DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there anything short of homicide that I can do to stave off pro-sports fever and its yapping fans?
I am besieged to "pray for" our local sports team, reschedule social events or cancel them outright, stay up all night and listen to 24/7 coverage from the news media, co-workers and a drunk who sidled up to me at a bar.
Last weekend was the final straw. We attended a lovely birthday dinner. At the stroke of 8 p.m., the guests leapt up from the table and stampeded into the living room to watch "THE GAME," leaving the host, who is disabled, and a few stragglers behind at the table.
During commercials, these jerks stampeded back for cake. I was furious and spoke my mind, but soon realized I was making no impression, and I put my cake hole to better use.
Can anything get through to these bores? I take the stance that I am allowed to pay as much attention to pro-sports teams as they pay to me, which is none. Yet people insist on blathering on endlessly about them. Stop the lunacy. I want to get off.
GENTLE READER: It is not hard to discourage people from including you in sports talk. Just inquire politely what sport is played by the team for which they ask you to pray. If that doesn't work, then ask them to explain the rules of the game.
But if your social events are being interrupted and canceled by those who believe that sports events trump all obligations and duties, you need to develop a set of friends who not only practice better manners but share your own interests. You might start with your dinner host and those guests whom you described as stragglers. What were you and they talking about when the others left the room? And why (since Miss Manners presumes that you were not in the midst of telling your host how rude you found his absent guests) did you stop?
You cannot prevent others from having their own interests. But you can eat their cake while they are absent from the room.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: The other day, I was in a bathroom at a restaurant, and to find out whether a stall was occupied, I knocked on the door. The response was a muffled "'Scuse me," which made me look around to see whether I was in someone's way.
What is the proper response to a knock on a bathroom door? My feeling is that the woman had every right to be in that stall, so there should have been no need to excuse herself. My mother taught me to say the very obvious "Someone's in here."
Also, what are your thoughts on looking under the stall door? A little peek at the feet can't be bad, can it?
GENTLE READER: No peeking. People have gotten into serious trouble that way.
Miss Manners is afraid that you believe that apologies necessarily indicate blame. But while the occupant of the stall is obviously blameless, there is no doubt that anyone else who wants to use the stall is being inconvenienced. It is therefore polite to say, "Sorry, I'll be out soon."