DEAR MISS MANNERS: The warm months bring acres of exposed epidermis, including the inevitable display of body art. What is a polite person to do?
I figure that no one pays serious money to put himself or herself through all that pain (not to mention the risk of hepatitis B) without expecting to be noticed and, probably, receive comments. Yet I've noticed that some tattoo flaunters, especially women, take offense at such remarks.
Given these conditions, dare we approach these walking art galleries to offer opinions? Or should we keep silent or, perhaps, confine our observations, sotto voce, to trusted friends?
GENTLE READER: People also pay serious money to get their teeth straightened, but Miss Manners doubts that this means they want you to poke into their mouths and give your opinion.
Comments about bodies should be limited to compliments directed at those whom you know very well socially. Snickers, which are what Miss Manners gathers you are aching to deliver, must be made totally out of the hearing of the person concerned (somehow she doesn't trust your sotto voce) and to those whom you know are neither acquainted with the targets nor tattooed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have cats, but am not a "crazy cat lady." I do not have photographs of my cats, do not wear cat jewelry, do not discuss my cats. However, my having cats has, over the years, resulted in cat-themed gifts. Telling people I'm running out of room for coffee mugs has only led them to cat scarves and cat jewelry. How to respond politely when given one more cat-illustrated gift without encouraging the gift giver to continue in that vein?
GENTLE READER: By thanking the giver for the final item that finally completes your collection, and mentioning in passing that you are now considering collecting antique automobiles instead.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Not very long ago, I was in a very intense 7-year relationship. It ended very badly, with blood let, so to speak, and there are still intense feelings from many of the parties involved. My daughter thought of him as a father, and his family adopted her.
When it ended, there was to be no contact with anyone, not even her. Yes, needless to say, what was love turned to hate.
I'm getting married in a year to someone I've known for a very long time, who my ex hates and blames for our ending. My question is do I need to let him and his family know in person that I am getting married? I've heard many theories on this, and would like to do the right thing.
GENTLE READER: What you do mean by "need"? Are you wondering whether there is an etiquette rule requiring brides to inform former suitors whom they hate that they are now getting married?
No, not even if they can find a politer way to phrase it than "Ha, ha, I'm marrying the guy you couldn't stand."
Miss Manners therefore presumes that you are talking about an emotional need to let this person know that you are living happily ever after, not only without him but with his enemy. She suggests being magnanimous -- and wise -- enough to squelch this.