DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am wondering what is the best way to handle men who approach me on the street with the intentions of -- I'll assume the best -- courting me.
When I say I have a boyfriend, they don't seem to care. If I leave my boyfriend out of it and say I'm not interested, they try to get me interested by continuing the conversation.
I think that just because they are being rude to me doesn't mean I need to be rude back. However, it is often the only way to make them stop -- and then I feel guilty about being rude. In my experience, ignoring them is even worse, as then they try to embarrass me. I don't want to seem like a snob. I have a boyfriend, and I'm not looking for a second one.
GENTLE READER: And if you were, would you look for one on the street? Where, of course, the prospects don't care if you have a boyfriend, because they will be happy to hand you back to him in short order?
Miss Manners assures you that it is neither rude nor snobbish to refuse to weigh the advances of amorous strangers and unnecessary to produce an excuse if you do not accede to their suggestions.
A lady does not "handle" strange men on the street. She ignores them and leaves; if they pursue her, she goes to the police.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How promptly should one respond after being called to the family dinner table?
The chef, who has so lovingly prepared the meal, believes that the diners should take their seats as soon as they are summoned, even if this means that the food is still arriving at the table while or after everyone is being seated. This ensures that the food, which is intended to be eaten while still hot, will be placed on the table at the temperature most likely to compliment the cooking and please the diners.
The nonculinary principals involved believe that an effort to arrive at the table is not necessary until the food has been placed on the table in its entirety and the chef is seated and remains seated. Once this is achieved, the noncooking family members often take five or more minutes before arriving at the table, taking the time to do one or more of the following: dress for dinner, wash hands, or select and open a bottle of wine.
Once arriving at the table, a request to say grace is then made. Food is now growing cold, and it is difficult to restrain hungry children, not to mention the chef. Giving all diners a five-minute warning prior to calling everyone to the table has not seemed to help.
GENTLE READER: As Miss Manners does not find it difficult to detect a point of view in the way this question is presented, she thinks you will be pleased with the answer. You win on two counts.
The cook is entitled to be tyrannical about setting dinner time; even George Washington claimed to be afraid of his cook and went to table at the appointed time without waiting for tardy guests. Parents are also empowered to require mealtime promptness.
Miss Manners is afraid that you will have to insist upon exercising your double authority. She can validate it for you, but she cannot come over and round everyone up.