Michelle Slatalla
Michelle Slatalla believes the first rule of good manners is forgiving those with bad ones, if they show a desire to improve. And she hopes everyone to whom she still owes a wedding gift thank-you note (from 1988) agrees. A former columnist for the New York Times, where she wrote for 12 years about digital culture and family life, she also has written regular columns for Time, Hallmark, Rosie and Lifetime magazines, as well as an online column for the Discovery Channel. After graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in journalism, her first job was as a newspaper reporter at Newsday. She also earned a master’s degree in English from Columbia University, where she currently teaches journalism.

She recently traded in a house and a garden in Northern California for an apartment in Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, her youngest daughter, and two little dogs with big ears. Her two other daughters, who begged her to get the dogs and promised to walk them every day and every night, have gone off to college.

Recent Posts By Michelle Slatalla

Hitting Up People for Money? Bad Idea.

“My parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary,” a reader named Deanna wrote. “Their dream vacation is to go to Hawaii.  My sister, brother, and I would like to help, but don’t have all the funds necessary.” Deanna asked, “Would it be tacky to solicit contributions to such a trip from their friends? We don’t see how else they could […]

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Stay Out of My Love Life, Mom

Today’s question comes from a reader named Anne, who wrote: “My mom is always offering relationship advice, which I appreciate, but since her two marriages failed, her advice can often be pessimistic or insulting to my fiance.” Anne wondered, “How do I tell her to gently back off without insulting her?” This is tricky, Anne, because your mother has your […]

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Is Her Parking Ticket My Responsibility?

When are you obligated to chip in to help a friend? “Recently, a friend drove me and two other pals to an event. Afterwards we returned to find a parking ticket on the car’s windshield,” wrote a reader named Cynthia. “One person said that she would help pay for the parking ticket. I, too, said I would chip in,” Cynthia […]

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Please Stop That #$% Cursing

Where the hell do you draw the line against swearing? In one Massachusetts town, you’ll pay a $20 fine if you’re caught cursing in public. Residents of Middleborough, MA voted this week in favor (by a margin of more than 3-to-1) of imposing a fine against profanity, in an effort to crack down on people who curse loudly in public […]

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Stop Asking Me if I Got Your Email

The great thing about email used to be that I could send it whenever I wanted and you could reply when it was convenient. No more. “As our inboxes have become more demanding, we have all become less responsive — because we get so many messages it’s hard to keep up. But the harder it is to keep up, the […]

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It Wasn’t a Gift, It was a Loan…Now What?

This week’s etiquette question is from a reader named Lori, who wrote: “I lent an acquaintance a baby stroller more than a year ago. Although I don’t need the stroller right now, I did assume I’d get it back at some point…” “I’m starting to wonder if she thought it was a gift,” Lori wrote. “How can I tastefully inquire […]

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A Priest and a Rabbi Walk onto a Facebook Page…

“How do I deal with people who make rude or inappropriate comments on my Facebook posts (think: off-color religious or political jokes)?” writes a reader who asked to remain anonymous. “These are not close friends—sometimes people I barely know but am connected with online. I worry it’s offensive to delete their comments, but I don’t want other people in my […]

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‘Dead on Time, as Only the Dreaded Can Be’

Most party guests know how to interpret an invitation. If it says “starts at 7,” that usually means, “The host will be dashing around, attending to last-minute details until 7:15, after which she will be happy to see you.” But not all guests. This week’s etiquette question comes from a reader named JoanieK, who wrote: “Whenever I have a party, […]

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How to Fly the Stars and Stripes on Memorial Day

It used to be called Decoration Day, this annual national holiday in remembrance of fallen soldiers that we’ve been observing since the end of the Civil War. There are special guidelines for how to display the flag today, on Memorial Day: Before noon on Memorial Day, fly the flag at half mast, according to U.S. flag code. Then raise it […]

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If My Daughter’s a Flower Girl, Do I Deserve an Invitation?

Let’s say you live in the same house as your ex-wife, but are no longer romantically involved. Should you be invited to your her friend’s wedding if your 5-year-old daughter is a flower girl? Should I repeat that one? If you had a hard time following along, maybe it’s because the situation is complicated. Here’s how a reader named MHoffman2 […]

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