DEAR MISS MANNERS: When is it appropriate for men to wear white tuxedos? My family is planning this anniversary gala. They are planning on having some of the young men escort guests to their tables.
So far so good, but they want the men to wear white tuxedos because it is August. I told them that since the affair was being held after 5 p.m. and it is being set up as a formal (semi-black-tie) event, that the white was not right to wear. I also said that the men would look like they were ready to pass out ice cream. Am I wrong?
GENTLE READER: Not about the hope of double scoops of chocolate whirl this will engender, if Miss Manners may judge by her own reaction. That white dinner jackets look silly, she agrees.
But they are not incorrect as summer evening clothes, so your objections about the hours and the degree of formality are incorrect. They do qualify as black tie. (Miss Manners has no idea what semi-black tie might be, but it sounds disheveled.)
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a stay-at-home mom of a 2-year-old. All of my close friends have children within the same range, and we enjoy play dates together and even the occasional Saturday nights together with our whole families. The wives and husbands in our group are long-time friends who went to high school and college together.
One of our friends, the newest and by far least mature addition, continues to bring her sick child around when we are all well. As a rule and out of courtesy, the rest of us "quarantine" ourselves when we are sick, whether this means missing a standing play date or something even more special.
I understand that she really likes to be involved in every get-together, but this is so unfair to the rest of us. To make matters worse, she frequently asks me to watch her child when her regular day care can't. She has actually dropped him off, only for me to discover that he is sick (green snot and all). When I asked her if she knew he had a runny nose, she acknowledged and disregarded it.
On the most recent occasion, I made up an appointment to avoid watching her son when, yet again, I found out he was sick.
As she has frequently been one to comment that her family doesn't worry about getting sick, I don't know how to tell her that the rest of us do! We're a one-income household and can't afford for my husband to be sick.
I know that she will react badly to any mention of the issue, and I don't know how to proceed. Should I continue to suffer in silence?
GENTLE READER: That depends on how much you are willing to suffer. And to expose your husband and child to suffering.
However, Miss Manners cautions you not to plead that or trump up excuses. There is nothing wrong with your saying pleasantly, "I'm sorry, but I can't take your child when he is sick" or, if you feel safer invoking the group, "We've all been seeing one another for a long time, and the rule is that sick children must stay home."
If she reacts badly, so be it. Surely you can put up with that more easily than with the way your family would feel if they caught the illness.