DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a class in very basic Russian. I have always had some interest in the Russian language and culture, and naturally my exposure to the language and my conversations with my teacher (a native Ukrainian) sharpened it.
However, some of my close friends have recently taken to referring to my "obsession with all things Russian" in the same way that one speaks of a "culture vulture."
I do appreciate that they care enough about me to note my interests and I am pleased to be shown many of the things that they have guessed I would find interesting, but I feel that the level of my interest in the subject has been slightly misunderstood. Is there a gentle way for me to supply a correction from "obsession" to "general interest," or will anything I say be protesting too much?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners' guess is that your friends are not analyzing whether your degree of interest borders on the insane, but have merely succumbed to vocabulary inflation, which is so common among us. What used to be a mere hobby or outside interest is now described as a passion, as in "Although a bookkeeper by day, her passion is coloring Easter eggs." Nobody even just likes something, but is a "fan of" chocolate chip cookies.
So protesting will be too little in that it will make no difference in what they say, and too much in that it does not reflect what they mean.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my son graduated from high school in June 2003, I invited a few family members and some close friends to the ceremonies. At the time, we were in the process of moving. Unfortunately, the box of graduation stationery was misplaced and included with items that were put into storage. My family and I have been displaced since then.
Growing up, I was taught that one sends thank-you notes to those who accepted and attended the event to which they were invited. And that it was never too late to send a thank-you note.
Due to our circumstances, is this an acceptable reason as to why these thank-you notes were never sent and received? The only one this seems to bother is me. My kids thought I was being silly to worry about this then, let alone now, after almost two years.
GENTLE READER: You think that misplacing the stationary is an excuse for not writing letters of thanks? Or even moving, considering that you were well enough organized to give a party?
And your children believe there is a statute of limitations on them, so that if you wait long enough, you get off free?
Miss Manners is so offended by these excuses as to regret profoundly that she must relieve you of your misgivings. Thank-you letters are always charming to send, but you are by no means required to write them to thank your guests, who should be thanking you.