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Snubbed woman should throw party honoring friend and new husband

Dear Miss Manners: My supposedly best friend got married without telling me. She eloped, and she has been married now for over a month and still has not said anything to me. I noticed that something was wrong when I did not hear from her for two weeks.

We used to talk and keep in touch every other day. When either one of us traveled out of town, we'd call each other. We have helped each other in difficult situations, and she was always there when I needed her. We went through law school together and although we had boyfriends, we made sure that we hung out together for at least an hour or so on holidays. We shared some good and bad times together.I am very upset and deeply hurt. Actually, I cried. I heard inadvertently through the grapevine that she got married.

What kind of friend is she? What should I do? I do not think that I could ever talk to her again.

Gentle Reader: What kind of friend is she? A married friend. Married friends can be wonderful, close and loyal friends, but they sometimes have more pressing considerations than hanging out and sharing confidences with others.

One of these considerations is what made your friend marry in secret. What it was, Miss Manners has no idea, but she doubts it was "Let's run off and escape from Danielle." It isn't as though you had inadvertently heard that she had left you out of a huge wedding with 14 bridesmaids.

Here is what Miss Manners thinks you ought to do: Dry your tears, wish your friend happiness and throw a party in honor of her and her new husband.

Dear Miss Manners: Whenever we have adult guests in our home, I am forced into sitting down and "talking" with them. I find this very awkward, due to the fact that I don't know how to talk with adults. How do you talk to your elders?

Gentle Reader: Not by asking them how old they are, nor by commenting on how much bigger they are than the last time you saw them, nor even by inquiring if they are doing well at work. Miss Manners believes you should treat adults with more respect than they are likely to treat you.

Conversations with people with whom you are thrown involuntarily are always awkward. You don't know their interests, and they don't know yours. The way to make this even more awkward is to base your attempts to talk on the assumption that because of the age difference, you couldn't have any common interests.

Finding out what these interests are is a kind of game in which each person puts out a general question or statement until one gets picked up. But grilling people about their jobs or personal lives is considered rude, however many well-intentioned people can't think of anything else.

In the Anything Else category are such things as, "Horrible weather we're having," "Seen any good movies lately?" and, "How about them (insert name of local team)."

Yes, Miss Manners realizes these are all stunningly unoriginal. That is why they are useful. Everybody can think of an answer or a counter-question.

Dear Miss Manners: On Memorial Day we attended a beautiful service at the Veterans Cemetery, where my family and I paid our respect to all veterans including my dad. We formed a circle around his marker just before we left and said a family prayer.

As we were walking toward our vehicles, a woman who was at her husband's grave shouted to us that we should respect the dead and quit walking over the graves. Mind you, the woman who shouted was sitting on a grave.

I was stunned. I know she is grieving just as much as we are. I was left speechless.

Is there a proper way to walk through a cemetery where all the markers are just about a foot apart? If it is considered disrespectful, I wish to apologize to this woman.

Gentle Reader: One should not walk on graves, even thousand-year-old graves in cathedrals, although Miss Manners has been in places where one would have to be an angel to avoid this.

As you discovered, however, the boundaries may be difficult to discern, particularly the emotional boundaries. So one should take extra precautions -- not only by walking carefully, but by distributing apologies wherever they might help.

Judith Martin is the author of "Miss Manners on Painfully Proper Weddings" (Crown). (C) Judith Martin Dist. by United Feature Syndicate Inc.