DEAR MISS MANNERS: For the last several years, I have become aware of an "affliction" that saddens me during the normal day-to-day among colleagues, friends and neighbors. (This list can be extended.)
How can one deal (correct word?) with nice people, saying "all the right things," without meaning any of it? It's just been driving me crazy as it seems to be occurring more and more.
GENTLE READER: This is not an affliction, Miss Manners assures you. It is a blessing.
For the last several decades, people have been saying all the wrong things that they really mean, from "I can't use this" instead of "Thank you" for a present; "Only a moron would think that" instead of "I'm afraid we disgree" in a political discussion and "You've put on a lot of weight" instead of "How nice to see you" on seeing an acquaintance.
If they are learning to say the right thing, good for them. In time, they will learn to say it more convincingly.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have come upon a distressing situation, and I believe that you are able to help me. I am 25, mostly financially sound, and trying hard to become more so. I have been seeing my future husband for a year and a half now. He is also mostly financially sound. We very much want to marry, but are unable to make any solid plans because of our lack of means. (At the moment, we are looking at a two- to four-year wait from this point -- IF we must depend on ourselves alone.)
Eloping is not an option, as our families (and our mutual friends) would never forgive us for the slight, and we would feel terrible to offer insult by leaving them out of our happy day.
My mother is the crux of the problem. It is the bride's family who traditionally pays for the wedding. How do I find out from my mother if she is able to pay, or even contribute? I know she would be willing, but I also know she is not rolling in cash.
I love my beau, and very much want to marry soon, but I also love my mother and do not wish to cause her discomfort by asking her to reveal if she is impoverished.
Should we bear with the current lack of means and rely on ourselves to wed later? Or is there a tactful and loving means of determining what my mother wants to (and is able to) do?
GENTLE READER: Has the cost of a marriage license gone up so much that it will take you years to save the money for it? Otherwise, Miss Manners cannot understand why two financially sound people who want to marry find themselves in the midst of a Victorian tale of poverty and deprivation.
However, if what you two really want is to stage a wedding extravaganza that you cannot afford, she will wipe away her tears. Save up for it, then, and tell your mother that you are doing so. Parental support for weddings is voluntary, particularly in the case of children who are grown up and living on their own. But if that lady has a softer heart than Miss Manners', she may volunteer to contribute toward staging your extravaganza sooner.