DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several years ago, my former significant other chose to leave me for another relationship with one of his co-workers. I reacted by showering him with venom and bile, but figured that since his girlfriend was only a distant acquaintance, treating her the same way would be unwarranted.
Instead, whenever I see her, I say hello, and smile the polite smile that indicates that I have no idea how I know this person. This has produced a pleasant result -- on several occasions, I have noted her crossing a street or dodging back into a building to avoid meeting me. As time progresses, her trepidation seems to grow.
Is it proper to continue this course of action for as long as our acquaintance might continue? How can I inspire a similar reaction in my former boyfriend, who shows no such shame?
GENTLE READER: You have tried two techniques: venom-and-bile, and I-can't-quite-place-you. One worked, the other didn't.
So why does Miss Manners have the feeling that you are hankering to return to the one that didn't?
In any case, Miss Manners is afraid that the time has passed for you to attempt to reform someone with whom you are no longer connected.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a knitter. I took up the hobby a few years ago as a remembrance of a relative who was an avid knitter, and I found that it satisfied me in unexpected ways. It reminds me of my relative, relaxes me and provides a creative outlet.
Naturally, one of the most enjoyable aspects is giving the items I produce to friends and relatives and seeing them in use. Last year I made a little sweater in my niece's favorite color and sent it to her "just because." She liked it and wore it, and I saw pictures of her in it, which was all very gratifying. Recently I saw that my sister had listed it for sale on eBay as part of a large batch of used clothes for sale. It sold for a pittance. I feel kind of hurt and upset over this.
I haven't confronted her because I'm not sure what I really expected her to do with it when it no longer fit. This just makes me very uncomfortable and concerned about the disposition of future gifts. They take a lot of time and money to create. Each one is made with a specific person in mind, and to me that makes it priceless in a way. Still, I understand that a gift is a gift and it would be improper to request it back. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That you had hoped that the sweater would be kept as an heirloom to be passed to your niece's children and grandchildren. You have, Miss Manners observes, a charmingly sentimental nature, as evidenced by your continued association of your hobby with your relative.
But you cannot require this of others. A present is a present to be used as the recipient chooses. True, the giver should be spared pain, but the chances of your finding this on eBay -- please tell Miss Manners you weren't looking for it -- are so small as to be considered an accident.