DEAR MISS MANNERS: Growing up, I was notorious for never remembering my wallet when running errands with family. This continued into my 20s, where I would be over at my parents’ house when one of them stated they were going to run errands and asked if I wanted to come along. It rarely occurred to me to bring my own money, because I was just along for the ride -- never mind that I might need something at the same store.
Now, later in life, I find myself out with friends and often caught off-guard when the check comes and I watch them sneak cash into each others’ pockets and purses to pay for each others’ drinks and meals. I come prepared to pay for myself and to contribute to the tip, and feel like an amateur magician attempting sleight-of-hand trying to copy them.
Vowing to do better, I invited two friends out to afternoon tea and made sure to grab the check when it came. When asked if I was sure, I held strong; when asked a second time, to my shame, I handed the check over. I had not brought cash because I was going to pay for everything, since I was the one who invited them out.
I want to fix this, but am unsure how to do it. I work with one of the friends, but will not see the other one for a couple of months. I thought of mailing a note stating they had dropped something (cash), but am unsure how to do it without being crass.
GENTLE READER: You must resolve to do even better. Miss Manners agrees that it is unseemly to be constantly sneaking cash and playing games, rather than the much more dignified practice of taking turns paying the entire bill.
But you have a terrible track record. Miss Manners has only known you for 30 seconds and her trust in your good intentions is already waning.
For the immediate problem, be straightforward with your friends and tell them that you insist that you were their host. Send a check or wire the money through one of the many phone applications that make sneaking cash into their wallets much less covert.
For the bigger problem, she suggests you practice two things: Keeping cash in your possession and being resolute if your intention is to host. If you do not trust yourself on either account, start leaving your credit card with the waitstaff before a meal you intend to buy.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I would like to order monogrammed linen napkins for my daughter and her husband, who have hyphenated their last names, and use that in their professional and personal lives.
How does one include a hyphenated last name in a monogram?
GENTLE READER: Ask the engravers if they are willing to create a centered, hyphenated double initial. If not, Miss Manners suggests alternating napkins.
As your daughter has no doubt become aware -- at doctor’s offices and airport ticketing counters -- the alphabetized world is almost exclusively concerned with the first initial of a hyphenated surname. If this has not yet occurred to the couple, and causes last-minute panic when they suddenly realize whose name is taking precedence, Miss Manners suggests that you hold off on your monogramming until they settle it.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)