DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always said "Happy Mother's Day" to everyone I see, male or female. My wife disagrees. She believes that I should say "Happy Mother's Day" to women -- but ONLY to someone I know is a mother.
I believe that Mother's Day is a celebration of motherhood. We all have mothers, so we all should celebrate. I think it's a pleasant gesture to wish everyone Happy Mother's Day.
She says it's rude and disrespectful to say it to everyone. My intent is just to be polite and cheerful, but my wife says I'm actually offensive.
GENTLE READER: Do you suppose that your greeting charms ladies who were unable to have children, or who lost children? And Miss Manners hates to think how it is interpreted by the male strangers, fathers or not.
It seems to her that you are more interested in appearing to spread good will than in how your doing this will affect the recipients of your supposed good wishes. A more effective way to celebrate and to give pleasure to someone you do know would be to respect the good sense shown by your wife.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If a female invites a male to a prom, is she responsible for the expenses? Or what is the male responsible for?
GENTLE READER: The young gentleman is responsible for showing up and showing his hostess a pleasant time. If flowers are customarily given at the prom, it would be gracious of him to offer them.
Miss Manners considers this to be an excellent opportunity to learn about reciprocal hospitality and what it is to be a hostess. Her social life will be a lot more pleasant if she gets rid of the idea that it is gender that decides who pays, rather than the person issuing the invitation.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At our high school, we recently lost a student who would have graduated in June. My students approached me, their class sponsor, for ideas on how best to mention the death of their classmate at their commencement.
They are quite uncomfortable, as the valedictorian, the salutatorian and the class president did not know the deceased well at all.
I told them that the president should mention the death directly, while the valedictorian and salutatorian should not, but that they should make a brief mention about struggling through loss (or something to that effect). Do you have other suggestions or words that they could use?
GENTLE READER: Have you considered having a student who did know the deceased offer a short eulogy?
In addition, Miss Manners agrees that the class president should make a formal statement in honor of the classmate and should express the class's grief. He or she will not be doing this as a personal statement, but on behalf of the class. Then the other speakers can make reference to the tragedy of loss -- again because they are speaking on behalf of the class, and some of their classmates will have a close personal connection, even if they don't.
As for feeling "uncomfortable" -- tell them that no one, close or far, ever likes this task, but respect requires that it be done.
(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.)