Miss Manners: The farewell party is too expensive for a colleague

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A distinguished academic mentor and later colleague is retiring from a major university in the city where we both live. I was invited to a big retirement dinner at a local venue.

The invitation came via email from a university-sponsored website. Under the RSVP menu I was further informed that dinner and bar reservations were available – at a price two or three times what I would normally pay for an enjoyable evening. Although I can occasionally afford some, I was amazed. After discussing it with my wife, I checked the “regret” box.

We agreed that there are various ideas to throw a budget and/or shared cost party, but this approach was not good. Knowing the retiree I don’t think that was his idea and I feel a little guilty for turning it down. I plan to give him a gift and pay him a personal visit.

Will this type of pay-to-play event become common? Is there anything I can or should say other than politely decline?

GENTLE READER: Ordinary or not, using retirement as a fundraiser by matching expenses is unseemly — and hardly celebratory. Miss Manners sympathizes with your friend who, you say, was no doubt coerced into this bold event on his behalf.

If you want to be extraordinarily gracious, you could invite him to a simple dinner party at your house and say, “The college event seemed a bit impersonal to me. We’d love to have you join us to celebrate your retirement privately.” And if you’re feeling cheeky, you could add, “We promise we won’t charge for the drinks.”


DEAR MISS MANNERS: Social media would be more enjoyable if people followed a few guidelines. First, some people post too much—multiple times a day. Please do not recommend more than three or four posts per week. Some people also post too many pictures of their children or grandchildren. They may be dear to the family, but other people’s interest in them is limited.

People should be asking themselves: is this very similar to something I posted recently? Types of posts to minimize: posts about your kids, posts about political or social organizations, business ads (unless it’s something really special or to announce you’re starting a business), inspirational slogans , personality tests and film quizzes. “Memories” posts should be limited to really special things (e.g. weddings), not just your children at an earlier age.

Sometimes there is a setting for “show fewer posts like this”, but this is not always successful. So it would be helpful if the posters followed some guidelines.

GENTLE READER: Certainly. But for now, Miss Manners has had her hands full asking people not to post offensive rhetoric and lewd suggestions. Given the all-out verbal warfare, it seems like a pretty minor infraction to include an additional picture of her grandchild. But please knock yourself out.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com; to her email address, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City , MO 64106 .)




1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; 816-581-7500

Leave a Comment