On the loathed ‘I’ll pass’ response

Dear Miss Manners: When I extend an invitation, and the response I receive ends in "but I think I'll pass," I find it a bit rude. Am I being oversensitive? Is that a perfectly acceptable response?

If you decide to respond with “Thanks for the question, but I think I’ll pass,” I will never stop laughing.

Gentle Reader: Tempting. But Miss Manners is in full agreement with you. This phrase might be one of the rudest she has ever heard. Not only is it nastily dismissive, but its implication is that the invitation does not live up to the recipient's standards — or that the issuer is hiding something better. Either way, Miss Manners suggests you take a pass on extending further ones.

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I are friends with a couple who live about an hour away from us. Whenever they invite us to their home for dinner, they always ask us to stay the night as well (presumably because of the long drive). While I believe this is a generous gesture, sometimes I would just rather sleep in my own bed.

I know that I can decline if I wish. My problem is that when we invite them to our house, they expect that it includes an overnight stay, and they don’t usually leave until noon the next day. I am getting tired of the notion that a dinner invitation necessarily includes overnight accommodations.

Am I being unreasonable to think that an hour isn’t too long a drive at 9 or 10 at night, and that people can temper their alcohol intake accordingly?

Gentle Reader: Probably, yes. Try as you might (and Miss Manners has mightily tried), you cannot control other people's actions. You can only control how you issue the invitations.

“We would love to have you and Horace over for supper, but we are afraid that we have an early morning the next day and must make it only for the evening.” And if another date is suggested: “And that night too.” “And that night too.” “And that night too.”

Dear Miss Manners: After years of therapy, I made the choice to end all contact with my mother. It has been almost five years since I've spoken with her. On occasion, I run into people who know us both, but are unaware of our circumstances; they will ask how she is or tell me to tell her they said "hello." I also had the experience of a new colleague, whose mother I have met, asking me a question about my mother.

How would you recommend I respond to these questions? I do not want to launch into the entire saga with acquaintances, nor do I want to mislead them into thinking she is no longer with us.

Gentle Reader: Those who have your mother's information can be told, "I'm sure she would love to hear from you directly." Those who do not can be given suitably vague descriptions of what you do know, before changing the subject: "I haven't spoken to her for a while, but I hear that they are having an unusually dry summer out there. How has the summer treated you?"