Miss Manners: Addressing a married lesbian couple with same last name


Dear Miss Manners: How do you address a formal invitation to a married lesbian couple who have the same last name? For example: Lisa Jones and Maggie Jones. Do you write Mrs. and Mrs. Jones? Or Mss. (plural of Ms.) Jones? Or Ms. Lisa Jones and Ms. Maggie Jones?

Having lost the grammatical battle of “they/them” — she is entirely in favor of a nonbinary pronoun, if not the sometimes-confusing plural — Miss Manners is determined to get ahead of new honorifics.

She will spare you the history lessons about Mrs. being short for Mistress — which eventually took on nefarious tones, as so many female monikers do — and about Ms. being historically correct centuries ago, not just a 20th-century feminist invention.

Oh, look at that: She did not spare you the lecture after all.

She therefore humbly suggests: “the Mses Jones.”

Lest you retort that Ms. is not for married ladies, it is. It just does not define a woman as married or not. That ought to quell all of those other rightful patriarchal objections.

With this particular surname, you could also just say “the Joneses,” but she begs you to resist “the Mses Joneses,” as fun as it might be to say.

Dear Miss Manners: My spouse and I have different techniques for adding ketchup to french fries. My spouse pours an amount of ketchup onto an empty area near the fries and then dips them. I pour the ketchup directly onto the fries. Does etiquette have a preference?

Nope, it does not really care. Once fingers enter the food arrangement, etiquette gets less picky. Unless, Miss Manners warns, you are sharing the fries — in which case, she recommends whichever method does not bring you to blows.

Dear Miss Manners: I was brought up to offer drinks and/or food to people who come over to my house. I am engaged to a man whose parents do not do this, and I am trying to manage my feelings about it.

I went to their house for a planned visit, without my fiance, when the parents intended to take me out for lunch. I brought them homemade cookies.

Nothing was offered to me during the hour before we left for lunch. When we returned, not having had coffee nor dessert at the restaurant, we spent about 45 minutes at their house before I left. Again, nothing was offered — not even the cookies I had brought over. They paid for lunch.

Is it unreasonable for me to have expected that they would offer me a drink? Maybe take out the cookies I brought and enjoy them while I was still there? Or was that not appropriate because they took me out for lunch? In my family, this would be considered very rude.

Certainly, a drink or light refreshment may be offered when one is visiting another’s home. But in your example, with lunch having been so soon on the horizon, Miss Manners is inclined to excuse your in-laws for the transgression. If it happens during a longer interval with no meal promised, you may rightfully consider them thoughtless.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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