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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Reveal what you’ve got – selectively

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are the rules for showing cleavage?

GENTLE READER: We have to draw the line somewhere, don’t we? And by “where,” Miss Manners is referring to geographical places, as well as anatomical ones.

That means at the office, no cleavage; on the nude beach, whatever you’ve got. Maybe even on the regular beach these days.

For evening, she holds to the Victorian standard. No, wait, it was a lot lower than you think.

But it was – ah, selective. Ball gowns were cut amazingly low, but they had sleeves. The idea was to show one thing at a time, although Miss Manners knows that there should be a better way to put that. Let her just say that cleavage should not be displayed when the dress is down-to-here in the back, or up-to-there anywhere in the skirt.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A grade school acquaintance sent me an email requesting contact information for a member of my family. I am aware that the family member, who lives in the same region as the acquaintance, does not wish to associate with the acquaintance and, not unreasonably, fears being hounded by frequent unwelcome requests to share and reconnect.

Is it best to simply ignore the email? What would be an appropriate and kind response?

GENTLE READER: Kinder than “He doesn’t want anything to do with you”?

But not as kind as, “Well, here’s his email, his cellphone number, his Twitter account, and the password to his protected information on Facebook – and I happen to know that he’s home now”?

At some point, this person is going to realize that he is not getting the information he wants. But Miss Manners understands that you would prefer not to be the bouncer, and yet not to betray your relative.

You need only forward the email and reply to the acquaintance that you have done so. There is no need to admit that you prefaced the forwarded message with, “I know you don’t want to see him, so I’m not giving him your address.”

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