DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I received three unusual invitations:
In the first, we were invited to a cocktail get-together (not a formal party), where I was told that since I do not drink alcohol, I should bring something for myself to drink.
The second was from a friend who insisted that he and his wife wanted to get together for dinner, but he did not want to have it at his house or at a restaurant. He went on to say he did not care if our house was not in order for a dinner party (construction is going on), but that it would be the best place for us to get together.
The third was from a man I have done outdoor activities with who invited me to lunch, told me he would stop by my house, and we could make something for lunch there.
Miss Manners, I am at a loss as to how I should deal with this or future invitations of this sort. I am not a highly formal kind of person, but it seems beyond even everyday protocol. Can you offer any advice?
GENTLE READER: Run.
Experience has taught Miss Manners not to regard any apparently new rudeness as an aberration. Even before ubiquitous use of the Internet, rude schemes were spreading around the country with amazing speed.
Many such rotten ideas -- expecting guests to supply food or, as in your first case, drink, and even charging them for dinner -- have mocked the ancient and noble practice of offering hospitality. But apparently we hadn't hit bottom until your friends decided that instead of offering minimal hospitality, they would simply help themselves to yours.
Miss Manners hopes that you declined, as you could have by replying, "I'm afraid that won't be convenient," without supplying an excuse, such as the construction work that was brushed aside. And she hopes, although not confidently, that she will not hear of such maneuvers again.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Referring to groups that include females as "guys" grates upon my ears, whether the female in a group is a date or one of my many adorable nieces, for whom an attractive, confident young adult woman is a likely role model.
Have I placed the cart before the horse? Am I right to point out that there are females in our group, and that I find referring to us as "guys" objectionable?
My doing so seldom halts the behavior and annoys the nieces, who say that they have gotten the point, but I find it really, really difficult to ignore.
If I complain to management, will I likely get a meaningful response, or has this become too firmly ingrained?
GENTLE READER: Is it in the name of manners that you seek Miss Manners' blessing to embarrass your nieces and report an employee for using a current cliche? And you even know that it is unlikely to be effective.
"You guys," as a way of addressing any strangers, but particularly female ones, is indeed irritating. But making a scene, or lodging a complaint over something so trivial, is a lot worse.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)