DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I enjoy the close friendship of another couple with whom we frequently socialize. Our social interactions range from expensive restaurant dinners to simple, little-or-no-cost coffee-and-cake get-togethers at each others' homes or family park outings with our children. Traditionally, each couple pays their own way at events that cost money. Whoever initiates the event generally has given the other a brief heads-up, such as "Do you want to take our kids to this concert? It costs $10 for adults, $5 for children," or "Should we try XYZ Restaurant? It's a little on the pricey side but supposed to be very good."
The primary purpose of our get-togethers is usually the enjoyment of each others' company, with the event or meal a fun secondary consideration. Sometimes, we all socialize with other couples, and at these get-togethers, the primary purpose may or may not be the event instead of the company.
Recently, the husband of this other couple lost his job. Since then, my husband and I have proposed only get-togethers of the variety that cost little or no money, making no mention of money at all. However, I fear the time will soon come when other couples may suggest pricier get-togethers where the pricey event will be the primary purpose.
In such a situation, is it kinder to invite our friends with the job loss, or refrain from inviting them? If we do invite them, is it kinder to give them a brief heads-up regarding the cost of the event, as we traditionally have done, or to make no mention of money at all?
GENTLE READER: The unemployed have the time and the frame of mind to brood. And Miss Manners assures you that the first time they hear of being left out of an excursion by the crowd that used to invite them, they will think they have been callously dropped.
You are tactful to suggest get-togethers that are free or cheap, although you ought also to continue your custom of mentioning any cost. Now, more than ever, they need to know. With other invitations, you should trust them to decide for themselves, rather than making it obvious that their reduced circumstances have altered the way you think of them, however kindly.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I frequently receive forwarded e-mails from family and friends that are verifiably fictitious. The e-mails implore the reader to "send this to everyone you know" or that "ABC company will donate 32 cents for every forwarded e-mail toward the care of Jane Doe who is 10 years old and needs an operation."
Would it be rude to reply to the sender and inform them that these charitable requests are just a hoax or let them continue to clutter up everyone's e-mail boxes?
GENTLE READER: Not to mention being fleeced themselves. Can Miss Manners trust you to do this without mentioning or implying that they are suckers? "I've heard that this is a scam -- you might check it out," is more tactful.