DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a tactful way of getting an e-mail correspondent to stop forwarding long, irrelevant e-mail messages?
You probably know what I mean. Sometimes the messages are cutesy, humorous pieces, sometimes religious or moral messages, sometimes medical "advice." Each forwarded message has as many as 40 addressees.
I met the correspondent online in the course of researching my family history when we learned we seem to have a common ancestor or two. We traded what information we had and she added some interesting insights, but in between messages about our common interest -- genealogy -- she peppers me (and her 39 other correspondents) with forwarded e-mail that is totally unrelated to our common interest. Some of the forwarded medical advice proved to be downright wrong.
I don't want to break off our correspondence altogether -- she seems an interesting person -- but four or more utterly irrelevant messages in a single day is too much. What should I do?
P.S. If you don't know what sort of messages I'm referring to, I'll forward you a few.
GENTLE READER: No, no, please! Anything but that!
Please just let Miss Manners answer your question and get back to work. When she was finally persuaded to trade in her quill for a computer on the argument that it might be faster, she forgot to allow for the hours spent on the Augean chore of cleaning out her e-mailbox of just the sort of thing you describe. And worse.
An offender whose personal correspondence you like should be told that as you don't read mass messages, you are afraid of deleting her real messages along with the numerous other jokes and advice for which you unfortunately do not have time.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I read that when one is invited to the White House, one must go, even if one must cancel a previous engagement. This seems both rude and un-American. And what if one does not like or approve of the current occupants of the White House, and even questions their right to live there and issue invitations?
GENTLE READER: The pro-American explanation is that the White House does not belong to any of its occupants, but to the citizens, who retain the power to evict any tenant. Miss Manners would add that, as any of us can grow up to be president, it is a bad idea to suggest that it can be a patriotic duty to show disrespect for the office of the presidency.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been told that, when a (heterosexual) couple is invited to dinner, the written thank you note must properly come from the woman, not the man. Is this true? How about wedding gifts -- must the thank you note come from the bride, not the groom?
GENTLE READER: If you know someone who is willing to assume the task of writing graceful letters of thanks on your behalf, Miss Manners suggests marrying that person immediately, and not quarreling over other attributes.