DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to bring a new girlfriend to an ex-girlfriend's birthday party at a local bar with a favorite band?
GENTLE READER: OK with whom?
The band probably doesn't mind, but the lady whose birthday it is might. Miss Manners has no way of knowing, but unless that lady said, "Oh, do bring along your new love -- I'm dying to meet her," it may not be a good idea. Come to think of it, if that is what the lady actually said, it may be an even worse idea.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Oh, I need guidance! I have become friends with a woman at my son's preschool. She is funny and wry. So I invited her over for a glass of wine and a snicky-snack.
This was our first meeting to get to know each other. She showed up and I got her a glass. She seemed fine, then boom! She was stumbling, and in the very long 45 minutes she was there, she managed to put me, my children and environment in danger.
Inappropriate! Then she drove off drunk.
When I saw her next, she acted like nothing happened. I do not want to cultivate a relationship with her, yet I feel the need to tell her what she did (in case she was blacked out). I also feel that she may be putting her own children at risk. What should I do?
GENTLE READER: Well, you might have tried to stop her from driving off drunk, but apparently you missed the chance.
What good you could do now by chasing her down to extract a confession or an apology is less clear to Miss Manners. You haven't even known her long enough to be sure that this is not a one-time incident. Perhaps she was taking a new medicine without realizing that it was incompatible with alcohol.
But if she is, in fact, alcoholic, your finding her out, as those close to her must have done, is highly unlikely to be a life-changing revelation. The school might not know, however, and is in a better position than you to watch out for the children.
Just please promise Miss Manners that you will alert an official there discreetly and not overstate what you know, which is only that you once saw her driving when she shouldn't have. You did, after all, indulge in hyperbole when you said that her drinking endangered you, your children and your environment. Or did you neglect mentioning that she tried to set your house on fire?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have Parkinson's disease, which tends to make me awkward and a bit slow. I would like some gentle, charming way to excuse my slowness when I'm with people I don't know -- in a checkout line, for example. Just a comment to explain the circumstances. I look perfectly normal -- just fumble-fingered.
GENTLE READER: You should not have to excuse yourself routinely, as people who are similarly gentle and charming should not expect everyone to operate at top speed. But Miss Manners doesn't doubt that you have often been subjected to the rattle of shopping carts accompanied by exaggerated sighs. That is the time to turn with a smile and say, "Sorry -- I'm going as fast as I can."
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)