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Miss Manners: There’s no need to clap after singing our national anthem

Dear Miss Manners: I was taught in grade school by my music teacher that it is disrespectful to clap after the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I have not clapped after the national anthem in more than 30 years. Is that wrong?

Gentle Reader: You were taught correctly. It is an anthem, sung for the glory of the country, rather than to amuse the listeners or to congratulate oneself on having remembered the words, if not the tune.

Friend or employee?

Dear Miss Manners: A close friend of about eight years asked me to help her plan her daughter’s wedding. I went to many venues and florist appointments with her. I was so excited about this wedding and her sharing the planning with me. I thought I was so special.

As we were driving to lunch the other day, she told me about how she had worked for over seven hours to do the seating chart and how I was going to be so mad at her.

I am acquainted with many of her friends, and we have a couple of mutual friends we both socialize with, all of whom will be at the wedding. She explained that she is so sorry, but she just didn’t know what else to do with me, “so I put you at the table with my household staff.”

I feel I must have misinterpreted our relationship greatly. I feel at this point if I go, it will not be with a joyful heart but as a duty. I emailed her expressing my apology that we would not be attending (the wedding is still three weeks away).

She left me a message stating that she would never force me to do anything I did not want to do, and how she was hurt and found it disrespectful of me not to call her and talk about it. She said she and her husband worked all night to find another appropriate table for me and my husband.

She also raised her voice in another message and asked what was wrong with me to upset her at this time. Goodness, why would I want to go to a wedding where I do not feel welcome?

Gentle Reader: Indeed – although wicked Miss Manners might have been tempted to take advantage of the seating to pump the staff for gossip.

Miss Manners’ advice now depends greatly on what reason – if any – you gave as to why you would not attend. If you gave none (generally the best option, as it doesn’t tangle you up in excuses and half-truths), then keep telling her that you are so sorry, but that you simply cannot attend.

If you told her the truth, then tell her that you didn’t realize that having you there was so important to her and that now you’ve made other plans (which may actually mean plans to make plans).

This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin.