DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a question regarding the following scenario:
Person A: Do you know where Main and 129th is?
Person B: Yes, I know where that is.
Person A: We're having a class alumni meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at Strawberry Hill Church.
Person B: OK.
Later on, Person B realizes that they can't make the meeting. Person B decides to send Person A an e-mail. In the e-mail, Person B tells Person A that they can't make the alumni meeting and would Person A let them know what went on at the meeting and when the next meeting will be.
Person A never responds. Other people have heard from and spoken with Person A, but Person B has never heard from Person A again. Person B begins to feel that maybe sending Person A an e-mail wasn't the right thing to do.
GENTLE READER: Or maybe being such a smart aleck about receiving information was an annoying thing to do.
Miss Manners' guess is that Person A is understandably weary of Person B's lame humor of pretending not to understand the obvious meaning beneath literal questions and statements and has resolved not to be subjected to more of the same.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a freshman in college, and it frankly hasn't been the best experience of my life so far.
So far, I haven't made any new friends or done much at all outside of classes (I'm trying!). It's a little upsetting for me to think and talk about, but I suppose I cannot expect people to know that beforehand.
What should I say to non-close acquaintances such as my parents' friends when they ask how college is going? It would be painful to tell the truth and have them ask questions, but I don't want to talk about imaginary friends either.
GENTLE READER: The purpose of such questions is not to probe into your social or emotional life. It is to start a conversation, or, more likely, to give the questioner an opportunity to say something about his or her own college experience.
Therefore Miss Manners recommends an all-purpose opener such as, "Well, it's not exactly a breeze, but it's interesting."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a wedding and dinner. The wedding had been planned for months, and I was not originally invited, nor did I expect to be. I do not know the bride or the groom, and know the bride's mother casually at best.
I was invited, along with other casual friends, because there had been a number of cancellations to the wedding, and the dinners were going to be wasted.
I agreed to go to fill a seat, so to speak. In this situation, should I take a wedding gift since I don't know the bride, groom, or most of their families? The happy couple own their own home and have lived together for years.
GENTLE READER: Why are you going to this wedding, since you hardly know the people involved? Supernumeraries are paid to fill out professional exhibitions, Miss Manners has heard, but weddings are supposed to be attended by those with some emotional tie to the families concerned.
You have already accepted, however, which requires you to behave like a wedding guest. Your present can be small, but you should send (not take) one.