Well, I could’ve managed that before learning that I carry the BRCA1 gene, but not now. Due to my diagnosis and my age (late 30s), my oncologist’s recommendation is to get pregnant ASAP if I want a child, which I desperately do. My wonderful boyfriend is 100 percent in with expediting our plans to become engaged, have a small courthouse wedding and start trying for a baby.
What am I going to say to this friend who views this as a race to the altar? I want to respect her, but she doesn’t have the biological constraints that I have. I’m afraid that if I proceed with a quick elopement, it will damage my friendship with her.
Sympathetic as she is to your situation, Miss Manners assures you that you do not need a serious medical condition to handle your friend’s unreasonable, and unenforceable, demand.
Make your plans, and if your friend raises an objection, tell her that all these years you thought she was just being funny. If you can say this with a laugh that sounds joyful, and not scornful, do so; if not, merely feign astonishment.
If she does not laugh with you, turn serious, as if you are on the verge of being offended, but are not yet: “This is the date that works for us. I thought, as my close friend, you would be happy for me.”
Omitting your medical history means you will not see her face fall when you confront her with it, but surely that is a mean-spirited pleasure — hardly worth the loss of decorum.
Dear Miss Manners: I am the treasurer for a volunteer organization, and my duties require me to write checks for various expenses, as you would expect.
There is a woman who, when she needs a check for a deposit or honorarium or such, always phrases her request as a peremptory demand.
I wonder if there is a polite way to ask her to say “please” or some equivalent, so I don’t feel like her minion or unappreciated secretary. Can you help me with this personal problem — er, please?
Your problem is not a personal one, but a professional one — even if you think of the organization as something more charitable than a business. Unpleasant customers are all too common, and, while business etiquette does not allow you to discipline or correct them, there are ways to make the interaction less painful — at least for yourself.
Miss Manners recommends that you emphasize the professional aspect of the transaction, perhaps by creating a format (or, heaven forbid, a form) that members can submit through an established channel. This will minimize your contact with the person in question and, as an added bonus, annoy her as being bureaucratic and officious.