DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there any proper way to discourage relatives from using us as vacation headquarters, and still maintain a relationship? Over the years, they have become more and more rude when staying with us. We are moving soon to an even more attractive vacation spot and anticipate even more visits. Any suggestions on how to let them know we are tired of it all?
GENTLE READER: You mean such as, "No offense, but we're really tired of you?"
Not a good idea. People have a funny way of feeling insulted when you let them know that you are sick of them. It is therefore prudent to leave them in some doubt.
Since you are moving, Miss Manners suggests starting by saying that you are not yet prepared for guests. If they stay in the area anyway, quickly invite them for dinner -- for several days after their arrival. You are accustoming them to being on their own.
In any case, the next time they volunteer to be your guests, you will have to confess that you never put together a guest room, but are using the space for a library, den, workout room or whatever. If you do have a room with an extra bed, Miss Manners recommends piling it with cartons before they come to town.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner of many years and I gave "commitment" rings to each other, mine an expensive diamond, hers an inexpensive wedding band. We have broken up, since I walked away from an unsharing relationship. I had given her many pieces of expensive Czech crystal and glass. She says now that she need not give back anything, including the ring since it was a gift.
I accept that the glass was a gift in each case and have asked for none of it returned. Usually the advice is to give back both rings since they will only bring up bad memories. What is your opinion, and what is the standard correct etiquette in such a case?
GENTLE READER: It depends on how you define a commitment, even an unsharing one. If you considered it a marriage, she keeps the ring. If you considered it a commitment to be married, also known as an engagement, she gives it back. Your choice.
But wait, no, it's not. Your erstwhile partner maintains possession and has already declared it a nonsymbolic present unrelated to the future of the relationship. As unconvincing as this is, Miss Manners would not advise you to hope for it back.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father, a clergyman for the last 50 years, was taught in seminary that reverend is a written title only, never a spoken one. Proper spoken titles are rabbi, pastor, father, mother, sister, brother, minister, doctor, mr., mrs., ms., Your Grace and the like.
Of course, I don't expect Hollywood to know this -- and they don't -- but I have heard ministers refer to themselves as Reverend So And So. I have even heard some "high church" types call my dear, dedicated, unpretentious father Parson German Church in a rather mean tone of voice. Is it now acceptable to call yourself reverend?
GENTLE READER: No, it is commonplace but still incorrect. Miss Manners would imagine the clergy to be especially wary of using the argument that if everyone does something, it must be all right.
Besides, this usage is not quite seemly. Miss Manners is confident that those who err do not mean to be arrogant, but it is a bit as if the pope were to refer to himself as My Holiness.