DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband of 58 years died last year. He was highly respected and loved by many people who had experienced his comfort and prayers in times of need. In fact, I received 150 sympathy cards. He truly was a good man to all who were in need.
What no one knows is that, from the beginning of our life together, he never put me first. He seldom, if ever, encouraged me or complimented me. His abusiveness came through in the tone of his voice, not his actual words. I sought counseling after 30 years because I no longer knew who I was or what I wanted.
I cannot explain the relief I felt when I no longer came home to his car in the garage. How do I respond to the constant sympathy I continue to receive from those who miss him more than I do? I don’t want to denigrate his memory for those who experienced his love and concern.
GENTLE READER: “Thank you. He will be missed.” That it will not be by you, Miss Manners assures you, need not be specified.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an 11-year-old male. I’ve recently come across a dilemma when I try to read the writing on a girl’s or woman’s shirt.
More often than not, the print on a shirt is on the chest, and it may come across that I’m looking at her breasts. Since I am a boy, this is a serious issue I have. It seems awkward to say “Excuse me, I’m just reading your shirt,” especially to a stranger. Your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners’ thoughts are that you may already require reading glasses. It should only take a quick glance to read someone’s shirt.
If you are being accused of staring, you have looked for too long. True, if people wear shirts with more than a sentence on them, they only have themselves to blame for others taking the time to read it. And Miss Manners has found that it is easy to forget what you are wearing.
But if you do get caught looking for too long, you had better be able to quickly reference what you were reading.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For my 78th birthday, one of my children sent me a birthday cake. The cake was maybe 50% icing with bits of sugar candy throughout. I know it was expensive because I saw it advertised.
I have been a baker for 50 years and rarely make iced cakes. The cake was so sweet I couldn’t eat it.
I didn’t know how to respond when they asked how I liked it, so I said, “What was it supposed to taste like?” What should I have said?
GENTLE READER: The intention of your child was surely to please you with an extravagant, and apparently well-advertised, cake — not to maliciously rot out your teeth and give you cavities.
Miss Manners suggests you practice saying, “It was so kind of you to think of me on my birthday” as an alternative to, “Why are you trying to both kill and annoy me with your sugary presents?”
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.