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Dear Miss Manners: A rather despicable married friend has been estranged from her husband for years, yet they maintain a home together. She has had several love interests in the past few years. I suspect I’ve been used as her “beard” for some of her escapades.

I don’t really wish for her to be at our wedding, but nonetheless must invite her. I despise her husband and he feels the same of me. Is it permissible to simply invite her? I know her husband will not attend, and I fear if I address the invitation to Mr. and Mrs. it will encourage her to bring a guest.

If I’ve painted a portrait of a woman who lives beyond the conventions of etiquette, I have painted well, so please don’t say she’ll have sense enough not to bring a guest other than her husband. She will not, and I can’t abide the thought of a married woman bringing a date to our wedding.

Gentle Reader: Are you seriously sticking Miss Manners with the premise that this person is your friend and you must invite her?

All right, but then she also accepts your premise that your friend is beyond the conventions of etiquette. In that case, if she wants to bring a guest, she will bring one, regardless of what you put on the invitation.

So you might as well do the correct thing and invite the couple as a couple. If a couple maintains a home together, etiquette does not investigate whether they are getting along.

No thanks to ‘appraisal’

Dear Miss Manners: When my husband and I are invited to the home of new friends for a meal, the first thing that happens is that we’re offered a tour of the hosts’ house, from top to bottom. Obviously we are expected to admire their views, their choice of furnishings, their craft projects and so on. What do you think of this practice?

Gentle Reader: That such people should offer their houses to be on a local house tour, such as are given as charity fundraisers in the spring. If accepted for such use, the owners will be able to garner widespread admiration and/or criticism. If not accepted, Miss Manners hopes that they may come to realize that gaping at their possessions is not all that entertaining.

We are supposed to believe that the reason for socializing is to enjoy the company of others, not to admire – really meaning to appraise – their possessions.

Drinking the soup OK?

Dear Miss Manners: Is it improper to drink soup right from the bowl, as opposed to using a spoon? This is a rather controversial question in our house.

Gentle Reader: Yes, it is improper to drink soup from a bowl. However, it is permitted to drink soup from a two-handled soup cup.