DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law of 40+ years, who I thought liked me, stated that she hates Democrats, knowing I am one. I jokingly replied, with a smile, “Hey! I’m a Democrat.”
She responded that the area she lives in is Republican and doesn’t work well with Democrats. I was taken aback. Am I too sensitive? Do I bring it up to her?
GENTLE READER: The way to deal with a mean remark that someone is trying to pass off as a joke is to take it seriously:
“You HATE me? Really? I know we have different politics, but I’ve always been so fond of you! This comes as a terrible shock!”
This leaves her with having to say, “Of course I didn’t mean you,” to which you can reply, “But I’m a Democrat, and you said it to me.” Miss Manners advises saying this with a trembling lip, if you can manage it. And do not crack a smile as your sister-in-law wearily tries to back-pedal.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: About five years ago, I was deeply in love with a man of interests and passions so attuned to my own, it was amazing! Through a series of misfortunate events, we parted ways after two years together. I have healed about 99% with infrequent memories.
I also had strong feelings for his mother (mine has passed). She is widely adored and a kind, loving lady. We shared many happy times together, and I felt a strong connection.
After all this time, I would like to write her a short note of respect and admiration. Am I silly? Would this be inappropriate?
GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners takes your word for the fact that you are motivated only by a desire to be back in touch with this kind, loving lady, and are not using it as a way to get back with her son, she cannot promise that the kind, loving lady will do so.
But yes, write the letter, as it should give the lady pleasure, but omit any mention of the gentleman. And if she does not answer, you should accept the possibility that she consulted her son and he said it was better to leave the situation alone.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Lately I have been to a number of funerals where there is no receiving line. Dozens of people are all milling about and hard to see. As a result, I only get to talk to the family members I recognize, and it’s often been many years since I’ve seen some of them.
Do you agree with me that if the no-line protocol is used, then the people I have come to share condolences with should wear nametags in order to be known?
GENTLE READER: No, because Miss Manners believes that the only way to make sure that everyone has a chance to see the family is a receiving line.
The same is true of weddings, which are often equally frustrating to the guests because of the silly idea that receiving lines are “too formal.” As if funerals and weddings are casual occasions.