>My husband and I have been invited to a distant relative’s wedding in New York, where I grew up. Our children are not invited, so I intend to go to the wedding alone, and my husband will stay home with the kids. Can I bring someone else to the wedding in his place?
A.K. / Newton
Go solo. A husband is not any old fungible Plus One; it’s no more proper to change him out for a substitute than it would be to bring those uninvited children. (And good on you for graciously accepting that restriction.) Take advantage of your single status to get to know your relatives with the kind of long, reminiscent “Did you know Aunt Thing?” conversation that is cruel to inflict on a long-suffering spouse.
>Once a week or so I eat lunch at a nice little Thai restaurant. One server always greets me with a smile and has learned my name. Thanks to a two-way miscommunication, she now foists a takeaway chai on me as I leave. I find chai disgusting and plastic cups wasteful, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I’ve thought about not going there anymore, but it’s such a healthy meal compared with our cafeteria.
C.C. / Boston
If, after your Drunken Noodle indulgences, you are returning to an institution large enough to house its own cafeteria, you must surely have a co-worker/dormmate/patient who does harbor a taste for chai. (I’m rather fond of it myself.) If it’s not too inconvenient, you could always bring the treat back and brighten someone else’s day.
If that’s too much trouble, use a combination of simple English and pantomime to convey to your waitress friend that tea makes it hard for you to sleep. (One way or another, it does seem to be keeping you up at night.) I applaud your desire to nurture this small relationship. Such humble kindnesses between newcomers and natives are part of the fabric the American dream is woven from.
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.