June 16, 2024
Plus: Is 'RIP' an appropriate response to news of a death?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter wants the entire family to go on a cruise — both families.

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I have no desire to go on a cruise, even if it means missing time with my grandchildren. I would never feel safe and be able to relax. How do I explain this?

GENTLE READER: By telling her that you will not feel safe or be able to relax, even if not seasick, and thus you’ll be a bad risk as a cabin mate. And Miss Manners suggests inviting them to a family gathering to hear all about it when they return.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am complimented daily on what I am wearing. I wear mostly designer clothes but feel no need to talk about them.

I want to respond politely, but just “thank you” feels a bit assuming somehow, as if I expect the compliment. It leaves an empty space afterward.

Adding “that’s a nice compliment” is better. Adding the designer information feels a bit too much most of the time (unless asked).

Is a simple “thank you” still enough? Do I need to return the compliment somehow?

GENTLE READER: If a genuine one occurs to you, certainly. But if this is a daily occurrence, a “thank you” is more than enough.

Because designer information should be left to advertisers, Miss Manners has noticed that thankfully even red carpet interviewers are beginning to find it unseemly. She hopes the trend will catch on.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At informal gatherings of five or more people, one guest often seeks to start a side conversation with me. I am presuming we are all at the gathering to meet together and catch up, but there’s often one guest who wants to single me out for an ongoing one-on-one that keeps me from hearing the larger group discussion.

I feel like the target so often because I am somehow unskilled at steering these people back to the more general group conversation. I have tried looking distracted, physically turning back to the general group, and even saying, “Please hold on — I just want to hear what Anna is saying.”

None of these ploys works consistently. This becomes hardest to manage when the group is seated around a table and moving places is not an option. Is there a trick to this?

GENTLE READER: Open up the private conversation to the others. Miss Manners suggests something like, “A viable ecosystem on Mars, you say? I don’t know, but I’d love to hear what Anna and the others think about it.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We all know that RIP stands for “rest in peace.” Is it OK to write RIP in a sympathy card or in a comment on social media as a response to someone announcing a death of a loved one?

GENTLE READER: It feels a bit curt in a condolence letter. Better, Miss Manners, thinks, to write it out or express a similar sentiment in a more compassionate way.

Sounding terse in a social media comment is of less concern. An announcement there is perfunctory at best anyway — and Miss Manners has learned not to police the comments sections, as no one there seems to be seeking her advice.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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