DEAR MISS MANNERS: My livelihood requires that I take very long flights. ?Of course, on a 10- or 15-hour flight, I have to ?get out of my seat from time to time. What is the ?etiquette of asking one's neighbor in the aisle seat ?to allow one to get by, especially if the neighbor is ?sleeping?
GENTLE READER: The polite move is to attempt to step over your sleeping seatmate without disturbing him. Considering how airplane seats are positioned, this, Miss Manners assures you, is impossible.
So if he is awake at the time, you assume a regretful and helpless expression and say "excuse me" while seemingly preparing to leap over him. If he has any sense of survival, not to mention compassion, he will get up, thus blocking the aisle for everyone else.
If he is asleep, you should say nothing but loom over him, presumably preparing to take a giant step, until he gets the creepy feeling that -- well, that someone is looming over him. At that point, you assume the hangdog look and say, "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, I just need to get out."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I went to dinner with a colleague at a restaurant that serves a bread dish as a complimentary starter -- it has two pieces. Before its arrival, I excused myself from the table to make an important phone call. When I returned, both pieces were gone. My colleague saw the surprised expression on my face and stated simply that she was hungry.
Am I wrong to feel that my colleague was rude in eating both pieces? Granted, I could have ordered another batch; however, there were two of us, which should imply one piece for each, right? Please advise.
GENTLE READER: All right -- Miss Manners advises you not to leave your dinner companion to starve while you go off and make your important telephone call. This was your colleague's way of saying that it was rude of you to delay her meal, and that she was due an apology instead of a shocked look.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In our very small, close-knit, 15-person department, we have two ladies who are expecting and due within two weeks of each other. They are both married and both already have one child. They are both expecting boys.
The problem is that one of them is keeping her baby, the other is giving her baby to her sister. We would like to have a baby shower but are unsure how to proceed. Do we give a joint shower? If so, what are appropriate gifts to give to the mom that is giving her baby to her sister? HELP! We don't want anyone to feel bad or left out.
GENTLE READER: Then ask each of them if she would be agreeable to your giving a joint shower. As for presents, Miss Manners hopes you do not imagine that either baby will have fewer than the usual needs or will cease to be of interest to his mother.