I am a single woman. I met a single man on a trip, and we corresponded. Finally he decided to visit me, and I invited him for the weekend, to sleep on my living-room sofa bed.
Late Sunday morning, I woke and found a note in the living room saying that he had gone jogging and would be back soon. I instantly checked my apartment door, and it was unlocked. Even though there is a security door, I was very angry. I don't know any of my neighbors in the unit, and any of them could have entered my apartment after he left, with me asleep in the bedroom, and all my possessions and two cats unprotected.Half an hour later, he buzzed at the security door and I let him in. So he knew he didn't lock my apartment door, even though he'd only have to push a button on the knob in order to do so. And he knew there was a security door, so leaving my apartment door unlocked still wouldn't permit him to re-enter without buzzing from outside.
For all he knew, when he buzzed, I might still have been asleep and I'd have had to get out of bed to let him in.
I never let on that I was angry. Do you think my anger was justified? I think his failure to lock my door was inconsiderate and irresponsible.
GENTLE READER - Miss Manners is sorry that this prospect did not turn out as you had hoped, and she would understand if you wanted to kick the door after he left. But she cannot join you in kicking him over how he treated the door.
Whatever character faults your guest may have had, Miss Manners does not believe that any were demonstrated by not having followed house rules that he did not know existed. Your suggestion that failure to turn a knob was evidence of sloth, or that reliance on the security door was contempt for your safety, does not overwhelm her.
It rather seems to her that he was awkwardly trying not to be a bother. It didn't work, but Miss Manners notices that he was hampered by not having been asked, as a house guest should be, what time he got up, and not having been informed where to find anything he might require before you joined him.
Not everyone would assume that your immediate neighbors obviously constituted a threat to you and your cats. If you merely distrust them as part of a general assumption that anyone will rob you, if given the opportunity, why do you invite into your house someone you hardly know?
DEAR MISS MANNERS - While visiting London, I planned a dinner date to introduce my husband to an old friend from work and his wife. While sitting at the table, still looking at the menu, this rude friend said to my husband, "Say, have you noticed that you're bald?"
He acted as though my husband would be obliged to treat his comment as a joke - as if this were a matter for joking, sniggering and embarrassment for my handsome husband or anyone who looks different.
Could there be a response to this sort of question that is both appropriate and satisfying?
GENTLE READER - The answer that is most satisfying is not, Miss Manners regrets to say, appropriate. And the appropriate answer will only be satisfying if properly delivered.
You do not say how your husband actually reacted, but Miss Manners hopes it was not by pretending to consider the matter a joke and joining in the laughter. Meanness disguised as teasing should not be encouraged.
He should stare at the insulter, deadpan, and say one word - probably "Yes," but if he chooses, "No." Either one will do to indicate that improper liberties have been taken.
- Judith Martin is author of the new book "Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium" (Pharos Books).
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.