DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I received the following invitation:
"We are planning Thanksgiving at our house. Most of the food will be provided by (a well-known upscale restaurant). If you would like to come to our house and split the cost, your share would be about $80. Make your check out to (so-and-so)."
The restaurant mentioned advertises Thanksgiving meals for take-out at about $15 per person. After a long moment of stunned disbelief, we wondered how we should respond and still remain cordial. Any suggestions?
GENTLE READER: Are you upset that your friends are offering to sell you Thanksgiving dinner, or just that they are taking too much of a mark-up?
Once they have committed the outrage of charging for their hospitality on Thanksgiving, of all days, it should hardly seem surprising that they would figure in the value of the service, the wear-and-tear on their house, the laundry and, for all Miss Manners knows, their time, formerly known as the pleasure of their company. She would not suspect them of giving you a bargain price on all that just because you happen to be friends.
If you wish to remain so, for reasons best known to yourself, you should decline with no more explanation than that you have made other plans. But if by "cordial," you mean you want to let on what you know without making enemies, you could add that their dinner will surely be a great treat, as you are familiar with the restaurant and happened to see its Thanksgiving advertisement.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I got engaged a month ago, and a week ago I found out that my maid of honor (who just got married seven weeks ago and I was her maid of honor) has been cheating on her husband with his best friend for three months (before and after the ceremony). I feel like I don't even know her and my fiance and I both agree that we don't want anyone standing up for us at our own wedding who takes marriage so un-seriously.
I want to kick her out; am I right in this? I cannot imagine having her next to me now. How can I tell her?
GENTLE READER: How did she tell you?
Or didn't she? Considering that you recently affirmed each other's status as best friend, surely you would not condemn her on the basis of hearsay.
You must hear what she has to say. Normally this would be a difficult subject to broach, but as you are both brides and intimate friends, it would not seem odd for you to ask her views about marriage in general and marital fidelity in particular. Should these turn out to be as you now suppose, you could gently tell her that your concept of marriage is so radically different that you would feel self-conscious reciting your vows with her at the altar, and would prefer her to be there as a guest.
This is a drastic thing to do, and Miss Manners has severely admonished brides who want to demote their attendants for not fussing over them sufficiently or for getting pregnant. But this seems a serious reason, and in any case, the friendship is already tainted.