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Bed socks for wife will melt her heart

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate

Dear Miss Manners: After retiring one evening, I was startled when my beloved wife’s chilled feet instinctively burrowed into my warm back. The resulting commotion caused a bit of discussion.

My wife declared that “a real gentleman would not comment on the state of a lady’s feet.” While peeling myself off the ceiling and gasping for breath, I countered that such comments are inevitable.

My lovely wife argued that, as her husband, I should rescue her from her distress, and to complain about the temperature of her feet is boorish. I stated that this particular “rescuing” seems to happen on a fairly regular basis, so how can I avoid offending her sensitivities?

Can you, Miss Manners, advise us on how a “real gentleman” is supposed to act under such duress?

Gentle Reader: Your wife has lofty arguments, with which no gallant husband should disagree. But does she also have bed socks? Miss Manners suggests they would make a thoughtful present from a devoted husband who cares only for his wife’s comfort.

Dear Miss Manners: Through reading your books, I have discovered, to my chagrin, that I have committed etiquette sins of the worst kind — those against sensibility. I have blithely offered my honest opinions to some who did and many who didn’t ask for them, thinking that it was far more virtuous to tell the truth than to tactfully dissemble.

I have received the joyful announcements of expectant friends with open dismay about raising a child in today’s world.

I have hung around the bridal vestry, camera in hand, to preserve the moment for the bride — uninvited! I have failed to attend weddings for which I accepted invitations. Not only have I attended weddings as “And Guest,” I have burdened the bride with my gift at the reception. I have attended weddings dressed in black, white and red.

There were more, too many to enumerate here but equally awful.

It has been many years now that I have been a reformed human and, I hope, have avoided repetitions of my past sorry performances. But I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my past transgressions keep me awake at night. I wince at myself.

I fear that in wishing to apologize to those I have offended in the past that I may be trying to assuage my own remorse at their expense. And it may be doubly selfish because I assume that each is equally consumed with my behavior as I am. Yet I feel that it is too late or wrong to apologize. What shall I do?

Gentle Reader: Although she is always happy to hear of saved souls, you worry Miss Manners. Years of being up all night wincing cannot be good for you.

So here is how you clear your conscience without making a spectacle of your remorseful self: Write about your friends, instead of yourself. Tell them that you appreciate their friendship, including putting up with you in your more callow days.

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