DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should one react to a friend not returning music CDs that you lent out to him? My friend used a lame excuse: "I gave the CDs to another (mutual) friend; get them from him." When I went to the mutual friend, he also lent the CDs to another friend, and that one said he returned them to the original friend. The original friend kept saying he is too busy to talk...
This happened a long time ago, but I would like to know what to say in case the same situation comes up again. One of my friends in a similar situation was so ticked off that he beat up the borrower of his CDs really bad.
GENTLE READER: And you thought that Miss Manners might have a better suggestion?
She does. It is to refrain from lending things to irresponsible people. That way the situation will not come up again.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have committed a rather large breach of manners, of this I am certain. My problem is how to make amends without having ample opportunity to do so in person.
An acquaintance and her gay son's partner came by my workplace to say hello. This was my first time meeting the son's partner (I have never met the son). The two of them live out of state and the acquaintance lives in the neighboring town.
After my friend introduced me, I asked them to come meet my co-workers. To my horror, as I was making introductions, I realized I had forgotten the name of her son's partner. What I did then was awful. In my panic, I introduced her and ignored her son's partner. They were both gracious to my co-workers and did not mention my behavior, but now I feel that the poor partner might feel that I did not introduce him because I was uncomfortable with his lifestyle.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I enjoy the company of this woman and feel the potential is (was) there for a lasting friendship.
How do I make this right when odds are that I will not see the son or partner for a very long time and see the mother only rarely and not since this incident? Do you think it's possible to repair damage done so early in a relationship?
GENTLE READER: Must everything have a political interpretation? You met someone for the first time and forgot his name. You are not the first person to whom this has happened, and it is Miss Manners' guess that everyone recognized the situation for what it was.
True, it was not nice to ignore him, and there would have been no shame in admitting it and asking the gentleman or your friend to repeat his name. You can redeem yourself by telling your acquaintance informally -- by e-mail, for example -- how much you enjoyed seeing her and meeting the young gentlemen. If you must, you could add an apology for forgetting his name and being too flustered to ask -- but only if you leave out your suspicions about what they thought. It would only plant a suspicion where one did not exist previously.