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by Abigail Van Buren

Opening Doors for Women Can Open a Can of Worms

DEAR ABBY: I sympathize with "Stumped for an Answer" (Dec. 22), the man who was speechless when a woman objected to his opening the door for her. Haven't we all experienced "moments after," wishing we'd found the right words at the right time?

My son -- a high school sophomore -- had a timely response in a similar circumstance. We had stopped at a grocery store for a couple of items and were walking toward the exit. Just ahead was a woman carrying three large bags. My son stepped up to open the door for her, and in a strident voice she said, "Listen, Sonny, I can handle the door myself!"

My boy answered with a polite smile and a pleasant tone of voice: "I'm sorry. I'll excuse your rudeness if you'll forgive my courtesy." -- PROUD MOM IN RUIDOSO, N.M.

DEAR PROUD MOM: At times these days it can seem that manners are an endangered species. My office was flooded with mail from readers eager to "politely" share their thoughts. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am tired of people not using good manners or even recognizing what good manners are. Personally, it makes my day when someone holds the door for me. I usually offer thanks and a smile. (By the way, "please" and "thank you" also seem sadly lacking these days.)

I feel sorry for that unappreciative woman because she must lead a bitter life. Please let the guy know there are others out there who appreciate good manners and please don't let one rotten apple spoil the barrel. -- TIRED OF THE MANNERLESS

DEAR ABBY: Here's what he should have said: "I was taught that it is respectful to open a door for a lady. I apologize for having misjudged you." -- ANOTHER LADY IN SEDONA, ARIZ.

DEAR ABBY: My guess is the woman was having a bad day and the man was a convenient target. I also prefer that doors not be held open for me. I have fibromyalgia, which is usually only apparent if I have my cane. I usually open doors by leaning my back into them. That's what works best for me. People's attempts to "help" me have caused me to fall or the door to slam back on me.

I understand most folks are trying to be kind, but because some of them are clueless, my suggestion is to first ASK someone if you can hold the door for her or him. If the answer is no, please respect it. -- NOT UNGRATEFUL IN COLORADO

DEAR ABBY: I am an independent woman and I don't like men to open doors for me. It makes me feel inferior. When I run across a guy who insists on doing it, I allow him to. But then I rush to open the next one for him. Usually I get a chuckle when he reluctantly goes through. -- DO-IT-MYSELF, FOSTORIA, OHIO

DEAR ABBY: My reply would have been, "Common courtesy knows no gender." -- RON IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEAR ABBY: To a woman who once yelled at him for opening a door for her, my husband responded: "It's not because you're a woman. It's because of your AGE." It left her speechless. -- GRETCHEN IN FAIRBANKS

DEAR ABBY: Another possible reason a woman might not want to have a door opened for her: As a short-statured person, I find it an invasion of my space when a tall man reaches up and over me to hold a door, so I must scoot under his arm. -- ANOTHER VIEWPOINT IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR ABBY: When it happened to me, I smiled at the woman and said: "I didn't open the door for you because you're a lady. I opened it for you because I'm a gentleman." It got my point across. -- DON IN ALAMEDA, CALIF.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)