DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 12-year-old girl in middle school, 6th grade. I have a locker right next to this really popular girl.
Because she's so popular, there is a huge group of other popular kids surrounding her locker and mine. It makes it literally impossible for me to get to my locker without shoving my way through. How can I get them to go away without making them never want to talk to me because I'm too "unpopular"?
GENTLE READER: By stopping thinking in those terms. People of your age are particularly prone to judge others by their apparent self-evaluations. If they can sniff out your worry about seeming unpopular, they will brand you as such.
Miss Manners therefore recommends that you assume a cheerful attitude and call out, when necessary, "OK, all Zoe fans to the left, please -- I need to get to my locker."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it inherently rude to one's spouse to remain friends with a former lover?
My husband and I were well into our 40s when we married; as a result, both of us had friends and lovers in our respective pasts. In fact, when my husband and I first became involved, his best friend was a woman, whose friendship I cultivated and who ultimately was one of the attendants in our wedding.
My husband has many female friends and colleagues, as does anyone who works for a living. I would never dream of insisting he give any of them up.
The friendship in question and the correspondence that continues it is neither hidden nor flaunted. All e-mails (perhaps every other month) phone calls (only when he is in the country, maybe twice a year) and visits (once in 25 years) are as proper as those with a male cousin or sibling. There is no immorality or physical relationship.
My friend and I have seen each other through many of life's trials. In fact, our friendship predates my husband by about 20 years. My husband -- whom I love, but whose idea of a social life is to stay in and refuse to answer invitations, while I work from home and generally long for contact with others -- behaves as if I am Madame Bovary.
I say there should be a statute of limitations on such things. The affair took place 30 years and (collectively) four marriages ago. Am I behaving improperly?
GENTLE READER: You say not, and Miss Manners believes you. But the only person who needs to be convinced is your husband. A standard way to accomplish this is to include him in any visits, so that he eventually decides that he would rather trust you than continue to listen to your boring reminiscences.
But since the gentleman lives in another country, you're in for one of those long talks about trust and how thoroughly you trust him with those attractive friends of his, even though nobody knows better than yourself how desirable he is. A throwaway line about there being nothing less romantically tempting than someone who has been tried and found wanting probably wouldn't hurt.