENTLE READER: As entertaining correspondents, yes. You are not going to be able to train them to write you thoughtful, or even slightly interesting, prose.
But Miss Manners asks you to bear in mind that many people are finding a great deal more entertainment on their e-mail servers than they can stand. By the time they clear out the jokes, snapshots, advertisements and work-related queries, they may not be feeling chatty.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to my friend's daughter's wedding. By the time I arrived to the reception area, I found out I was wearing the same dress as the bride.
I don't know if I was overdressed or the bride was underdressed for the wedding. I understand it is too late to do anything now. I just wonder what should I do in the future? Should I go home to change into another dress?
GENTLE READER: You could stop wearing long, white, lacy dresses to other people's weddings.
If you were merely unlucky enough to choose a dress or suit that the bride also wore and lived close enough to dash home and change, it would indeed be tactful. Miss Manners considers it unlikely that this will happen again, but if you want to be prepared, you could bring a scarf and a jacket that could be used in a quick attempt to look different.