DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I moved into a new home in a Florida resort community, friends and family began to accept our invitations to visit.
My problem is that they refuse to use the brand-new (and very cute) guest towels provided for them in the guest bathroom. The towels are freshly laundered and consist of one full set for each guest, hanging neatly on towel racks.
Upon checking the bathroom two days into our last visit, to be sure tissues and lavatory paper were still in good supply, I noticed that the guest towels were hanging unused, and various mismatched towels of all sizes from a nearby linen closet were being used and draped over the tub and sink. One guest had gone so far as to use a few dish towels, despite the bath towels being on an adjacent shelf!
When I expressed my wonder, the response was that the guest towels are too good to use. One guest said she thought they were only for decoration, although I specifically told her otherwise when showing her the accommodations. Even after inviting them once more to please enjoy the use of the guest towels, my requests were ignored.
Other than padlocking the linen closet, how do I avoid this?
GENTLE READER: Sounds reasonable to Miss Manners. Nothing else works.
Why refraining from using guest towels is the only universally observed rule of etiquette, she cannot imagine. Yes, children were instructed not to wipe their muddy faces on the guest towels. But they were also taught to sit at the table until everyone was finished, to write letters of thanks, to answer invitations promptly, not to break into lines, not to hit others on the playground, and a bunch of other rules that they no longer observe so strictly.
And did they not notice that these items are called guest towels? So they are meant to be used by guests? So that when they are guests, they are supposed to use them?
Even if they were unable to make that leap, you have repeatedly told them that the towels were for their use. What about the rule of respecting a hostess’s wishes? Or the one prohibiting raiding her closets?
The notion that the towels are “for decoration” is bizarre. Your furniture decorates the house, but you presumably allow the guests to sit on it. If you have pretty plates on the table, should the guests not eat from them?