DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife is very refined and attractive and a little obsessive and compulsive when it comes to her grooming.
I appreciate that, but when we go out in public or meet others at a restaurant, she will bring her nail buffing set with her and buff her nails within the view of others.
I frequently mention that this appears to be either rude or just awkward and unsightly, given her desire to maintain appearances. She thinks it is nothing and no one should draw an opinion about it, including me.
I find the visual repetition and sound of it annoying. Shouldn't this kind of grooming be done at home or in private, or am I the one that is being too obsessive?
GENTLE READER: Sorry as Miss Manners is to have to point this out, she must observe that you have gallantly overestimated the qualities of this lady. There is nothing either refined or attractive about someone who does bathroom chores in public and who won't make the smallest change in her habits to avoid annoying her husband.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I love my job as a high school literature teacher. One can hardly begin to create a complete list of why the job is so amazing.
Yet in 12 years of teaching, I regularly encounter two comments when people find out my profession. They either cringe ("Wow -- why would you ever want to deal with brats every day?") or think they're handing me a compliment ("It must be so great to have the summers off").
If I were to deal with brats every day, I'd go into a different profession. I also doubt they understand that most of us don't get paid over the two-month summer break even though we continue to prepare for the following year.
How should one best respond to these remarks and transition into some topic that is a bit more pleasing all around?
GENTLE READER --? There is no stopping people from making silly remarks about one's profession -- any profession -- as Miss Manners knows from constant personal experience.
The simplest way is to answer with a weak smile and say, "Tell me about what you do." No explanation or transition necessary.
But if you are really fed up with those who remark about brats, you can say sympathetically, "Did you have a hard time in high school?"
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several months ago, we mailed out save-the-date cards to prospective out-of-town guests for our son's wedding. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the wedding guest list now needs to be reduced. We now need to let family and friends know that although they received save-the-date cards, they will not be invited to the wedding. What is the best and most polite way to do this, hopefully without incurring hard feelings or grudges?
GENTLE READER: There is no polite way to say, "We told you to wait for us, but you didn't make the final cut." Miss Manners suggests finding a way to cut the expenses, not the list of reserved guests.