Q. We have a rule in our house that our teenage son cannot wear his baseball cap during any family meal. He can wear it outside if we are sitting at our picnic table eating together, but not inside. My question is this: He has a lot of friends who come over to play basketball and “hang out” in his room. I often invite them to join us for lunch or dinner. When they head for the dining room table or the kitchen table, I very clearly tell them our rule about baseball hats at the dining table. Our son always has that “I can’t believe you just said that look” on his face. He came to us after we asked two of his friends to eat with us on Saturday and said it was not good manners to ask a guest in your home to remove his baseball cap just to eat with us.
My husband and I assured him we did have that authority. Do we?
A. Yes, you have that authority, just as you have the authority to ask guests to remove their shoes on a rainy or snowy day and leave them at the front door.
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Q. Our master bedroom and bath are on the main floor of our house and we have a half-bath in the hallway next to the kitchen. When we have friends over for dinner or drinks or whatever, and someone asks where the bathroom is, we direct them to the half-bath. That seems to be a common practice when we visit someone else’s house as well. My husband and I would never think of going into someone’s master bedroom and bathroom, yet we have had a few guests wander there instead of using the half-bath. We would rather not have anyone in our master bedroom or our master bathroom. Would it be inappropriate if we not only shut the master bedroom door, but if we hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign or a “private” sign on the doorknob when we have guests in the house to keep them from entering our private space?
A. I agree with you that guests should not be wandering around someone’s home without permission or direction to do so. If the half-bath is identified as the “restroom,” guests should definitely pay attention and follow instructions. Having said that, there is always the guest or two who is, let’s face it, nosy; therefore, if you want to keep your private rooms private, you will need to shut the door and hang a “private” sign on it.
Q. One of my best friends was in town over a month ago and wanted to take me out to dinner because I had done a favor for her. So, she picks me up and we go to a nice restaurant with wonderful food that I especially like. After the waiter delivered the bill to her, she spent a great deal of time rummaging through her purse and then finally told me she couldn’t find her credit card and could I cover the bill. She said she would stop by the next day before she left to give me the money for our lunch. She was very embarrassed. Next day came and went and she didn’t stop by. I really didn’t even think about it. A couple of weeks later I called to give her the unfortunate news that one of our classmates had died. At the end of the conversation, she abruptly told me she hadn’t forgotten about paying for our lunch, but unfortunately she did not have the time to come by then. She said she would mail me a check that afternoon. You guessed it, I still have not received a check from her. Do I call to remind her? Or just wait until she eventually remembers to reimburse me.
A. Good intentions — that and a buck will buy you a cup of coffee. Your friend may be a little scatterbrained, I think. Regardless of what her problem is, it would not be good manners to call her to remind her. Hopefully, if or when your paths cross again, face to face, she will remember she owes you some money and hopefully she will have either a checkbook or cash with her. Or maybe she will put a check inside your Christmas card. Hmmm, don’t hold your breath on that one, though.
Dianne Isbell: email@example.com