Heed the ‘under’ in undergarments

FRIDAY, AUG. 13, 2010

DEAR MISS MANNERS – It seems I am in a constant scandalized state when I am out in public. Women of all ages and sizes seem to proudly display their bra straps or go braless. On top of all that, there seems to be no shame in displaying fat rolls and g-strings. Why aren’t they wearing body-appropriate clothing and keeping the undergarments under something? Am I in the wrong or are these “ladies” missing the boat?

GENTLE READER – Actually, that boat has sailed, and why the passengers have boarded, Miss Manners cannot say.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – My son and his wife are having their first child and I have been told that proper etiquette dictates that the grandfather stay away from the child and/or the parents for the first week or two.

The grandmothers are welcome from day one on to indefinitely but not so for Grandpa.

I am married to the epitome of a southern lady, and she has never heard of such a thing. Please give me your opinion on when Grandpa is welcome.

GENTLE READER – Sir, Miss Manners is afraid that this is a family problem, not an etiquette one. There is no etiquette rule, one way or the other, regarding the visits of grandparents. This one seems to have been created in your honor.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – How can I politely decline an invitation from a couple with whom my husband and I are fairly good friends? They invited us to join them for a weekend trip, and when my husband and I expressed interest in joining them, they mentioned at the last minute that they intended to bring along their children.

Now, my husband and I like children, but we cannot bear the thought of spending a weekend in close quarters with these particular ones. They are completely out of control, and a weekend with them would result in nonstop shrieking, breaking objects and general chaos. When we tentatively accepted the invite, there was talk of a baby sitter, and we had assumed that this would be an adults-only event.

How can we politely decline this kind invitation without revealing our feelings about our friends’ children (and thus, risking both hurt feelings and a broken friendship)?

GENTLE READER – Is there any elective surgery that you have been putting off? Because if they made definite arrangements to go with you, perhaps with some expense and not enough time to invite others, that is your only hope.

But Miss Manners notices that you merely say that you “expressed interest” and that the problem is how to decline, rather than how to back out.

In that case, apologies are needed, rather than excuses, especially not the excuse that you can’t tolerate their children. If you carry on enough about how sorry you are to miss the trip, how you want to hear all about it when they are return, and so on, you need not go beyond saying that something has come up.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – What is the appropriate wedding attire for a 4:30 p.m. wedding at a church? Does it matter that the bridesmaids are wearing black?

GENTLE READER – That will be convenient if the wedding party is going to a funeral immediately afterward. Miss Manners assures you that pastel dresses, and not black, white or red are proper ladies’ attire for afternoon weddings.

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners’ newsletters, “On Cellular Phone Courtesy,” “The Etiquette of Proper Eating” or “Proper Wedding Planning,” please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wicliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.

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