DEAR MISS MANNERS: My "first love" from my junior and senior years in high school was just heading off to Army boot camp when we broke up. Our break up wasn't terrible, but not a happy one to say the least.
About two years later, I called him because I wondered about his status, as the Middle East conflict was quite prevalent in the news. We spoke briefly and pleasantly, he explained he was getting married and was expecting with his fiancee.
I'm 23 now and in a wonderful and committed relationship going on three years. I also recently purchased a touch screen phone that I have yet to figure out completely. And so as fate would have it, the phone "purse dialed" the ex in question, causing him to call me back. We again spoke very briefly. (I was at work.) I suggested that we talk later in the day to catch up. He responded with, "I told you I was married, right?" I said I knew that and said he could call me if that would be comfortable. He said he would and that he wanted to chat a little more as well and asked what time he could call me.
He didn't call.
Am I allowed to call him? I have no intention of trying to break up his family. I just don't want to learn of his demise on the nightly news i.e., "A local soldier was laid to rest today..." We did have a very good relationship at one time and I just want to keep in touch. Is there any way to do this?
GENTLE READER: Not without the cooperation of the gentleman, who so far has evidenced no great enthusiasm for reconnecting. Until you allay his suspicion that you want to rekindle the romance or otherwise make trouble in his marriage, you will not know whether that -- or just lack of interest -- is the problem.
Your present approach has not accomplished this -- in fact, it has aroused suspicions in Miss Manners. And not just about how his number was on the screen when your new telephone self-dialed.
That is because your argument about his theoretical death in battle, while highly dramatic, is nonsensical. He could not notify you of his own death, and the only people to be informed in person by the military would be his immediate family. For his wife or parents to call you at such a time, you would have to be on very close terms.
If this is your intention, you can make it clearer with a letter or e-mail (so he can show to his wife) expressing your and your partner's interest in meeting his family.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is your opinion of engraved cocktail napkins with an event name and date? If you approve, should they be reserved for occasions such as a wedding, luncheon or anniversary party? Or are they appropriate for any event?
An acquaintance of mine orders them for seemingly every function she hosts, including a "Summer Kegger" and a kindergarten ice cream pool party.
GENTLE READER: Presumably you mean printed paper napkins. Miss Manners doesn't care for paper napkins under any circumstances, nor for printed souvenirs, but she will not condemn them. It might call attention to her irrational fondness for monogrammed bed sheets.