DEAR MISS MANNERS: In what manner should a person act, in a conversation, when the other person tunes out of the talk for a brief time because they are distracted?
I have a male friend I meet with for coffee. If an attractive woman comes by, he will stare at her and ignore our conversation for 10 or so seconds, and then resume.
If I happen to be talking at the time, I'm not sure what to do. I usually keep talking, until my friend rejoins the conversation. But I find it embarrassing. I feel awkward talking when no one is listening, and I think his behavior is rather rude.
This has happened to me only a few other times in my life, when a person is distracted when I am talking, and I never know what to do. But it mostly happens just with my friend. I work hard at being a good conversationalist and listener, trying to steer the conversation in the direction of the other person's interests. But in this situation, it doesn't seem to help.
GENTLE READER: Because you are not steering the conversation in the direction of your friend's immediate interest.
You might try that. Not ogling ladies, of course, which is a nasty habit. But asking him brightly, "Who's that? Do you know her? Should we go over and say hello?"
If he has any sense, he will retreat hastily, saying, "No, I was mistaken; I don't know her" and return his attention to you. You will probably have to do this on more than one occasion, but Miss Manners is confident that he will eventually learn that having that exchange yet again is not sufficient compensation for those fleeting glances.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm writing about a long-running friendly argument among my friends. Raymond, a superb host and our late friend, would offer a toast in honor of any new guest at his dinner table. However, that guest was never allowed to raise his or her glass and sip, since Raymond said it was in the guest's honor and one should not drink to one's self.
Others among us say that one should be allowed to drink to a toast in his or her honor. Still another friend hedges the argument by asserting that one doesn't drink to one's self, but should immediately return a toast to the host and/or hostess and may then drink.
GENTLE READER: Raymond was entirely correct: One should never drink to oneself (bridal couples, please take note), as is your friend who points out that the graceful way to catch up on the drinking is to offer a counter toast.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a colleague who consistently forgets to include "attachments" ?to e-mail messages. How do I politely reply to this person (repeatedly) and request that they resend the message with the attachment?
GENTLE READER: Yes, between those people and the ones who send attachments that can't be opened by the recipients, or attachments that take forever to open and are not worth it, we are all going mad. Yet Miss Manners urges patience and a polite reply of "Please resend attachment." Manners alone mandate this, but forgoing snapping back will protect you against counter-snaps on the inevitable day when you forget to attach an attachment.