DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would really like to send a card or a present, preferably both, to my husband's first wife on her second marriage. I am officially "the Other Woman" (but only if you want the Hollywood version). I know it sounds bizarre, but I have been acquainted with this woman for nearly three decades.
No, it wasn't friendly, but there were moments. I was helping to raise their/our kids and see that she was kept in the loop when it was on our side.
I could not be happier for her or sincerely wish her less than all of the best. Would it be wrong? Patronizing? Or what?
I am the sort of woman that would hug someone in the emergency room when her/his/our kid was being treated. So it would be something that I would do, except at my age I am a little gun shy about what comes naturally.
When you are number two you try harder.
GENTLE READER: Have you also come to understand that this does not always mean you will succeed?
Perhaps all of those whom you hugged in emergency rooms felt gratitude for a touch of humanity from someone who presumably was in a similar situation. But it is always possible to encounter someone who shrinks at the intrusion of a stranger at a difficult time. People are different.
While it is true that you were also in a situation with this lady, it was not exactly, Miss Manners has to point out, from a similar perspective. Perhaps she is ready to be friends; perhaps not.
This is certainly not meant to discourage you from making an overture. But it should be a careful and dignified one. No doubt you can find a card that gives greetings to a bride from the person in possession of her first bridegroom, but Miss Manners recommends a handwritten note saying that you have come to appreciate her and wish her well.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My boss says that it is inconsiderate to the workplace to leave the top off of my 12-ounce bottle of water/tea when I am not drinking it. He has a terrible tendency to knock it over.
He also claims that when customers come in to the office and I have left it on the counter that, they too, knock it over.
I now have to unscrew every time I want to drink and hope that I don't lose the lid to screw it back on.
Could you please clarify what is the proper way to handle your water bottle in the office? I do not wish to be uncourteous, but I think he is just clumsy. Please advise.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners advises anyone with a clumsy boss to cap his water bottle. Or clumsy customers, and you never know when they might come along.
She sympathizes with you about the physical strain involved, however. Perhaps it would help if you thought of that as your daily exercise program.