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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: Books on tape OK in dentist chair

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: For years I have had my teeth cleaned by the same dental technician, who chats on and on, asking me questions periodically, which of course means that either I mumble a response, because her hand is in my mouth, or I have to sit up, empty my mouth and respond. Some of these questions are directed to me in my professional capacity as a psychologist.

With the advent of the iPod and books on tape, I have begun listening to books while having my teeth cleaned. I hope I am not being rude by not participating in a one-sided conversation.

GENTLE READER: No, although it would be nice of you to tell the technician beforehand that you have some reading to catch up on, or that you have found that it takes your mind off your teeth.

Miss Manners is only surprised that you had not previously discovered the advantage of responding “Mmmmph.” Whether this would be of use in your professional life, she cannot say, but it is of inestimable use at the dentist’s.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend is getting married (her third, his first). Her parents are both deceased. She thinks her husband-to-be should not be cheated out of a shower. The problem is, she wants her close friends (five of us) to pay for it! The guest list is about 50.

What do you think? Should we pay or should they? We don’t mind helping, but! Would love your professional opinion.

GENTLE READER: In that case, Miss Manners will withhold her personal opinion of a bridegroom who would feel cheated if not given a shower. Her professional opinion is that showers are given voluntarily by those who should then pay for them. In this case, the volunteer is the bride.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email, dearmissmanners@; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)