May 29, 2024
Plus: I'm OK with laundering rocks but I draw the line at lip balm.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I, along with another couple, had just been seated in a restaurant. We were reading the menu when a woman and her husband passed our table on their way out.

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The woman stopped, looked directly at us, and asked rather loudly, “Is someone wearing aftershave?”

I answered, “Well, I’m wearing perfume.” She actually started sniffing the air over my friend’s shoulder and asked, “What is it?” I responded with the name of the perfume.

“Yes!” the woman shouted, and then, “It stinks so much in here, I’m surprised that anybody can smell their food!” With that, she and her husband left.

I have imagined many retorts, like, “Then you must be glad you’re leaving” and “You’re so loud that I’m surprised anybody can hear themselves think.” But I said nothing. One of my friends said something like, “Then good riddance.”

While I do understand that some people dislike perfume, was that the right way to handle the situation? It was embarrassing and caused diners at nearby tables to look at us. Should I just not wear perfume in restaurants?

GENTLE READER: The woman you described has no manners, but she has impeccable timing — as your friend no doubt realized when their rejoinder was delivered to empty air.

Miss Manners would have punctured this woman’s timing by being a less willing participant to her insult-and-run. The initial inquiry about aftershave was impertinent and, as it was delivered to the whole room, could simply have been ignored.

Had she been addressed more directly, Miss Manners would have responded “I beg your pardon?” with some hauteur, then pointedly returned to her menu.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Whose responsibility is it to empty pockets before pants go in the washer — the wearer, or the laundry-doer?

I am the primary laundry-doer in my house, but I will generally just wash clothes in the state that they come to me. I don’t turn things right-side-out or empty pockets.

I have laundered many coins, golf tees and rocks over the years, and generally let them pass without comment. I don’t want to nag, nor do I want to dig through pockets.

The issue comes when a pen or tube of lip balm goes through the wash and ends up leaking all over the rest of the clothes.

Should I ask my husband to be more conscientious about emptying his pockets, or just do it as a part of the laundry chore?

GENTLE READER: Were the rocks unwanted passengers that found themselves in the vicinity of the golf tees? Or is your husband not the only offending household member?

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Either way, the responsibility of the person benefiting from your efforts is to demonstrate gratitude by preparing their things according to your rules. Miss Manners assumes a willing compliance — and that dirty laundry that is suspiciously heavy can be assumed not to be ready for the current load.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always taken the time to write short notes of condolence when I know the surviving relatives. Are they obligated to acknowledge these notes in any way?

GENTLE READER: Yes.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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