Advice Columns

April 10, 2014

What came first: The muffin or the egg?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I asked a neighbor/friend if I could “borrow” an egg. He was happy to oblige. I asked if he liked banana muffins, and he said that he did.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I asked a neighbor/friend if I could “borrow” an egg. He was happy to oblige. I asked if he liked banana muffins, and he said that he did.

I just got back from delivering him a couple of banana muffins, fresh from the oven. Do I still owe him an egg?


Yes, because the egg was compromised. It was not returned in its original condition, having first been beaten and then baked. Miss Manners trusts that should you borrow a lawnmower, you won’t return it in a similar state.

What you owe him now is the same sort of neighborliness when he is in need.

Birthday girl can’t come to party

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am giving a birthday party for my 3-year-old granddaughter who lives out of state. I’m expecting 50 guests. I just found out that my daughter and granddaughter unexpectedly cannot travel at this time.

I have all of the food prepared, games, loot bags, snow cone and cotton candy machines rented, etc. Do I cancel the party, or continue the party and mail the gifts to my granddaughter?


As opposed to keeping them for yourself?

Miss Manners sympathizes. Certainly, it is odd to have a birthday party without the guest of honor. You could explain the situation to your guests, inviting them to attend anyway, but not as a birthday party, just a festive multi-generational party. They might still bring presents, but if they don’t, you have less time to spend at the post office.

Better yet, you could postpone the birthday party until your granddaughter does visit, and now throw a party at the nearest children’s hospital.

Confronting scofflaws

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend and I were parked at a store when a young woman pulled in next to us and parked in the empty disabled parking space. My friend confronted the woman and asked if she knew she was in a disabled space.

The woman replied with a curt “yes” and went about her business. She did not have a permit displayed. My friend then called the non-emergency police line to report the infraction.

I support her latter action. I feel that those who misuse these spaces ought to be reported to the correct authorities, who are in a much better position to assess whether or not it is an infraction.

However, I feel extremely uncomfortable about my friend confronting the woman. The woman was still getting out of the car, and I feel like my friend jumped on her for a perceived infraction. Although the woman in this case actually was parked illegally, she may just as easily have not been. She may have been fishing out her permit. My friend insists she did nothing wrong.

What is Miss Manners’ opinion on this matter?


That citizen’s arrests suffer from gratuitous brutality.

When you say that your friend “confronted” the other driver, Miss Manners doubts that you meant she said, “Excuse me, I’m afraid you don’t realize that you need a permit to park here.” Rather, it was probably something insulting that did not provide a face-saving retreat. A polite approach might have worked, where a brusque one did not.

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