I have a friend who always points when talking about someone, which I think is incredibly rude and makes people (especially those being pointed at) feel uncomfortable. But when I told her this, she insisted there was nothing offensive about this, and that people don't even notice it. Please settle this argument.
- Liz in New Jersey
Answer: Pointing is rude. It's that plain and simple. A person will certainly notice if he or she is being pointed at by a stranger or a friend. Your friend needs to stop pointing, or to stop talking about people.
Q: A friend with a serious boyfriend never wants to do anything unless the boyfriend is also there. He is a great guy, but every time I invite my friend to do something, she shows up with him. Usually it's no big deal - it's a group setting - but occasionally I really want to spend time with just my friend, not the couple. Is there a way to make this distinction without hurting feelings or seeming weird?
- E. in N.J.
A: This is a dilemma that is often faced by people, although it can vary in the company, such as, "I'd like to do something without their children coming too" or "I'd like to do something without their neighbors joining in." Sadly, these are difficult discussions to have without the person getting offended and thinking that the secret message is, "I don't like the person you want to include." With your friend it might work to suggest an activity like shopping for dresses, getting manicures, going to a movie that is more appealing to women, or suggesting a women's lunch - meaning no significant others allowed. If that doesn't work, you may be stuck. There isn't a great way to say, "Please don't bring your friend."
Q: I attended a happy hour the other night celebrating the engagement of a school friend. All of us are in our 20s. Near the end of the evening, my friend said to me and two others, "Don't worry, someday you will find the right person." This seemed a little insulting.
- Jay in Pa.
A: It was condescending and, I agree, a bit insulting. People often assume that whatever makes them happy is what makes everyone else happy. I have a friend who constantly insults living in the city because she lives in the country. Your friend's comment was rude, but we will put the best face on it and say he only meant that he wants everyone to share the same happiness he feels.
Do you invite people to an engagement party who are not invited to the wedding? Last month in a question about engagement-party gifts, I said that I did not think it was right to invite anyone to the engagement party who wasn't going to the wedding. One reader, who asked not to be named, disagreed with me. Here is what she had to say:
"I am currently in this position as my son is getting married at a great (and rather inconvenient and expensive location) distance. With this in mind, I thought it appropriate to purposely not invite many friends who would not like to travel and be obligated to provide a wedding gift. However, I am hosting a local engagement party so my friends can meet the future bride and help us celebrate this occasion. Whether they bring a gift or not is not my concern, as my underlying motivation is to only introduce my soon-to-be daughter-in-law in a group setting. I have asked the appropriateness of this question to many of my friends whose counsel I trust and they have agreed. In fact, they are relieved not to be invited to the wedding as you can imagine."
I would still say that if it's a destination wedding and there is an engagement party, I would make it clear that no gifts are expected. Otherwise, whether they say it or not, some friends might feel that they are obligated to buy a gift, but didn't make the cut for the wedding.
How does one handle an adult grandson's poor manners? That was in last month's column. Several readers wrote in to assure the concerned grandmother that a lot of children and young adults use better manners out in the world than in the relaxed setting of being with family.
Ronnie in Pa. wrote: "I have two adult grandsons who are now, and have always been, ill-mannered at the family table. However, once they reached their teens, they knew not to act that way at restaurants, when company came, or at other people's houses. We didn't really tell them, they just figured it out. Perhaps that is the situation with her grandson. At any rate, relax. He will be fine."
Manners questions or issues? Email Deb Nussbaum at firstname.lastname@example.org.