DEAR MISS MANNERS: I got a strange phone call yesterday evening from an old friend. When we dated for a relatively short time, more than four years ago, it quickly became clear that we were far more suited as friends than as sweethearts, and we settled into a good friendship. I've always enjoyed his conversations, and we visited back and forth perhaps every six months or so.
So he called up yesterday, I thought to chitchat. Early in the conversation he said he was getting married this fall. I, myself was married a year ago, to my favorite man in the entire world, so my response was "Congratulations! When is it?" I jotted down the date, planning to put it on my calendar.
However, a little further along, it became clear that we were not invited to the wedding. Not only were we NOT invited to the wedding, but apparently the fiance has "issues" with "old girlfriends" and he is now not supposed to stay in touch with me at all.
If this is the case, why call? Or if calling to let me know, why on earth tell me about the wedding? I find myself slightly hurt, somewhat pissed off, disappointed, but most of all mystified. My husband is also disappointed, as he was looking forward to meeting this (now former) friend.
What, if anything should he have said or done instead? And what, if anything, should I?
I was very courteous about it, at the time stating that I hoped the situation would change, and to let me know if there was anything we could do to help. I'm not tempted to send them a wedding present -- does that count as an announcement?
I probably will do nothing at all, except be miffed for a few days, and then forget about it. I assume I'm not allowed to call back and tell him he's a wimpy pinhead and that she's a ... well, I'm far too well-bred to say what I think SHE is.
GENTLE READER: Never mind her. This is a rare case in which blaming the messenger is justified. He is the one who was your friend.
Although the fiancee insisted that he break with you, and possibly even dictated the unpleasant way in which it was stated, he went along with it and performed the deed. He could so easily have accepted your congratulations, murmured something about its being a small wedding and let you assume thereafter that he was too occupied with his new life to keep in touch.
Miss Manners suspects that the form may have been intended to offend you, as extra protection against your friendship. Of course you are angry -- portraying you as a threat to his marriage implies that the friendship was a sham and that your own marriage must be. What the happy couple may not realize is that it also casts aspersions on their marriage.
You, at least, behaved civilly. There is nothing more for you to do. You can regret having misplaced your friendship, but you should not regret missing a chance to misbehave.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: The wife of a good friend has all of a sudden decided she didn't like her real first name and changed it. Not legally, mind you, but she just wants to be called something else. I find it hard to not call her by her real name. Am I out of line in refusing to call her by the name she decided to choose?
GENTLE READER: Yes, you are wrong to refuse. That is to say, you may keep calling her by her original name, if your intention is to annoy her, but Miss Manners insists that you apologize, if it is called to your attention, and blame it on a poor memory.