DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve been close friends with someone for over 18 years. He and his wife even had their children refer to me as “uncle.”
Several years ago, they moved to a large city far away. We stayed in touch as best we could. They would stop by when visiting his parents, who still lived in our town.
I retired three years ago and moved back to the town I grew up in. I tried to stay in touch with my friend, but he’s grown increasingly distant.
I recently texted him and told him that my last brother had passed, and it was a sad time for me. His response was, “That’s really tough, bro.” He showed almost no empathy.
I’ve not heard from him or his wife since that day, which was many months ago.
Would it be rude to ask if I’ve done or said something that deeply offended them to the point that they decided to end our friendship?
GENTLE READER: Not at all. Etiquette thrives in subtly criticizing someone else’s behavior by graciously blaming it on oneself.
Of course, if your friend responds that nothing is wrong, you may be forced to call him out on his callousness. But even that can be done tactfully: “Oh. I was just hoping to catch up and perhaps talk more about my brother. And of course, I want to hear about you.”
The second statement may determine, Miss Manners is afraid, whether or not its previous absence was the cause of the distance between you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband works from home. One of his colleagues who works in the office sometimes texts him that there is a product or mail for him there, and kindly offers to drop it by our home. My husband accepts and is very appreciative.
The drop-off generally occurs on a weekend, early in the day, when I am either in bed or lounging about the house in robe and slippers.
Because we moved during the pandemic, our house is “new” to Colleague, so this morning my husband elected to give him a tour. The tour did not include the bedroom where I sat in pajamas responding to email.
I like Colleague a lot but am accustomed to meeting him only when “ready to greet the world.” I felt it rude not to make an appearance, so I robed myself and popped out to say hello, nothing more.
The men went on chatting for half an hour or so about our new home, the work to be done, etc., and I scampered away.
I do not want to be either rude or inattentive in these situations. What do you suggest?
GENTLE READER: Since it was based on showing off a new home, this problem presumably will not be recurring. But Miss Manners assures you that the impromptu and work-based visit did not require your presence, and that your behavior was sufficiently cordial.
If Colleague is planning on being privy to any future remodeling, however, perhaps your husband can give you some advance warning — so that you do not again get caught in your pajamas.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.