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

Miss Manners: Longing for the simplicity of landlines

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was a kid and wanted to play with a friend, I called the friend’s house and made plans. Now that I’m a parent with my own kids, and landlines have virtually disappeared, it is almost impossible for my children to make plans without me as an intermediary – texting/calling their friends’ parents on our respective cellphones to set up a time/place.

My kids are 10 and 14, and many of their friends still do not have cellphones. It feels a little absurd for me to coordinate plans for my 14-year-old, but I don’t know how else he can get in touch with his phone-less friends.

Is there something I’m missing? How do other parents do it?

GENTLE READER: If there is no other method of communication for your teenager’s phone-less friends (tablet, email, etc.), then coordinate you must. Yes, it may feel absurd, and no doubt it will be highly embarrassing to all teens involved – but at that age, everything is.

On the upside, it is not the worst thing to know – and alert other parents – to what your child is doing. Miss Manners presumes it is the primary reason parents do not let their children have cellular phones in the first place.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have gone to the same hairstylist for years. We know many people in common. She has asked me more than once if my granddaughter and her fiancee are living together, and she has also asked about my son-in-law’s parents’ divorce.

I feel vulnerable when she has scissors in hand or when she is mixing chemicals to put on my hair. I am considering changing salons to avoid these personal questions.

If I speak up, what should I say? I am not good at standing up for myself.

GENTLE READER: Then stand up, instead, for your relatives: “I am not authorized to speak on behalf of my family members’ personal situations, but tell me, how are things going around here?”

At which point, the hope is that your hairstylist will launch into tales about herself or about someone else’s personal life – something you can tune out or deflect.

Clearly your hairstylist relishes gossip, but Miss Manners will hazard a guess that she probably does not much care whence it comes.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: An acquaintance stopped by uninvited. I didn’t mind that he came; I don’t mind the company, usually.

To be polite, I offered him a cup of coffee, which he accepted. I asked if he wanted milk or sugar. He said he wanted sugar and cream. I told him that I do not use cream, and therefore don’t keep any on hand.

He was very offended and rude and told me that I should always accommodate guests and keep it available.

Remember, he was uninvited. When inviting company over for coffee, I am more willing to accommodate guests and buy something that I will not use, but not for an acquaintance who just happened by one day. How much should I be willing to accommodate uninvited guests?

GENTLE READER: Exactly as much as they are accommodating you by showing up unannounced.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website