DEAR MISS MANNERS: Once upon a time, brides only wore white when it was their first marriage and to signify their purity. Today, brides wear white after living with a man for some period of time and even after having children.
Am I old fashioned and out of sync with the times to believe a bride should only wear white if she is a virgin? In my opinion, other women should wear something in a tasteful color other than white.
GENTLE READER: Once upon a time was not all it is cracked up to be. Did you never see anything wrong with the idea that brides should be publicly packaged and labeled according to their purity?
All right, neither did anyone else except Miss Manners for a century and a half.
Dear Queen Victoria launched the white wedding dress fad at her marriage in 1840. White had been a usual color for young girls before they were allowed to overstimulate themselves -- and others -- by wearing exciting colors and jewels and putting up their hair. When the color of the wedding dress came to be considered a declaration that its contents were new or used, Miss Manners cannot say. She only knows how relieved she is that this has ceased -- or so she thought, until you spoke up.
Goodness knows there is plenty to criticize in that prolonged display of expensive egoism and blatant greed that is the modern wedding without resorting to such vulgarity.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I worked in the steel mill, one of the rules was "the load has the right of way." In other words, you stepped aside when approached by someone carrying equipment or materials to allow them passage.
This made a lot of sense, and I assumed that it was a rule of etiquette as well. However, if it is a rule of etiquette, it doesn't seem to be observed.
I was at a party with a buffet luncheon. As I left the buffet with my dish of food, I was pushed out of the way by another guest rushing to get in line. Such behavior seems to be more the norm these days, and I don't think it has anything to do with steel mill closures. Is there an etiquette rule governing these situations or is it pretty much a matter of anything goes?
GENTLE READER: Your steel mill sounds a lot more civilized than many buffet tables. They should both operate on that principle, but presumably steel mills don't have people barging in saying, "I'm going to get some of those lovely looking shrimp" while shoving an arm in your way, if not your plate.
Lining up and taking turns is such a pervasive rule of the society, from batting order to buffet tables, that Miss Manners knows that everyone is aware of the proper procedure. It is not the lack of etiquette rules that lets greed trample on decency; it is the lack of obedience to these rules.