DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is your opinion of the non-apologies frequently offered by prominent figures when they are caught having done something illegal or immoral? I mean such statements as, “I’m sorry if you were offended by what I said/did ...” instead of “I’m sorry that I said/did ...”
GENTLE READER: That they don’t realize that the public is on to this trick.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our son got married about a month ago. In speaking to him today, he asked if we had sent a wedding gift. To provide detail, my husband and I paid for 99 percent of the entire wedding, based on the bride’s parents being unable to do so. We happily did this without reservation. The cost of the wedding was over $65,000. Further, we happily paid for their honeymoon, and they enjoyed a wonderful trip to Italy.
This coupled with bridal shower, rehearsal dinner and even the engagement ring. I felt we went above and beyond, and therefore we did not give them an additional wedding gift. I’m feeling somewhat puzzled on their question, as they are well aware of what we have done to give them a great wedding and honeymoon.
My husband and I are both somewhat hurt and definitely frustrated! What am I missing?
GENTLE READER: What has your son missed? Economic responsibility? Respect for his parents? Gratitude? Shame at begging? Basic manners?
Whether you tried to teach him these essentials of civilization, Miss Manners does not know. In any case, it is a bit late now. Unless you are willing to encourage attempts to fleece you, she suggests a firm and dignified refusal: “We felt that we did what we could for you, and we’re sorry if you feel that is not enough.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I held a Thanksgiving dinner for friends and family last week, and the event was done at significant personal expense. Not including time spent cooking, this was quite an orchestration.
My mother told me that I need to thank everyone who came to the dinner, but shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Spending several hundred dollars on cheese, wine, turkey, desserts and other necessary food items, and all the while trying to be a good host, makes me think that I ought to be the one receiving thanks. Beyond the formality of thanking guests as they depart, what should I be doing?
GENTLE READER: The reason that hosts sometimes thank guests at the door is, Miss Manners suspects, because a mere “You’re welcome” strikes them as awkward. Any more formal thanks would strike the recipient as an unsubtle prompt -- as when wedding hosts write to thank guests who they have noticed did not yet send presents.
But she would like to point out that the reason your friends owe you thanks is for your hospitality, not for your expense or even your labor.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a restaurant, I often get confused on which water cup is mine.
GENTLE READER: The one on your right. Failing that, Miss Manners recommends the one that your dinner partner is not drinking from.
(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, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)