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Dear Didi,

Do I sound like a prude but isn’t it a turn-off when a text or email signs off with kisses? It seems vacuously emotionally incontinent. Some weird challenge. If she ends a text XXXX do I have to match her XXXX to show I feel the same way? And if I don’t feel like giving her four kisses and only type two XX or three XXX will she feel stung? What are the consequences of not matching kiss for kiss? For me XXX is the common definition of highly pornographic material, so it makes me laugh. And the widely used XXOO in Chinese slang means sex.

-R.E., Palo Alto, CA

Dear R.E.,

There is a sexual tinge to XXXX and Xxoo, etc. A sexual-textual message of course has a Freudian curse that lots of us fall prey to, the "texter's curse." If you don't like the XXXX, do your own thing. Such as, 'Kind regards,' KR. How about using BBS (be back soon), BBL (be back later), TTYL (talk to you later), LMTA (like minds think alike), KOTC (kiss on the cheek), LUL (love you lots) or FYF (from your friend). Instead of taking the X challenge, be creative -- especially if you want to gently lower the recipient's expectations. Actually, understanding when and how to end a text or email dialogue is a tricky social skill. You don't want to be abrupt, but it doesn't have to be smooth to be cool. When you wish to end the conversation, say you have something to do -- but spare us the details. When not talking business, be the one to end the conversation before it becomes boring. Timing is everything. Often closing a text dialogue is more effective than continuing it. Instead of XXX, try BBS.


The Prenup Sex Talk

Dear Didi,

Recently I spotted my fiancé’s father at a gay club dancing with another man. I pretended not to notice him, but my gay guy friend, who’s birthday we were celebrating in a group, said he was a regular. When he waved to my fiancé’s father he waved back and saw me. Now I feel terribly uncomfortable around him and his wife. With our wedding day approaching, I feel I have to tell to my fiancé. What do I say and what about his mom?

-Anonymous, Washington, DC

Dear Anonymous,

It is time for the prenup sex talk. Well before the wedding day, all couples should have full disclosure about their sexual orientation -- but not necessarily in detail. Just as you would have the 'money talk,' you have to have the 'sex talk.' The money talk about who is going to pay for what, will you go back to work after having children, what happens if one of you dies, and what about life insurance? And the 'sex talk' about anything that matters concerning your past sexual experiences. Have the sex talk when you're both in a fun, happy mood, feeling high on your up-coming marriage. Start by talking about yourself, move on to asking your fiancé if there's anything he wants to tell you about his sexual past. Full (or nearly) disclosure will help segue into opening up to what you saw. Chances are your fiancé is sophisticated enough to have suspected that his father's sexual interests may be two-fold. Your fiancé may have come to accept his father's bisexuality, or he may think his dad is having a late midlife crisis or going through a phase. Since you're communicating well enough to be getting married, you should be able to talk about anything and everything. You cannot keep this huge secret in your marriage because the image of his dad dancing at the club will haunt you. Your fiancé's father knows you know! As for the mom, she may know, too, but that's not for you to tell.


Children’s Attendance at Funerals

Dear Didi,

My son recently passed away during an operation unexpectedly. His entire school went to the funeral. How do I thank them?

-Sad in West Virginia

Dear Sad in West Virginia,

Attending a classmate's funeral helps your son's friends and classmates to cope with their loss. Children's attendance at funerals educates them to recognize the importance of being part of a community. Children should be included in all aspects of family rituals and their school is an extension of their family. It is not necessary for you to thank your son's schoolmates, but you can certainly do so in several ways.

The family of John Wilson

deeply appreciates your

sympathy and is grateful

for your thoughtfulness

You definitely could have an acknowledgement posted on the school bulletin board using the wording shown above, but inserting your son's name.

Additionally, you could raise funds to provide the school with something  it needs such as a bicycle rack, the replacement of a tree on the property, a new basket ball hoop, books for the library in which you could place a bookplate (see bookplateink.com) in each of the books like the one below that would say:  In memory of John Wilson (inserting your son's name).

m101 Having children's attendance at funerals teaches them that a funeral plays an important role in their mourning and helps them see death as a fact of life.


Wedding Shower for Two Women

Dear Didi,

This is my first time being invited to a wedding shower for two women friends and I would like to know the etiquette. Do I bring them both a present? What should I bring them?

-Charlotte, Portland, Oregon

Dear Charlotte,

You would respond just as you would when attending a wedding shower for a man and a woman who were being honored -- by bringing one present to the celebration. If you were going to a Jack and Jill wedding shower, you would only bring one gift for them both. Find out where your friends, the wedding couple, are registered and choose something you know they want and need. wedding-shower-5


Funeral Etiquette Flowers

Dear Didi,

I am writing to you because you are an etiquette expert and I find myself at a loss not knowing what the appropriate etiquette is today because, thankfully, I have not had much experience with funerals.

