Dear Miss Manners • Guests arrived at my house from two states away for a four-day visit. After a lovely afternoon and evening, I crawled into bed. I woke a few hours later to chills, body aches and a 101-degree fever. It was evident that I had the onset of the flu.
The next morning, I explained that I had come down with flu symptoms in the night. I spent the subsequent days of their visit excusing myself for naps, trying to prepare food and helping arrange sightseeing tours. I was miserable, a terrible hostess and fearful of being contagious, which I certainly was by the third day, when I had lost my voice and developed a cough.
In my life, it is likely to happen again, and I will find myself in this situation either as guest or host. What should all parties do in this circumstance?
Gentle Reader • Are you unaware that etiquette grants sick leave? Everyone else seems to know, considering how often people claim false illnesses to get out of meeting their obligations.
And there you were, really sick and valiantly plodding along. Miss Manners hardly has the heart to tell you that you were violating your primary duty to your guests: to refrain from endangering them. Instead of waiting on them, you should have been telling them that while you hated to cut short their visit, you would have hated even more to expose them to the flu.
Human decency requires that they swallow their disappointment about losing a vacation and look after you, or find someone to do so — and then leave.
Dear Miss Manners • I live in Europe, and my city, which was not built to withstand hot summers, has endured increasingly suffocating temperatures each year. Most buildings lack air conditioning, as does the public transport system. I have seen several ladies using folding fans outdoors and on the subways.
I’d like to get one myself, but I was wondering whether there are any rules governing the use of a fan, or any places where it would be inappropriate or distracting to use one.
Gentle Reader • You would not believe how many rules there are in connection with fans. How you hold it and when you snap it form a language that enables you to give such wordless messages as “Come here,” “Go away” and all kinds of flirtatious signals in between.
Fortunately for people who are hot only in the climatic sense, nobody remembers what they are. So you can fan away, as long as you keep out of other people’s eyes and lines of vision.
Dear Miss Manners • I would like to know if a woman must remove her summer hat when in a restaurant. Or will she be considered a country bumpkin?
Gentle Reader • “A country bumpkin”? Now there’s an insult Miss Manners hasn’t heard in a long time.
Ladies’ hats need not be removed indoors, except in their own houses, but these should be actual ladies’ hats. Baseball caps and other unisex or men’s hats must be removed — a fact that does not seem to be known to many male bumpkins, citified or countrified.