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Miss Manners: Honesty not always best policy when asked about gifts

Dear Miss Manners: Last year my best friend, who lives out of town, gave me a kitchen gadget for a birthday gift. I appreciated it, but it was something I didn’t want or need and was just taking up space in my kitchen. I eventually got rid of it.

Recently, she spent the night at my home during a weekend visit and wanted to prepare breakfast as a way of thanking me for hosting her. In the middle of cooking, she asked where the gadget was so she could use it.

I came up with some pathetic excuse about leaving it at my mother’s house. We all know where liars go, so can you please give me a better answer than the story I came up with?

Gentle Reader: Where? Where do they go? Miss Manners is no theologian, but she believes that it cannot be a place far from the people who use “I’m just being honest” as an excuse to hurt others’ feelings.

Blunt honesty is not always the highest moral policy. Besides, saying that you left the item at someone’s house isn’t necessarily untrue. If you gave it to charity or even threw it away, who knows where it ended up?

If your friend asks again, tell her that you didn’t have the heart to take it back. Just don’t be shocked if you or your mother receives a replacement. And while it sounds like your friend’s inquiry was perfectly innocent (and not meant to be checking up on you), it is generally considered rude to inquire after a present you have been given.

Decline friend’s offer politely

Dear Miss Manners: A new but good friend invited me to vacation with her at the beach for a low cost. It was just one room, and I warned my friend that I would need time to myself. .

Well, she never left me alone. She chatted day and night, and, because she was so pushy at getting her way on just about everything, we had a couple of pretty bad arguments.

She mentioned a later vacation, and I said I didn’t want to go. She replied, “Good, because maybe you won’t be invited.”

Today I received a voicemail from her inviting me to go to Jamaica for a week at a low cost. I’d love to go, but just not with her. I also can’t afford it, even at the low price. How can I keep her friendship, but tell her no, I don’t want to go?

Gentle Reader: Well, you cannot have her pay for the vacation without including her, if that is what you are thinking. That is an even faster way of destroying the friendship than going with her or not going at all.

“I’m so sorry, but I just can’t” is what you should say. No excuses are necessary, but if she presses for a reason, you can mention work or it being a bad time, as long as you do not mention money, except to characterize her invitation as extremely generous.