DEAR MISS MANNERS: My family enjoys playing board games, and my sisters, father and I are good sports and courteous losers. But my mother is not.
If she wins she gloats, brags and lectures us on the strategies that led us to failure (even if it is strictly a game of luck), and if she loses, she is sour for the remainder of the day.
The rest of us try to defend ourselves as best we can and let it go. We assume that everyone has their rough areas and better she gloats over a game than something more important.
Then one day my friend Alix and I went to play pool, and Mom had to come, too, since we didn't have IDs to play without an adult. Mom played Alix, who has played pool maybe twice in her life. Mom won and proceeded to do a victory dance and gloat in front of her and the rest of the pool hall.
Alix looked as if she would cry; not from losing but from wanting to slap Mom. (I have had this feeling quite often.) She felt guilty about that idea and sat out the next game.
I have told Mom in private before not to gloat and brag as this makes people uncomfortable, but she doesn't listen or can't help it. I was wondering if there was a polite yet firm comment I could make in front of my friends to stop her from ruining an otherwise fun game. Your advice would be appreciated throughout the family.
GENTLE READER: Is your mother training for professional sports?
To Miss Manners' dismay, that is where flagrant examples of bad sportsmanship, such as the repulsive victory dance, are set.
Not that this is any excuse for your mother. Even if she were misguided enough to think her rudeness funny, she compounds it by ignoring the entreaties of her family and the reaction of a young guest.
What you all must learn to say before a game is, "Oh, we're just going to play by ourselves." And if she insists upon joining, "That's OK, we'll play another time."
It is the only hope of her learning that no one likes a bad sport. Except, of course, crazed sports fans.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Desperate male in his 40s finds equally desperate woman online. They meet, and after two dates decide to get married. He is eager to lose his virginity and she is about to lose her welfare benefits. They decide to get married at City Hall.
Invitations are sent for their reception. Printed on a home printer, the ink is smeared, making it hard to read. In it is a list of all the stores they registered at, including Web sites.
The reception was for two hours at the home of his parents. Neither has a job, and they were banking on a lot of gifts so they could return them to finance a honeymoon trip.
I did not attend, but I sent a congratulations card. I take marriage vows very seriously and didn't feel like being taken advantage of. Several co-workers felt the same way and chose not to attend or send a gift. Your opinion, please.
GENTLE READER: That you do not like these people. Miss Manners hopes it will not disappoint you to learn that there is nothing rude about declining the invitation and sending only your congratulations.