DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have decided to end a friendship. Years of exhausting get-togethers, bizarre behavior, and, recently, drug use have finally added up to my feeling that this was not a relationship I wished to continue.
Per your past advice to other readers, I have not "dumped" this friend. I have simply become increasingly unable to socialize. I have not given in to the "we should get together soon" or "maybe next time" sentiments. I have tried instead to keep it simple and clear, while referencing vague business as opposed to specific, manufactured conflicts.
He just will not take the hint. He calls regularly, wanting to get together (but usually wanting me to plan the event, as is typical of him). When I try to let my voicemail do the talking, he will call all my numbers repeatedly. Last weekend he rotated through three phones, making five calls in 25 minutes. He knows my work schedule and that of my significant other, and he will use that information to call us when he feels that we are most likely to answer the phone -- on the way home, on a work holiday, etc. It makes me feel almost stalked!
I recently received an almost demanding e-mail from him, wanting to know when I would be able to attend a show in which he is involved. There are several performances over the next couple of weeks. For the reasons mentioned above (and frankly, for aesthetic ones), I do not wish to attend. But I am at a loss as to how to get out of this, or any future "invitations," when nothing I've done so far has worked!
GENTLE READER: Indeed, Miss Manners has championed the subtle method of backing off from undesirable friendships, rather than the here's-what's-wrong-with-you method so favored by bored lovers.
Thank you for trying the former method, but it doesn't work on stalkers. People who do not take into account any feedback from others do have to be informed more clearly. Yours may not yet be at the restraining-order stage, and you should avoid any cruel criticism. Nevertheless, you must say firmly, "Please stop calling; we do not expect to be making engagements with you" and, when challenged to explain, reply, "It is not something we will discuss."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a formal wedding invitation, is it more appropriate to write out the date "two thousand and eleven" or "two thousand eleven"?
GENTLE READER: Neither, you will be surprised to hear.
Miss Manners realizes that there is bad advice to the contrary being given by stationers -- she will assume innocently rather than in hopes of charging for another line of engraving -- but the year does not properly appear on formal invitations. The day of the week, the month and the date of the month, yes, but not the year. This is because invitations are not properly issued a year in advance, so that even in one issued in December for February, for example, it is obvious which year is intended.