DEAR MISS MANNERS: Last night, my wife made a pointed remark that when she went on a business trip with her financial adviser, he opened the car door, and sat her in a restaurant and "acted like a gentleman."
I no longer do this for her because it just seems phony and old-fashioned, and, in a way, condescending of a woman's ability. Now, for her financial adviser to do this is understandable. After all, she is his client, not his wife. In today's world, should I do this?
GENTLE READER: Today's world where it is worthwhile to be charming to a client but silly to bother when it is only a wife?
Oh, you mean today's world where such manners do not charm but inspire defensive snarls. But you have made clear to Miss Manners, as your wife made clear to you, that this particular lady would be delighted. So please stop thinking that it is phony to please one's spouse.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I know it's rude to talk about a party in front of someone who wasn't invited. I'm wondering how this rule applies to talking about a party on social-networking sites.
Some friends threw a party, of which one of their guests later posted photographs on Facebook. A man who wasn't invited (but knew everyone there) saw the pictures; he is a Facebook "friend" of the woman who posted them. Hurt that he wasn't invited, he then confronted the hosts, perhaps wondering if he had offended them somehow.
Was it rude of the woman to post the pictures? The hosts certainly didn't invite the problem, as they were very careful in making sure noninvitees did not know about the party beforehand.
GENTLE READER: Surprisingly, Miss Manners most blames the alleged victim here. To expect to be invited to every party given by a friend, and worse, to confront that person with a complaint, is exceedingly rude.
That is not to excuse the person who posted the pictures. Taking, much less posting, photographs of someone else's party (or for that matter, one's own guests) without explicit permission is a violation of hospitality. But word of the party might have gotten out anyway. Guests are not usually sworn to secrecy about where they have been, although they are expected to use discretion.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am stumped as to what a "gentle reader" is. In one of your recent columns a so-called "gentle reader" was perturbed over someone joyfully announcing their daughter's engagement. I am more interested in what sets this "gentle reader" apart from the rest of us ordinary folks than why the parents were joyful. Can, or will you dare, try to enlighten me?
GENTLE READER: Dare? Surely, Gentle Reader, you do not suppose that Miss Manners would not defend her own actions.
She did not single out that reader; she addresses all her readers as Gentle Reader. True, they are not all as gentle as they might be. Her hope is to encourage them to live up to the name, rather like someone at a meeting pleading, "Ladies and gentlemen, please stop hitting one another with your chairs."