DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have been invited to a noon wedding in April. The invitation states that dress is "strictly formal." For a noon wedding, what does that mean? Please describe the type of clothing each of us should wear.
GENTLE READER: The highest daytime formality would mean your husband should wear a cutaway coat, striped pants, and top hat for him and you a soft pastel dress or dressmaker suit and hat. But Miss Manners does not advise this without checking with your hosts. You would be all right, but he would feel ridiculous if he found himself more dressed than the bridegroom and almost certainly more than the other guests.
That "strictly," which is too harsh to be put on an invitation, suggests that those who issued the invitation are desperate to make sure their guests don't show up in jogging clothes. Miss Manners' guess is that it means they want you to wear a dress and your husband to wear a suit and tie.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am living with my girlfriend, who I have been dating for about three years (on and off). Recently she has developed a very bad personal habit.
I am close to my mother. Some would call me a mamma's boy, but I do not see her as the paragon of perfection. I am aware of her peccadilloes and have at times become frustrated with her. Nevertheless, she's my mom.
I made the mistake of sharing some of my frustrations concerning my mother with my girlfriend. A healthy relationship does thrive on communication, right? But this seems to have backfired on me. If my girlfriend is present when my mother calls, my girlfriend makes rude comments about my mother. She makes them loudly enough that I'm certain she intends my mother to hear them. These comments have included, "What does that (woman) want?" and "Tell her to quit calling here." The last one is especially ironic because my mother calls my cell phone and not the house line.
I'm sure you can understand that this is unacceptable behavior, and I feel that it is a betrayal of my trust. My girlfriend says she resents my mother for "what she did to (me)" and sees nothing wrong with her behavior.
I'm not sure what to do. I wasn't aware of the depth of my girlfriend's tactlessness until this. I'm not even sure I can be with someone who shows so little decorum. Is it possible to teach a 26-year-old woman to behave around my mother?
GENTLE READER: Let us hope so. Life is not going to get any more pleasant with someone who defends you by making trouble with your mother and ignores your protests.
Many people confuse the respect that comes of admiration with the basic respect due to human beings as such, and especially due to older people and to family members. Beyond that, your friend seems to believe that a lack of admiration gives her the right to be rude, that she, not you, decides what is proper treatment for your mother and, to top it all, that your unhappiness with this does not count.
By that reasoning, she would have to admit that your mother would, in turn, be entitled to be rude to her. After all, she is treating you badly, and your mother does not seem to admire her.