Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 5 2004 8:53 AM

Not Suitable for Children

How do we let our wedding guests know ours is an adult-only affair?

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Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Dearest Prudie,

My fiancee and I are planning our wedding (second marriage for both). We are in our early 40s, and both of us have been around the block a time or two. With respect to this, we are designing a "sensual" (not sexy, not trashy) wedding. This is going to be an adult wedding but not in the X-rated sense. The invitations have Rodin's The Kiss on the front. (This theme will be carried out at the wedding with an ice sculpture at the reception identical to the one on the invitation.) This is not only to wow the guests but ourselves, as well. A sensual and loving poem is on the inside of the invitation. (Though it's very tasteful, I assure you.) Party favors will carry an adult sensual theme (not sexual, not erotic, not "adult" toys, just warm and grown-up; again, all in good taste). The music will provide a "warm" and relaxed/comfortable feel, as will the murals we are renting to decorate the walls (reproductions of David and some fine Greek prints with beautiful maidens and mermaids seducing some attractive gentlemen, and so on.) Oysters, champagne, and other such foods will be served. Without giving away the sensual theme or coming across as tacky, how do we politely let people know that this is not a wedding to be attended by children, 12 and under, who might not appreciate the meaning of the art or understand the fine art of seduction?

—All in Good Taste

Dear All,

It is Prudie's hunch that anyone receiving a wedding invitation showing two naked people embracing will most likely pick up on the fact that it is not an occasion for children. (Actually, youngsters are not usually considered invited guests unless things are so arranged.) Carrying a "sensual theme" to the limits you describe could certainly make yours a wedding to remember. Serving food thought to have aphrodisiac properties is amusing, but Prudie is relieved to know you will not be handing out sex toys as party favors. Since your planned wedding sounds as though it will be unusual in many respects, you might consider printing "NC-17" at the bottom of the invitation.

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—Prudie, festively

Dear Prudence,

Does customer service exist anywhere anymore? I just have to vent. I went shopping this weekend at three different stores, and I had an annoying experience at every one. A cashier at the first store was complaining to a second cashier how frustrated she was with all the customers and how she couldn't wait to get off work. This conversation was going on while both cashiers had customers in front of them! I know I feel that way at work from time to time, but I would never express those feelings in front of customers. While I was attempting to pay at the second store, another employee interrupted the cashier to give him an update about what happened with an irate customer a few minutes earlier. Apparently this young man could not ring up my purchases and listen at the same time. I had a question about the price of an item at the third store, and I saw an employee walking by. Before I could even say, "Excuse me," she pointed at another employee and snapped back, "He can help you" and kept walking. Is it really that hard to find decent help? I used to do these jobs in college (four years ago), and although people can be difficult and frustrating at times, these jobs are not that hard. What's happening?

—El Paso, Texas

Dear El,

Sometimes there is no connection between a job being hard and a person being frazzled. If there is no excuse for acting out with customers, neither is there a guarantee that people being paid X dollars an hour are going to give it their best for eight hours (or more) a day. Perhaps you just hit a bad streak that weekend, or more to the point, maybe the salespeople you encountered are the ones who'd hit a bad streak. If it happens consistently, well, then, shape up, El Paso!

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—Prudie, consumingly

Dear Prudence,

I live with my boyfriend, and I suspect that his brother, while visiting us overnight, stole two of my favorite bras on separate occasions. I have searched the house from top to bottom, and he is the only person to sleep over around the time that the bras went missing. He is a very nice guy, if a little weird. This is the only explanation I can come up with, and it is really creeping me out. What should I do? Confront him, drop hints, or just let it go?

—B Cup

Dear B,

The virtual brother-in-law perhaps has a secret, and it may be Victoria's. This would not be the craziest fetish Prudie ever heard of. There are a few approaches you can take, depending on what you're in the mood for. You could say to him: "I am really stumped. Two of my favorite bras just seem to have walked out of here." Or, "When you stayed overnight, is there a possibility you accidentally scooped up two bras and packed them in your overnight bag?" Prudie would not recommend a confrontational joke such as, "Are my bras comfortable, or do you use them as candy dishes?" With a light-hearted mention of the missing undies, you are giving him a chance to return them, no questions asked, and at the very least, you are letting him know that you're aware of the vanishing B cups.

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—Prudie, supportively

Dear Prudence,

My friend is a single mother with two children. She is starting to date men here and there, but as soon as she tells them she has kids, they're running in the other direction. I try telling her not to mention the kids until things get a little bit more serious, or at least after a few dates. She chooses to tell them two days after meeting them when they're still acquaintances! What is the etiquette for letting someone know that you have kids? And what is your advice for not scaring a man off?

—Thanks,

Christina

Dear Chris,

Prudie does not believe there is specific etiquette dealing with when to reveal that one has children. Rather, common sense dictates the timing. Your friend's instinct, apparently, is to be honest, and if a man is put off by children, she is better off knowing it sooner than later. On the other hand, she may be offering the information before the man has any idea of her personality or her qualities. If you think you have a chance of being heard, suggest to your friend that a good time to disclose the makeup of one's family is when the subject comes up. Sometimes the conversation just goes there. For example, were a man to say, "I've never liked rug rats, and I'm not too crazy about them when they're bigger, either," the called-for response is quite obvious. As for advice about not scaring a man off, a general rule for someone in your friend's situation would be to not bring up dream honeymoons after the first kiss and no clingy, let's-talk-about-commitment conversations.

—Prudie, gradually