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

Miss Manners: Occasional damp hair can be overlooked

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My hair is long and quite thick, so it takes several hours to dry after I wash it. Usually I wash it at night so it’s dry by morning, but occasionally I have to wash it shortly before going somewhere.

What is the etiquette about going in public with wet hair? I wouldn’t go to a formal event that way, and I imagine that actively dripping hair would be universally frowned upon. However, is visibly damp hair OK otherwise?

GENTLE READER: Couldn’t you just walk faster, creating some wind? Barring that, and as this is a relatively short-lived problem, Miss Manners will overlook the occasional wet head – and hope that onlookers will have the grace to do so, too.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife’s parents are lovely people and I’ve enjoyed a wonderful relationship with them for decades. However, they are longtime members of a private country club, which is unofficially “restricted,” having no members of certain races and religions.

I’ve always found this abhorrent, but over the years have agreed, for harmony’s sake, to attend functions there as their guests. The club is the mainstay of their social life now, and they claim that they are not bigoted or prejudiced, but simply joined innocently long ago when such exclusionary practices were routine.

As times have changed, I’ve finally reached a tipping point, no longer willing to be complicit in attending a place that discriminates against others. However, my absence from family events like birthday parties, receptions and the like at the club will be awkward for my in-laws, as well as bring me ill will from the rest of the family.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law understand my position, but they are elderly and, after all, we’ve all shared many good times together there over the years, even as I grudgingly attended.

How do I balance my conscience, which I can no longer ignore, with the feelings of these very close family members, which I am bound to injure by my actions?

GENTLE READER: Family loyalty and social conscience are often in conflict, Miss Manners finds. It is the stuff of great literature and mediocre television movies. Perhaps you can suggest that you give some of the family events at your home, or find another place to have them. Admittedly, this would be only an occasional solution – but it might make your absences at club events less noticeable.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband accepted an award for being an outstanding football coach, he received a standing ovation at the reception.

I am so proud of him that when everyone stood, I, moved with emotion, jumped up and applauded as well. Then I suddenly felt foolish, and wondered if it was inappropriate for me to give my own husband a standing ovation.

However, had I remained seated, I think I would have felt awkward as well. What is the correct response when a close family member receives a standing ovation?

GENTLE READER: To be overwhelmed with emotion and excitement and stand up with the others. No decent person could fault you for being overcome by spousal pride. Staying seated in the face of everyone else’s enthusiasm, Miss Manners notes, would make a stronger statement.

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.