DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in my late 20s, and a lot more of my friends are becoming engaged, and something has really been bothering me.
I am an activist and really have issues with diamonds due to their origins. It is actually one of the main reasons my husband and I did away with the idea of rings altogether until we could find a jewelry company that thinks along our lines. (I have found several recently.)
I am happy for all my friends' engagements, but when they go and show me the diamond and ask my opinion on the ring (i.e., "Isn't it beautiful?"), I really want to explain my position on these stones.
I know that at parties in mixed company, it is definitely not appropriate (nobody wants an activist to spoil a wedding or engagement party), and I usually end up stammering and saying, "Very nice." This usually makes me feel very uncomfortable and hypocritical, like I am accepting these stones as being OK.
How do I get away from the constant feeling that I should let them know how I really feel about the ring, but that it has nothing to do with the actual engagement?
Most of these people know that I am actively involved in clubs like Sierra Club and Amnesty International but do not fully understand why my husband and I have no rings. Most just think it was because we eloped.
GENTLE READER: "Isn't it beautiful?" is not a question; it is a prompt to give the conventional compliment. But if you used the opportunity to state your position, what do you think would happen?
Struck by the righteousness of your stand, the new fiancee would pull off her ring in horror and fling it away.
No? Then what would you hope to accomplish?
Miss Manners assures you that people do not absorb moral lessons from those who trample on their feelings. Rather, they forever associate the unpleasantness of the spokesperson with the cause itself. So if the certainty that you would hurt your friends' feelings is not enough to satisfy you into mere murmured politeness, how about the certainty that you would hurt your cause?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In two recent instances, I've received notes from friends on personalized note cards in which the writer strikes through the embossed name at top.
Is this standard practice, i.e., does one strike out one's embossed name if one is going to sign one's signature? This strikes me as odd, since I can't imagine the reverse: where one would write a note to someone and not sign it.
GENTLE READER: Ah, but Miss Manners can. Not imagine it, that is, but recall the tradition that fastidious people continue to use. And please don't try to mash the following into something logical -- it's just the way things have long been done.
Cards with the formal name on top are called informals. (Go figure.) They may be used the way smaller personal cards are, for relatively informal, telegraphically worded invitations ("Tea Thursday at 4") and replies ("accepting with pleasure") and to accompany presents ("Best wishes to you both").
The signature is omitted, as this is not a letter and the writer's name is already there. Such cards are not properly used for letters -- brides, please note.
But they may be used for breezy notes ("Loved your speech yesterday," "See you at the beach"). If these are signed, a diagonal line is drawn through the formal name.