Originally created 08/21/05

Lapse in manners no excuse for silence



Dear Carson: My sister and I were going shopping, and she asked me to meet her at her fiance's house. I had never been to his house, and upon my arrival her fiance just sat on the couch and watched television, not saying one word to me.

Later on, my sister went ballistic on me because she said I didn't greet him. I felt that because it was his home, he should have gotten up and greeted me first, but instead she said that I was completely in the wrong and should have greeted him. Who is right? - Future Sister-in-Law

Dear Sister-in-Law: You did not say whether you and your sister's fiance had been introduced. I'm going to assume that you had met each other previously. You are right in that he should have risen and welcomed you with a friendly greeting.

I would not have let his lapse in manners prevent me from first speaking to him, though. I have a sense that your sister knew that her fiance was being rude, so she went on the offensive in berating you.

Dear Carson: How do I address a former official who is now president of a university? Does he maintain his former title or does he use the current one? After he retires from his current position, which title is the more proper to use? - Title Thither

Dear Thither: It is my opinion that he uses his title as president of the university while he is still the president. Afterward, I am really unsure which title is the better of the two.

Do any of you readers have a learned opinion on this query?

Dear Carson: Would one give money to the pastor who performed a funeral, the same as you would a wedding in church? I also need advice on writing thank-you notes, especially when there are so many. Thanks. - Overwhelmed Widow

Dear Widow: Yes, I would give a pastor cash in an envelope or write a check made out to the pastor to use at his discretion.

Thank-you notes should express your sincere appreciation for whatever was done (flowers, food gift, attendance) It needn't be a long note.

Dear Carson: I've gotten a great deal of conflicting advice on how to list a series of names of people serving on an honorary committee. Some are single, others are couples.

I need clarification to determine whose advice is correct. Should I use first and last names only or use a prefix: "Mr. and Mrs. John Jones" or "Mr. John and Mrs. (Jane) Jones"? - Stumped Secretary

Dear Stumped: The form of listing is determined by the formality or informality of the group. A more casual group would have a more personable listing, as in, "John and Jane Jones," while a more formal group would use "Mr. and Mrs. John Jones" or "Mr. and Mrs. (Jane) John Jones."

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to AskCarson@comcast.net. Carson Elliott's Web site is www.theproperthing.com.