DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a protocol that should be followed when new neighbors move in, either for the new residents or the old ones? Is one party responsible for going over and introducing themselves?
GENTLE READER: Typically the established residents are the ones to initiate contact, but Miss Manners thinks that whoever gets there first, also works.
The real point of the neighborly introduction is to provide reasonable assurance that neither party will be a future nuisance. A first impression that includes a warm welcome and a platter of baked goods is therefore infinitely preferable to a noisy party or lawnmower.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am not very close to my cousin, so I wasn’t surprised when I was not invited to any of her wedding festivities several years ago. It was an intimate destination wedding and announcements were not sent out. I mailed the couple a card with a note of congratulations and called my cousin, duties complete.
My aunt recently called out of the blue to tell me that she has held resentment toward me for neglecting to send the couple a wedding gift. She said that because I knew about the wedding, it was rude and penny-pinching of me not to send something with my card.
There have been countless weddings over the years that I have known about but did not receive an announcement/invitation for. Is it appropriate to only send a card? Or have I been stingy, and owe all of these people a note of apology?
GENTLE READER: Social media has made it possible to tally the many events to which one is not included, but you need not endure double insult by providing payment for the privilege of being snubbed. Miss Manners assures you that you owed this cousin nothing beyond your very best wishes, which you sent.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a lovely friend with a terrible habit: She talks with her mouth full. It makes dining with her unpleasant, and I feel increasingly resentful during our meals together. Not dining together is not an option, as she travels with our family at least twice a year.
I know it is impolite to correct another’s manners, and I believe she would be mortified if she realized she is doing this. Does Miss Manners have a suggestion as to something I can say that would not directly state she is making me sick at mealtime?
GENTLE READER: ”How rude of me to bombard you with conversation while you are trying to eat. I can certainly wait to ask you questions until you are done chewing.” And then Miss Manners suggests that you pause for as long as it takes to make your point.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Am I the only one bothered by the term “invites” when people really mean “invitations”? I hear the term and see it in print very frequently, but it does not appear correct to me.
GENTLE READER: It is not. “Invite” may be commonly used colloquially as a noun -- but not, you will notice, by Miss Manners.
(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.)