Miss Manners: The Days of Door-Slamming Are Done

Friday, May 04, 2018

Dear Miss Manners: If I, as a female, walk out the door first, am I supposed to hold it for the male following me?

Gentle Reader: Yes. We have revoked the custom by which a lady could let it slam in a gentleman’s face.

Dear Miss Manners: There is a strange phenomenon that occurs with my wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law: When we go out for meals together, my father-in-law, brother-in-law or I will hold the door of the restaurant open to allow the ladies to enter the building ahead of us. Inevitably — and it happens no matter the combination of couples — the ladies will come to a complete stop immediately upon crossing the threshold, rather than moving to either side.

This prevents us from moving around them in order to get in front of them. I am assuming they stop because they want us to lead them. In reality, this makes us try to squeeze around them somehow. Quite often it creates a backup of other patrons, who are also trying to enter the building.

These scenes can sometimes be frustrating and embarrassing, as if this is our first time out in public. How can I address this with the most important women in my life without being insulting?

Gentle Reader: Ah, yes, Miss Manners has met these ladies. They are the ones who stand at the top or bottom of the escalator after they get off. They don’t realize what they are doing until the bodies pile up behind them.

But they are your relatives, and should not take it amiss if you gently take their elbows and steer them clear.

Dear Miss Manners: My son’s daughter’s mother (they never married) invited my family to my granddaughter’s second birthday dinner at her apartment. I do not want to attend, due to cruel and harsh words she has said to my son. My son has paid child support (more than asked) and has been an attentive father to his daughter.

I don’t wish to be in the same environment with someone who calls my son “sperm donor” in public.

Gentle Reader: That does sound unpleasant.

However, the prospect of rarely seeing your granddaughter would likely be more so. Miss Manners fears that if you turn down the invitation, that may be the result. Go to the party and be pleasant. The reward will be witnessing your granddaughter’s birthday and being a full participant in her life — and maybe even modeling good behavior in the face of bad, for her mother.

Dear Miss Manners: Six weeks ago, my partner and I, who are both 60 years old, eloped. In a couple weeks, we are hosting a dinner party for our immediate family, and plan on telling them that we got married.

We are worried it may become awkward, because we didn’t tell anybody, and also because the two families have not met previously. We weren’t being secretive; we just wanted to tell everyone in person and at the same time, and this dinner party is our first opportunity to do that. Can you help us with advice on the best way to break this news to them?

Gentle Reader: “This probably comes as no great surprise, but Cynthia and I have some news. We just eloped and wanted you all to be the first to know. Please have some champagne.”

Dear Miss Manners: We love to host at our home, and had a group of friends over a week or two after we had new flooring put in our main floor. One guest wore stiletto high heels, which is usual for her, and we didn’t think anything of it until after the party, when we discovered the heels had left pockmarks all over our new flooring.

We of course didn’t say anything to our guest, but ended up having to replace many of the boards, at not insignificant cost. Other friends have since mentioned this is not an uncommon result from this type of footwear. How can we politely avoid this in the future?

Gentle Reader: Put down the red carpet, or whatever remnants are on hand, when she comes.

Dear Miss Manners: If invited to a potluck function and asked to bring a dish, do I still bring a dish although I replied yes, but have since changed my mind about going?

Gentle Reader: It is rude to withdraw an acceptance to be a dinner guest, and also one to help cater the meal. So if you don’t attend but still send the dish, Miss Manners will count only one rudeness against you.

Miss Manners is written by Judith Martin, her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Email your questions from www.missmanners.com.