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Don't disclose medical history

Dear Miss Manners: I am about to marry a sweet, kind, beautiful, gorgeous woman. I planned this in private, and it will take place in her country, principally because we want her family to be in the wedding.

I did not tell my friends, because previous relationships did not work out, and I don't really want any questions about those relationships.

The problem is that my wife-to-be is an amputee. She lost her leg below the knee.

I am protective of her, though she does not need it. She is poised and sensible. So how do I introduce her or, for that matter, tell those at work?

Is it, "Hi guys, I recently got married. Full disclosure: She's an amputee"? Or just wait for them to ask questions and then tell them?

Gentle Reader: Because you are so protective of your wife, do you plan to tell her how to warn her own friends about anything in you that they might consider odd?

What Miss Manners finds odd is that you have braced yourself to refuse to discuss your past but want to prepare to discuss your wife's body.

A gentleman does not do that. (Oh, all right, a bit of gushing over her beauty because you are a new bridegroom, but certainly not her medical history.)

To announce this information as a pre-introduction will suggest that the missing leg is her most defining characteristic, rather than the qualities you mentioned at the beginning of your letter. Besides, no one who then meets her will look her in the eye.

Unless she wears miniskirts -- and even then -- there should be no respectable reason for anyone to focus on her legs.

However, there may be times when it is noticeable, and considering the lack of restraint people put on their curiosity, there will undoubtedly be rude people who will demand to know about the amputation.

But also undoubtedly, the lady has run into such rude types before. So ask her how she would like it handled. Eventually, there may be close friends to whom she is willing to give her history, but she is not obliged to account for herself unless she chooses. And you are even less obliged.

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Shop talk

Dear Miss Manners: In a few weeks I will be opening a small shop. Would it be vulgar to invite friends to a launch party before the official opening, or is this akin to one of those dreadful shopping parties?

Gentle Reader: Actually, no. Miss Manners dislikes the shopping party as much as you do, but on the grounds that it uses social circumstances to pressure people into attending a commercial venture and buying things they may not want.

You are frankly opening a shop and offering your friends the chance to become acquainted with it before, or as, it is open to the public. Those not interested need not attend, and those who do should be welcomed without being made to feel obliged to buy.

e-mail: missmanners@unitedmedia.com.

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