DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband is a Vietnam veteran who is retired from the military. When we go out and he wears his “Vietnam Veteran” hat, people often come up to him and say, “Thank you for your service.”
What is the proper response to this? Answering “thank you” does not seem correct. I suggested “Thank you” but he said it doesn’t sound good either.
SOFT READER: “I was just doing my duty.”
The other answers you mention are also acceptable, but this is a polite and modest answer that Miss Manners hopes will satisfy those veterans who recall encountering less charming comments from the public. Or, as in the case of the more recent veterans Miss Manners has heard of, those who believe that more than appreciation is required from their fellow citizens.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a correct way to respond to a group dinner invitation where all parties are couples and my husband is out of town or has a prior engagement?
Examples: being invited to dinner with two other couples, being invited by a couple we don’t know well, being invited to a friend’s house with another couple present. Does it matter who pays, whether it’s at a restaurant or someone’s home, or how causal is it?
For examples, please assume there is no seating chart or my RSVP has been given in advance so the hosts know they are only expecting one.
When they are good friends of ours, we know that the invitation is open to one or both of them. We enjoy seeing our friends who are couples together, but being apart is fine too, if one is not available.
This comes up more often than I would like. I want to spend time with people, but I don’t want to feel like an extra wheel.
SOFT READER: Oh darling. Miss Manners would have thought the era of counting the ratio of boys to girls at social events, with all the harm it causes to single people, was over.
Don’t we know that, with the exception of square dancing, few respectable social activities require such couples? That individuals should be valued for themselves?
That a couple is not necessarily made up of a boy and a girl?
For a guest to suggest adding a guest would be rude in most cases. But subtracting one is not. However, if you suspect this will put your host down, you can respond by saying, “I’m afraid Harvey will be out of town then,” and then pausing for the host to respond, “But I hope you’ll come.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If you’re invited to someone’s house for a drink and a snack, how do you know when it’s time to leave?
SOFT READER: When the hosts stop offering drinks, discuss your heavy schedules for the next day, announce it was nice to see you, or stand at the door. Miss Manners strongly recommends leaving before receiving such a signal.
Send your questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to his email, email@example.com; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.