DEAR MISS MANNERS
My husband, soon to be my ex, has made a habit of attending office social events over the years without inviting me.He always manages to have some excuse which seems rational to him. At the same time, he professes love and devotion to me.
Now this is not going to affect the status of our marriage, but please give me an objective opinion on how rude this practice has been, or whether it has been rude at all.
Most recently he has been feted with an after-office-hours dinner on the occasion of his retirement, and of course, though I am "more important than anything" to him, I was not invited. He said it wasn't his fault, because he didn't host the party.
To make this even more interesting, I have invited people to our house to celebrate his retirement, and he sees nothing wrong with the fact that one of his friends in the office has requested permission to bring her uninvited teen-age daughter, though he, of course, could not ask to bring his wife to the retirement party.
You be the judge - not the divorce judge, of course, but more important, the manners judge.
GENTLE READER - Miss Manners hates this assignment. She is trying hard to believe that intellectual curiosity prompts you to ask such a question at this late date in the marriage, but it is not easy.
She can't help suspecting that the task of the manners judge is to present damaging evidence before the divorce judge.
But you don't have to subpoena her. She knows her duty.
For ordinary after-hours office partying, invitations do not have to include spouses, although they often do, simply because otherwise some employees resent going. Spouses do not, of course, have to attend, even if their husbands or wives do.
But yes, it is true that at parties where spouses are included, each spouse should be given the option, and yes, retirement parties held after work do include the spouse.
Miss Manners hopes that you do not use this information to brood that your husband simply did not want to have you there. As you are divorcing him anyway, and as you seem to be getting on fairly well for a couple at that stage - the evidence being that you are giving him another retirement party - thinking about this seems futile.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Our son is to be married, and the bride's parents have stated that it is proper for the groom's parents to pay for the flowers and the minister's services. We have never heard of this before. Have you?
GENTLE READER - Has your son perhaps heard of young men assuming financial responsibility when they get married?
The relevant etiquette rule is that the bridegroom pays for the bridal bouquet and the wedding fee, not his parents. You may want to get this straightened out before someone tells you to go out and buy the bride a wedding ring.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Upon arriving for dinner, we were told by the headwaiter that there was a buffet that night. My escort asked if I wanted to order from the menu, so I stopped the headwaiter and asked if we could. He said that was not possible.
When he asked if we wanted cocktails, I told him I wanted a glass of wine. Afterward my escort said the man is supposed to do the ordering for the lady. As an old waitress, I like to order for myself.
I told him I am a liberated lady and do not think that rule applies today. He said that if I wanted to order for myself, I could also pay the check myself. He is 77 and I am 63. Am I wrong to order for myself?
GENTLE READER - The correct role for you in this scenario is neither waitress (in which case you should have taken your order directly to the kitchen) nor liberated lady (in which case you might invite the gentleman out now and then, which isn't at all a bad idea).
It is guest. As his guest, you can surely tell him your order without losing your professional or philosophical affiliations. For a lady to order for herself while dining with a gentleman is not exactly wrong, but it is less graceful than doing it the traditional way. For anyone deliberately to insist on a minor point that annoys one's host is very definitely wrong.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - When my sister retired from a large corporation, one of her contacts, a gentleman who had become a good friend to her and her husband, invited her to stay in the family's summer house in Paris. He had visited her home on occasion and had stayed at a rental she owns.
The Paris home is in a very exclusive neighborhood and consists of six bedrooms and five and a half baths, plus.
With her only son being unavailable and far away, she invited my husband and me to go along for a two-week vacation. She then said that I could invite my two sons and daughter-in-law. My husband decided that we would buy all their plane tickets for their birthday gifts.
What I need to know is to whom each of us should address the thank-yous.
My daughter-in-law is nagging for the owner's address to write to him. I say that he doesn't even know her and she is out of line. She owes her thanks to me and my sister and should not attempt a personal note to the gentleman who was so kind as to allow us to share his beautiful home in Paris. We all had a wonderful time, and only this questionable rule of etiquette has us stumped.
GENTLE READER - After an outing like that, is there any reason to be stingy with the letters of thanks? Certainly your daughter-in-law owes her thanks to you and your sister, but why not to the absent host as well?
Miss Manners wonders if you suspect that she will attempt to use the occasion to extract a direct invitation from someone she has not met. Let us hope not. Miss Manners doesn't know your daughter-in-law and you do, but she tends to trust people who are eager to write letters of thanks.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - When placing butter on a piece of bread, does one butter the whole piece and then break it, or does one break it in quarters and then butter it?
GENTLE READER - If one is at table, one breaks off a small piece first, butters it, eats it, and then repeats the operation.