DEAR MISS MANNERS: My question concerns the proper behavior or action a male should take in countering a physical female assault. My situation involves two repeated incidents that I'd prefer to stop, but don't know how.
There is this girl that always takes the cowboy hat off of my head whenever I see her. Either she'll run up behind me and steal it off my head, or she'll just snatch it away from me while we're talking. I do appreciate her company; however, I'd like to keep my hat on my head, and cease the need to repeatedly ask her for my hat back, over and over again, after denying her request to keep it, time and time again.
Dealing with this behavior male to male is easy enough; it's very easy to deflect or deter another guy from taking something from me, but I find it wrong to use physical force on a girl. Secondly, how do I deal with an actual physical assault from a girl? Girls that while giggling, poke, pinch, or slap me, even in the face! This is gratuitous! I can't retaliate in anger or frustration. I just have to deal with it and ask them to stop. What's a good way to get the message across without using physical force? It's the only way that seems to connect with some people.
GENTLE READER: If you are an elementary school pupil, Miss Manners wishes to compliment you on your sophistication. If you are any older, she will confine herself to pointing out your naivete.
The sophistication would be in realizing the idiocy of this method of flirtation. The naivete would be in assuming that anyone who resorts to such tactics is likely to be mature enough to be good company.
In fifth grade or afterward, this sort of thing only stops when it fails to produce a reaction. Unfortunately, pleading to stop is a reaction. You must simply look bored and put your hand out for your hat, or, in the case of the poking, move away.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently accepted a dinner invitation from a gentleman. During the course of dinner, I realized that we had nothing in common, even to the point of serious differences in basic outlooks on life. When he started telling me how I should dress, I ended the evening, and we went our separate ways. My intention was not to accept any future invitations, but I didn't verbalize that.
In the days since, he has left numerous messages on my answering machine, which I haven't returned. Am I obligated after one date to give an explanation of why I don't want to spend any more time with him?
GENTLE READER: As your very understandable objection to this gentleman was his criticizing you, why would you indulge in the same behavior? Contrary to popular opinion on the part of people who practice popular psychology, the refusal to enter into a romance does not, Miss Manners assures you, require an explanation.