DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I have a large deck in our backyard and have been able to host couples for dinners with proper social distancing in nice weather. Before anyone visits us, we make it very clear that we have been following pretty strict social distancing and ask that our guests do the same.
We also have a bathroom with a separate entrance, but we make it clear that we prefer people not go into our house otherwise.
At one of our dinners, the humidity was definitely up there, but the temperature was in the 70s. It was pretty comfortable outside. Yes, everyone’s hair was frizzing up, but a bad hairdo was a sacrifice I know I was willing to make. All the health experts are saying the risk of transmitting coronavirus greatly increases when you are in enclosed places.
The wife of the other couple was clearly uncomfortable with the humidity and insisted we go inside to the air conditioning. My wife and I brushed off the humidity and subtly hinted that the weather wasn’t “that bad,” but the other wife insisted on going inside.
I didn’t want to make a scene, so I held back on reminding the couple of our detailed pre-dinner instructions/rules. Instead, I suggested we move to our sunroom, open up all the windows and turn the fan on for air circulation. Still, I was frustrated that we unnecessarily increased our transmission risk.
Should I have pushed the issue and insisted we stay outside?
GENTLE READER: Don’t underestimate the power of a woman’s hairdo scorned.
Yours was a polite compromise and probably the best solution at the time given your guest’s insistence. However, if the situation were to arise again, Miss Manners suggests a polite, “I’m so sorry that you are uncomfortable; the weather is not as dry as we had hoped. But I’m afraid that our responsibility toward everyone’s safety is our primary concern. Of course, we understand if you feel that you need to go elsewhere to feel fully at ease.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When the father of a friend died, I sent what I thought was a nice letter of condolence. I later heard that my friend was somewhat insulted by my note, as I “hadn’t even bothered to send a sympathy card,” but wrote a letter instead.
I know Miss Manners prefers a handwritten personal sympathy note to a card with a preprinted sentiment – and I do, too! Evidently my friend feels otherwise.
Now, unfortunately, her mother is gravely ill and I know I will soon need to express my sympathy. Which is better: to do the proper, polite thing as I did before, or do what my friend expects?
I’m not eager to write a note in a preprinted card, as the ones I have seen are weepy or overly religious, and I am neither.
GENTLE READER: Write the letter – on beautiful stationery and in your best handwriting – and then stick it in the middle of a preprinted sympathy card. Miss Manners has faith that you will be able to find a tasteful one – and preferably one that does not mimic better calligraphy than yours.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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