DEAR MISS MANNERS: How would one interpret an invitation that states, "This is an adult-oriented event. Chaperoned children are welcome"?
GENTLE READER: "We really don't want children at the party, but if you bring them anyway, they'd better not be loud or break anything."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a birthday party for a 2-year-old. On the invitation was where the parents had the child registered for gifts.
I was under the impression that you register for a bridal shower or first baby shower. I thought this was quite rude to ask for gifts. I was not brought up this way. Am I wrong or were they?
GENTLE READER: All right, everyone, that's quite enough. Miss Manners is tired of being tactful about this. Stop it! (Not you, dear; she means the parents of this 2-year-old and anyone else who is contemplating the same.)
Registries are never proper, not for weddings, not for baby showers and not for birthdays. Not for christenings, bar mitzvahs, quinceaneras, sweet sixteens, graduations, engagements, coming out, announcing gender, changing gender, getting a job, losing a job, buying a house, divorcing, retiring or dying.
It is simply never polite to ask someone to buy you a present. Everyone is just going to have to go through life's milestones without the explicit intention of reaping material rewards.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a wedding invitation from a girl I was close friends with in junior high. My issue is that I'm transgender, and they know this, but they addressed the invitation to my former name.
For this wedding, you are supposed to RSVP online. I don't want to be rude by not responding, but I simply cannot select my old name on their website, not only in terms of the emotional cost, but in principle as well because I have come too far to take that step backward.
We live in a small town, so we occasionally run into each other or family members, but it's been years since we've been close, so I don't have her contact information anymore to reach out in person and let her know I won't be able to attend.
Should I just forget about it, or try to contact her through a family member? I won't feel too guilty, since she was the one impolite enough to use a name that doesn't belong to me anymore, but still, I'd rather take the high road. I just don't know which way that is.
GENTLE READER: Do try to procure her contact information. Write her a short, kind note saying that you appreciate the invitation, but that you are unable to attend. And sign your current name.
While your friend may be aware of the change and should have respected it, it is possible that she also just did not know how to reconcile your new life with the friend she knew in junior high. Or that she had an old list. Anyone who changes a name, or even just tries to drop a childhood nickname, finds that it takes time.
So give her the benefit of the doubt and, as you said, take the high road. While it may be tedious to presume misguided, rather than purposeful, ignorance, it will likely do much more to educate this girl and her family than not. Miss Manners feels certain that if the girl cannot figure out from whom the note came, she will quickly take pains to do so -- and likely not make the mistake of using the wrong name again.
(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.)