DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since I began receiving disability income several years ago, I have often been asked what I do for a living. My disability has very personal aspects, and I sometimes do not feel comfortable talking about it, especially with relative strangers.
I have tried replying that I am writing a book, but many people are not satisfied with that answer. Would you please suggest a polite way to deal with this inquiry?
GENTLE READER: Not satisfied with "writing a book"?
Why, Miss Manners can hardly think of a more respectable occupation that has no visible results for years.
Try "I'm writing a screen play."
Most Americans are. Besides, that counts as true even if you have only gotten to the stage of walking out of movie theaters thinking, "I could put together something better than that."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are at our wits' end trying to figure out what to do. Our daughter eloped last month while we were dog-sitting her two dogs and under the pretense she was going on vacation. She had not planned on sharing this information until after she returned home, but was unable to find anyone else to dog-sit.
On the day she returned to pick up her animals, she demanded a wedding gift and card.
We were totally surprised and very hurt that she would run off with her fiance and not include us in the event. As her mother, I was especially disappointed because she has commented for the past 15 years (she is 36) how she would like her wedding, what her dress would look like, etc.
She just sent out announcements that included notice that there will be a reception this summer (in a park setting). Our quandry is this: Do we owe her a wedding gift now or in July? Since she chose to exclude us from her nuptials, are we expected to pay for a portion of the "reception"? If so, what part or how much? This is becoming an issue between us. Her birthday is next week and she indicated she would like her wedding gift before she receives her birthday gift. Right now I feel so betrayed, I don't want to give her either. How do you recommend we handle this?
GENTLE READER: The same way she did -- by running away. Fast.
It will come as a shock to your daughter, and apparently to you as well, to hear that getting married is not considered to be equivalent to performing a service for others, for which they must pay.
The last Miss Manners checked, adults had control over their own money and had no financial obligations to their adult children. That so many of them sponsor their children's weddings and give them presents presumably is because these are supposed to be happy family occasions, and they take joy in pleasing their children.
If you feel that way, by all means accede to your daughter's demands. If not, Miss Manners would consider that you did quite enough for her on this occasion by minding her dogs.