Judith Martin Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 35 quotes)
Nowadays, we never allow ourselves the convenience of being temporarily unavailable, even to strangers. With telephone and beeper, people subject themselves to being instantly accessible to everyone at all times, and it is the person who refuses to be on call, rather than the importunate caller, who is considered rude.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should you tell your mother something if it is important when she is talking to company? I am six. GENTLE READER: Yes, you should (after saying "Excuse me"). Here are some of the things that are important to tell your mother, even though she is talking to company:"Mommy, the kitchen is full of smoke."Daddy's calling from Tokyo."Kristen fell out of her crib and I can't put her back."There's a policeman at the door and he says he wants to talk to you."I was just reaching for my ball, and the goldfish bowl fell over."Now, here are some things that are not important, so they can wait until your mother's company has gone home:"Mommy, I'm tired of playing blocks. What do I do now?"The ice-cream truck is coming down the street."Can I give Kristen the rest of my applesauce?"I can't find my crayons."When are we going to have lunch? I'm hungry.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I a tired of being treated like a child. My father says it's because I am a child--I am twelve-and-a-half years old--but it still isn't fair. If I go into a store to buy something, nobody pays any attention to me, or if they do, it's to say, "Leave that alone," "Don't touch that," although I haven't done anything. My money is as good as anybody's, but because I am younger, they feel they can be mean to me. It happens to me at home, too. My mother's friend who comes over after dinner sometimes, who doesn't have any children of her own and doesn't know what's what, likes to say to me, "Shouldn't you be in bed by now, dear?" when she doesn't even know what my bedtime is supposed to be. Is there any way I can make these people stop? GENTLE READER: Growing up is the best revenge.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When does a gentleman offer his arm to a lady as they are walking down the street together? GENTLE READER: Strictly speaking, only when he can be practical assisstance to her. That is, when the way is steep, dark, crowded, or puddle-y. However, it is rather a cozy juxtapostion, less comprising than walking hand in hand, and rather enjoyable for people who are fond of each other, so Miss Manners allows some leeway in interpreting what is of practical assisstance. One wouldn't want a lady to feel unloved walking down the street, any more than one would want her to fall of the curb.
There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.
GENTLE READER: You, sir, are an anarchist, and Miss Manners is frightened to have anything to do with you. It is true that questioning the table manners of others is rude. But to overthrow the accepted conventions of society, on the flimsy grounds that you have found them silly, inefficient and discomforting, is a dangerous step toward destroying civilization.
There was no singles problem until singles got so single-minded that they stopped wasting time with anyone ineligible. Before that, it was understood that one of society's main tasks was matchmaking. People with lifelong friendships and ties to local nonprofessional organizations did not have to fear that isolation would accompany retirement, old age, or losing a spouse. Overburdened householders could count on the assistance not only of their own extended families, but of the American tradition of neighborliness.