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Miss Manners: ‘Double’ trumps ‘date’ when arranging car seat positions

DEAR MISS MANNERS – What is the proper seating arrangement in the car on a double date?

My thoughts are the fact the date is “double” is secondary to being a “date,” and all rules should be followed accordingly. Ladies should be offered equal or better seating to their date with their date being their primary companion.

If this presents physical or communication challenges, a lady may then offer to trade seats.

My husband’s family tends to be of the “men up front and women in the back” mentality, which I consider to be redneck and rude. What are the guidelines?

GENTLE READER – Does your husband know that you are going on a date?

Miss Manners is not trying to police your morals here. It makes a difference whether you are talking about couples who are in the courting stage or married couples socializing with each other. (Yes, she has heard of married couples’ having “date night,” which is very cute. But the idea there is for the two of them to get away from other people, except, if they can’t help it, the Secret Service.)

Courting couples would sit as you believe. Long established couples would only sit as your husband’s family believes by request of the ladies who want to talk to each other or to avoid masculine conversation. The correct way for them to sit in a car is – wait, this is going to shock both you and your in-laws – that each lady sits next to the gentleman who is not her husband.

The idea is not marital flirtation, because for that, each couple can stay home or go out alone. The idea is innocent sociability.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I am a member of the local YMCA, which has a small steam room in the men’s locker room. Often when I enter, it isn’t hot enough, so I pour cold water on the sensor to generate more steam. Sometimes I have to do this a few times to get the heat up where I want it.

The other day, when I started to do it the second time, an older man asked me not to because he thought it was hot enough.

I tried to explain to him that steam rooms are supposed to be really hot, but he just responded that I should ask the men who were already there when I came in what they wanted. I asked the other guys and they both just said they didn’t want to get involved in the argument.

Anyway, I waited until the old guy left before I made more steam, but now I wish I hadn’t let him bully me that way.

I am a busy guy and can only make it to the gym on my lunch hour. After my workout, I only have a few minutes left, so I don’t have time to sit around for the five or 10 minutes it takes for the steam cycle to kick in, and even when it does, it’s not hot enough for me.

In case I run into this rude old guy again, is there some polite but forceful way to tell him that he doesn’t own the place?

GENTLE READER – Do you?

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, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.


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