DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why is it considered taboo to ask a woman her age? Why would a woman not be obliged to answer when asked her age?
GENTLE READER: Well, why, indeed? A society that extols youth and degrades age has poisoned the pleasure of having a long life, but people have curiously adopted this attitude. Often, even employers (illegally) ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are having an argument: One group thinks it's acceptable etiquette to answer a call on your cellphone when perched on the throne at home, as long as you don't flush or otherwise indicate where you are.
The other group thinks that's gross, not to mention a good way to drop your phone into the bowl and drown it. If a call ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I used to be a dog walker, and I really like dogs. When we are out for a hike and I see someone approaching with a dog, I have the urge to say hi to the animal.
Is this impolite? I guess the normal thing is to address the person and say Cute dog -- but that's really not what I feel like doing. What about saying hi to both the...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How do I inform someone that he cannot come to my home unless he stops wearing perfume?
Each time we invite our brother-in-law for dinner, he brings his boyfriend, who not only has bad etiquette, but also wears the most obnoxious scent. It has caused bad migraines for the rest of us.
I am about to send another dinner invite ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I went to a restaurant with several friends, and as we waited for our order, everyone started looking at their smartphones. I saw a magazine and, since I don't own a smartphone, started reading it.
When we got home, my wife chastised me for having been rude. Do you agree with her?
GENTLE READER: Your wife is ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few years ago, a longtime friend sent me a private message through social media that just said, Don had a massive heart attack and passed away.
I instantly thought it was a mutual friend I had been close with for over 20 years, but whom I'd been out of touch with for a couple years due to my move to another country. I ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In social settings, is it OK to finish a conversation and walk away when doing so leaves the other person awkwardly alone?
I was chatting with someone I did not know at a party. After about 20 minutes of pleasant conversation, I used a pause to say I was going to refresh my drink and asked if the man would like one himself. ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One's bank account, knowledge of formal social rules and ability to follow table etiquette are not necessarily synonymous with true graciousness, consideration and courtesy. In fact, they may be covering up one's insincerity and disdain for others. I find it unfair that the well-dressed and seemingly more refined are often ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Aloha! I've hosted many houseguests over the years, most with no problems, but occasionally I've had a few bad ones. How do you handle people who come into your home and totally rearrange everything to suit themselves?
I believe in being as accommodating and hospitable as I can. But I had two incidents of people who wanted ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an older gay man, and married my husband three years ago. A college friend, female, invited me, just me, to her family's lakeside cottage for the weekend.
I spent many wonderful times at that cottage ever since college. This friend's entire family considered me family, right up until I got married. I invited her, her ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a trip to our local library, I used my elbow to activate the entrance door by pressing the handicap button on the side. I did this to avoid touching the door handle. My 7-year-old daughter said she thought it was inappropriate for me to use the button, as I am not disabled.
I started to explain why it was acceptable for ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our extended family just had a weeklong reunion at a rental house on the shore. I organized it and initially paid the full rent. All week long, family members thanked me graciously in a tone of voice that seemed to indicate they knew I had paid.
The final day, one of my brothers handed me a check for 30% of the rent. I ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter has been ill for 13 years with a rare, chronic, often-debilitating disease. She finally had an allogenic bone marrow transplant, but has not responded as well as we'd hoped. People have brought us meals and done other thoughtful things, and many donated money to help with expenses. Her husband took unpaid family ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed lately that I am often skipped. The other day, it was at the doctor's office: The lady behind me started talking to the receptionist while signing in, and was then promptly checked in and saw the doctor well before I did.
I did not mention it at the time, but when I was finally called back 45 minutes later, the...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had the pleasure of babysitting my neighbors' small dog for the weekend. When they returned, they tried to pay me. I politely turned down the money, saying that it was truly my pleasure and it was a favor between friends.
Later that week, I received a thank-you card in the mail that included a gift certificate. I accepted ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend was having an open house and a catered holiday meal, and she invited my husband and me and our two teenaged children. I asked if she would mind if we brought a friend of ours who had nowhere to go, no family nearby, etc.
Her response shocked me. She essentially said, How dare I ask her to bring a stray with a sob ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often enjoy the social media posts of family and friends. Typically, I post two or three times a month: almost always a personal picture or throwback photo describing something positive like a fun outing, celebration, birthday or anniversary.
However, I am becoming increasingly dismayed by the way some friends use social ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I respond when thanked by a third party for helping another person? I am happy to say You're welcome when someone thanks me on their own behalf, but I feel terribly awkward when it is a third party, particularly when I don't feel my efforts are at all above and beyond.
While the issue isn't a critical one, I would ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my son (now a young adult) was a young teenager, he met a very prominent musician. He was quite kind to my son, and inadvertently helped set his path to being a professional musician. My son wrote to him shortly after the meeting, thanking him for his time and kind words.
The musician has now died, and I want to send a ...Read more
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We have two sons in their 30s who were taught at a young age to say thank you, and were encouraged to write thank-you notes to the senders of gifts they received. We modeled gratitude in our behavior, as well.
Fast-forward to the past few years. They have both moved many states away, so gift-giving is remote and we are rarely...Read more