DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend recently had a baby, and every time I visit her, she asks, "Do you want to change the baby's diapers?"
I can't imagine why she keeps offering this, and frankly, I have no interest in doing so. It's not like this mom is overwhelmed and hinting for help; she has in-home child care assistance.
What is the best response to decline her "offer"?
GENTLE READER: Are you sure you want to decline such an honor? Here your friend is offering you the chance to be of service to the most important person in the universe, and you intend to pass it up?
Very well. Miss Manners suggests, "No, thank you. But how kind of you to offer."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: About four years ago, my husband had to resign from his ministry position because of inappropriate behavior in a past parish that became a legal matter. After his resignation from the church -- at which there had been no problem -- we remained in the community, but began attending another church.
In these past years, we have continued to be connected with some of our former church members closely and others not so closely. But the people remain close to my heart. It was hard to leave that congregation where we had been for seven happy years.
Many of the young people we worked with have been getting married. Only a handful have invited us to their weddings. It brings sadness to me to not be invited. I still care about these young people and their parents.
I would like to send a wedding gift, but wonder if it is inappropriate to send a gift when not invited to the wedding. I simply want to express my congratulations along with a message of continued care.
GENTLE READER: That would be lovely if Miss Manners were not worried about that "message of continued care." Your present and congratulations alone say that. Adding the message you propose suggests that while you haven't forgotten to care, they have.
It's a subtle nuance. But then, people do pick up on such nuances. You surely noticed that Miss Manners is the first person to become newly aware of your husband's history without asking what his inappropriate behavior was.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My story and question are as follows: I recently moved to another state after meeting a gentleman on the Internet. We had a three-month courtship where we took turns driving back and forth. I then moved, and the relationship dissolved -- definitely not a match!
I now (several months later) have met another gentleman in the area of whom I'm very fond. I'm meeting his friends and family. When they ask me a question such as, "So, what brought you from North Carolina to Virginia?" I don't want to say a flopped Internet relationship. What would be the appropriate thing to say in response to this type of question?
GENTLE READER: "Why, it must have been fate."
(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.)