My Dr. and dear friend died by suicide last week. You probably read about it in the New York Times. He was 65, a gay man without a partner, and no family except a brother he was distant from. He had so many friends and patients, that were also friends, and we all loved him.

One of his patients/friends is giving the funeral service tonight at Lincoln Centre for him. It is extremely generous of her to have organized everything.

I sent my own large arrangement and had my florist coordinate with her florist, who is doing the event’s florals, to keep on theme.

That aside I feel like I should send her a small posy of her favorite blooms and a note thanking her for stepping up during a time when we are all in shock. It is a huge responsibility to organize.

The only thing stopping me is that I don’t know her personally, only peripherally. In this situation is it appropriate for me to have my florist send a small discrete arrangement and a thank-you note?

-Francesca, NY, NY

Dear Francesca,

What a shock for you and his whole community that the good doctor took his own life. He must have been in a lot of emotional pain. The flowers to the service are generous and quite enough for now. About funeral etiquette flowers. My experience has been that during this time when emotion encompasses a broad range of feelings, reality has yet to set in. From the shock after the death of a loved one to the stress of orchestrating such an elaborate funeral service, it must be over-whelming for her. A well-meaning gift to the host of flowers can often be forgotten at this time. And is rarely acknowledged. On the other hand, one should never expect an acknowledgement. A small elegant arrangement of posies sent to the host reflecting your condolences and gratitude, would be appreciated much more deeply later on rather than now. 15 In a week or two when matters have calmed down, would be better timing. And who knows, you might even find a thank-you note in your mail. My point isn't about the thank-you note, it is about understanding the confusion of emotions surrounding the death of anyone. Also, on your enclosure with the flowers you can thank the host for organizing the 'moving and elegant funeral service.' 13


Mothers’ Expectations of Daughters

Dear Didi,

I want to know if sending a book about strong women during the civil war would be an appropriate book to send to my daughters (One of whom has a toddler. My other daughter, unfortunately, had a recent miscarriage.) In doing so, I wanted to say to them that they will make great, strong, mothers, but I didn’t want to make my second daughter feel sad, or anxious. The doctor says she will undoubtedly have another opportunity to have a healthy baby and not to worry. The book is really wonderful and talks about how strong women are and can be. My daughters are thirty-somethings. Thank you.

-Victoria, Piedmont, North Carolina

Dear Victoria,

Before sending the book why not ask each daughter if she would like to read it? Then ask what they would read it on? For instance, digitally (on a Nook, Kindle, or tablet) or would they be more apt to read a hardcover (or paperback) book? If they read only digital books and you send a hardcover book, you may be disappointed if your daughters don't read it. People can be fussy about how they read a book --  digitally or the old-fashioned way.  We should communicate with our daughters on their wave length for more effective results. Sending your daughters -- out of the blue -- a book with a particular message could come off as tedious preaching. Asking first may lower your expectations, but at least you'll be less disappointed when you find out they didn't read it. Mothers' expectations of daughters should be realistic and you certainly do not want to make this a competition. Most mothers have the best intentions, so why not take a random-reach-out approach in the form of a call to make a lunch date first to pave the way. Over lunch or a walk in the park, ask your daughter if she would like to read the Civil War book about interesting women. Engage her in some of the stories by telling her about characters you discovered and why you admire them. At a later date -- say, while preparing the Thanksgiving turkey -- she may bring up some of the characters and their stories.   b7cbe636-29ca-4376-9e1a-6dc32a5d9310-medium


Invitation Wording for Reception Only Samples

Dear Didi,

Can you help us with the invitation wording for reception only samples, please? We’re inviting 150 guests to our daughter’s August wedding reception, but the small chapel where the ceremony is taking place cannot seat everyone. We’ve had to whittle down a separate list of those being invited to the ceremony as well.

How do we invite half of the guests to both the ceremony and the reception and the other half of the guests only to the reception?

-Mother of the Bride, Shelter Island, NY

Dear Mother of the Bride,

Here are Newport Manners & Etiquette samples of a wedding reception invitation, which is sent to everybody on the wedding guest list, along with the accompanying reply card and self-addressed return envelope. As well as a ceremony card for the church or synagogue, that is included for guests who are also being invited to the ceremony: The Ceremony Card - These lines are centered on a small card, with your own information, and enclosed with the larger wedding reception invitation, but is sent only to a guest who is being invited to the ceremony:

Ceremony Saturday, the first of August at half after five o'clock St. Mary's Episcopal Church 324 East Main Road Newport

The wedding reception invitation:

Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Douglas Wilson request the honour of your presence at the marriage reception of their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth and Mr. George Henry Sherman Saturday the first of August at seven o'clock Clambake Club 375 Ocean Drive Newport

Reply card enclosed

The Reply card is written to be mailed two weeks to ten days before the wedding date:

