DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received an invitation to a friend's cocktail party through a Web site "e-vite." I was sent an e-mail, which contained a link to a Web site, which displayed the details of the party, the guest list and each guest's response along with any comments they chose to post for all to see!
My hostess has made it clear (through subsequent e-mail) that she wishes to keep track of her guest list through this Web site and has requested we use it.
Should I respond using the medium she chooses, although I find it abhorrent? Or would it be acceptable to respond in a way I find more genteel, as a phone call or personal note?
GENTLE READER: Normally, Miss Manners insists that guests follow their prospective hosts' instructions and respond in the manner used for the invitation -- telephoned invitations by telephone, written ones in writing, and so on.
But she has her limits. For example, she cannot bring herself to use those horrid little "M__________" cards in place of a formally written response to a formally written wedding invitation. And she will not post her responses online for general perusal.
In the case of an e-mailed invitation, you may respond with an e-mail, but you may address it directly to your hosts. However, be warned that the Web site is programmed to nag you for not having responded, but your conscience will be clear because you know you did.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother recently passed away after an extended illness. A friend of mine, knowing my mother's situation, sent me a poem about a pet's death, envisioning the pet running in beautiful pastures, wagging its tail, jumping and playing.
I cannot convey how offensive and insensitive I found it to compare my mother to a dog.
I realize that she sent it out of some misguided attempt at kindness. My inclination is to just not mention it, as I cannot imagine thanking her politely for something so stupid as to actually be hurtful.
But there is another aspect that perhaps should be considered. This woman is a nurse, and presumably is experienced in dealing with families of dying patients. She also participates actively in a grief-counseling group. It is reasonable to anticipate that she will be in contact with grieving families and loved ones in the future. To what extent do I have any obligation to her, or to the future victims of her well intended but hurtful ham-handedness?
GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners shares your aversion to this attempt at consolation and finds it laudable that you wish to protect others, she advises you not to confront your would-be comforter. She may maintain that her pet meant as much to her as your mother meant to you, which would anger you. She may say that she just grabbed the first card from the condolence shelf, which would insult you. She may declare that the poem was meant metaphorically, which would embarrass you.