DEAR MISS MANNERS: I believe I have made an invitation mishap. My family and I just moved into a new house over the weekend, and some of our friends came to help in one way or another. My husband is in the Air Force, and one of the men and one of the women he works with came to help.
Here is where the situation gets sticky. The man who helped is married, and his wife watched my daughters that day; however, he is currently having an affair with the other Air Force woman, who also helped. Everything is already out in the open, and the couple is in the process of divorcing, but still living in the same house, just separated.
My problem is that I have invited everyone who helped us over the weekend to dinner this coming Saturday, including the couple and the single AF woman, among a few other people. I honestly did not think about the situation between the others before making my invites. I only wanted to show my appreciation for all of their help.
What should I do? Do I retract my invitation from either the husband, the wife or the mistress? Or, do I simply hope they can all behave as adults and forgive me for putting them in such an awkward situation?
GENTLE READER: Let's not get overexcited about the drama you feel you have staged. They created this situation, not you. And since they are conducting their shifting arrangements in public, living in the same house and yet -- at least so far -- not killing one another, you are unlikely to find blood on your sofa.
Miss Manners would understand your alarm better if it had to do with the awkward situation in which these people put you, as apparently approving of the behavior of the new couple. However, it is too late to put a social ban on them now that you have accepted their help. The best you can do is to seem innocent of their private lives, and merely welcome them as your friends and their own, ah, roommates.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hope you can settle a dispute between me and my roommate. For our upcoming graduation, our school has distributed six tickets to each student, as there is limited room for the ceremony. I have spare tickets and while I am giving two to my friend, I am contemplating selling the others. My roommate says that I am wrong in making the ability for others' loved ones to attend contingent on their ability to pay me, especially because I am not using them. I say that if some people want to bring more than their allotted six and are willing to pay, I am still in the right in selling my tickets.
GENTLE READER: Your roommate sounds sweet. Perhaps he opposes the marketing of food on the grounds that people have to eat whether or not they can afford it.
Miss Manners takes a more worldly view: that it would be mean to charge friends for a favor that costs you nothing, but not so to put a commodity you happen to have on a wider market.