Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have two relatives, a sister and an aunt, who are constantly asking for my things -- clothes, jewelry, household items, etc. It’s almost every time I see them. They don’t want to borrow; they want me to give it to them.

I bought a dress at an estate sale and my aunt immediately said she wanted it, even though it wasn’t her size. I had bought her a vintage jacket, but she wanted my dress, too. My sister does the same thing. She’ll visit my home and admire something I have, and continue to say things like, “I really wish I had that” until I just give it to her. It’s gotten to the point that I avoid being around them and I’m angry when I do see them. Neither of them seem to really care about the items after they get them.

So what can I say to break the cycle? I have said no, but they start again the next time I see them. I don’t want to be rude or say something mean to them, but it is grating on me.

GENTLE READER: It seems that you have been running a free shop. Almost as bizarre as your relatives’ grabbiness is your compliance. Have you not noticed that occasionally giving in by giving up your property is not an effective way to discourage them?

Miss Manners gathers that these are not subtle people on whom delicate hints would have any effect. She suggests a cheerful “No, sorry, its mine!” to be repeated whenever necessary.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was wondering how to properly eat a hot roll. I looked it up: Pull the roll apart gently and butter each side. But if the roll is very hot, fingers get burned.

I tend to make a cut on the top with a small knife and pull it apart to butter it, then eat each half. My husband sticks his fork in halfway down the side of the roll, opening it like a biscuit; he then pushes the top down on the bottom so it looks like a biscuit. (But then, he eats soup with a fork after breaking off bread into it, and refuses to use soup or cereal spoons or a bread and butter plate.)

Luckily, at my daughter’s wedding last year, the rolls weren’t hot, so there was no issue.

GENTLE READER: Perhaps a lesson in elementary physics, rather than in etiquette, would solve your problem. At least your hot roll problem, although not your more serious marital problem.

If you wait just a moment, burning-hot rolls will cool enough for you to touch them. How long you will have to wait before your husband understands that it is not worth it for him to annoy you at every meal, Miss Manners cannot say.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please settle a minor disagreement. When making a bed that has two pillows, should the pillows be placed with the pillowcase openings facing toward the middle of the bed or toward the sides?

GENTLE READER: Toward the sides.

Miss Manners made that one up, and no doubt someone will give her an argument about it.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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