DEAR MISS MANNERS: How can I politely stop someone from showing me endless photos on their cellphone?
I have never been much of a picture-taker, and don't enjoy looking at other people's photos. I can pretend interest in one or two, but after that, my eyes glaze over and I am looking for an escape route.
I don't want to insult my friends or ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are in the process of adopting my sweet 2-year-old nephew. He has lived with us since he was 7 weeks old, due to my sister and brother-in-law's inability to care for him.
He is the sweetest, happiest child you could ever want to know, and has bright red hair. This garners him a ton of attention when we are ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one politely, yet firmly, respond to people who insult one's profession?
I am a lawyer, and I say so when I'm asked what my profession is. Some people feel it is then their right, or even their obligation, to go on a tirade against all lawyers. This happens mostly at social gatherings where I would prefer not to ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 54-year-old woman whose given name is Brett (a name typically given to boys). My mother loved the name after reading Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," and decided, long before I was born, to give that name to her child. I believe she was ahead of her time, and I admire her for that.
To be honest, I did not enjoy...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My question concerns the phrase "thoughts and prayers," which imposes one's own religion on those with differing (or no) religious beliefs.
I do respect the rights of individuals to believe in and practice their own religion. I do not, however, think that any religious beliefs/practices should be forced upon others.
I am a ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother-in-law is very concerned that my love of bright colors and patterns conveys "lower class" standards to her uppity family.
Her snobbery and striving led to our falling out when I disagreed with her dictating what her extended family would wear on a vacation that she did not pay for. She tried to insist that the ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was at a dinner party where the hostess, a paralegal at a local law firm, was telling us about a conversation she had in her office with one of the partners. The actual point of the story became secondary to our conversation when she set the stage with, "When he sat down, I made sure to lower my chair so that I sat lower ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother is getting married for the second time. He first married about 25 years ago, divorcing 10 years later.
Since then, he has left a trail of destruction and heartbreak: He has cheated on, and lost, a series of partners, and even got fired from a lucrative job because he conducted multiple affairs with employees.
His ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: The husband of a friend remarked (shouted, actually) to me, from outside of a closed bathroom door, that I wear too much makeup! I was mortified, and of course, I had not asked for his opinion.
What would have been the proper response?
GENTLE READER: As you were behind a closed bathroom door, the proper response was silence....Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I sat at a charity event with a friend who is being treated for anxiety. My friend abruptly pointed out a flaw in another woman's appearance. That woman ran out of the room, probably having her own anxiety attack.
I asked my friend why she did this, and she said it would be something she would want to know. When I asked why ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When did it become common for people to obnoxiously hoot and holler to show their appreciation for the performance of an artist on stage?
I always applaud after a musical number and at the end of the production, and join in the standing ovation for a spectacular performance. I don't expect silence; shouts of "Bravo!" are to ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a cousin who calls almost weekly to invite me over for dinner during the upcoming weekend -- but nine times out of 10, the invitation gets rescinded or canceled.
After I accept, she says she'll call later in the week to confirm in case she gets busy. (I don't understand the need to confirm, since I've already accepted,...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Would you be so kind to explain to me why it's the new protocol, when invited to a child's birthday party, that your child is expected to give the honoree's mother a wrapped gift for giving birth 16 years ago? Now it's two gifts that must be purchased for a birthday party -- one for the mom, one for the child.
I thought the ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When someone purchases a raffle ticket for a worthy cause and wins the grand prize (say, $10,000), is it proper or expected that they donate a portion of it back to the charity? And if so, what percentage, please?
GENTLE READER: Secular society is strangely fond of tithing, but: no. The things one receives for donating to a ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I hosted an open house-style party. We offered a buffet with a variety of hors d'oeuvres, plus white and red wines. Before the party, we set up numerous small tables around our living room to ensure that guests would have a place to set their plates and wineglasses.
On all these little tables, plus on the ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several times when I have invited and offered to treat someone at a restaurant, my guest has added a to-go order.
For instance, mid-celebration, a birthday celebrant received a whiny hungry call from her husband, and zap, my bill increased by $100. On another occasion, a client ordered a to-go dessert and made a faint gesture...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Civility seems to be the issue of the day. Politicians talk about it, foundations support groups to study it, and everyone grumbles about how mean and antagonistic everyone is.
After all this, as far as I can see, the only change has been for the worse. Maybe nothing can be done. Do you agree? And where does etiquette fit ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My college senior -- a very capable, autistic young adult -- was traveling by train from Washington to Philadelphia. Seats were scarce. My child ended up seeking a seat in the "quiet car."
They found an empty seat and asked the woman next to it if it was taken. The woman very loudly and dramatically shushed them and pointed ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Growing up, I was as bad a student as could be. I messed around so much, it felt like my entire childhood, I was being chased by school officials or my parents. I was lucky that both my parents were educators who exposed me to the world, but I did not graduate from high school and never read a book until adulthood.
This all ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do you politely ask a colleague to stop monopolizing meeting time?
I've recently been surprised at the cluelessness of some colleagues, who will talk ad nauseam during meetings, offering little that is new or insightful. They chime in on every issue and talk for far too long. I once clocked a colleague's monologue at 10 ...Read more