I bought a Miss Manners book today from a used book store. It has letters that people have written to her and her answers. Some of them are quite interesting.
Dear Miss Manners:
My half-brother showed up in town with his dreadful mother, who used to be married to my father, and some equally awful cousins. How can I introduce my brother, whom I like very much, without seeming to be related to the rest of the crowd, whom I don't like?
"This is my brother, and some relatives of his, the Boors." The best you can hope for, in this case, is that people think your brother, rather than your father, married badly.
Dear Miss Manners:
Please clear the air between a male friend and me. According to him, a man must never offer a firm handshake to a woman. I, on the other hand, believe one should always shake firmly, lest one be considered wishy-washy. What to do?
How firmly are we talking about? Many ladies wear rings on their right hands and many of those rings have stones in them. In the area between seeming wishy-washy and slicing off a lady's finger at the knuckle with her own diamond. Miss Manners would rather a gentleman of ordinary digital and manual sensitivity to adjust his handshake in response to the strength of the lady's.
Men almost always shake my hand very firmly. Painfully firm. I have never been able to figure out why. I do not shake their hand very firmly. Firmly yes but not painfully. Men grasp my and make make my knuckles rub together. It hurts. I have hand only a few light hand shakes.
Dear Miss Manners: I have been trained to take off my hat upon entering an elevator, but in crowded office lifts, the space is insufficient to hold a doffed hat-save over the face (stifling) or under the chin (funereal). So the hat stays on. At the sight of it however women of my age utter little humphs, purse their lips, of it avert their eyes. My face reddens. To halve these elevator contretemps, I no longer go out for lunch. I am brown-bagging (attache´-casing, actually). But the sandwich fare, through economical, is monotonous. Far more serous, this desk dining deprives me of any chance encounter with an attractive woman who might not instantly humph. If you will please proclaim lift-hats-off passe´, I shall display your decree in my hatband. On the elevator, lids will flutter, lips part, humphs give way to susurrations. Soon, lunch counters will no longer be needed, I shall have a new friend who knows countless kinds of sandwiches, and every morning --as my attache´case and her ample handbag leave home to start the workday-- we shall tip our hats to you.I hope you enjoyed Miss Manners! My readers will be well versed on the proper way to conduct themselves.
How can Miss Manners resist you? Three little words, you beg, and happiness will be yours. Yet she cannot bring herself to say them. Hold the hat in the space not occupied by the attache´case, which you will no longer need as a sandwich carrier because hordes of women, falling in love with the gallantry, will compete to take you to lunch. Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior © 1982