DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a newly elected minor public official, I work from my kitchen table, and I have no office staff. I have been surprised at the number of invitations I now receive.
I have received invitations to weddings of people I have never heard of, let alone met (I googled them to be sure.) I am now invited to large numbers of fundraisers and award dinners that carry hefty prices.
If there is a simple way to decline, I do. But I am at a loss when people are offended if I call and say I will be unable to attend, and want to know why.
I want to spend my free time as I choose, and while a certain number of local functions are required, I have no interest in going to events in other areas. I consider events with a charge to be in the category of if I don't buy your ticket, don't expect me.
Rather than a social invitation, which requires an answer, am I wrong? (I must say if they give me a stamped return envelope, I do send my regrets, but I draw the line at paying for a stamp to say no.) I do feel an obligation to respond if I am asked to present an award or speak, but those invitations come in much fewer numbers.
GENTLE READER: You are indeed new at this. Otherwise, Miss Manners is sure that you would know three rules of politics that apply to your problem:
1. The first choice of elected public officials is always to spend their free time with their constituents.
2. They don't have any free time. Day and night, they are at work for their constituents (although they are also kind and upstanding people who attend to their family obligations).
3. They are happy to seize any opportunity to correspond with their constituents.
So although solicitations to pay for events do not normally require a response, you might want to invest a few stamps in saying how much you regret that your duties keep you from enjoying all functions, at which you wish everyone well. If you do so charmingly enough, you may eventually rise to a position with franking privileges.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently inherited a pair of large, diamond stud earrings from my grandmother, who is still alive, but is expected to pass within the next year. I had a difficult time accepting them, but she insisted.
They are large stones in an old-fashioned gold setting that causes them to sit out from the ear quite a bit. Personally, I prefer white gold or platinum jewelry and find the setting to be awkward.
Would it be terrible for me to have them reset in another metal or have them turned into a necklace that I would wear often instead of keeping them in a jewelry box the rest of my life? Is this selfish? Wrong?
GENTLE READER: No, the earrings are now yours, and you may do what you please with them.
However, Miss Manners would be happier if you could restrain yourself from changing them during the apparently short remainder of your grandmother's lifetime. Seeing you wear them may give her pleasure.
Besides, it is possible that you may change your mind. Feelings sometimes change after someone is gone, and you may value them more then for their sentimental association. Fashions certainly change, and they go backward as often as forward. If that old-fashioned look becomes the latest thing, you may find you prefer it. If not, it will then be reasonable to change.