The planning committee of my spouse's 20-year high-school reunion has come up with the following:
Friday night is for classmates only, from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., at a restaurant/lounge. Saturday night is a casual-dress buffet dinner, where spouses are included. Then there is a picnic on Sunday for the whole family.
Is this typical? A three-day affair?
I particularly don't like being excluded on the first evening. I've never heard of this. Have you?
GENTLE READER - Oh, sure. Miss Manners went to a female institution, where, one reunion year, the alumnae decided not to bring their husbands to stay in the dormitories with them.
Many of the ladies, Miss Manners among them, were shocked.
"You mean," wailed one lady to the planning committee, "that after all those years we tried to smuggle men into the rooms, now we can do it legally and you don't even want to?"
Miss Manners tells this sordid little story in order to make the respectable point that alumni sometimes like to gather without the people whom they are nevertheless grateful to have acquired since graduation. It is simply easier to talk over old times without constantly having to explain the background to people who miss the jokes and references.
Of course it is also a pleasure to show these people off and have them meet one's old connections. Your spouse's high-school class is building the event from classmates to spouses to children. It doesn't sound like a bad plan to Miss Manners.
But if you are feeling left out because of missing Friday, she has a suggestion for you. Throw your own party that night for the other spouses. But get a double supply of refreshments. The classmates will be over to join you earlier than you think.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I am a high-school student and had planned on going to Paris during my spring vacation. Unfortunately, because of the gulf war, we decided to cancel the trip.
I had received gifts of money from my relatives to go toward the trip. I do not want to offend any of them by returning their gifts, but on the other hand, I feel bad about keeping money that will not be used for the purpose for which it was given to me.
GENTLE READER - You are quite right not to pocket money so specifically earmarked. Miss Manners promises you that you will not offend the givers, provided that you write a second thank-you letter - she trusts you wrote the first - repeating your gratitude. In a totally separate paragraph, along with other news of yourself or your family, you may mention that you hope to get to Paris yet.
Miss Manners assures you that much of that money will be back by return mail. Not only will your relatives want to assuage your disappointment, but they will figure that it is too much trouble to rebalance their checkbooks since they will need to write the checks again when the trip actually takes place.
Miss Manners is sorry to have to tell that you that returned money will require still another thank-you letter, as well as at least a post card from Paris when the trip does take place.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - What is your opinion of 16- and 17-year-old boys and girls sleeping next to one another in the living room after a prom?
I'm quite upset that my daughter was put in this situation. Her best friend didn't bother to tell her that the dates were also invited to sleep over, her mom seeing nothing wrong with this. Her comment: "What can happen when there are four couples in the same room?"
Last time I counted, two times four equaled eight, and from there we could multiply.
GENTLE READER - Miss Manners rarely runs the risk of sounding either permissive or naive, but she tends to doubt that those boys and girls in the living room were busy multiplying. Most colleges have coeducational dormitories nowadays, and the students do not spend their time multiplying.
(Of course, they don't spend their time studying, either, but that's another story. And they do have romances, as students have always had - only these seem to be less frequently conducted between dorm-mates, so to speak, than with people who live across the quad.)
What you should have checked beforehand - irrespective of whether the dates' staying over had occurred to you - was whether the hostess's parents were planning to be at home that night. In that case, the sum of people in the living room was undoubtedly occasionally greater than the number of promgoers.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.