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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners: An acceptable time for an indignant slap?

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the end of a boozy company party at a fancy hotel, my wife and I found ourselves tending a co-worker who had overdosed on martinis. While my wife went to summon a janitor, another co-worker asked her (in the politest terms a drunk can muster) to spend the night with him.

Although I was in earshot, I pretended to ignore it. My wife is upset that I didn’t “defend her honor” by punching him out. What do the rules of manners dictate?

GENTLE READER: Well, not adding violence to an already volatile mix. And for many reasons, it is an especially bad idea to hit a drunk.

However, Miss Manners might have forgiven your wife if she had delivered a smart slap when the indecent proposition was made (however politely). That is the traditional response of ladies to cads.

What you might have done was to take hold of the offender to steer him away from your wife, and say insistently, “I think we’d better get you home. You can apologize to Miranda when you feel better.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Over the last few years, a new form of fundraising, coined “crowdfunding,” has allowed people to raise funds via the internet for things such as startup businesses, or as charity for families who have suffered devastating illness or loss. But this reader has noticed an increase in crowdfunding pleas on social media outlets for money for things such as summer study-abroad trips, dance lessons, and even college tuition.

Is this an appropriate use of these fundraising websites? Should it not be the responsibility of the participant and their families to fund these experiences themselves?

It seems most of the people asking for funding are very capable of earning extra income through a part-time job, or a small business or scholarships – and not by asking for handouts from family, friends and strangers.

GENTLE READER: Everyone is free to beg, Miss Manners supposes, and few solvent people seem to consider this beneath their dignity.

What disturbs Miss Manners is that crowdfunding depends on social embarrassment to work. She cannot imagine that many people want to spend their philanthropic resources providing luxuries to others, but when asked, they seem to feel they have to.

No, they don’t. Unless they are confronted in person – in which case they should say, “Sorry, but I have other charities I support” – they needn’t respond at all, any more than they would to an unrelated solicitation.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was at a buffet where mashed potatoes were served. The potatoes were stuck to the serving spoon, and would not come off. I just put the spoon back down, without taking any potatoes.

Was that all right to do? What is the proper etiquette for this situation?

GENTLE READER: At a buffet table, it is fortunately not necessary to take everything that is offered. Miss Manners would think you should take advantage of that to spare yourself having to eat gummy potatoes.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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