DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper etiquette regarding tours of your house to visitors who have never been there?
For close family members and friends, it seems obvious. But more casual guests for a dinner party or the like pose a quandary. “Would you like to see the rest of the house?” seems an obvious assumption that you will get a “yes.” For some reason, it seems rude not to offer, and doing so seems like an attempt to elicit compliments.
For the record, our house is not spectacular; nobody’s going to be giving tours of it when we’re dead. If someone doesn’t ask to see the “rest of the house” should I just let it go?
GENTLE READER: Where did you get the idea that a house tour is mandatory for all guests, on request or without? Miss Manners can think of many reasons why it is a bad idea:
It smacks of showing off.
It uproots people from sitting comfortably and makes them march around, trying not to slosh their drinks on your bedspread.
It invites nosiness and pushes even polite people to comment on your style of living — charmingly to you, but perhaps more freely to others later.
No doubt you have exquisite taste, and you may want to show your intimate friends and relatives your new house. If you lived in Monticello, you could consider yourself obliged to allow the public limited access. But to open it to everyone is to invite judgment.
The old rule against commenting on other people’s possessions has been unfortunately overwhelmed by the era of posting in the hope of “likes.” And you may have noticed that those who are posting don’t always like what that brings in.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I always write thank-you notes, though I rarely receive them. The act of gratitude is something that I enjoy and that brings me joy.
However, I’ve occasionally been chided because I prefer to write in pencil. I might make spelling or grammar mistakes, and I like to be able to correct them without making ugly marks scratching it out in pen. Is it rude to write a thank-you note in pencil? What about other casual notes/letters?
GENTLE READER: Allow Miss Manners to introduce you to a wonderful modern invention: tiny rolls of tape or bottles of liquid that whitewash mistakes made in ink.
Your correspondents should not be criticizing your letters for whatever reason, but perhaps it is because they treasure them and want to make sure that they will be able to re-read them in future years.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are the rules on tipping a proprietor of a business?
When I was served by the owner of a restaurant, I asked him what was the rule on his accepting tips (I had heard that you are not expected to tip the owner). Everyone I was with was very surprised and said you always tip for service. The owner said he gives all of his tips to his other staff.
GENTLE READER: The rule is that the owners are not tipped, and many owners are doing everything they can to repeal it.
But Miss Manners notes that this particular owner has tactfully acknowledged that without discouraging you from making a contribution. Having asked, you were obliged to do so.