DEAR MISS MANNERS - My husband's old college friend is interesting and considerate - a gentleman. He and I attended different law schools in the same city at the same time, and while we did not become close friends, we chatted occasionally about school, cases, politics.
When he became seriously involved with a lovely, intelligent, articulate woman, we were very happy for them. They seemed a good match. We socialized with them as much as our busy schedules allowed - dinners at our home and theirs, talking of such things as world events, careers, education and our personal lives.They attended our wedding party and appeared to enjoy themselves. Imagine my sorrow and humiliation when my husband told me that they refused to invite me to their wedding because she had always felt uncomfortable around me and felt I was a cold person whose presence would ruin her entire wedding day. My husband was invited.
I certainly understand that a couple have every right to invite whom they wish to a wedding. But I am angry that she "let it all hang out" and that she hurt and offended my husband and me, not to mention hurting the friendship between our spouses.
She could easily have told a social fib by saying she had to limit guests because of space or cost or whatever - such a fib would have saved heartache.
My dear husband did not attend but wrote his friend a letter wishing him happiness and explaining that he felt attending would dishonor his own marriage.
Am I wrong to be offended? What is the proper way to react if our paths cross? May I politely excuse myself from her company?
GENTLE READER - Wrong to be offended? Miss Manners can hardly think of a worse insult than being informed - not only without provocation, but after repeated instances of hospitality - that one's very presence would ruin someone's wedding day.
This is an extremely serious matter. Having spent her life trying to calm people down, getting them to consider motivation, accident and ignorance before taking offense, cajoling them to be generous and overlook slights in the hope of inspiring harmony where none existed before, Miss Manners suggests that you and your husband cease to know these people.
She does not remember ever before having the occasion to point out that people have been too kind, as it were. But you should know that no bride has a right to invite one spouse to a wedding without inviting the other, much less to deliver her outrageous opinions of them. And your husband's friend, having countenanced such an action, no matter how indulgent he feels toward his bride, is no gentleman.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - My sister gave me back a hat and cocktail apron I had spent hours deciding on, designing and making for her years ago. She said that the hat no longer fit her and she hoped it would fit my children, and that the apron no longer suited her entertaining needs and her son was too old to play dress-up. I had also made her a pair of crocheted slippers years ago, slippers so striking that one of her friends wanted to commission me to make some for her. In a letter accompanying the hat and apron, she said that she isn't ready to give the slippers back.
I can see why my sister-in-law, who has finished having babies, might ask me if I'd like my new baby to have the sweater I knitted for her oldest child. But just sending it - though with nothing but good intentions - would seem to me unfeeling.
I don't want back any more of my old gifts. Is there a way I can ask her not to do it again, without hurting her feelings? What is the proper thing to do with gifts that are no longer suitable?
GENTLE READER - The nicest thing would be to keep them for sentimental reasons, but your sister does not seem too strong in the sentimental department.
Surely you would have mentioned it if the returns had been accompanied by a speech such as: "These are such treasures that I can't bear to think they are going unused. It would give me the greatest pleasure to know that such precious things that mean so much to me would also give pleasure to your wonderful children."
Miss Manners can't help thinking it something of a waste to put so much of oneself into presents for such a person, when ordinary, bought things would probably do just as well.
But in any case, you don't want them back. Your sister should have quietly disposed of whatever she no longer wanted, rather than troubling you again with presents you took so much trouble over the first time. You might quietly tell her that anything she cannot use may simply be disposed of as she sees fit.
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 this newspaper, 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, Utah 84110. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.
1991, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.