DEAR MISS MANNERS: I share a house with three friends. The problem is that one of our number has recently split up with a long-term boyfriend and has taken to one-night stands by way of consolation. Two of us are actively disturbed by her activities (her ex-boyfriend had his own flat). None of us care for the idea of having those who are complete strangers to all of us in our home by night, and we are somewhat concerned about security. What can we say?
GENTLE READER: How about: "None of us cares for the idea of having complete strangers in our home at night -- besides which it scares us half to death."
You will forgive Miss Manners for rewording your statement (including prissily treating "none" as taking the singular verb), but she found it puzzlingly diffident. Why shouldn't people who share a house voice their concerns and make rules about guests and safety?
Truthfully, she suspects that she does know why you are hanging back. It's because this involves what we shall euphemistically and inaccurately call someone's love life. You probably subscribe to the cult of nonjudgmentalism, which forbids any mention of disapproval in such matters. If it were a question of your roommate's leaving dirty dishes in the sink, you would probably be forceful enough.
Among roommates, everyone's love life, no matter how chaste, is likely to affect the others in several ways unconnected with morality. Danger and having to listen to outpourings of heartbreak may be two, but what about a gentleman who helped himself to the groceries or poached your software? Or was lounging around the living room every night?
The use of space and resources in the house are the concern of all of you. Miss Manners is afraid that you three will simply have to require your heartbroken roommate to seek such consolation off the premises.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have very long, well-taken-care-of hair. The issue is this: Whenever I go out in public, complete strangers walk up to me and start playing with my hair, raking their fingers through it, or even pulling it to see if it's real. What would be an appropriate way to tell them to stop without making anyone feel uncomfortable?
GENTLE READER: The correct thing to say when a stranger grabs you by the hair is "HELP!"
If you sincerely want to make such a person feel comfortable, you could instead say, "Mmmmm," but Miss Manners regrets to tell you that this will not encourage anyone to stop.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper thing to do when you go to a wake where the family has requested "in lieu of flowers, please donate to this organization..." and the organization goes against your beliefs?
I was at a wake where I was asked to contribute to an organization that is highly discriminatory. I opted to buy flowers anyway, and I was questioned three times as to why I didn't donate. I cannot go against my beliefs, but I want to be supportive of a family in need. What is the right thing to do?
GENTLE READER: The right things to do for bereaved people are to attend the funeral, write a letter of sympathy and offer whatever companionship and practical help is appropriate to the relationship. Flowers and donations are nice, but Miss Manners assures you that they are optional extras. Not only are you not required to do either, but they do not excuse you from the basic duties.