DEAR MISS MANNERS: I pulled into traffic without seeing a car coming toward me from the left. Fortunately, that driver saw me and was able to avoid a collision. She blared the car horn at me in frustration, which I thought was appropriate.
What should have been the appropriate response from me? I didn’t want to stick my arm out and wave, in case that action might be misunderstood, but I did want to acknowledge my error. Is there an acceptable hand gesture or other action that would convey the thought, “Please excuse me, my mistake”?
GENTLE READER: A bow of the head and a slightly ashamed nod and salute is about all that can be expressed silently, in motion and behind glass. Miss Manners cautions you that if this is too subtle, it will not be seen -- and if too exaggerated, it might cause another collision. Knowing you were wrong and vowing to be more careful next time is probably all that can be reasonably done.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a professional writer, struggling to sell my books and make a small margin of profit. Several of my close friends have purchased my book and all have given glowing reviews. Then, often, they say to me: “I am going to lend this book to all my friends in my women’s club,” or “at my church,” or whatever.
How can I tactfully say that I am flattered, but that I would prefer they ask their friends to buy the book, rather than to share my hard work without further compensation to me? If I were an actress, they would not say, “We loved your performance and we’re sneaking all our friends in, free of charge.”
GENTLE READER: True, but you also do not wish to discourage an even more valuable seller: word of mouth. Presumably those few copies of your book will eventually run out. Miss Manners suggests that you say something like, “Thank you so much for recommending it. Here’s hoping your friends will encourage their friends to buy it, so they don’t wear out your only copy.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son just got engaged, and they will soon set a date for the wedding. This is his second marriage and her first. His first wedding, everyone from both my wife’s side and my side of the family came into town and gave him and his ex gifts.
With this being his second marriage, should we be inviting these same relatives again? Is it right to ask them to attend and give gifts?
GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners has a certain sympathy for wanting to start a new marriage without the weight of the old china pattern, her usual abhorrence of registries is magnified for a second marriage. You might point out to the bride that generosity and indulgence will more likely be inspired if she does not issue a lengthy and expensive checklist of new presents. At the very least, she should take pains to exclude items that the guests have already seen or bought the first time around.
(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.)