DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in the awkward position of having the same name and gender as a state senator who lives in my county. On more than one occasion, I have been mistaken for this senator, and while I can easily and gently correct the party verbally when we are face to face, mail correspondence is a bit more delicate.
How should I -- or need I? -- respond to mail invitations which most obviously are not intended for me, or what should I do once having opened my mail and finding this to be the case? What about those invitations where it is difficult to discern if I am truly the intended party or if it is the senator? Must I R.S.V.P. to these and/or correct the issuing party? This can take quite a good deal of time, but I would like your opinion.
GENTLE READER: The way to tell if invitations are intended for you is to look at the name of the hosts. Do you know them?
If you can think of no connection, the invitation is probably not for you. Only fund-raisers and teenagers whose parents are out of town go around inviting people they don't know.
No, wait. Miss Manners forgot about the people who invite strangers who they think will be useful to them. The senator probably gets lots of those, and may also find the hosts useful. You could explain the situation to his office, and promise that if they will send you self-addressed envelopes, you will forward his mail, with the ones you have opened marked "Opened by mistake."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Recently my boyfriend ended our two-year relationship, which was still long-distance. He has a number of my things, including borrowed clothing and outdoor gear. Usually I'd cut my losses and forget about it, but there are a number of items that were pretty expensive, including a Patagonia fleece ($150), a compass ($80) and some photographs of me that I'd like to keep.
I've asked for this stuff back over the phone, and he has said he will get to it. It's been almost a month now, and I'd like to just get my stuff back soon so I don't have to drag anything out.
I've wondered if it would be terrible to gather up some items he gave me, including a few photos, and package them up for him along with a letter asking him to do the same. I don't want to seem petty and bitter (I am peeved at this man), and I don't really want to call him.
What's the rule on this type of thing? If it's a gift he can keep it, but some of this stuff was not given to him. Additionally, is it rude to return gifts after a breakup?
GENTLE READER: No. Although it is not necessary, except in the case of engagement rings, returning presents and memorabilia is a polite way to indicate that you are peeved. As Miss Manners understands it, you are -- surely the next step after your request was ignored.
It would be even better if you could arrange to have your package delivered by a local friend who is collecting your things for you. Sadly, people are often more reluctant to have strangers see them behaving badly than those whom they once loved.