DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am being swamped with e-mail messages from acquaintances who want me to forward pictures, videos, poems and such to others. Often the senders demand "I want this back!" as proof that I have read the message. Many times these messages are in the form of a chain letter, promising me good luck if I forward them and bad luck if I do not.
I do not have time for this, and it is becoming very annoying. At first, I dutifully forwarded the messages, then sent a short e-mail note to the senders saying that I enjoyed hearing from them. This resulted in more and more of these chain-letter messages.
Lately, I simply delete them but continue on occasion to send them brief "thinking of you" e-mails with no reference to the lengthy chain letters, hoping that they will get the hint -- but every day I receive six or seven of these messages.
Is there anything else I can do to discourage them without being rude? I would like to maintain contact with them, but not like this.
GENTLE READER: Remember when we used to blame the Post Office for everything we hadn't done? Well now, fortunately, we have even more plausible explanations:
My server was down.
My computer crashed.
I accidentally deleted my mail.
I've switched servers.
My spam filter must have caught it.
The Truth Squad needn't come after Miss Manners claiming that she is encouraging lies. Rather, she suggests that you make one of these problems happen. Trashing your hard drive is perhaps too drastic, but you could reset your spam filter or set up a different mail box for the offenders.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm the only person I know who wears formal hats semi-regularly. I try to keep them unobtrusive, so as not to attract more attention than the mere presence of a hat usually does, but I recently broke my own rule and bought a hat out of sheer love at first sight: a big, fluffy thing the proprietress called "Nordic Princess" and that lives up to the name.
While I'll be content to enjoy merely owning such a hat, it would be nice to wear it if the occasion arose. But when I consider local winters (sometimes a bit icy, nothing more) and the general rarity of hats, I can't picture any occasion (short of a costume party or moving to Alaska) where my new hat would not be both improper and slightly ridiculous.
Am I being too cautious? Where would such a hat belong, besides my closet? How do I assess the suitability of a hat when I must consider that, no matter how formal the occasion, I may be the only person wearing one at all? (On that note, I've read that a lady does not wear a hat in the evening; is it improper for me to wear one to an afternoon wedding with a dinner reception?)
GENTLE READER: It never fails to amaze Miss Manners that at a time when ladies wear daytime clothes that routinely expose more than their ankles, hats are considered shocking. She suggests that you learn to enjoy that, as she does.
Not having had the pleasure of seeing the Nordic Princess, she cannot tell whether it is intended for what ought to be considered everyday wear, even though it isn't. If it is wildly outrageous, then it should be worn at festive daytime events (weddings, graduations, serious luncheons) if you remember to take it off when the sun goes down.