DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm curious if you have an official stance on the act of soliciting donations for marathons, triathlons, etc.
Can it ever be appropriate? Does throwing a party to fund-raise for the race make it more acceptable?
It's been a lifetime dream of mine to run the Boston Marathon, but the idea of soliciting donations for something I enjoy doing seems ridiculous. Are my only options to either take another year or two (or 10) to run other races and achieve a qualifying time (non-charity runners don't need to donate), or personally save and donate the $5,000 required donation as a charity runner?
GENTLE READER: Ah, the Girl Scout Cookie Problem: love the bonfires and s'mores, not so crazy about working for free, importuning friends and relatives.
If it is any consolation, there is a long and honorable tradition of private individuals raising money for worthy causes. But there is an equally long, if less honorable, tradition of annoying one's friends with constant demands for money.
Which your friends would think you are following depends not— as is too often assumed — on the purity of your cause, but on the aggressiveness of your tactics. If you do choose to fund-raise, Miss Manners recommends a dignified and restrained approach.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter is turning 12 and wants us, her parents, to redecorate her room, and she also wants to have a birthday party.
I told her she could only get her room redecorated or have a birthday party. She suggested she have a "room decorating party" where she invites her friends, and instead of bringing random gifts, she asks them to bring an item for her room. She would ask them to bring something that relates to their friendship in the color of her room. Is this appropriate?
GENTLE READER: Your daughter is to be commended for quick thinking, if not, in this case, good manners.
Presents are a voluntary offering not properly dictated by the recipient. Miss Manners suggests that your daughter instead apply herself to finding a redecorating solution that does not require dunning either her parents or her friends.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm allowing children at my wedding reception. However, I have one guest whose child I do not want to come.
How can I ask this one person not to bring their child, when there are plenty of other children in attendance? My reason is that the child has a history of attacking his parents, other children and adults in large group settings. In the last two engagements, the police were called.
GENTLE READER: The police? Is that child attacking people with the wedding cake knife?
Your options are limited. You may choose not to invite children generally. You may choose not to invite the parent — avoiding the troublesome child along the way. Or you may speak with the guest and say that while you adore the child, you suspect that this would not be an event he would enjoy.
The third option does not, Miss Manners points out, guarantee the outcome you want. But separating parents from their children against their will requires more force than etiquette provides.