DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was in the hospital in February, pre-pandemic. My neighbors sent me flowers. I wrote a thank-you note, but because I had a high fever, my brain was still fuzzy and I forgot to mail it.
Realizing my mistake, I rewrote the note, adding a thank-you for some masks they kindly gave us. It arrived the night that several neighbors were meeting for a socially distanced party on a large lawn.
Before the party, I had a conversation with one of the note recipients. He implied I was trying to give him anthrax, and asked if I was going to shower and wash my hands before attending the lawn party. He acted like I had put dog poop in his mailbox.
My feelings were hurt, but I’m sure he thinks he was in the right. Is this friendship over?
GENTLE READER: Well, he does sound like someone from whom you should maintain a great deal of social distance, regardless of prevailing health dangers. In addition to confusing two real but distinctive public alarms, he has jettisoned his manners.
Miss Manners recognizes the difficulty of dealing reasonably with someone who is hysterical, but perhaps you can soothe him by ignoring the insult and calmly stating that you have taken every precaution against spreading a disease you no longer have. Just do so at a great distance.