DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have a difference in conversational styles.
When someone is talking, I was raised to comment on their remarks before adding new details from my own experiences.
For example, an acquaintance was reminiscing about her trip to Alaska, remarking on how long it stays light there in the summer. My husband’s response was to tell her that when we went to Edinburgh, he found it stays light just as late there.
To me, this sounds like one-upmanship, but my husband doesn’t see it that way. What are your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: One person’s one-upmanship is another’s related experiences, also known as social conversation.
Miss Manners does not see anything inherently wrong with your husband’s sharing his perspective, although of course tone is important. If you hear him over-emphasizing “I” a lot — as in “Well, when I travel to exotic places …” — or comparing yacht sizes, then you may rightly put him in check.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was asked to drive for a friend’s daughter’s birthday party, as my car can carry a few more passengers than my friend’s.
My daughter was invited, so I didn’t mind too much. The event was a little over an hour away.
When the day came, no gas money was offered. My friend even suggested taking the girls to lunch at a pricier restaurant afterwards. I split an appetizer with my friend, trying to save her some money. When the bill came, she asked the waiter to split our appetizer onto separate checks.
I was shocked that she was so inconsiderate. The party was at lunchtime (noon) and she never intended to feed the kids. In the end, I covered my daughter’s lunch, my half of the appetizer and the gas to get to the party.
In my opinion, this is very rude! Am I being unfair?
GENTLE READER: Asking for gas money for a party that your daughter was attending seems to Miss Manners a bit miserly and ungracious. But apparently those traits run in your circle.
If your friend had no intention of feeding the children, then she should not have suggested going to a restaurant, nor held the event at noon. And she certainly should have thanked you for attending — with more than half a potato skin.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve read many complaints about people in restaurants changing their baby’s diaper at the table. I’m wondering what your suggestion is for where parents (or other caretakers) should change diapers when there is no changing table available.
Must we get down on the bathroom floor for diaper changes? I’m surprised by the number of restaurants and stores that do not have changing tables — even places that market themselves as family-oriented.
GENTLE READER: In those cases, you may ask the restaurant management where the best place to do it is. Miss Manners assures you that they have a vested interest in finding you somewhere sanitary and discreet — and if they do not, they only have themselves to blame for any stinky consequences.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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Author: Judith Martin