DEAR MISS MANNERS: A classmate of mine bought me $200 shoes. I simply cannot accept such a large gift. I have told him this repeatedly, but he brushes me off. He comes from a wealthier family than mine, but this is such a large gift.
Is it appropriate for me to continue refusing the gift, or should I accept it and offer my profuse thanks?
GENTLE READER: It is the too-profuse thanks that you are, rightly, trying to avoid. Money confers many advantages, but one of them is not forcing gratitude on an unwilling beneficiary. A present of unusual value implies a more-than-usual debt to be repaid and its motives are, therefore, suspect. This is why young ladies used to be indignant when rejecting such gifts.
While Miss Manners recognizes that the classmate may not have ulterior motives, it is time for him to learn that this kind of casualness about his inheritance is not charming. If you cannot muster indignation when you press your rejection, then an insulted (though not insulting) tone will do.