DEAR MISS MANNERS: Sunday I was at the new condo of a close friend of mine for over 13 years, and I accidentally bumped into her screen door. As the bump was quite severe, the door was knocked off its track (but otherwise not damaged).
I apologized and placed the door back on its track. For the rest of the condo-warming party, my friend's parents preceded to make veiled jibes in reference to the incident. I politely went along with the jibes, and proceeded to depart the party after an hour and a half.
However, upon returning to work today, my co-worker informed me that he had heard about the incident from my friend after I left. Apparently, my friend took it upon herself to continue where her parents left off and joke about the incident to the rest of the partygoers after I had departed. Mind you, when the incident happened at the party, the only people present were myself, my friend and her parents.
From what my grandmother taught me about etiquette, I was always led to believe that a gracious hostess should help her guests feel at ease and not remind them about their mistakes. I would like to speak with my friend and let her know that I did not appreciate her actions, as I really do feel further embarrassed, but I'm not positive that this is the best recourse.
GENTLE READER: Did your grandmother mention that sometimes a gracious hostess has to remind her guest of a mistake in order to make her feel at ease?
When there is a spectacular accident with no serious consequences, ignoring it may suggest that the perpetrator is habitually clumsy to the point that no one is surprised. Making a joke of it could demonstrate that it was an unusual occurrence embarrassing neither hostess nor guest.
Admittedly, Miss Manners is hard pressed to think how your hostess and her parents made such a funny story out of this that it was worth drawing to the attention of people who had not noticed. But let us assume that that was her intention and move on to the real etiquette problem: Making her stop.
There comes a point when even welcome teasing gets on the nerves. Having passed that point, you can say, without rancor, "Can we please drop the screen door joke now? It's beginning to wear on me."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a light-skinned woman in my mid-40s, it is not uncommon for my face to turn quite red several times a day as I suffer through the hot flashes commonly associated with menopause. At times, co-workers or acquaintances will comment on my red face and ask me if I've been out in the sun. How should I reply to these questions and comments? I'm not a sunbather, and besides, they are likely to notice that my "sunburned" face returns to its normal shade after a few minutes.
GENTLE READER: "Stop, please. You're making me blush."