Dear Carson: A friend and business acquaintance of mine did not receive an invitation to an upcoming event that is considered highly prestigious. His wife called, telling me how hurt they were, and asked that I call the hostess to see if this was an oversight.
This put me on the spot. After I expressed ambivalence, my friend suggested that I adopt the pretense that surely something had gone wrong with the mail delivery.
I value this couple's friendship as well as their business. Is there any tactful way I can get out of making this call? -- Hesitant Helper
Dear Hesitant: Isn't it amazing that someone would push for an invitation to an event at which their presence was not desired?
I knew someone who used to call hostesses with an invitation of her own for the same date and time in the hope that her gesture would bring about the desired result.
If you feel backed into a corner, call the hostess and tell her that you are embarrassed to make this call; that Mrs. Doe asked you to ascertain if their exclusion were a mistake of the postal service. This takes you off the hook and places the blame where it belongs, at the feet of your pushy friend.
Dear Carson: I am writing a business letter to a woman who is a doctor and her husband, who is not. Please tell me how to word the address and the salutation. -- Secretarial Service
Dear Service: If the letter is a social one, address it as "Mr. and Mrs." with a salutation of "Dear Jane and John."
For a business letter, use separate lines. The first line should read "Dr. Jane S. Doe" and the second line should read "Mr. John L. Doe." Your salutation should read "Dear Dr. and Mr. Doe."
Dear Carson: My sister and I have had a heated discussion about whether it's proper to tell a woman she has a slip showing or a run in a stocking. I take the view that it is helpful; she says it is rude. -- Sisterly Squabble
Dear Squabble: When someone is already away from home it is unlikely she has a spare pair of hosiery, so there is nothing she can do to correct the damage. A slip peeking out beneath a hemline, however, can be corrected by adjusting the straps.
Have a question on etiquette? You can ask Carson Elliott by calling INFOLINE at 442-4444. Press 4422 and leave your message. You can write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30913-1928. You can send e-mail to Carson at firstname.lastname@example.org.