DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it considered rude to dress in weather-appropriate shorts and T-shirts if doing so reveals scars that are obviously self-inflicted?
My hard times are long behind me, and the scars are all faded and white, although they'll always be pretty obvious. For many summers, I've tolerated the discomfort of wearing long pants and sleeves through the heat waves, and I'm tired of (falsely) insisting to well-meaning people that, no, I'm not too hot in these clothes.
I'm aware that if I wear clothing that makes the scars visible, I'll get even more questions and looks from (less well-meaning) people. I don't want to burden anyone with troubles from my past, but I'm tired of roasting through summers.
Would it be improper of me to wear clothing that exposes my arms or legs on a hot day? What is a polite way to deal with stares and questions, whether about scars or excessive clothing in high temperatures?
GENTLE READER: As you are already spending summers dodging annoying questions, you should at least make yourself comfortable.
Many factors determine proper dress: the season, the weather, the occasion; national, regional and social customs; the prevailing symbolism, and so on. However, Miss Manners is outraged at demands that disfigurement or heavy weight or signs of age should prevent people from wearing bathing suits or other revealing but respectable clothing in the proper context.
Of course it is not rude of you to wear short-sleeved shirts and shorts under informal circumstances. It is rude of others to stare and ask questions.
But you know they will. You need reply nothing more than, "You're kind to worry about me, but I'm fine. These are very old scars."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I had encountered some financial difficulties that we solved by selling our primary home, which had a mortgage, and moving to our vacation home, which does not.
The children and I reside full time in this home now, and my husband works in our old town during the week, which is three hours away. Weekends are the only time we have as a family.
At least twice a month, more in the summer, we are invited by friends -- his, mine or both -- to attend parties or events in our old town. As much as I love my family and friends, the six-hour round-trip drive, the tank of gas and disruption to our time together make these invitations irritating to have to decline.
"Oh, you can come this one time," seems to be the mantra. This is still going on after two years. Should I say something, or simply pray people get the hint?
GENTLE READER: Is it really that annoying to know that your friends still miss you and want to see you?
Apparently it is. Otherwise, Miss Manners would think you might invite them to visit you, or go into town with your husband one day and meet them for dinner. You needn't sacrifice your weekends to keep from sacrificing those friendships.
(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.)