DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have created a gentle and cordial debate about the use of top sheets: When patterned sheets are used, does the print go face up or down? Since it usually gets covered by a blanket or bedspread, it is not seen. If it gets folded back in front of the pillows, it is usually the hem that shows, and most of the time the sheet and blanket are covered by the pillows and then the spread.
Some say down, so when you are under it you see the print. Why is that important when you're asleep?
GENTLE READER: Do you mean to say that you are able to sleep while displaying the wrong side of the sheet over your blanket cover?
Miss Manners refers you to the cartoon by dear James Thurber, in which a hapless little man wearing a polka-dot pajama top and striped bottoms stands in front of the marital bed, from which his ferocious wife is saying, "Well, it makes a difference to me!"
To ensure a peaceful night for the finicky, a patterned or monogrammed sheet is put face down so that the right side is both toward the sleeper and face up when folded over the other bedclothes.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: While out to dinner with my girlfriend and her husband, she remarked that she was cold and wished she had brought a jacket. I informed her that I had one in my car and she was welcome to use it.
Who should get the jacket from the car? I told her she could get the jacket since she wanted it -- she said basically that she has done so much for me that it was rude that I expected her to get it herself.
Actual solution: Her husband got the jacket. What is the proper etiquette?
GENTLE READER: Consideration and politeness seem to go only so far in your little group. You offered your jacket but expected to send her out into the cold, coatless, to fetch it. She accepted your offer but felt free to chastise you.
Miss Manners counts only one here with a full set of manners. Any husbands present should have volunteered.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I will become a grandfather for the first time and want to know how I handle future Mother's and Father's Days for my son and daughter-in-law. Do I send them cards or not?
GENTLE READER: You can, of course; Miss Manners would never want to discourage good wishes. But it is not an obligation.
Every year, she is horrified to hear from indignant mothers and fathers (well, truthfully, mostly from mothers) who feel that their own parents should pay them obeisance rather than the other way around. Sometimes they expect this of others, as well.
What would be more charming of you would be to address a note to the baby, congratulating her on having such wonderful parents.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: If one has a dinner engagement at a friend's house, should he call ahead when en route?
GENTLE READER: Yes, if it is to say, "I've been in a small accident, but the hospital promised to release me soon. I'm terribly sorry, and I'll be there, but please start dinner without me."
But not if it is to get your friend out of the kitchen or the bathtub to issue updates on an expected arrival.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)