Q: Prior to a weekend at a friend’s vacation home with several other guests, our hostess sent word that we should plan on some time in the hot tub.
When the time came to jump in, I politely declined and said that I would sit nearby and enjoy their company from outside the hot tub.
My hostess would not leave me alone. She badgered me to join in. For other hostesses who won’t take no for an answer, I want to share some reasons people do not want to get in the hot tub.
(1) I am currently in the middle of a herpes episode and don’t want to expose everyone else.
(2) I recently had surgery and have a drainage tube in my stomach.
(3) I am a bit of a germaphobe and don’t want to sit in a swirling tepid pool of your sweat and shedding dead skin.
(4) I am incontinent and have to wear a diaper.
Hopefully, a future host or hostess will read this and will understand that when a guest says, “No thanks,” the proper reply is, “I understand; however, if you change your mind we would love to have you join us.”
A: Just a minute, please, while Miss Manners collects herself. She has much too vivid a picture of the other guests frantically splashing their way out of the tub as you recite this list.
Not that you would do so, of course. But it is a powerful argument against the faux hospitality — actually rudeness — of badgering one’s guests.
However, you are not blameless here. The hostess told you in advance that a sojourn in the hot tub was part of her plan. That is the moment in which you should have said, “Would it be all right if I sat that out?”
Had she begun haranguing you then, you could have said, “I don’t want to spoil the weekend, so perhaps we had better get together another time.”
Q: Today’s etiquette is changing. If I remember correctly, in “the olden days” ladies were not expected to remove their hats during the presentation of our flag and/or the singing of our national anthem.
Although I am a “modern woman,” the old ways remain a part of my life (e.g., I anticipate a gentleman will open the door for me). As a consequence, I did not remove my ball cap for the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a recent baseball game.
I was criticized for my disrespect. I do not disrespect the flag or my country. I told the others I would inquire about the current standard.
A: In those olden days, as Miss Manners recalls, ladies did not wear baseball caps.
If you had been wearing a large confection decorated with flowers and birds, you might have invoked that rule — only to fall afoul of the one against blocking the view of those behind you. A unisex hat should be removed.
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.