DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister is hurt because her daughter's boyfriend did not include her when he asked the dad for their daughter's hand in marriage. Her boyfriend also asked the dad to go with him to pick up the ring, and he did, and the dad said to everyone, "We got it" when they got back home.
Our son-in-law asked us to dinner when he asked to marry our daughter. Maybe ours was an unusual situation, but I thought it was nice to be included.
What is the norm? My sister talked to her daughter's boyfriend several times a week before this happened. She has not talked to him or returned his phone calls since February.
My sister and niece will be coming in a week, and her fiance lives in our town.
GENTLE READER: Then perhaps you will have a chance to resolve this ridiculous misunderstanding before it wrecks two families and a wedding.
The custom of asking for a lady's hand in marriage dates from long before ladies had the vote, politically or domestically, so the mother was not officially consulted. Among modern gentlemen who preserve the custom, some update it to address both parents, and some do not.
But it should be remembered that this procedure, although charming, is a mere formality now, when the hand is only too likely to have been freely given long before, often along with the other parts. For that matter, it was something of a formality then, when even a draconian father was not likely to be able to stand up to a determined daughter.
So the prospective bridegroom is guilty only of having preserved an anachronistic custom. If you can explain to your sister that no insult was intended, and get her prospective son-in-law to do the same, you will have done the family a service.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend lives in an apartment with two bathrooms, only one of which is easily accessible to guests and which serves as the main facility. When she entertains at dinner or a party, she replaces the bath towel with several hand towels, but ordinarily there is only one hand towel hanging from a towel ring. She keeps a supply of hand towels on the open shelf of a small table opposite the wash basin.
On a casual visit, should one use the hand towel that is obviously hers or a fresh one from the shelf? This is clearly not a matter of great moment, but I am curious about what Miss Manners considers appropriate.
GENTLE READER: Which one is not a matter of great moment, either, as they were all clearly put out for guest use. What Miss Manners considers inappropriate, not to mention icky, is the guest who emerges from the bathroom dry-handed, leaving all the guest towels pristine.