DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband is a Vietnam veteran who is retired from the Army. When we go out and he wears his “Vietnam Veteran” hat, people often come up to him and say, “Thank you for your service.”
What is the proper response to this? To respond “thank you” doesn’t seem quite right. I suggested “I appreciate it,” but he said that doesn’t sound right, either.
GENTLE READER: “I was only doing my duty.”
The other responses you mention are also acceptable, but this one is a polite and modest response that Miss Manners hopes will satisfy those veterans who remember encountering less charming remarks from the public. Or, as in the case of more recent veterans from whom Miss Manners has heard, those who believe that more than thanks were required of their fellow citizens.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a correct way to respond to an invitation to a group dinner where all the parties are couples, and my husband is out of town or has a prior commitment?
Examples: being invited out to dinner with two other couples, being invited by a couple we don’t know well, being invited to friends’ home with another couple present. Does it matter who is paying, whether it’s at a restaurant or someone’s house, or how causal it is?
Please assume for the examples that there is either no seating chart, or that my RSVP has been given in advance so that the hosts know to expect only one.
When it’s good friends of ours, we know the invite is open with one or both of us. We enjoy seeing our friends who are couples together, but separate is OK, too, if one is unavailable.
This comes up more often than I would like. I want to spend time with people, but don’t want to feel like I’m an extra wheel.
GENTLE READER: Oh, dear. Miss Manners would have thought that the era of counting the boy-girl ratio at social events, with all the damage it does to partnerless people, had ended.
Do we not know that with the exception of square dancing, few respectable social activities require such pairs? That individuals should be valued for themselves?
That a couple does not necessarily consist of a boy and a girl?
For a guest to propose adding a guest would, in most cases, be rude. But to subtract one is not. However, if you suspect that this would dismay your host, you can reply by saying, “I’m afraid Harvey will be out of town then” — and then pausing for the host to reply, “But I hope you will come.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If you are invited to someone’s home for drinks and appetizers, how do you know when it is time for you to leave?
GENTLE READER: When the hosts stop offering drinks, speak of their heavy schedules for the next day, announce that it was lovely to see you, or stand by the door. Miss Manners strongly advises leaving before receiving any such signal.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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