DEAR MISS MANNERS: I like to play bridge on an irregular basis and have the opportunity to play with a variety of people. But I really dislike the "Why didn't you do this/do that?", "If you did this/or that, then I could have, it would have ..." -- the inevitable obit by one member re how they could have made some fabulous play if someone else had done something else.
I come to have fun, not "up" someone, or question why anyone did what they did.
I find this inquisition (whether directed at me or anyone else) really rude. Do you have any thoughts on this irritant to me? I have mentioned, attempting to be humorous, that I really don't like the obituaries -- they seem more critical in nature than information/learning opportunities.
GENTLE READER: Then you are in the wrong game. Miss Manners does not mean to suggest that you ought to be playing, oh, say, polo, or Simon Says, instead of bridge. Only that you need to get into another bridge game.
It is not that you want to play for fun and these people don't. It is that their idea of fun is letting you know that except for your bungling, they would have won. Like people who boo at baseball games or the opera, they consider it part of the sport.
Although this seems to be true of the entire variety of people with whom you play, there are others who will be only too glad to escape their partners (in bridge, but sometimes often in life) by forming another table.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend and I met our friends' boyfriends and they were all referred to by their first name. After the wedding, they all refer to them as "my husband" all the time. I would like to know if we are friendly with these men, should they be referred to as husbands since we know them and their names?
GENTLE READER: Your newly married friends are getting a thrill from saying "my husband." Unless you would be thrilled to refer to them as "your husband," Miss Manners permits you to continue to call them by their names.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I don't understand why you advise people not to mention price except in matters of business. I'd hate to think that I may purchase a new auto and later realize that a friend had purchased the same car for a much lower price. Would you consider reconsidering?
GENTLE READER: This will not be necessary after you reconsider your notion of etiquette.
Like many people, you assume that its rules are so crudely fashioned as to be inflexible, regardless of circumstances. (But then again, Miss Manners prefers that attitude to that of people who believe that etiquette is so flexible that it never stops them from doing whatever they want.)
We need that rule. Aren't you sick of being asked by strangers what you paid for your shoes?
All the same, etiquette, like its harsher cousin the law, recognizes extenuating circumstances. It would be rude to ask your neighbor what he paid for his car if your motivation were to gage his worth or to announce that he is a sucker because he could have gotten it more cheaply. But you could get away with saying, "I'm thinking of buying a car like that. Do you mind my asking how much you paid for it?"