Miss Manners: Mother-in-law said uncle was dead when he was actually alive



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Dear Miss Manners: A few days ago, my mother-in-law informed me of the death of her husband’s brother. I passed along the news to more distant relatives who needed to be informed.

A day later, however, my father-in-law told us that the uncle in question was … not actually dead. I updated the relatives, but I had trouble not making it sound like a farce, which seemed disrespectful of the uncle in question.

I am curious if there is a more polite way to tell people, “My mother-in-law is declaring people dead when they’re not.”

“It seems that there has been a mistake and fortunately, Uncle Lou is not, in fact, dead.” Miss Manners hopes that the relief this news provides will overshadow the blame of whoever’s mistake it originally was.

Dear Miss Manners: I enjoy inviting people for dinner, and extend invitations often. I’m happy to cook, and if people ask what they can bring, I often tell them to just bring themselves, or maybe something easy like buns from the store.

These dinners are fun; people bring their kids, who play with ours while the adults usually chat and laugh around the table.

I’ve been running into a problem lately, though, where I extend an invitation by text and people just don’t respond. Or they do respond, but after a significant time lapse — over a week, in a recent case.

I’m at a loss as to how to manage ignored invitations. It hurts my feelings, but it feels petulant to poke the ignorers with some version of, “Why aren’t you paying attention to me???”

Am I out of touch for expecting responses? Is there something I’m not seeing or understanding here about hosting, invites and RSVPs?

Yes: that people have two rude reasons for not answering.

1. They want to see who else is going to respond before they commit, and 2. They are not sure whether they will feel like it.

Wait, Miss Manners just thought of another: 3. They want to wait to see if they get a better offer.

That these non-responses are rude does not make it any easier to plan if you ignore them right back.

Miss Manners’ suggestion is much more effective — and fun — than being petulant: “You must not have gotten my text from last week, because I haven’t heard back. We would love to have you and the kids over for dinner on Saturday.”

And then let us all make a vow to answer invitations promptly, even if we do not feel like it.

Dear Miss Manners: I like to wear pretty stick-on nails with patterns and designs on them. What do I do when someone grabs my hand and looks close-up at the designs? I truly don’t know what to say or how to take my hand back when someone has grabbed it.

Scream from the shock of it. If that does not scare someone off from harshly grabbing you, Miss Manners suggests that a handful of wayward press-ons might.

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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