DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently missed an appointment with a dean of my graduate school. The purpose of the meeting was to request grace for another obligation I had forgotten. As soon as I realized my mistake, I wrote the dean, apologized, and asked for his continued consideration in favor of my case. In addition to checking my calendar more regularly and carefully, is there anything else I should have done or said?
GENTLE READER: "You looked busy and I didn't want to disturb you"?
"I felt suddenly ill and didn't want to mess up your office"?
"I take full responsibility for standing you up and am seeking psychiatric help for my compulsion to sabotage my reputation with the people I admire most"?
No, Miss Manners doesn't really think so. Not when the purpose of the missed appointment was to talk your way out of trouble for having missed an appointment.
She would think that the most prudent thing you could do now would be to refrain from trying the dean's patience again. Perhaps he will make such a sufficiently funny story of the event to tell his colleagues that he will eventually begin to have unreasonably benign feelings toward you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our 25-year-old newly and shakily self-supporting daughter has happily announced to us that she is expecting a baby. She has no plans to marry the father, whom she has known only a few months.
She delightedly assured us that the conception was intentional (I had not asked!) and that they plan to raise the child together but may not be compatible enough to marry. (Her logic has always been an enigma to me.)
We will have to tell our friends, most of whom have known her since childhood, that we are about to become grandparents. We will need to tell our church community in which she was raised.
She is our daughter no matter what. She is aware that we are appalled. This is not the manner in which we would have chosen to become grandparents, but we intend to be loving and supportive to this child. I insisted that our daughter write a letter to each of her siblings, aunt/uncles, grandfather and godparents. They are being very supportive to us and I hope, to her, though they are clear that they feel, as we do, that this is more a case of "best wishes" than "congratulations."
So, now, how do we announce the news to friends and church? They know she isn't married. There are bound to be questions. I don't want to appear to approve of her choice, yet I don't wish to give the impression that I will in any way reject our grandchild. What do I say? How do I deal with people's responses?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners would not suggest repeating your daughter's rationale. It didn't go over with you and it is not likely to be admired by your church community.
But you are making a family announcement, not holding a moral referendum. Should anyone attempt to draw you into one, the only response you should make (as often as necessary until they stop) is, "She is grown-up and makes her own decisions. We don't always agree with her, but we love her and are excited to be having a grandchild."