DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband passed very suddenly and totally unexpectedly. Two months later, my cousin had a wedding.
Miss Manners: She took my keepsake T-shirts but never made me the quilt
Miss Manners: Is it OK to trick them into diving with great white sharks?
Miss Manners: What to say to a stranger who wants to touch you
Miss Manners: We aren’t invited to the shower but our co-worker wants gifts from us anyway
Miss Manners: My husband was upset by my request at the restaurant
As I was still in mourning, I wore black. Was it improper for me to wear black to the wedding? I was not involved in any aspect of the wedding other than attending.
GENTLE READER: Even under the strictest dress codes, Miss Manners assures you, wearing black at an otherwise festive occasion is permitted during mourning. And nowadays you might find the bridesmaids similarly dressed, even if they are not all recent widows.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately, people have been saying to me, “It is not my story to tell” when I ask about the welfare of friends who might be having problems, or after I find out something devastating about a friend I care deeply about.
For example, I found out a friend’s brother had died. When I asked why no one had told me, I was told, “It’s not my story to tell.” Same for a friend whose husband was dying. Same for another friend whose mother had died. Same for a friend with dementia.
Do these people think those who are suffering should contact and notify every single person they know?
This answer would only make sense to me if the individual going through something told people not to say anything. This was not the case in the above-mentioned situations.
GENTLE READER: Are you telling Miss Manners that people are resisting gossiping? She is amazed.
But she is also amazed that, when you hear that something devastating happened to your dear friends, you don’t get in touch with them. Not to hear the details firsthand, but to offer your sympathy — and, if warranted, your help.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work in a customer service role. I often have people thank me, and I know the appropriate response is “You’re welcome.”
However, I often have clients express gratitude without actually saying the words “thank you.” For example: “I appreciate your assistance with this.”
It seems that their gratitude deserves a response, but “you’re welcome” feels awkward. Is that the appropriate response? Am I just overthinking this?
GENTLE READER: Yes, you are. But as you are paying attention to the wording, rather than simply completing a rote exchange, you can vary your response. For example: “I was happy to be of assistance.”
Of course, you could reply to all such remarks with “No problem,” but that annoys many people. And “My pleasure” annoys Miss Manners.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I enjoy entertaining and cooking for people. When having a formal dinner party or something more casual, I’ll always ask if guests care for a second helping. On more than one occasion, a guest has responded, “No, but I’ll take some home with me.”
This takes me aback. I like to have leftovers. Also, I dislike packing up food in to-go containers, which I always do when this happens.
Should I just let it go? Or is there a response that doesn’t deflate my guest, but gets the point across that my home isn’t a carry-out restaurant?
GENTLE READER: If they are going to treat you as a restaurateur — and Miss Manners has been hearing frequently about this rude request — you may answer as one: “Sorry, but I don’t do takeout.”
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.
Dear Abby: If I wear this T-shirt, people might guess the secret I’ve only told my husband
Ask Amy: This dispute over her dogs is threatening our friendship
Dear Abby: Why do I meet so many dumb men?
Ask Amy: She stiffed my kid for the cat-sitting, then sent a nasty note
Harriette Cole: Our hometown is talking. How can I help her without getting sullied by scandal?