DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a habit of shortening peoples names down when I meet them. If I meet an Anthony, it's not long before I call them Tony. Christian to Chris, Thomas to Tom, et. al. I think you get the idea.
I've done this all my life, I think, but my wife has picked up on this and told me it's rude. She even has my 10-year-old daughter jumping on her wagon. I feel I'm just being friendly with people and mean no harm. Am I wrong?
GENTLE READER: Deeply wrong. You are not these people's friends -- nor are you likely to become so if you persist in this presumptuous and irritating habit.
You have no idea what people you meet are customarily called, nor what they like to be called. Anthony may be called Junior. Christian may be called Everett, because it is his middle name. Thomas may be called Buster.
Nicknames are bestowed by parents, friends and even enemies. Even so, many people try desperately to escape theirs. Miss Manners assures you that if you continue to address them with your cheeky assumptions, they will be trying even more desperately to escape you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received an e-mail from a friend announcing her wedding plans as follows:
"Well-Some of you may have heard, but we wanted to be sure, so here's an e-mail announcement -- I am engaged and getting married soon! We wanted to do it this summer but couldn't get a date when my kids, the minister and a place were all available. Everything fell into place for the 5th.
"I am very happy and am grateful to have found Jonathan and get this 2nd chance. Thank you all for your love and support. And if you think you want to come, we would love to have you!"
In fact, I had not heard and am not sure how to respond, as this is not an invitation. I cannot imagine that she would be having a wedding and posing this question to all of her friends and family, which leads me to believe that I am not on the "A-List." This person is (or was, I thought) an old friend, and this would be a second marriage. Should I accept my role as being a second-status friend, and what should this role entail?
GENTLE READER: Is it possible that your friend does not subscribe to the current notion that every marriage must begin with an all-out spectacle of a wedding?
If this letter heralded a formal wedding, Miss Manners would advise you to send a stiff note wishing the lady happiness and ignoring the possibility of attending. But it does not sound as if your friend spent a year selecting theme colors. It may be a low-key, informal occasion, or what we used to call a tasteful second wedding, and she may not want friends who went through a major wedding with her once to feel obligated to do it again. Why don't you call her with your best wishes so you can get a sense whether this is the case? If so, and you want to go, you should.