DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother told us kids (40 years ago) a saying to remind us to dip our soupspoon away from us when scooping up the soup: "Like a little ship at sea, dip your spoon away from me."
Since everyone in my current family thinks that is nonsense, have you heard this before, and why exactly are you supposed to dip your spoon "away from me"?
GENTLE READER: Your family doubts your mother's wisdom? Just because it doesn't make much sense? The ship's dipping, that is; it doesn't quite sound safe. Miss Manners seems to recall it sailing away from the person who was about to devour its ocean.
But soupspoons most certainly should be used away from oneself. This has a safety angle, too. Should you attack the soup with excessive enthusiasm, it will at least be away from your clothing.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently married my partner in a state that permits same-sex weddings. It was a small civil ceremony with only two witnesses; we didn't even tell anyone we were going to do it. Later that week, I sent about 50 handwritten announcements to friends and family.
My problem is that out of all those people, we received almost no acknowledgment: one phone call and one card, and that's it. There are even people we see fairly regularly who did not take a moment to congratulate us.
I understand that what we did is, for some reason, considered controversial and even terribly shocking by some. But these are people I've known -- in many cases -- for my entire life, people whose elaborate weddings I've attended and participated in, people for whom I've purchased lavish wedding presents even if I could not attend their ceremonies.
Not that I expect any gifts in return -- far from it, we didn't even register. But I take great offense at the lack of acknowledgment, as if I've done something so terribly shameful it must be forever ignored.
I must point out that my homosexuality itself is not the issue here. I've been "out" to everyone I know for over 10 years, and everyone has always liked my partner very much. Am I being petty for begrudging people the time to "get used to" this new development?
I tell myself that since I eloped and didn't make a big deal about getting married, my friends and family feel they don't need to make a big deal, either. But even some "best wishes" e-mails would have been nice.
How do I go forward in dealing with these people? Do I allow my marriage to become some great, unspoken tension between me and the people I once considered close? Am I now free to ignore any future announcements sent by those who are snubbing me now?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners has some information that will be as reassuring for you as it is discouraging for her. It is that people routinely ignore wedding announcements, shockingly rude as that is.
They know that they are supposed to send presents when they receive invitations to weddings, although it rarely occurs to them that they are also obligated to answer those invitations. But they fail to understand that when friends make an announcement -- whether formally or face to face -- it should elicit congratulations.