Q: Many people refer to former senator Hillary Clinton by only her first name. As a woman and a believer in common courtesy, I find this to be incredibly disrespectful, especially when people address other candidates by either their last name only or by their first and last names. Am I the only person who feels this way?
A: No, but it is unlikely that the candidate agrees. Common courtesy is not the only factor involved. There is also politicians’ desire to project “the common touch.”
Like you, Miss Manners would prefer to see public officials and candidates for office addressed with the dignity of titles. But she yields to the overriding rule that people should be addressed as they wish to be.
Within reason, that is. When our first president proposed that he would be pleased to be called “His High and Mightiness,” he was ridiculed into withdrawing the suggestion.
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Q: Please explain what is meant by “smart business casual” dress.
A: It means: “Can’t you please make a little effort to look nice? It’s not as though we’re even asking you to dress up much, just not to show up looking as if you were home playing video games, or wish you were.”
Q: For Secret Santa at the office one year, I got golf tees in the shape of little naked women, with bare breasts and all. (I don’t play golf; who plays golf?) They seemed kind of pornographic, for being a Christmas present, and since we had to open the gifts at the office, I got all red in the face and embarrassed, and everyone laughed at me. So I took them home and threw them away.
Another year, I got Christmas socks, with a picture of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, that had blinking lights and played music in little electronic tones. (Yippee!) Again, I was a little embarrassed, trying to say how nice this really awful gift was, and everyone made fun of me. I took them home and threw them away.
But I am not bitter; I understand. I can see that it is a burden to buy and wrap Christmas presents for people whom you may like well enough, when you already have your REAL gifts to buy for people whom you really do wish to please.
Last year, my boss let us have a Christmas brunch, starting at 9:30 a.m., so if you were late to work, you wouldn’t be publicly embarrassed. Potluck, but that’s OK; it’s easier than buying a gift.
The best part was that afterward, we had the whole rest of the day off. We’re repeating the brunch this year, so you can bet we will all wish each other some rapid Christmas cheer and then be on our merry ways. I think it seems like a pretty good idea.
A: Indeed. Of course, just about anything would be better than forcing this foolish, burdensome and potentially embarrassing game on adults.
Miss Manners congratulates your boss for offering the greatest Christmas treat of all (other than a bonus): time off.
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.