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Miss Manners: Neighbor reads misdelivered mail

Miss Manners: Neighbor reads misdelivered mail

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Dear Miss Manners: Because of similar apartment numbers, an elderly gentleman in my building sometimes receives my mail by mistake. On three separate occasions, he has returned it, after opening and reading it.

Despite a lack of apology from him, I understand accidents happen and hold no ill will for the mishaps. However, on the two occasions he opened my bank statements, he returned them and made rather personal and disparaging comments about my bank balance and how I must like to “shop a lot.”

I was dumbstruck on these occasions, and couldn’t manage much of a response. I am nervous that, if this happens again, I might not be able to be polite.

Is there an appropriate response that Miss Manners can suggest that would make it clear that I have no interest in what he thinks about my finances, without descending into rudeness?

Gentle Reader: This would best be done when a letter of his has been delivered to you. Knock at his door, and hold the letter just out his reach, as if waiting for a child to say “please.” Say, in a half-joking tone, “I got one of your letters by mistake. Let’s make a deal: I won’t read your mail if you won’t read mine.”

Miss Manners supposes it is too much to hope that his letter is in a feminine hand and looks as if it might be a love letter.

Dear Miss Manners: Once the bride changes out of her wedding dress into something else, is it OK for the bridesmaids to also change out of their dresses into something more comfortable? Don’t want to breach wedding protocol.

Gentle Reader: What bewilders Miss Manners about this new habit of changing mid-celebration is why a bride would buy an uncomfortable wedding dress.

No matter how splendid the look, would it be worth it to have to stand at the altar thinking she can’t wait to get out of it? And what is wrong with the people who were supposed to be fitting her?

Yes, Miss Manners realizes that this is not really the explanation. On probably the only truly formal occasion of her life, the bride wants two overpriced dresses, one of which she might get a chance to wear later, out on the town, as she can hardly appear again in a long white dress with a train. Also, she doesn’t know what to do with the train so that she can dance at the reception. If properly made, it has a loop for draping the train from her wrist.

But chiefly, it is probably because by “comfortable,” the bride means “sexy.” Regardless, if she is going to change, Miss Manners permits the bridesmaids to do so as well.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


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