Dear Miss Manners: A close friend for 40 years sent me an adoption announcement:
"Introducing our beautiful and enchanting child . . . She entered our world at 114 pounds, 8 ounces, 64 inches, hazel eyes, brown hair, well-kept teeth and a merry wit . . . Mother and daughter are both doing well, but keep an eye on them as I suspect the two of them of plotting some even more spectacular event . . ."
They have adopted a 32-year-old daughter. She is currently a "live in" with the son of another friend, who is also a close friend of the adopting couple. Included with the announcement is a postscript announcing the later birth of that couple's little girl -- making the adoptive mother a grandmother.
I found this all very complicated and strange. My friend says they did it because they really grew to love her over the years and decided to make her "family."
I guess it's a wonderful thing to do, even though it disenfranchises their son of 45 years and can lead to all kinds of legal implications, particularly with the new baby, who also becomes an heir. I can't begin to imagine the possible scenarios when my friend passes on.
Upon notification, I sent a very nice congratulations card. Was I under an obligation to also send a gift? If so, to whom would I send it -- the new parents, the adoptee, the baby?
I haven't heard from my old friends in the past months, and I wonder if I goofed and should have sent something.
Gentle Reader: You forget that new mothers have their hands full. And although a congratulatory message is all that is required of you, it does not require a reply, as a present would.
So don't worry, Miss Manners is certain you will hear from your friends again. This is not only because she refuses to believe that someone would drop a 40-year friendship if her hope of receiving a pair of pink booties in size 7 AA was disappointed. In Miss Manners' experience, people who issue startling announcements rarely run out of ideas.
Give them a sign
Dear Miss Manners: Aside from loud gum-chewers, my biggest pet peeve is people who see that I am on the telephone, but approach my desk anyway and stand in front of me until I end my call -- which I do, prematurely, because of the intrusion.
Sometimes the approachers have the gall to talk at me while I am in the midst of conversing. Despite the frequency of such occurrences, I have not mastered the technique of designating an ear to each person.
I cannot understand why people do not come back when I am not indisposed. Perhaps I am unreasonable and they do have the right to camp out at my desk. Please enlighten me and suggest how I may best handle these annoying situations.
Gentle Reader: Without disputing that this is annoying, Miss Manners would like to point out that it is no worse than Call Waiting, which many people pay to have done to them.
At any rate, the international gesture for "Go away I'm busy" is to look sadly at the intruder and shake your head as if in exasperation that the call is long and uninterruptable. Having done that, you may swing around to face away from the intruder, whom you may assume has given up.
Address your etiquette questions to Miss Manners, in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions except through this column.