DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm an old guy - 60 -- and as guys we don't want to be invited to or attend office wedding and baby showers. In my day, these were by and for women.
Fine. If they like them, go for it.
But we don't like them, and we don't want to go to them. We all complain about it among ourselves, but none of us has the testosterone-makers to tell the women at the office to leave us off the guest list.
How do we get the message out? Stop the madness. Leave us guys out!
GENTLE READER: Trust Miss Manners: You don't want to make this a gender issue.
Not unless your idea of manly fun is to have the shower contingent challenge the sensitivity of your feelings toward your female colleagues at tender moments in their lives. Plus, they are bound to point out to you that as many males as females get married and have children.
But wait. Miss Manners has a plan to strengthen your case.
Make it a workplace issue. The case you should make is that personal celebrations -- which includes birthdays as well as marriages and births -- should not be celebrated in the office. Unlike retirement or promotion parties, they do not relate to work matters and should be celebrated with friends on their own time. Colleagues who have become friends will presumably want to be involved, but those with merely a working relationship should not be conscripted.
Yes, there will be those who protest at your heartlessness. But the gentlemen are already on your side, and you will be joined by those ladies who are tired of donating money, being tempted to eat cake and having their work interrupted for social celebrations on behalf of people with whom they have no real social relationship.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my closest friends has three girls 13, 10 and 6 in age. When we get together, whether at a home or in public, her kids act out. Screaming, crying, yelling, doing spit balls in a restaurant.
The parents sometimes try to discipline them, but then they just end up giving in, making the rest of the parents very upset. It seems like they want the rest of us to discipline but then don't support that when it happens, or they end up mad at us for stepping in.
It has gotten to the point that people do not want to be with them if they have their children. You just cannot have a good time when the kids are around.
So some of us have started doing things without them and without them knowing, since they would be very upset that they were left out. The adults are fun to be with, but the children are in your face and eating over the food; they just do not have any manners. What is a good friend to do?
GENTLE READER: Let the parents figure out why they are being left out.
Miss Manners does not suggest this to be cruel. On the contrary: She wants to save the children from a lifetime of the social exclusion that is the result of being unfamiliar with the concept of tempering one's feelings out of consideration of others.