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Dear Miss Manners • I am a 55-year-old woman who has metastatic breast cancer. In 2009, I had a bilateral mastectomy and chose not to undergo reconstruction. I have surgical and radiation scars, as well as a big tummy.

I’ve often wondered if it is ever appropriate for someone in my position to sunbathe topless or semi-topless in the privacy of my backyard. I have neighbors on either side of my home, and two at the back. The neighbors to the sides have no view of my backyard, while the two at the back have limited views.

Gentle Reader • What exactly do you mean by ‘‘in my position”? That you have unfortunately been the victim of illness? That being middle-aged, with scars and ‘‘a big tummy,” you do not conform to a narrow social standard of beauty?

If the venue were a topless beach, Miss Manners would vigorously defend your choice. She is highly offended when people complain that only those whom they consider comely are welcome to enjoy the sun.

And if your backyard were completely private, she would have nothing to say against your habit. Even etiquette does not apply when one is alone and unobserved. But your actual position seems to be that you would be topless in view of some of your neighbors. So she recommends either a shirt or a screen.

Dear Miss Manners • Since my generation has apparently failed miserably in teaching our children the concept of hospitality, it seems clear to me that the whole concept of weddings should be rethought.

Brides could sell tickets . This eliminates the need for people to try to find a wedding gift that will please the bride. Brides could set up salon stations outside the venue, so all the women will have matching hair and makeup.

I have paid $2 for a glass of soda at a reception and been buttonholed by the bride, who reminded me that I hadn’t sent a gift yet and she could take a check ‘‘right now.” I despair.

Gentle Reader • As well you might. As you have seen, what you predict is very close to the reality of many of today’s weddings: The assumption is made that guests must pay to attend.

Why those targeted go along with this, Miss Manners cannot understand. Surely there is better entertainment available for the price. And if more refused to pay up, the custom would wither.

Send questions to Miss Manners, aka Judith Martin, on her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Mo. 64106.