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The Hate Mail's Rolling In!
I dared write a column criticizing couples getting married who use the occasion to bleed their friends dry -- asking them to pay for everything from their honeymoon, to a downpayment on a home, to their wedding.

I even advised rethinking registering for gifts at all -- "This is America, not the Sudan" -- and suggested, as I have before, that people tell their friends, "Love is all we need," and ask them, if they're compelled to give a gift, to make a donation to their favorite charity.

Here's the first of the angry letters:

Gee Amy, why don't you find the guy and slit his throat.... where were you raised, you have to be the most creepy person and very RUDE I have ever read... give the guy a slack.. he just asked a simple question of asking for money for down payment on a house rather than a gift, he probably didn't know the rules & he sounds young.... Didn't you have a Mother... if not than that's a shame she would have brought you up right "WITH MANNERS". Too me you don't look like you could be a "advice goddess"... I can not believe people actually send in question to you.... Have a nice day... you need it.

And here's my response to this person's email:

My suggesting that Americans, perhaps, have enough stuff without bleeding their friends dry at wedding time is a trying concept for many. Regarding your question about a mother: I believe I was hatched fully formed in the forest. Perhaps that's why I have this notion that some things -- like wedding gift customs -- need some rethinking.

Regarding your curiosity about my mother and my manners:

where were you raised, you have to be the most creepy person and very RUDE I have ever read

Just as I don't think it's a parent's responsibility to endlessly feed their adult child's upstretched palm, whether I do or don't have manners at this point is my responsibility alone. And, by the way, even an orphan can read really great books and come up with a sense of morality, personal responsibility, and an ethical code.

Finally, I would never write a nasty letter like you did, then end it with "have a nice day," because one of the qualities I value is sincerity. I would have respected you more if you'd written, "Buzz off you old cow!" -- which is much more in keeping with the the tone of the rest of your letter.
--Amy Alkon

Here's a much nicer letter; actually, a thank-you card I got in the mail today:


This came from Erika, who reads me in the OC Register, which, unlike the LA Times, has been running my column for years. In fact, they were the very first daily to pick me up -- thanks to then-features editor Michael Hewitt, who had the guts to stand up to the angry letters from little old ladies that flew in at the start.

Posted by aalkon at March 15, 2006 6:36 AM

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You should point out to the first writer that you had the manners to proofread your reply to him and ensure that it was grammatically correct. This, of course, is demonstrative of more manners than he extended toward you, with the meandering, barely comprehensible nonsense.

Posted by: Patrick at March 15, 2006 5:36 AM

One more point I forgot to mention is that you may want to ask the authors of the dissenting opinions when they plan to take the supremely vacuous "Dear Abby" and the ever gracious and witty Judith Martin (aka "Miss Manners") to task. As an faithful reader of both columns (the former's merely out of sense of personal responsibility to innocent people from getting dangerous advice, the latter because I happen to like her column), I can tell you they have both come down on your side regarding this issue. There is no polite way to ask for a gift or that gift-givers ask for a particular kind of gift, regardless of the occassion. If the friends and relatives decide that the recipient would best benefit from financial contributions or a really nice honeymoon in Hawaii (or wherever), they must arrive at their decision on their own. No "subtle" hints, clues, etc.

Posted by: Patrick at March 15, 2006 5:49 AM

Just a second to Patrick's note about Abby and Miss Manners. Both, as well as Emily Post, have said many times that there's no polite way to ask for gifts, and absolutely no non-tacky way to ask for cash. (As I recall, Miss Manners even frowns upon registration cards, on the pretense that it implies your guests don't have "good enough" taste.) A very recent Miss Manners' column even "had the bad manners" to nix the idea of contributions towards the costs of adopting a child from Guatemala.

Anyway, I digress. There's just no reason to think your questioner didn't have access to a host of "No"s regarding his question. He was probably just hoping for someone to say yes.

As for Mr. Ellipsis' commentary on the tactfulness of your response, or lack thereof... Well, anyone who reads your column doesn't ask questions looking for tact. That's why we love it.

Posted by: Alix at March 15, 2006 6:33 AM

Aww, thanks! Tactlessly yours, The Advice Goddess

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 15, 2006 9:28 AM

I love you so much! Great place to visit!

Posted by: Davis at August 4, 2006 12:27 PM

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