DEAR MISS MANNERS: I like to be shirtless, but my girlfriend insists that when people are around I put on a shirt. I do not have an offensive body, so that's not the issue. She says it's respect. Who's right?
GENTLE READER: She is. Clearly you are offensive, because you are offending a lady who presumably likes you. Miss Manners doubts that you can expect more appreciation from others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: The invitation to a baby shower for my niece asked me to please not wrap the gift, and to please not put a tag on it, as the Mommy-to-be did not want to know who the gift was from. It also went on to ask me to please not buy a card, but to buy a book instead.
I thought all of these requests were quite rude, especially the one of not putting a tag on the gift. I took the time to knit this baby a blanket and would like the baby (and the parents) to know that it came from me, the baby's great-aunt. What are your thoughts on this?
GENTLE READER: That Mommy-to-be has cunningly planned yet another rudeness, as without identifying tags on the presents, she will be unable to write letters of thanks. Miss Manners is tempted to point out that without tags, Mommy-to-be will also not know if you opt out -- either by violating another of her many rules, or by omitting a present entirely. But she supposes that Mommy will also be standing at the door when you arrive, sizing up the loot.
If you expect this to be the case, you might mail the gift in advance, accompanied by a handwritten note. If your niece has the temerity to complain, you can look slightly hurt and say that surely Grandniece-to-be would want to know how much Great-Auntie-to-be loves her.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I was married to my first husband, I prepared the Thanksgiving meal for a crowd of 25-plus family and friends, and my then-mother-in-law would always announce, right when we were all sitting down to eat, that she wanted leftovers.
I found this to be really annoying and rude, as it was almost as if she was intimating to everyone not to eat a lot so she could have another meal. I always told her if I had to give leftovers to her, I had to give them to everyone, not to mention the fact that I always cooked a large turkey so I could have leftovers. She is now my ex-mother-in-law.
GENTLE READER: And you are both thankful to be rid of the relationship, Miss Manners gathers. Had you been willing to put up with the lady in the interests of continuing the marriage, you could have anticipated this admittedly rude order by saying quietly, before the meal, that you had prepared something for her to take home.
(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.)