DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a Celebration of Life for a friend who had passed a few months ago. What is the proper etiquette to attending a party like this? Do we bring a gift?
GENTLE READER: Congratulations on finding the only social event left that the guest of honor has not turned into a free shopping bonanza for himself.
If you can't handle that, you could send flowers. But as the nomenclature for the event de-emphasizes death, funeral flowers may seem out of place. It is also late to send flowers and food to the bereaved, as is customary in the first weeks of mourning, and Miss Manners trusts that you have long since sent your letter of condolence.
So just go and celebrate. If Miss Manners was mistaken and your friend left a list of places he registered for the event, you may ignore it. He'll never know.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Could you advise your gentle readers about persons of my ilk who practice the not-so-gentle art of the "cut" to get rid of the gratuitously gregarious and gabby who make nuisances of themselves?
It is my practice to tell all people who invite me into their lives or seek to enter my personal life in a civil but very firm manner that I do not wish to accept their offers or invitations to an on-the-job kaffe klatch, casual drink or other social affair. All too often, accepting "informal" verbal invitations to join a group of people at a coffee break, etc., placed me in the uncomfortable position of being in the company who are prying, or inflict their opinions on others and other obnoxious conduct.
I have strong opinions on many things. I do not discuss my opinions save with like-minded individuals. If I am regarded as eccentric, so be it.
"Don't go away mad; just go away" is my tacit message. The individual who persists in their attempts to enter my life earns my cut as my response to their conduct. If an individual becomes huffy at my declining their verbal and/or written invitations, that is their problem.
I am a very private person. I am civil when I decline offers made to me by chance acquaintances and others. The individual who persists in making offers of "friendship and fellowship" after I have clearly and firmly declined their initial "offering" is a pest. Pests, even "well meaning" pests, face the application of strong pest-control measures. All too often many individuals neglect to be civil in their misguided efforts to be "polite and friendly."
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners agrees that you should not be out in polite society.
The cut is society's strongest weapon, indicating that its target is beyond the bounds of civilization, and using it on friendly people is beyond the bounds of civilized behavior. Others should be protected from you.
But you agree.
All you need do to decline invitations is to say, "I'm so sorry, but I can't." No excuse is needed, much less a warning. When they are often repeated, you should make a vague statement about yourself, not them -- "I find I'm awfully busy these days," or "I'm afraid I'm something of a loner."