DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do ladies remove gloves before shaking hands? What about gentlemen?
GENTLE READER: Why does this question strike fear in Miss Manners' brave heart?
She knows the answer to your question, of course, and if you will be patient for a moment, she will give it to you. But then she will have to brace herself for the onslaught of indignant reactions from those who believe that any variation in expectations of ladies and gentlemen, no matter how trivial, constitutes oppression.
You may notice that Miss Manners uses the term "ladies" here. She fails to see any conflict between being a fervent feminist and being a lady -- or a gentleman, for that matter.
She also admits to a bit of fondness for some of the social gestures that traditionally characterized ladylike behavior. For example, she is probably the last person on Earth to know that ladylike applause does not consist of smacking the hands together vertically, the way gentlemen clap. Rather, ladies should hold the left hand palm up in a horizontal position and hit the right hand against it. If the hands are slightly cupped, this can make a remarkable amount of noise.
Oh, and gentlemen must remove gloves before shaking hands, but ladies need not.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother announced a few months ago that he was engaged. We were delighted for his happiness and thrilled to meet his fiancee, who is a wonderful woman.
We soon heard from family what the wedding date would be, but have not yet received an invitation. I assumed one would come eventually, but I was told by another family member that I was mistaken. Evidently what my brother and his fiancee have done is to post on their Facebook accounts the URL for a website where interested parties can submit a request for an invitation. If you do not submit such a request, then they will assume you do not wish an invitation and will not waste money and paper by sending you one.
Since I get on Facebook maybe once every six months, I hadn't seen this announcement, hence my ignorance.
I guess I know what to do: If I want an invitation -- and I do -- then I'll have to submit my name. It makes me feel weird, though. This is my brother! We have a loving relationship. Surely he must assume I would want to celebrate this day with him?
Do you think I would be out of line to just skip the online form and call my brother directly to let him know that I would very much like to attend his wedding? Or should I just suck it up and go to the sign-up website?
GENTLE READER: Admittedly, it is crude of your brother to require people to request invitations to his wedding. He also commits the common error of assuming that the entire world is on Facebook. Close, maybe, but he runs the risk of omitting any relatives or friends who are not.
But Miss Manners finds it astounding that you hesitate to let your brother know that you want an invitation. How difficult would it be simply to say to him directly, "Look, silly, of course I want to be invited to your wedding"?
(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.)