DEAR MISS MANNERS: This may be more of a moral issue than one of etiquette: As an upstanding and dignified woman in my 60s, I find it most inappropriate that men (my husband of 40 years among them) think it acceptable and the "norm" to have what I would define as one-on-one "dates" with younger, unmarried women.
Apparently some of my friends' husbands think little of calling up another woman (preferably young and unmarried, someone they may have met previously in a business context) when alone on travel in another city, to join them for dinner. My husband will be out of the country on business soon and mentioned that he might "get together" with a young, unmarried woman who used to work for his company -- but who now lives in the city he will be visiting.
I don't ever recall seeing such behavior mentioned as part of good breeding in any etiquette books! Has something changed in our present-day world of social etiquette, and I missed it? (Is it under a revised chapter entitled "Manners for Old Married Geezers Dating Young Unmarried Chicks"?)
GENTLE READER: Just a guess, but if your husband is up to no good, he is not going to be deterred by Miss Manners tsk-tsking at him. Etiquette fell out of the chaperonage business for that reason (that reason and the late hours).
There is a deeper reason, as well. The blanket assumption, as it were, that there could be only one motive for members of opposite genders to dine together perpetrated tremendous social injustices.
No, Miss Manners is not defending the old geezer, if that is what he is, and you know him better than she does. But neither will she be a party to the outrageous assumption that two business associates who share a meal, or two friends for that matter, can only be on a romantic date if one of them is female.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: At the baby shower of my sister's daughter-in-law, I was dismayed when the guest of honor's mother bypassed two other tables and took the floral centerpiece from ours to give to a departing guest. When leaving, would you have said or done anything to show your disapproval?
GENTLE READER: Such as what? "Unhand those posies, madam"?
Miss Manners has never cared for the intense interest in grabbing party leftovers, sometimes before the party is over. Removing flowers from the table while you were sitting at it would come under that band, but so would your assuming that they were yours to take home.