DEAR MISS MANNERS: Retaining a father's (ex-husband's) last name for the sake of convenience where the children are concerned seems to be a reasonable/rational enough action. But my experience with this is somewhat different.
My husband's ex-wife resumed her maiden name at the time of her divorce. I am not aware of any difficulties or confusions with the situation of she and her son having different last names. She appeared comfortable, even proud of her decision, even announcing her identify change with vanity plates spelling out her maiden name.
She then remarried and then assumed her new husband's last name. When this second marriage ended in divorce, she decided to revert back and reassume my husband's (and consequently my) last name. He believes that this is a natural course of action, but I disagree. What are your thoughts on this?
GENTLE READER: That what your husband means by "natural" is that this is not worth starting a battle with the mother of his child. Miss Manners' guess is that this still has to do with using the child's surname, even belatedly, rather than with resuming the connection with a gentleman who is now married to someone else.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Two friends plan on meeting for dinner. Which of the following two people is ill-mannered?
One friend arrives at the scheduled time, relaxing at the restaurant as she awaits the other.
She realizes that she has forgotten to bring her cell phone, much less turn it on, in case her friend is trying to reach her. She tends only to use her cell phones in emergencies and so doesn't think about it often. She figures that it's no big deal -- her friend must be running late.
The other friend, a regular cell phone user, is running 10 to 15 minutes late and is very anxious about letting her friend know this. She leaves a message to that effect: "It's five minutes to, and I'm running a bit late, will be there soon" and is very frustrated at not being able to get through on her friend's cell phone. She arrives, apologizes for being late, and then chides her friend soundly for not having the courtesy to turn her cell phone on (or have it with her). Both friends start the evening feeling irritated by the exchange.
In a cell phone world, who should take responsibility for this situation? Is it the first friend's responsibility to be available by cell phone (in case her friend is running late) and is it appropriate that she be shamed for not doing so? Is it the second friend's responsibility to try to be on time and then apologize if not able, taking all the responsibility for the situation?
GENTLE READER: Just a guess, but you got to the restaurant first, didn't you? Then you will be pleased to hear that Miss Manners not only sides with you but can bolster your argument.
Cellular telephones may often be convenient, but they are not compulsory. Keeping it off in a restaurant, so as not to disturb the other diners, is.