DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was walking across a beach, sunny, lots of people around. Ahead of me, to one side, was a pretty girl walking on a course at right angles to my course. It became apparent that if we continued walking at the same rate, we would run into each other; one or both of us had to pause or change our course.
My instinct was to slow down, allowing her to pass ahead of me. I did that, and everything was fine.
Then, I thought, this allowed me to be just behind her, to stare appreciatively at her backside, and she couldn't see me or what I was doing unless she turned around.
Would she have preferred me to go ahead so she could have kept me in her range of vision?
Of course, on this public beach it was not really a problem. But what about in a parking lot, perhaps in the evening with poor lighting, and she was carrying a purse?
You can imagine many situations where our teaching is to let the lady go ahead, but in reality maybe she doesn't want a strange man behind her. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That you should stop staring at that young lady, even if it is a public beach. Beaches are wide, and you needn't have dogged her footsteps.
That you especially should not do so in a dark parking lot, Miss Manners agrees. But the "ladies first" rule, while decorous in social life, does not apply in parking lots. Did you keep your car to one side allowing ladies who had arrived after you to enter the lot first?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My college friend and bridesmaid has spontaneously decided to run for a political office with virtually no experience in the field. She expects me to donate financially.
I am currently a homemaker with one child and two on the way. Although my husband and I can afford it, it quite frankly isn't something that I want to prioritize in our lengthy budget.
I love my friend but am somewhat offended that she asked me to send her money and turned down my alternative ways of supporting her.
(By the way, she has no husband, children, or other bills that I am aware of. She also would not represent my district, as we live in different states.) How would you suggest I proceed?
GENTLE READER: Not by a discussion of your finances or hers, which could get ugly. You have noted that you could afford to give, and few politicians can afford to finance their own campaigns.
The simplest thing would be to give a token donation, although Miss Manners can understand if you do not want to yield at all to pressure. In that case, she suggests writing an affectionate and supportive letter, reiterating your offers of alternative support (if still practical) and wishing her well, but not mentioning or enclosing money.
If she does not let it go at that to retain you as an ally, she is not cut out to be a politician.