DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am often invited to parties or receptions held to celebrate the publication of a book. Some of the parties are in private homes, others in restaurants or other public places. Some of the hosts and authors are friends, and, in other cases, I just assume I'm on somebody's list.
When books are available for purchase at these events, is it rude not to buy one? Is it understood that if you attend a book party and drink the wine, you're going to buy a book?
GENTLE READER: No, but it is understood that you are willing to show or pretend interest in the book. If you congratulate the author effusively, throwing in details garnered from a quick glance at the jacket copy, Miss Manners assures you (against her own interests) that the author will assume that you couldn't wait until the event to buy the book.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: On my vacation, I regularly encountered extremely rude behavior from my fellow passengers and could not think of how to react, except to ignore it as much as possible.
I had complete strangers try to snatch a dessert I was bringing to my wife. I was honked at and butted by walkers. Constantly, people seemed obligated to talk at the top of their lungs -- even reading signs passing by the highway.
When directly assaulted, I told them to stop, but most of the time I felt that pointing out their lack of manners would be rude of me also.
Fortunately, I was frequently able to escape and recover and overall enjoy my holiday. I believe that these are inherently nice people, who because of their upbringing or because they are in a strange land are completely unaware of their behavior. But it is this insensitivity that keeps me from going to movie theaters and other crowded venues.
I am considering telling people not to talk so loud in public places, to stop interrupting my dinner with their cell-phone calls, to keep their hands to themselves and not presume on a very slight acquaintance to enter into my conversations. Maybe they know don't know they are being rude or at least upsetting to me. I would like to find someplace between suffering in silence and inappropriate anger.
GENTLE READER: What you need is another place to vacation. Or at least another source of travel companions. Miss Manners is sorry that you fell in with a bad lot, but promises you that policing them will do nothing to enhance either their behavior or your holiday.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am planning on going into business, having become interested in this particular industry through a local proprietor of the same goods and services. He was always friendly and helpful and I enjoyed shopping there.
What is proper for me to do in regards to the relationship with this person? I'm worried he'll feel betrayed after he helped me so often.
GENTLE READER: The proper thing to do is to define the relationship. Miss Manners assures you that if you are the first to tell him of your plans, and you thank him for being your mentor and role model, he will have to consider you more his grateful protege than his competitor.