DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would like to send a (pleasant) piece of correspondence to Michelle Obama. How may I address her, and how may I close my correspondence? I do want it to sound friendly but am aware of need to be "proper."
GENTLE READER: Despite the common use of the term "first lady" (which Jacqueline Kennedy noted at the time made her sound like a race horse), there is no such official title. The president's wife may be saddled with ceremonial duties, contradictory expectations and intense scrutiny, but legally she is a private citizen.
There is one small difference, however. On the envelope, she is addressed simply as "Mrs. Obama," with no first name, neither his nor hers. This is because she is THE Mrs. Obama, however many other citizens there may be by that surname. Miss Manners was once asked at the Woodrow Wilson museum why Mrs. Wilson had two sets of visiting cards, one as "Mrs. Wilson" and one as "Mrs. Woodrow Wilson." The answer was that she used the former when her husband was in office (as he was when they married), and the latter after he left office.
The salutation is simply "Dear Mrs. Obama," and the closing "Yours very truly" or "Yours sincerely," but you could stretch it to "Respectfully yours," which is the correct closing when writing the president. Of course, Miss Manners is assuming that by "friendly" you mean well-disposed, and not that you are an old friend of hers who is entitled to send love and kisses.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I feel considerably shallow in regards to my reaction to a certain coworker that I find very unattractive. She is hugely overweight, wears entirely too much makeup and has a bad case of acne.
I find it hard to look at her and find myself looking everywhere but her face. I am aggravated with myself at my shallow attitude. Any suggestions, Miss Manners?
GENTLE READER: Indeed. As you recognize that your attitude is shallow, and the refusal to look at your coworker is rude, Miss Manners reminds you to remind yourself that you are dealing with a human being and to school yourself to look her in the eye and behave respectfully.
Miss Manners realizes that everyone is a critic, especially about appearances, and that and "I'm entitled to my opinion" is practically the national motto. But as your co-workers do not exist to meet your aesthetic standards, such opinions should be strongly suppressed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a man is in the divorce process, and his daughters are in his soon to be former sister-in-law's wedding, should he attend? He has not been invited verbally or via a written invitation. Thanks for your guidance.
GENTLE READER: You are welcome, but Miss Manners would have been able to answer the question without any guidance about the family situation. Anyone who does not receive an invitation to a wedding or any private occasion can safely assume that he is not invited and should not crash.