DEAR MISS MANNERS: During our adventure of driving up Pikes Peak in Colorado, my girlfriend and I stopped to admire the view, and she wandered up the road to take some pictures.
I joined her, and as we returned to our vehicle, there was a steep drop on one side. The other side was the road, where there wasn’t a great deal of traffic. I considered the drop-off to be the greater hazard, so I walked on that side. Was that the correct, gallant decision?
GENTLE READER: Indeed. Just as a gallant gentleman precedes a lady down a staircase, so that if she trips she will have something soft on which to land, a gentleman should walk on the side of the cliff.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am engaged but have been married before. My finance has been married twice. How do we let people know we would appreciate gift cards instead of gifts at our reception? We have three of everything.
GENTLE READER: If you have three of everything, why aren’t you thinking of sharing with those who don’t have any instead of plotting to make others help you get even more?
And by the way, the word is “fiance,” not “finance.” Or maybe in this case, it is.
Au naturel feet
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to host an informal dinner in bare feet? I walk around my home in bare feet all the time, but I wonder whether it is proper when guests come over. I do not know whether it is perceived as unsanitary, since I am finishing the preparing of a meal in my kitchen.
I have wondered whether the boundaries of what is proper have changed about showing feet. We now have spas that do a booming business keeping our feet in beautiful condition, as well as body care products for those who like to do it themselves at home.
It is possible to have beautiful feet and toenails, which are equally attractive. In our ever-changing society, how is current etiquette decided? It seems to this reader that the “no feet showing” rule belongs in the 19th century, when all of a woman’s body had to be covered in public.
But if it is still proper that one should never wear sandals except on the beach, it will save me much money in pedicures and fine sandals. However, on 100-degree days I may moan a bit.
GENTLE READER: Actually, you would have loved the 19th century, when the glimpse of a lady’s trim ankle was considered erotically exciting. Somehow, Miss Manners doesn’t think that toenails, however stunning, have quite the same effect today. Still, you could show them off in open-toed (now called peep-toe) shoes or sandals with soles.
The propriety of total barefootedness depends on what you mean by an informal dinner. Would it be a picnic on the patio (although this is not the best idea if it is really 100 degrees out)? Would the guests know that they need not change from whatever they lounge around in at home?
If it is anything slightly more structured, Miss Manners would recommend starting with shoes and then kicking them off, as ladies in tight shoes are wont to do under the table even at the most formal dinners.
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.
© Universal Uclick 7/14