Miss Manners hits the bottle?

Some of you Imaginary Readers may remember back to the time when my Off Culler advice column ran in the now-dead Seattle Pulse metroblog. Those were fun times, n’est-ce pas? The majority of my submissions were goofy gags sent by my well-meaning friends, though I did deal with a few more serious queries. I answered each query like I would have in a “real” advice column (where I probably wouldn’t have known the author of each submission personally), and the less silly submissions definitely shaped my opinions about how to give serious advice when it’s solicited.

Being something of a budding advice columnist, I’ve always kept an eye on big names in advice, like Dan Savage of Savage Love; the ever-changing face of Dear Prudie, currently Emily Yoffe; and Miss Manners’ Judith Martin. But the last of these three advice queens (pun intended) seems to have gone off her rocker this week.

Miss Manners ran the following submission and response in her recent column (emphasis mine):

Dear Miss Manners,
I recently was a bridesmaid in the wedding of my dear friend. It was a great time and I was so happy to be a part of their special day.

The problem is that after the wedding at the hotel bar, I drank too much and participated in some inappropriate behavior with one of the bride’s cousins in front members of her family. I do not remember anything that transpired, and I am mortified. When I realized she was upset and “disappointed” I accepted responsibility and apologized.

My question is can I ever regain her respect and how do I interact with her and her family now that I have made a fool of myself?

Gentle Reader,
It’s a good thing you accepted responsibility, since everyone saw you. Makes it hard to blame it on poor staff work. 

But evidently, your apology was insufficient. Perhaps it was of the level that would befit a one-time lapse at an ordinary party. For a wedding, you need something more.

Miss Manners suggests confiding in your friend that you are not just humiliated, but terrified that you might have a serious drinking problem and have foresworn liquor (at least in her and her family’s presence). She will be forced to switch from indignation to sympathy, which is at least a step back to friendship.

Wow. Seriously? The solution to having behaved like a drunken ass is to LIE to your friend, and FAKE a drinking problem, in order to MANIPULATE her into feeling sorry for you instead of justifiably annoyed?

Manners sure have come a long way since I was a kid. If this is the direction our etiquette is taking, I plan on raising raising my gaggle manner-free when my turn comes.


  1. Oh come on. Of course Miss Manners is not suggesting that the person lie, fake the drinking problem, and manipulate her friend. Miss Manners is getting at the heart of the matter in a very tactful way- telling this person that they have a serious drinking problem, and suggesting what course of action should ACTUALLY be taken.

  2. I don’t actually think that’s what she’s doing here. And if that is in fact her intent, I don’t think it’s particularly effective, appropriate, or tactful. I suppose only Judith Martin knows her own intentions, but I find the message that she printed to be abhorrent, particularly coming from an advice professional. To each their own, I suppose.

  3. Drinking too much at inappropriate times, inappropriate conduct while drunk, and the inability to remember what you did are all signs of a drinking problem. To suggest that she ought to be concerned about engaging in such concerning behavior, and that the only possible remedy is to not engage in those behaviors seems reasonable.

  4. I agree that inappropriate drinking might be a problem, I just don’t think her response is the best way to gently push that point. Again, to each their own.

    (And what the hell search query are you after-the-facteurs using, anyway? Go complain about her current columns, guys!)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *