DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our neighborhood has a listserve where people discuss and post issues from yard sales to neighborhood functions. The following was posted:
"Hi Neighbors,??Does anyone know whether there are any regulations in place regarding ?the use of emergency sirens during the night/early morning hours?
"While I recognize the need for sirens when emergency vehicles are ?traveling, with the purpose of alerting other vehicles and/or ?pedestrians, the sirens can also be extremely loud especially when ?used constantly rather than intermittently. Both this morning and ?yesterday morning, my children (and my husband and I) were awoken between 6:30 and 6:45 am by very loud sirens. Before moving here, we never had this ?problem."
Wondering if you could publish just what exactly is wrong with this scenario. It is rather humorous, albeit disturbing!
GENTLE READER: Indeed. One wouldn't think that respectable people needed to be reminded to have their heart attacks and house fires at a decent hour.
Miss Manners certainly hopes that is the case with this neighbor. As the lady is new in the neighborhood, she has the opportunity to serve as an example of those who are generous enough to value others' slumber over their own life, limb and property.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband has always let our son, who is now 3, play with various items on the table when we go out to eat. These items include sugar packets, creamers, jelly packets and things of that nature. I think it's gross that they are playing with things that other people will actually use for their food and drink, but my husband thinks it's no big deal because these items are wrapped.
I chose to let it go several times in the past in an attempt to not be controlling and let him do his thing. However, when my son and I went out to lunch with his aunt and her children, my son went to grab for these items, to which his aunt immediately said "no, no" because she was closest to him.
I want to make this a consistent rule that he not be allowed to play with these items to avoid confusion in the future. Although my husband is willing to back me up on this rule, we still are curious as to the manners aspect of it.
GENTLE READER: The reason is that it revolts other people.
In better days, when children were routinely taught table manners (and conversation) every night at the family dinner table, the most frequently heard admonition was "Don't play with your food."
Intermixed with "Tell us about your science project" and "Pay attention to what your father is saying; you might learn something" were specific instructions, such as "Stop making a volcano out of your mashed potatoes and gravy," "Stop blowing bubbles in your milk" and "Stop throwing peas at your sister."
And so on, about everything on the table, including the candles, the napkins and certainly including all foods.
If anyone questions this, Miss Manners can supply a cautionary tale about an American ambassador in Europe who lost his job for not obeying. At a state dinner, he bet his dinner partner that he could shoot a pea across the table into the decolletage of the lady seated opposite him. Won the bet but lost the job.