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New wife wants ex to abandon surname

Dear Miss Manners: My husband finally divorced his ex-wife after several years of her fighting it. She told me that she would revert back to her maiden name after the divorce because, in her mind, she is going to remarry and would be changing her name again, so why keep his name? (They do have a child together, but the child was 1 when they separated and has never known them as a married couple. He is now 4.)

Now she's saying she's keeping his name because she can't imagine telling her son why her last name is different.

Regardless of that flawed rationale (he doesn't understand the significance of a last name at this age, and like I said, never knew his parents together), I just find it rude that she is keeping her married name now that her ex is remarried and I have taken his name.

Isn't it just plain tacky to keep your ex's name once he is remarried?

Gentle Reader: You will love hearing what the real tradition is:

In gentler times (or rougher times, depending on your point of view) it was assumed that a divorced lady was always the innocent victim of male misbehavior.

Even if she had run away with the children's dancing master, her husband was supposed to allow her to sue for divorce, to save her reputation, such as it was.

Therefore, a divorced lady who did not remarry was known by the full married designation of the time, as Mrs. Humphrey Twiddlefeather, even if another lady had subsequently taken on the husband and the name.

Consider yourself lucky that this is generally no longer done. Miss Manners advises you not to push your luck by trying to deprive the lady of the surname that legitimately became hers and for which the rationale is not at all silly. Silly is arguing that a child who may not yet be interested in names -- and in the family identification of sharing a surname with his mother -- never will be.

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Don't lower your standards

Dear Miss Manners: We run a Cotillion Club for teens in our city. The boys are required to wear jackets and ties, but we were wondering if it is proper etiquette and acceptable to remove their jacket once the dancing has begun.

We've noticed many boys leaving the dance and their jackets are completely sweated through. Our board members are divided on this issue and we really need your expert advice.

Gentle Reader: Turn down the heat.

If you lower the temperature, it is easy to raise it again. If you lower standards, it is not. Miss Manners suggests you consult any business that has tried to do away with casual Friday or even to limit it to Fridays.

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