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Why consider honoring `engaged' friend who harangues?

Dear Miss Manners: A longtime friend has a new man in her life, but she has stated that she can never marry him, as she will lose financial arrangements set up by the court four years ago, when she divorced her husband of 35 years.

Even if her ex should pass away, she would lose her share of Social Security and pension that he was ordered to leave to her. In spite of this, she has accepted an engagement ring from her new love as a sign of their commitment to each other. They intend to live together for life.She is now pressuring her friends to throw an "engagement party" for her. When I told her that I felt it was bad taste to give her and her lover this kind of party, she snapped, "Well, call it a life-commitment party, instead."

I still feel that this would be tacky and in bad taste. If they want to live together, I have no problem with that. All of her friends have accepted their arrangement. I feel that is enough.

She wants some kind of "ceremony" to let people know that they have a commitment to each other. I am annoyed that she has repeatedly asked me to arrange something.

Am I being an insensitive friend? Is there something that one does in a situation such as this?

Gentle Reader: Why can't she commit herself?

Never mind the fact that an engagement is an agreement to get married. Never mind that the only traditional engagement party is one that the prospective bride's parents give for the purpose of announcing the engagement by toasting the couple at the party - and they don't call it an engagement party on the invitations because that would give away the surprise.

Miss Manners is more struck by the fact that this lady seems to think it proper to harangue her friends to honor her. No doubt she figured that celebrating this way would, unlike getting married, save her a bundle. Why you should consider cooperating with this demand is a mystery.

Dear Miss Manners: May I share my simple strategy for the problem of being treated rudely by a waiter when declining to purchase an alcoholic beverage?

When I am asked if I care for anything to drink, I immediately order a soft drink. I pretend not to understand that alcohol (which I rarely drink) is being proffered. I have never had a server behave rudely in response to my order.

Gentle Reader: Do you want a soft drink or don't you? Miss Manners would have thought that would be of relevance before you decided to purchase one.

Investing in an unwanted drink to spare the server from worrying about being unable to make a sale does not strike Miss Manners as an equal obligation. A server who turns rude when you do not buy something you do not want should be reported to management.

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 except through this column.