DEAR MISS MANNERS: It seems that the immodest fad of stuffing every bride into the cookie cutter, strapless bridal uniform so popular now has left few with any sense of imagination and/or personal style. Most have too much to show to even carry off that look as they seemingly explode out of these boring garments, which all look even more alike when printed in most newspapers.
Sigh. Why would anyone even want to look like everyone else?
SO! What does one say to the repeated questioning from a bride-to-be concerning how much do I like her dress?
GENTLE READER: "It's lovely, dear." Repeat as often as necessary.
Mind you, Miss Manners agrees with you about those silly white ball dresses replacing dignified wedding dresses. In fact, she is even crankier about them than you, believing it to be disrespectful to appear that bare for a solemn ceremony, particularly in a house of worship. That brides prefer to dress for the party, rather than the service (when they could so easily do both with a bit of lace to be shed between the events) is a sad indication of which they consider more important.
Nevertheless, Miss Manners is holding fast to the idea that all brides are beautiful and that they should be told so.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a new employee of the local university and medical center's development department, I inherited a list of donors which requires my attention to their pledges and payments as well as informing them of proposals which may interest them.
A regular donor is facing the imminent death of her husband and has asked us to remind her of her pledge schedule. How do we tactfully express our sincere concern about her husband's failing health and her role as caregiver while managing the financial (and, I realize, accurate) nature of this relationship?
It occurs to me that many of our donors and families are or will be facing ill health (we are a medical center) and that I do not wish to appear to be chasing them for their bequests. Is it possible to tactfully request their donations (hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars are at stake) in any way to avoid hovering over the deathbed? I should have considered this possibility before accepting the position.
GENTLE READER: Indeed. For anyone else, the polite opening would be to inquire about the lady's husband. For you, as the representative of an organization that might benefit from his death, it would sound ghoulish.
Miss Manners suggests you open by identifying yourself and your organization and then saying, "You asked us to call, but if this is a bad time, please tell me." Be prepared to hear either, "Yes, it is," or "It's a terrible time, but we might as well talk now." You can then express your good wishes for her and her husband before getting down to business in a way as unrelated to his fate as possible.