DEAR MISS MANNERS: Have you ever been asked what the proper response is when someone wishes to reject an invitation for a date?
It would seem to me that a polite decline would be the most appropriate response, but in my experience many young women don't do this because it feels socially awkward.
On a number of occasions, I have asked a woman out and had her accept, but when I call her later to follow up, she doesn't answer my call and never responds to my voicemail. I have also heard some female friends say that they have given out their phone numbers to men who have asked them out, even though they have no intention of going on a date with the gentleman in question, because it is less awkward for them to dodge a man's phone calls after the fact than it is to politely decline an invitation face to face.
While I can understand wanting to avoid the awkwardness of having to decline an invitation for a date, I think this kind of response is rude and somewhat immature. But maybe I'm being overly sensitive. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That you have been spared the company of people who prefer to put others in the hideously awkward position of being shunned rather than to learn basic social skills themselves.
Ladies do not have to give out their telephone numbers to whoever asks, and they certainly do not have to accept dates unless they want to keep them. They need only murmur, "I'm terribly busy these days" and "I'm afraid I'm hard to reach." Miss Manners assures them that while there may be a momentary flash of disappointment, the gentlemen will undoubtedly recover enough to lead happy social lives with others.
The humiliation of making a date only to be stood up and avoided is much more hurtful -- not because of the loss of the lady's company, necessarily, but because it is a callous and insulting gesture.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my baby was first born, I signed her thank-you notes with my husband's and my names. My husband says I should sign her first birthday present thank-yous with her name.
I feel kind of stupid doing this, and writing things like "I look adorable in my new dress" instead of "She looks adorable in her new dress." Also, do I address the cards to her baby friends or to their parents?
GENTLE READER: Forging your child's thank-you letters is a bad habit to form. Miss Manners doesn't want her to expect you to keep it up when she has turned 40. Or 5, for that matter.
Until she can write, she gets a free ride, which is to say that you should write and sign the letters to the donors, who are presumably not her 1-year-old peers but their parents. The intermediate step is to elicit comments from her that you can quote in your letter and crayon marks that you can explain express her delight.