DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are the 80- and 85-year-old parents of adult children who visit from out of state. I no longer want to provide maid services for them.
Is it inhospitable to ask them to leave the guest bedroom and bathroom/shower as clean as they found it when they arrived? I placed a pail and cleaning products in their bath cabinet.
When we visit friends’ homes, I roll up the bed linen and bring used towels to our host’s laundry, and clean the toilet and bathroom. What guidelines are acceptable to request of our family?
GENTLE READER: Guessing that your children are at least over 40, Miss Manners thinks you may be a bit late in bringing them up to be good guests.
However, you may still ask them to pick up after themselves when they visit. Scrubbing the bathroom is not the usual guest duty, but it is your house and your children, and surely, they would like to spare you the labor. Hints are not working, and it would be a gratuitous insult to the entire family to suggest that they were badly brought up. Just phrase it as a favor to you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct way to eat potato chips from a bag in the office?
GENTLE READER: Silently. Miss Manners wishes you good luck with that.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As I was coming down the stairwell of my apartment building on my way to work this morning, I was confronted with a neighbor’s dog who “energetically” jumped up on me (twice).
I was startled, to say the least, and really glad I had decided against pantyhose and opted for trousers instead, because he surely would have run them.
The dog’s owner was not far behind —– the dog was on one of those stretch leashes — and witnessed the whole event. To my dismay, rather than offering an apology (e.g., “Gee, I’m sorry my dog jumped up on you”), she defiantly exclaimed, “He’s not dangerous or anything — he’s not going to hurt you.”
No doubt she adores her pooch and, in her 20-something mindset, could not fathom that another human being would be anything but flattered by its presence, even if it jumped up on you.
My response to her was, “I’m sure he’s the nicest dog in the world — he just likes to jump up on people.” But what I wished I had said instead was, “This is the part where you say that you’re sorry your dog jumped up on me.” Wish I had thought of that in real time, but like I said, I was understandably startled.
GENTLE READER: No. This is when you should express to the owner your hope that her lovely pooch does not get injured jumping up on people he does not know. Miss Manners does not allow you to conduct obedience school for dog owners, however much they need it.
Wait to vacuum
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it ever appropriate for a person to vacuum while the party is still happening? I am not referring to a quick cleanup of a mishap.
GENTLE READER: Only if the guests have overstayed for so long that the host is desperate to get rid of them. Even then, Miss Manners would much prefer a hearty “So nice of you to come” while fetching their coats.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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