DEAR MISS MANNERS: I apologize in advance if the mere discussion of this topic is itself impolite, but I am nevertheless eager for some guidance on the topic of reading in the bathroom. It seems generally accepted that people read everything from poetry to the daily mail in the bathroom.
Indeed, I imagine some of your gentle readers may be enjoying this very column in that manner. So I will assume, but am prepared to be corrected, that reading in the bathroom is, as a general matter, acceptable.
My specific question is whether it is impolite to bring reading material into a public restroom. For example, when I am at a coffee shop and bring a newspaper into the bathroom, for all to see as I enter and exit. I don't know if that's impolite, but I do know that I feel somewhat sheepish about it, and that I often try to be discreet about what I bring with me. As another example, at work I will sometimes bring a document to the restroom, again feeling somewhat concerned that my co-workers find the conduct to be improper.
Is this impolite? Should I simply kick the habit?
GENTLE READER-- You are asking Miss Manners to break her habit of refusing to deal with bathroom questions. Her general position is that once you close the bathroom door, she does not care to follow you. What you do in there does not concern her, and this includes reading.
But thanks anyway for your vivid picture of her Gentle Readers.
However, this has to do with being on the way to the bathroom and how it affects your colleagues and others, so she supposes she had better tackle it.
It is not the act of reading that may be alarming to those who use the same public bathroom. What acts you perform in private space there are no more their business than Miss Manners'.
It is the appearance of your planning to be there forever, or at least for as long as it takes you to finish "Anna Karenina" or the annual report. Colleagues and strangers may be more reluctant than family members to bang and shout, "Are you going to be in there all day?" Miss Manners therefore recommends sneaking in your reading material and bookmarking it when you hear footsteps.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepmother-in-law to-be recently informed me that she intends to wear her own wedding dress to our upcoming nuptials, in the interest of economy. I obligingly smiled and nodded. My fiance's father remarried last autumn, and his bride wore a cocktail length dress with an ivory bodice and metallic skirt; although the dress was probably not designed as a bridal gown, I'm still moderately troubled.
If you could, please impart wisdom as to how I might gently and respectfully resolve this issue.
GENTLE READER: There is no need: Your smiling and nodding has already resolved this issue gently and respectfully.
A bride can properly set the general style of the wedding, but not properly judge everyone's wardrobe choice. Surely you have enough else to do, such as maintaining family harmony. Miss Manners promises you that no one will mistake the bridegroom's stepmother for the bride.