DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am about to use the cut direct in a social situation on someone who absolutely merits it. Everyone in our social circle agrees that this person, an unmarried lady of equal social status to me, has behaved in an outrageous manner to both me and my romantic partner.
We are soon to attend a gathering which this person will also attend, and I am prepared with my ultimate social weapon of choice. There is no possible way that I could ever agree to return to friendly terms with this rather odious and petulant person.
This leaves but one question which I must ask: In the case where another person has already, albeit clumsily, done the social cut, can one do it back? Or has the situation thus descended into childishness?
GENTLE READER: Well, you can't do it simultaneously, if that is what you mean. And if this person, whom Miss Manners gathers you do not like, is already cutting you, there will be no opportunity for you to do so.
This is because the cut direct, which is the ultimate weapon under social circumstances -- so much less disturbing than fisticuffs -- depends on the confusion of the person being cut, who was presumably about to extend a greeting. If your target has no such expectation, it does not work.