DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am invited to a baby shower, or so I thought!
The expectant mommy and grandmother live in another part of the state. I was so excited to have a chance/good excuse to travel there for a visit, not particularly to stay with either of them.
However, as I read the somewhat interesting invitation, I found that neither I nor anyone else "invited" were actually supposed to ATTEND! The invitation said something to the effect of, "Since you all live there and we live here, just send the gifts and we'll have a private surprise baby shower," i.e., send gifts to Grandma's house; she will then take cake, etc., and go to Mommy's house with gifts. As each gift is opened, a picture will be taken and forwarded to each person who gave gift. This is the extent of the "shower"!
I couldn't believe I was reading correctly, so I read the "invite" three times! I've NEVER heard of such a thing, have you?
GENTLE READER: Unfortunately, yes. This is the next logical step for those who already require guests to bring the refreshments, donate game prizes to the guest of honor and address their own thank you letters.
They have finally realized that the guest is a mere nuisance, interfering with the business of the shower, which is apparently not to celebrate the coming event with friends but to extract free dry goods from them. Why anyone whose company is not wanted would comply with this, Miss Manners cannot imagine.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was wondering, when you end a romantic relationship, do you return the gifts that your partner gave to you?
GENTLE READER: The jewelry and the car should go back. You can keep the stuffed animals, but Miss Manners would think it far more satisfying to return them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I realize that your column is geared to highly paid professionals rather than people who work hard for a relatively low wage.
I am a teetotaler, and my daughter is in love with a nice boy whose family tends to drink to excess. Should this relationship progress to the altar, the reception would be modest and a cash bar would be the most tactful way of discouraging the amount of drinking that can ruin a special day. The only thing that would make me happier is a dry reception.
GENTLE READER: You do not need to serve liquor, and you do not need to offer an excuse for not doing so.
But you also do not need to hurt Miss Manners' feelings by saying that she sacrifices honest working people to cater to -- she gathers from the way you put it -- people who are working less hard for more money. Good manners are available to all for free. And as far as Miss Manners can tell, those interested in practicing them are randomly distributed up and down the economic scale.
She must tell you that there is nothing "tactful" about a cash bar at a wedding, or any private social event. It would be especially mean to invite out any hard-working, low-paid, non-alcoholic friends you may have and then charge them for any refreshments you have available.