Dear Miss Manners: Is it ever acceptable to donate money at all levels of giving so that one’s name appears multiple times on a program?

We are not talking about endowing a trombone and, for example, a musical chair, but at the friend level, the donor level, the patron level … well, you get the picture.

If one can afford to give at all levels, the assumption is made that one would give only once at the highest level, even if one’s donation far exceeded the lower limit of, say, $15,000 for top recognition.

These same donors, while their obvious generosity was appreciated, donated numerous very high-priced auction items (trips to their expensive vacation home, etc.) and made certain they were listed as purchasers of the more expensive items and, I might add, many of them. What is to be made of this behavior?

Gentle Reader: There was such a chap, Miss Manners recalls, who gave to all possible causes at all levels. She did not actually know him. Apparently, nobody did, as he seems to have been a modest person, who gave for the sake of helping causes, with no interest in glorifying himself.

His name was Anonymous. He doesn’t seem to get around much anymore.

But as this is about charity, you might exhibit some toward those often-named donors. Perhaps it was the beneficiaries who plastered those names around, because they thought it was expected, or to encourage others to give. And it is reasonable to expect that before bidding on using someone’s house, one would want to know whose house it was.

In any case, Miss Manners supposes that while it does, indeed, make the philanthropists look a bit foolish to insert themselves at all levels on the same program, there are worse ways to buy publicity.

To stare or not to stare?

Dear Miss Manners: We’ve all been told “it’s not polite to stare.” But with the recent explosion of tattoos and body art on anybody and everybody, I’m wondering if that’s still the case.

Since most of the painted ladies (and men) have put lots of money into their backs, arms, calves, ankles, etc., is it now rude not to stare? If I felt that strongly about something that I would invest money and endure significant pain to display it on my body, I’d feel bad if people didn’t spend time examining me closely.

Gentle Reader: Your reasoning troubles Miss Manners. If you had put huge amounts of money and endured great pain to have a hip replacement, would that make it polite for people to stare at that area of your body?

Please send your questions via email to