Open Thread

by epi on September 13, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Shubha September 13, 2012 at 1:32 am

I have to travel about 2 hours in a bus on a daily basis. On a certain day, I was starting to get cold and was coughing/sneezing. I made sure to cover my mouth each time I coughed or sneezed, and would say ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘Excuse me’. (I sat in a single seat; so there was no one beside me. But, there were people in front, behind and next to the aisle) But, my question is, since the journey was for 2+ hours, Do I have to excuse myself every other time I coughed? Was I overdoing it?


Jerry September 13, 2012 at 10:16 am

You excuse yourself for farting or burping, bodily functions that are (in theory) controllable. You do not need to excuse yourself for sneezing or coughing.


Winifred Rosenburg September 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

Actually, you shouldn’t excuse yourself for the other bodily functions you mentioned because they are at least sometimes involuntary. If they are voluntary, you shouldn’t be doing it in front of others anyway.


Jerry September 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Are you saying my mother was wrong? And on her birthday, no less!

(Yes, if you release a loud fart or a loud burp, you excuse yourself.)


Winifred Rosenburg September 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I posted a reply with links to Miss Manners answers, but for some reason it didn’t get posted. I’d rather not search for them again so I’ll give you a summary.

According to Miss Manners, passing gas is considered unmentionable and everyone, including the person who did it, should pretend it didn’t happen.

In the case of burping, one should put a closed fist in front of his or her mouth to disguise it as a cough, which as you pointed out don’t require anything to be said in apology. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that one should stifle an unavoidable burp as much as possible and make it a quiet one or even a silent one so there is really no reason to have a loud burp. (Trust me, I have a medical condition that causes me to burp frequently and they are almost always silent and never loud.)

Elizabeth September 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I have to go with Jerry on this one. If someone obviously and involuntarily burps or farts loudly, I would fully expect them to say “Oops, I’m sorry.” Or, “Oh, I apologize!” To ignore it would make me think it was, in fact, voluntary.


LSS September 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

Our daughter mistakingly abbreviated the state on all 220 of her wedding invitations! Do we throw them out (including the affixed postage) and try to reorder quickly or can we face our guests if we mail them as they are?


Clara September 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

Shubha, if your daughter wrote out the correct abbreviation, then just send them. I have never realized if wedding invitations I received had my state abbreviated or written out. Obviously if she wrote the wrong abbreviation, all your invitations would come back to you. If this is the case, perhaps a pretty label could be used , placed over the handwritten addresses, so that you do not waste all the money that was spent on postage?


Jerry September 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

LSS: Your question is ambiguous. I hope you’re writing because your daughter put the wrong states on all 220 envelopes and you’re wanting to know if you can salvage them. You may be able to only if you feel comfortable printing labels and sticking those labels over the mistakenly written addresses.

Somehow, however, I fear you are asking whether you can send envelopes with the recipient’s state abbreviated as opposed to written out. The answer, of course, is “yes.” The purpose of a wedding invitation is to invite friends and family — people who you know and like, and who know and like you — to celebrate! I would question the strength of your relationship with anyone who judged the package in which that invitation arrived.

(This means, by the way, that you can use a computer to print the names and addresses right on the envelope! The new technology allows you to avoid hand-writing all of those addresses. And before anyone screams “tradition!”, tradition also dictated that a footman would deliver the invitations by hand — stamps were verboten. So unless you want to hire a footman to cross the country delivering invitations to your guests, give the “tradition!” canard a rest.)


Jody September 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Jerry raised a good point in his first paragraph. If you have to re-address all the invitations, it might be easier to type the addresses onto labels, and then put those labels on top of the “old” addresses on your envelopes. This assumes that either the original envelopes had typed addresses or the handwriting is small enough that a label will cover it. You can get very nice labels at office suppliy stores.


Chocobo September 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

While it is more correct to write out the full name of a state on formal invitations, I think your family’s reputation will survive with the abbreviations. The guests are more likely to be too busy scrutinizing whether their names and titles are correct and why their children aren’t included to notice the difference, anyway.


Alicia September 13, 2012 at 7:55 am

If she wrote MD instead of Maryland I would just send them. If she wrote MA instead of Maryland I would reprint.


Renee September 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I have a time sensitive question and hope you an help.
I was not invited to a wedding of someone where our families used to be very good friends. I moved away an we did not stay in touch. My older daughter and her husband were invited. I am of course going to get a present for the bride but want to know if it is appropriate to send flowers to the family as a “thinking of you” on this special weekend. Will it sound like I am over the top about not being invited to the wedding?
Thank you.


Country Girl September 14, 2012 at 12:26 am

I agree with Alicia, the gift for the couple is plenty generous. And the family likely won’t be home to even receive flowers let alone enjoy them. Even though your heart is surely in the right place, there is at least a small chance they might interpret your many well wishes as a little poke at not being invited. Why not congratulate the family and share your well wishes the next time you speak on the phone or in person, maybe after the wedding craziness has died down?


Chocobo September 14, 2012 at 11:06 am

Goodness, no. It’s a very sweet gesture. Please go ahead and send the flowers and your well wishes.


Alicia September 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I would not send flowers as they are unlikely to be home a lot during the weekend. A nice card or present for the bride and groom is more then enough.


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