DEAR MISS MANNERS: Could you please suggest an appropriate response to the (unrequested) viewing of sonogram photographs? I am a teacher and have noticed female students passing these photographs amongst themselves. Then, a few days ago, one thrust her photographs into my hands.
I would shrug this off as teenagers who perhaps have yet to learn all their etiquette. However, I have also had my adult, professionally trained relatives put their photographs into my hands. These photographs cause me to feel a little queasy. I feel they should be viewed by the expectant couple only, unless others request a viewing.
I feel like a relic from another century. Could Miss Manners suggest an appropriate response, should this situation occur again? I honestly do not know what to say that would be appropriate. I can think of several inappropriate responses. However, I have noticed Miss Manners does not allow boorish behavior even on the heels of other, at least perceived, boorish behavior.
GENTLE READER: Indeed, Miss Manners does insist on polite responses, even to people who force you to look at unfinished works. The proper response to all baby pictures is, "Looks just like you!"
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it incorrect, inappropriate, rude or wrong to carry on a conversation in a room where someone is using a telephone?
Several times now I have seen this occur, and the phone user has lashed out irrationally at the people conversing. This seems harsh and rude seeing as the people speaking are talking in hushed voices and are cognizant of the telephone conversation.
What I am saying is that they realize someone is on the phone and they are making every effort so as not to disturb this person. This sounds acceptable, but maybe you could tell me, should they just not talk at all if someone is on the phone?
GENTLE READER: Would someone who ignores everyone around him except to lash out at them win this etiquette contest?
Miss Manners supposes it is possible. If several of you crowded into his office and started chattering away while he was on the telephone with his elderly mother's cardiologist, you would be rude. Under other circumstances, people who are in company with others are expected to stay off the telephone unless they can move discreetly away for a short time and not bother others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Could you please inform us what the proper etiquette is for making one's way around graves? Whenever I've gone to visit a loved one, I haven't known whether it's all right to walk across the grass (of course not the headstone) or in strict right angles so as to try to avoid walking across people's graves. The bottom ends of the graves, of course, aren't marked, so I don't know whether I'm treading softly or not.
GENTLE READER: No, but you know approximately how long caskets are, and that there is often little space between plots. Miss Manners realizes that the ancient habit of burying distinguished people under cathedral floors, as well as the park-like appearance of modern graveyards, makes treading on graves difficult to avoid, but she would hope that the effort would be made. You wouldn't care to see someone strolling across the grave you are there to visit.