DEAR MISS MANNERS: Several years ago, I was fortunate to be able to purchase a vacation home on the beach. I enjoy inviting my friends to visit.
However, over time, many of them have begun to be quite presumptuous, to the point where I'm beginning to feel used. One friend left her bathing suits in my guest bedroom for the next time she comes to visit; one wrote his name on a bottle of bourbon and left it behind my bar; one invited a friend that I did not know to stay with her; one even asked me for his own key so he could stay there when I wasn't home!
How can I convey to these people that, while I enjoy having them as my guests, this is, in fact, my home and not a time-share?
GENTLE READER: Drink the bourbon, mail back the bathing suits, and keep a tight grip on your invitations and your keys. Should any explanation seem necessary, it should be 1) "Thank you"; 2) "I can't store things here"; 3) "I'm sorry, but I can't accommodate your friend"; and 4) "I don't know you well enough to exchange keys with you, and I doubt that I would have occasion to occupy your house."
Oh, and Miss Manners doesn't want you using the gracious expression "My house is your house" until you have a better class of friends.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the best way of shutting up a friend who has the cringe-making, crass habit of trying to pull rank, sometimes in casual conversation with complete strangers, by declaring: "I'm a doctor's daughter"? I really wish this pomposity had been beaten out of her in the school playground and I don't understand why it wasn't, but as we're not in the school playground anymore, what can I do?
She uses this line to justify, and indeed advise, such activities as eating moldy food, driving after a couple of glasses of wine and walking across tick-infested countryside with bare legs: "Lyme disease isn't a problem for anyone with a healthy immune system. I'm a doctor's daughter."
It's bloody annoying, but what, if any, is her offence against etiquette? Even if she hasn't committed one, how do I make her shut up?
Her father the doctor is dead so it's impossible to know what he actually said. Should I try "I think you must have forgotten"? Even if she isn't talking rubbish, which she usually is, and even if she isn't talking to me, that phrase "I'm a doctor's daughter" makes my skin crawl with embarrassment. "My father was a research chemist." Could that help?
GENTLE READER: Help with what? Memorizing the table of the elements? Explaining the properties of the contents of the medicine cabinet?
Wait, you have the doctor's daughter to do that.
It is hard to say exactly what her etiquette violation is -- some combination of brag-and-bore -- but easy to see that it is annoying. Miss Manners would respond to the reference to the lady's father by saying nicely, "He probably had a license to practice medicine."