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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Leave Your Water Bottle at Home

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As an environmentally conscious person, as well as fitness-oriented, I usually carry a stainless steel bottle of water wherever I go.

When visiting other people, is it acceptable to carry my bottle in with me to stay hydrated, or should I leave it in my car in favor of the host’s beverage selection?

GENTLE READER: The latter. Presumably the least any host can provide you is water -- in the original environmentally conscious receptacle: a glass -- so bringing your own is not only disrespectful, but also redundant. Unless you mean to suggest that what you carry around with you is more potent than water, in which case Miss Manners fears that your host’s offense may turn instead to deep concern.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my boyfriend and I sit out on his patio with his 34-year-old son, the son spits incessantly. He doesn’t do this inside, only when we are outside on the patio.

Sometimes he is smoking when he does this, but he will do it whenever he is outdoors. He talks a lot and tends to dominate conversations. When he’s talking outdoors, he spits just about every time he takes a breath.

I’m trying to be more tolerant, but I am a little disgusted with this habit. I’ve also noticed it with other men throughout my life.

Do you know why some men spit like this? I hope I learn to ignore it, but if it ever gets to be too much for me, do you have any suggestions for addressing this habit? I’m afraid that someday, he’ll catch me in a bad mood and I’ll end up snapping at him.

GENTLE READER: What about screaming? Not at him, perhaps, but at the sight of a glob of saliva being propelled from his mouth? That should not be difficult.

Miss Manners does not understand why anyone would feel entitled to spit in front of others. Evidently it is not a medical issue, as it occurs only outdoors, so she hardly sees the point in ascertaining why -- the answer will likely prove just as awful and even more graphic.

With the current added dangers of being in proximity to another person’s emissions, however, one hopes the practice will become more rare -- and that his wearing a mask will help to protect you. As added incentive, your own mask might also stifle those screams.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I need your advice on how to approach my elderly neighbor. She sent her son over into our backyard to trim down two of our bushes. She did not ask permission to do this, and the bushes were clearly on our property, because her son had to go around her fence to get to them.

This bothers me because I had a stranger in my backyard, and now there is a huge mess. What is the most polite way to tell her this was unacceptable, and that in the future, she needs to ask my partner or me to trim our own bushes? I would have happily obliged, had she just asked!

GENTLE READER: “Your son may not have realized, but he was cutting the bushes on our property. We cleaned up the mess, but in the future, please talk to us before compromising our hedges without consent.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)