Kindly reply by the sixteenth of July


Accept ________ Regret_________

 Here are other samples of invitations with the wording for the reception only. words4 dbd38518b945483c55f9a64b17dbc6b7 invvsignature evening-wording In the wedding invitation packets you would include a Ceremony Card to those guests who are also being invited ahead of time to attend the ceremony at the church or synagogue:



What to Do When You Don’t Get An Invitation

Dear Didi,

What do I do if I didn’t get a save-the-date or wedding invitation to my college roommate’s wedding?  He invited me to his engagement party last summer and I went, despite the fact that I had to travel a great distance. Then when I talked to him and his fiancée at another friend’s wedding last fall, he insisted again that I ‘had better come’ to his June wedding in Houston. He even said I would be getting a save-the-date card.

I have the same address now as I did for the engagement invitation. Should I call him, or would that be rude? If I am invited, I want to be able to buy my tickets at least six weeks out.

-Old Roommate, Milwaukee, WI

Dear Old Roommate,

Clearly the fact that you did not receive a save-the-date-card or a wedding invitation to your friend's wedding must be an oversight. Decide how much attending this wedding means to you. Especially since you'll have to pay for travel expenses, accommodations, and send a wedding present from the bridal registry. Ready to bite the bullet? Yes! Then text your friend in your own texteez: Are you expecting me at your wedding? Haven't received invite. Unknown-1 Don't over-think this. Guest lists get cut in half all the time. It is all about the bottom line; the cost per person and not about your friendship. They may think that because you live far away, they are letting you off the hook about your not having to pay travel expenses. Look at it this way, you don't have to send a wedding present from their bridal registry unless you want to bite back. If you don't go to the wedding, and you didn't receive an invitation, you don't have to send a wedding present. When you are verbally invited by the groom, what do you do when you don't get a wedding invitation? You ask the groom -- or do nothing. Not to give you false hope, but there is a slight possibility that you didn't make the cut for the A List (the first batch of invitations mailed), but after the regrets are counted you may find that you've been invited after all. It's like being wait-listed for a college.


Is Tattle Telling A Sin

Dear Didi,

Is tattle telling a sin, because my daughter’s best friend is having sex and she’s only fourteen? I’m concerned about her getting pregnant and I’m also worried about her being a bad influence on my daughter and her friends. My daughter is adamant about my not telling the girl’s mother, who is pregnant, because it will upset her. Who should I talk to, what can I do?

-Anonymous, Newport, RI

Dear Anonymous,

A recent New York Times survey 'How old were you when you first had sex?' found that 58% of those surveyed answered anywhere between 13 and 19 years old. The primary concern is NOT whether of not tattle telling is a sin. The focus should be on the mental and physical health and well-being of your 14-year-old's sexually active friend. Not only is there a link between sexual promiscuity and depression (according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology), but teen girls are less likely to use birth control when depressed. diverse-teen-girls Find out how thorough the sexual curriculum in your daughter's school is and make an appointment to talk to the professional in charge, mentioning that you are concerned about fourteen-year-olds having sex. Your intention is to have a health professional reach out to the child to make sure she understands birth control options and to encourage her to talk to her mother. At that point, ask the professional if you should discuss the situation with the girl's mother, or should she take the lead? Be forewarned that, sadly, many schools -- in states such as Rhode Island -- still do not include sex education in the curriculum for younger teens. If you do not want to get the school involved, buy the pregnant mother a small baby present and make a date to have coffee with her, saying you have a gift from you and your daughter. Over a cup of java or tea, ask the girl's mother if you could confide in her before telling her you are concerned that "the girls are having sex so young and what should we do about birth control for them." She might get up and walk out, and hate you forever. Or she may welcome the chance to confide in you, too. After you've told her, what you tell your daughter is up to you. Go online to find information on teens having sex at PsychologyToday.com.



Flying with A Sick Person

Dear Didi,

What do you do when you find yourself flying with a sick person? It was a full flight, so I couldn’t change my seat. Every part of her body was oozing with her illness and I didn’t know what to do about her for the six hour long flight.

The flight attendant was on to her being sick, because she refused everything but water, which she used to wash down pills every so often. I know I’m going to come down with whatever she had.

-Angeline, Chicago

Dear Angeline,

Flying with a sick person is not fun, but NOT all disease transmission is airborne, so stay positive. If you've been getting enough vitamins and minerals through eating healthy foods during the weeks before the flight, you probably won't get sick. Aside from being quiet and not disturbing her, it sounds as though she was attempting to get her illness under control with those pills. People who don't have strong immunity become accustomed to flying with a face mask that covers their nose and mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the N95 face mask that has been up to 90% effective during experiments in filtering out 95% of infectious particles. Let's hope that some day long-haul flights will be equipped with face masks for passengers who appear to be ill. images-168   images-84