DEAR MISS MANNERS: It ruffles me to get a missive that says words to the effect of, "I'm stealing time from doing better things" or "I'm writing just a quick note," etc. What's so pressing that you have time for "just a quick note" to me?
GENTLE READER: Stern duty and the rigors of life are keeping these people from the pleasure in which they would prefer to indulge, which is to spend the day writing to you. Or so Miss Manners suggests that you believe.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My wife and I seldom go out to dinner because I am an aspiring chef, have moonlighted in restaurants, and can cook meals just as good as you can get out! Still, every now and then, I enjoy a break away from the stove and cleanup, so there are a few nice places we go to occasionally.
These restaurants are not five-star places by any means, but they are not pizza joints, either. I'm talking about a typical BYOB that's well appointed with linens and such. What irks me is how people come dressed, and more so that many people, men and women both, think it's OK to wear a hat or baseball cap while dining.
A few weeks ago, at one of our favorite places, four women met for dinner. One wore nurse's scrubs, and two wore workout clothes, with their sports bras exposed through their tank top armholes.
By spring, I hope to have my own little bistro/restaurant (God willing). I want to post a conspicuous sign at the entrance that reads "Gentlemen, Please Remove Your Hats While Dining With Us," and I would like to post "proper attire required" to avoid "scrubs" and "workout clothes." I've come to grips with the fact that I may not be able to prevent men from wearing shorts (although I find hairy legs and knobby knees repugnant when I try to enjoy my food).
I was raised in a home where you had to have a shirt on at the table, and no hats -- ever. Still, to this day, I remove my cap even if I'm at a burger joint or having a hot dog and beer at a fast food place. Maybe I'm the opposite extreme, but it's ingrained in my mind, and I get agitated when I see people dine with hats on like it's a permanent fixture of their head.
My wife thinks I should just relax and not let all this bother me, and she says that if I start making up all these "rules" I'd have no customers, and a new upstart business needs all the customers it can get, and that as long as their money is green, that's all that matters. But I really want to have a respectable establishment where patrons can enjoy pleasant surroundings and that looks refined, without it being a full-fledged "jacket required" place.
What is your opinion on what I propose? Has society just rolled into this "come-as-you-are" mentality? Is it a lost cause? Should I heed my wife's words and turn a blind eye?
GENTLE READER: Rather than join you in the tempting pastime of deploring modern society, Miss Manners prefers to point out that it contains a lot of people and it needs a lot of restaurants.
It needs ones where nurses in their scrubs can get a good meal during their break, and ones where the knobby-kneed can air their legs. (But it already has plenty of places where people can eat wearing baseball caps: They are called stadiums.)
It also needs calm and decorous surroundings where you, Miss Manners -- and perhaps the nurses and knobby-kneed when they are on other schedules and in different moods -- can eat in an atmosphere that we find pleasant. At the moment, there is a dearth of those. Miss Manners looks forward to hearing that you have provided one.