DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am confused about the growing habit of wearing high heels without stockings. I feel as though I am not dressed properly without hose, and yet people will deliberately ask me (even at embassy functions) if I am wearing stockings, as though I am making a major mistake.
Is there a rule, a difference between wearing peptone or sandal high heels and pumps? What is the purpose of sandalfoot hose if not for showing toes when dressed up? Is there a difference between warmer and colder climates? Is there a rule about wearing different style shoes for dress?
GENTLE READER: The world situation must be better than Miss Manners thought if people at embassies have the luxury of getting worked up over whether the guests are wearing stockings.
Perhaps this is merely a weather-related conversation opener, to which the answer should be, "Yes, and I thought I'd faint from the heat while I was trying to get a taxi."
Because of course the answer is yes, although it is also the case that people should not be checking out one another's legs to find out. Visibly bare legs (Miss Manners knows and says nothing about whatever is hidden under long skirts or trousers) are wrong for any even slightly formal occasion, and bare toes (as opposed to those discreetly veiled inside those strappy evening shoes that look so good and feel so terrible) are even more wrong.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a student working at a summer camp with 120 campers. Every day we have to move all of those children out in half an hour with a precise system of binders and designated areas and yellow tape.
Some parents are making business calls when a person approaches them with a binder, and they don't seem to want to hang up. This slows down our system considerably. What can I say to the parents who cannot wait to talk about their stock options?
GENTLE READER: Whatever you say, they are not listening. As a student summer employee, you will not have the authority to make rules, and Miss Manners is afraid that parents who have already shown themselves willing to inconvenience others will resent any attempt to comply.
Ah, but as a student summer employee, you will enhance your own standing with your employers if you make suggestions -- for them to issue as rules -- that will improve conditions. The one Miss Manners recommends is that two lines be established for pick-ups: cell phone lines and cell phone-free lines. The camp will not have to worry about policing this; other parents will be only too eager to do so.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I took my family to lunch, and the granddaughter gave the food orders. I told her, "You give the order to the man in the group and he passes it on to the waiter." RIGHT?
GENTLE READER: Not right enough for you to shout it like that.
Your granddaughter should have given you her order because you were the host. That rule still holds. And nice, old-fashioned ladies like Miss Manners still direct their choices to the gentleman with whom they are dining, to the bewilderment of young waiters, who can hear perfectly well what is being said.
But the host factor takes precedence. Should your granddaughter take you out to lunch, you should give her your order.