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Miss Manners: Mother irritated over invitation snub

Dear Miss Manners: I have a very good friend who invited me and my husband over for dinner and told us to get a baby sitter for our daughter.

I probably would get a baby sitter since my 6-year-old daughter would be bored with the adult conversation. However, I was a bit offended by the suggestion.

Am I overreacting?

Gentle Reader: No, because had your friends simply issued the invitation to only you and your husband, you would have understood their intentions without the added insult of instructing you on how to make it happen. Right?

Had everyone stuck with that, all would have been well. Your hosts would have accomplished their goal of having an adults-only evening – and you would have been spared any offense.

However, Miss Manners cannot help but notice that your reason for potentially procuring a baby sitter was not that your daughter’s company was not requested, but that she might have been bored. This implies that you might have considered bringing her, asked or not.

Sharing phone numbers

Dear Miss Manners: What is the protocol for sharing mobile phone numbers? When someone gives me their mobile number, I don’t assume it’s OK to give it out (unless that person has so specified). But people just casually ask for other people’s numbers like it’s no big deal.

I generally reply something like, “I don’t have permission to give it out, but if you’ll give me yours, I’ll ask him to call you,” and often I’m accused of being obstructionist or dramatic. Am I?

Gentle Reader: Not in this case, at least.

Miss Manners assures you that yours is a perfectly polite way to handle it. If these people feel that you are being overly dramatic, you might tell them, “I’m sure that you wouldn’t want me to give out your number to relentless salespeople or overzealous suitors.”

No sale

Dear Miss Manners: My father received two letters from people he does not know, written on yellow notebook paper. They were variants on “Can I buy your house? Please contact (phone number).”

Our house is not on the market and we have no plans to sell.

How should we respond, especially because these letters seem importunate and rude? One does not walk up to someone and say, “I love your coat. Can I buy it from you?” Nor does one write letters to strangers that say, “Can I make love to you? Please call (phone number).”

Gentle Reader: Perhaps there is such a thing as a “Not for Sale” sign?

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