Dear Carson: I am heartbroken, devastated and furious with my ex-fiance. He jilted me over the lame excuse that he wasn't ready to be married. Our wedding was scheduled for later this summer and I had already sent "save the date" cards. There have been some showers for me and I received gifts from that source as well as some others. Other than shooting the scumbag, what should I do about all those gifts and about giving an explanation for those who ask "Why?" - Jilted in Jacksonville
Dear Jilted: Mail cards to everyone to whom you sent "save the date" cards, which state simply that "the marriage of Susan Wood and William Sizemore will not take place" or that it has been canceled. There is no need to explain or place blame. Return the gifts you have not used, and by all means write thank-you notes to all who sent gifts or gave showers. Perhaps your fiance's decision in realizing that he was not ready for marriage will save you the anguish of a potential divorce.
Dear Carson: A very embarrassing thing has happened to me a couple of times. I've had a mastectomy and am sensitive about my unclothed appearance. When I've been in a department store dressing room another person in search of a place to change has ripped the privacy curtain open or opened the door without knocking. Won't you address the etiquette of knocking on doors before entering? - Modesty Matters
Dear Modesty: You are absolute correct. Never assume that a dressing room or bathroom is unoccupied. Always knock on a closed door. This includes a bathroom, dressing room, bedroom or front door. It is only common courtesy.
Dear Carson: I am writing to you for a friend who is blind. She complains about people petting her guide dog and feels that telling them not to do so seems rude. What is your advice? - Guide Dog Dogma
Dear Dogma: A guide dog is trained to give total attention and loyalty to its master or mistress. For anyone else to pet it is to distract it from its sole allegiance to its owner.
Dear Carson: I have a peeve of someone inviting you to a restaurant for a celebration and only when you get there you learn that it is Dutch treat. Please advise people not to do this and also tell guests how to handle this situation. - Cheap Celebration
Dear CC: Guests should be informed before the fact that they will be responsible for their own bills; e.g., "Could you please join us for a Dutch treat birthday lunch for Daniel?" To inform people up front is only fair, rather than having them accept or arrive only to learn that they must pay their own way. After all, they may have a tight budget or be saving for something special for which they have earmarked funds.