Dear Miss Manners: I’m afraid I have handled something badly. My circle of friends throws a lot of celebrations. This year a friend invited me to her engagement party, bridal shower, kitchen tea, a “Yes to the Dress” shopping trip and luncheon, her housewarming, a bachelorette party and her wedding.

I am thrilled for her and happy to celebrate – just not quite so often. The cost of these events and for the expected gifts is extravagant, and frankly I’ve been yearning to have more of my limited free time to myself.

I sent RSVPs saying I was unable to attend the kitchen tea and housewarming, but I attended all the other events and will attend the wedding. Unfortunately, on the day of the kitchen tea, my boyfriend “tagged” me on Facebook as being at the movies with him.

My friend is now furious with me for missing her party in favor of a movie. Is there any way I can explain myself without sounding like a selfish cheapskate? What should I have done?

Gentle Reader: You call this celebrating a wedding? It strikes Miss Manners as a system of taxes levied in connection with a coronation – to the sort that normally lead to a revolution. Are you really the only victim who has (in your timid way) revolted?

Do you really think that you can placate a tyrant by explaining that you have a life outside of paying tribute to her? If your friend understood that, she would never have staged or permitted an endless series of events in her own honor, or wanted to subject her friends to more than one major present-giving event (the wedding) and one minor one.

Nor would any decent person chastise another for declining an invitation.

As you have not acted badly, you have no need to apologize. Instead, Miss Manners suggests saying: “Yes, we had a lovely evening, and the movie was great. Zeke and I don’t get to spend nearly enough time together, just the two of us. I imagine that must be an even worse problem for you and Jasper, having to do that constant round of parties.”

Formality hates logorrhea

Dear Miss Manners: The vendor I hired to make my wedding invitations has printed the following: “at half past six in the after evening.”

Is the use of “after evening” appropriate? I cannot find it anywhere online.

Gentle Reader: “After evening”? Isn’t that the time when the guests are supposed to have gone home?

Miss Manners hopes that you are not being charged by the word. Not only is that “after” senseless, but “in the evening” is also superfluous. Formality eschews word clutter, and believes that people have the sense to realize that weddings are not generally held at 6:30 in the morning.