DEAR MISS MANNERS: In my dental practice, I see a lot of children who are grammatically challenged. As their dentist, would it be proper for me to gently correct them of their trespasses against the English language, or should I turn a deaf ear to their oral cavity?
GENTLE READER: Are your young patients so overly eager to spend time with you that you feel the need to make the experience less enticing than it already is?
And have you already taught them to take such perfect care of their teeth that you are ready to move into other educational areas?
If so, Miss Manners hopes you will volunteer as an English tutor. In your day job, the mouth is under your professional jurisdiction, but the words emanating from it are not. Youth should not be considered an invitation to embarrass people about their general inadvertent failings.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My best friend, and college roommate, is blind. She has been blind since she was 4. When we go anywhere together, for example, grocery stores or restaurants, people that are helping us direct every question to me including questions that she should answer when she is standing right in front of them.
They look at me and ask "What does she want to drink?" or "Does she want...?"
Most times I pointedly ask her what the question was to demonstrate that she can answer on her own, but even after that they still continue to direct questions to me. How do I politely get them to direct their questions to her?
GENTLE READER: If Miss Manners understands what you mean by asking your friend what the question was, you could have an amusing dialogue going:
"What was the question?"
"He wants to know what I want to drink."
"Well, what do you want to drink?' and so on.
But in the interest of time, and of gently making these people realize how thoughtless and ridiculous they are being, you could simply reply, "I don't know. Why don't you ask her?"
DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few months ago, I offered my aunt a few hours of free babysitting to thank her for lending me her clarinet for a semester. The other day, I came over to watch the kids for five hours, half of which time they spent napping. As I was leaving, she paid me what looked like a 20 and two singles.
When I returned home, I realized that I had forgotten my offer for free babysitting. Then, reaching into my pocket, I discovered that she had actually handed me $40!
I called her up immediately and reminded her that I was doing this for free. She wouldn't hear it. I asked if she had accidentally given me more than she meant to, but she insisted she meant to give me the 40. My dad suggests I mail her the money in an envelope with a note, but my hunch is that I should just let it go. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That you and your aunt are both charmingly generous. Rather than returning the money, it would be more gracious, Miss Manners believes, to use it to take your cousins on a little excursion, making it clear that they are your guests, and this has nothing to do with babysitting.