“I just got an invitation through the mail
‘Your presence requested . . .’”
Actually, in the last two days I received two invitations in my mailbox. In neither case was I advised—like Fred Astaire—that proper dress was “top hat and white tie and tails.”
The first invitation to arrive—from Carnegie Hall for its Patrons dinner and concert—specified “Business Attire” as the appropriate dress. While I had no problem with that togging out when I was teaching, I have had to send my regrets to Carnegie in recent times because, being retired and having no business to which I could attune my habit, I thought it would be inappropriate to attend wearing sweatpants and a tee-shirt. I have also taken to wondering how Ed Norton would respond to such an invitation.
The second invitation was to a wedding. On it, down at the bottom. were the words “Black Tie Optional.” I was immediately reminded of the reaction of the stuttering comedian Joe Frisco upon receiving a “Black Tie” invitation:
“BBBut how will it gggo with my bbbrown suit?”
Over the years I have received a few wedding invitations that began like this:
Mr. and Mrs. John Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Brown
Request the pleasure of your company at the wedding of their children, Heloise and Abelard.
This drives me crazy. The prospective bride and groom—both in their late 20s or early 30s—have been cohabitating for donkey’s years.* And now they’re to be viewed as “children”? Isn’t there an etiquette book somewhere that alerts people to the fact that we are no longer in the Victorian world? Shouldn’t modern wedding invitations read something like this?
After living together for x years, Heloise and Abelard have decided that it may work after all. So, we’re going to get spliced. Want you to come.
Gift-giving to wedding couples has been a problem for me. Watching money being handed over in films like “The Godfather” and in real life, I’ve always thought, “How incredibly tacky!” So for years I would search out some gift like fine French champagne flutes, and feel that I had demonstrated high-class continental taste. Until an aunt** upbraided me for purchasing from a company with a Nazi-sympathizing owner. Chastened, I have since become a tacky checkwriter on nuptial occasions.
I refrain from giving gift cards—except in the rare case of my knowing absolutely, positively that the recipient actually loves to shop there. This stems from the time my tenure as department chairman was up and some bright spark decided that the gelt collected*** should be turned over to me as a gift certificate to a certain men’s shop. Unfortunately, visiting that emporium would have meant having to drive about 20 miles and, once there, having to reach into my pocket for additional funds to buy the only thing they had that I could possibly have wanted (but didn’t even need). I never used the certificate, and since the business folded years ago, I wonder where the funds went.
*I have no idea if this is so in the present case.
**For the lowdown on aunts, read P. G. Wodehouse.
***I thought at the time that they should just have handed it over to some charity.