Miss Manners' Guide...

Book Card  -  Volume 15  -  Book Review Number 2  -  Sun, Jul 15, 1990 9:49 PM

TITLE: Miss Manners' Guide For the Turn-Of-The-Millenium
AUTHOR: Judith Martin
PUBLISHER: Pharos Books

Many of you are remembering "How to eat a Potato Chip", "How to Date a Debutante", "Noises that are not Acknowledged Socially", along with dozens of other Miss Manners classics, and are wondering, "What's left?"

Let me lay your fears to rest. I'll introduce you to just one of the social problems Miss Manners deals with in this new tome:

Dear Miss Manners:

Our twenty-six-year-old daughter plans to marry soon, inviting about one hundred guests to her grandmother's (father's side) place, near where we lived when she was growing up. She, her bridegroom, and all the attendants will be nude. The guests will be clothed. Can you believe it? ...

She has suggested - and I have agreed - to handle the invitations. Is there a special etiquette here? Lisa is determined that everything be done "right".

Miss Manners' solution follows the complete version of this letter on page 22.

What's that? OK, one more:

Dear Miss Manners:

In an abortive attempt to impress the various dignitaries of local "society," and thereby to gain access to their circle, a lady of my acquaintance invited them all to a splendid formal dinner party. Her setting was superb; the lighting, delicate; the wine, perfectly coordinated. Everything was moving briskly along, according to the stuffiest standards, through the aperitif. It was at this moment, with all her guests eagerly anticipating the main dish, that the hostess suddenly realized that cooking a main course had somehow, in the heat of all the other preparations, slipped her mind. Dinner ended with the appetizers: There was no main course.

Time and distance render us callous. When I heard later about her fiasco, although I knew I should have kept a straight and, if possible, sorrowful face in the presence of such suffering, I confess to bursting out in uproarious laughter. Never mind the lecture on my rudeness. Karmic laws being what they are, my heartless mirth has undoubtedly ensured that I, at some future time, will be forced to reenact the scene. And with each succeeding guffaw, it becomes increasingly likely that I shall have to do so as the hostess. It is against this impending cosmic retribution that I am wondering if you might tell me just what, in the face of a dinnerless dinner party, is the appropriate behavior of (1) the guests and (2) the hosts.

P.S. Use my name and you, too, shall sustain karmic penalties.

A good portion of Miss Manners' secret of success should now be apparent: she gets her readers to do much of the work.

And by the way: the proper solution to the problem described in the second letter is presented on page 492.