DEAR MISS MANNERS
My husband and I divorced two months ago, after two years of separation. We have one daughter under 10. We continue to go out together with our daughter (to dog shows, movies, dinner) and occasionally go out together without her to dinner, movies or plays. As a matter of fact, we get along much better now than we did when we were married.My ex-husband is up for a big promotion to the presidency of a large corporation. My friends have suggested that I may be jeopardizing his chances of getting this wonderful new position, because of our confusing relationship. I would never want to do anything to hinder his career.
A second problem is that if he does get the position, a large reception will be given in his honor. Is it inappropriate for me to attend? Should I just send our daughter? If you say it is OK, should I be in the receiving line if asked? If so, how should I be introduced?
GENTLE READER - Miss Manners congratulates you on the civility of this relationship and can hardly imagine how your former husband's employers could hold it against him. She would not like to do business with a corporation that required its divorced executives to maintain hostilities with former spouses.
She would think it more inhibiting to your husband's social life than his professional life to have around an apparent wife who isn't a wife.
Appearing in public in the role of a wife is, however, confusing. It is not customary to expose strangers in a receiving line to such an interesting situation without giving them the time or information to grasp it. Miss Manners has no objection to your attending the reception, but if there is a question of the family's being represented in the receiving line, she suggests that your daughter be that representative.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I had a somewhat frustrating problem with my bank, which was made worse by the terrible sound quality of their telephone system. Finally I wrote a letter to my loan officer, complaining about the problem and rather pointedly mentioning the poor phone system.
I was totally unprepared for his reaction. He immediately called me and launched into a lengthy and angry tirade on the "obnoxiousness" of my remarks. "You see," he said in a condescending fashion, "many people in business these days use speaker phones, which may give an echo sound to the caller. If you think you're being spoken to on a speaker phone, it is simple enough to request that the person you're calling take the call on the receiver."
Well, first I didn't know that the problem was caused by speaker phones. Second, I don't feel that it's fair for the burden to be on me to figure it out. Third, can it be legal to put people on a speaker phone for the world to hear, without informing them first? And fourth, is it obnoxious to bring something like this up in business circles?
GENTLE READER - Never mind the quality of the telephone system. It is the quality of bank manners that needs fixing.
Assuming that your letters of complaint are decently framed - a rude one would not excuse return rudeness, but Miss Manners confesses to being worried about yours - it is time to write another one. The banker's supervisor ought to be alerted to the fact that one of the employees is bawling out the customers.
Miss Manners considers it a matter of etiquette, if not of law, that anyone on the telephone be informed if another party is listening by whatever means. Any lack of clarity need not be specifically diagnosed; one simply says, "I can't hear you very well," and leaves the other person to solve the problem.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Bob and I are engaged to be married and are having a disagreement over an invitation.
I have been very close friends with Michael for many years. Michael is gay. Because we are not in the same social circle, Michael and Bob have never met, although they know a lot about each other.
This also means that Michael will not know anyone else attending the wedding. I think Michael should be allowed to bring a guest. Bob is emphatically opposed to this, afraid that some of our guests might be "scandalized" or upset.
I told Bob that if Michael can't bring a guest, then our other, unattached, single friends shouldn't either, but Bob won't accept this.
Michael is currently "seeing" someone. What do I say to him if he asks me if he can bring his friend?
GENTLE READER - You have a choice of things to say:
1. "How delightful. We'd love to meet him."
2. "I'm so sorry, but we're only asking people we know to our wedding; but we'd be delighted to meet him on another occasion."
Miss Manners prefers the second option, not because she wouldn't like to meet a friend of a friend, but exactly because it does prevent everyone from bringing strangers to your wedding. By definition, wedding guests have something in common and ought to make the effort to socialize with one another, rather than coming and going without meeting anyone, as if attending a movie.
What you cannot do is to treat your guests differently, depending on what you think others find scandalous. That itself is scandalous.
Planning a wedding? If you need Miss Manners' advice on whom to invite, what to wear, who pays for what, etc., send two dollars for her "Weddings for Beginners" pamphlet to: Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 91428, Cleveland, OH 44101-3428.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.