DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am responsible for coordinating the commencement exercises at the high school where I teach. A colleague and I are having a lively discussion regarding the proper etiquette for women today wearing graduation caps during the National Anthem.
She says if the caps are not clipped or pinned on, the young women should remove them. I, on the other hand, feel that traditional etiquette calls for only men to remove their caps during this time. Can you advise us of the proper protocol?
GENTLE READER: It is certainly not to have some take off their caps while others do not. Never mind whether or not they are pinned or clipped to them -- to onlookers, the hatted will appear to be unpatriotic and disrespectful.
So you do need a policy. Of course that is what you asked Miss Manners to set, and now she is going to waffle. Sorry.
The mortarboard is a professional, unisex item, not to be confused with a lady's garden party hat. In theory, it is subject to the same rules that govern their male colleagues.
However -- the mortarboard is also a particularly aggressive head grabber, flattening any hair upon which it sits. Furthermore, graduations are often held out of doors, making it necessary to anchor it firmly. So Miss Manners might weaken and yield if your high school graduates plead that they have already had their hair done for the prom.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way to serve hot tea in a business meeting? Yes, I sometimes feel more like a waitress than an executive assistant, not that there is a thing in the world wrong with being a waitress. I just don't feel qualified for that position.
Do I dunk the tea bag and dispose of it before I serve our guest(s)? Do I place the unopened tea bag on the saucer next to the cup of hot water for our guest(s) to open and dunk themselves? Do I place the opened tea bag in the cup of hot water and serve it to our guest, making sure I've provided a saucer upon which to dispose of the tea bag? I understand this may be a very unworthy question.
GENTLE READER: No, but it is an unworthy situation. Whether your job description involves serving tea is not Miss Manners' concern. It is the tea bag that bothers her. There is no graceful way to deal with it.
However, she supposes she is not going to persuade you to lobby your company to serve loose tea in teapots. So you will have to do your best to accommodate tea drinkers with different attitudes about the proper strength. They can be very fussy, you know.
Your choice is to ask the preference of each person, in which case you need not make them deal with the nasty wet tea bag situation, or to present cups of hot water with the tea bags on the saucer.