Miss Manners: Bathroom trash can is to be used, not admired

February 26, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a trip visiting relatives, one thing baffled me. They do not put any garbage bags in their bathroom garbage cans.

So, I am always wondering if they are intended to be used or if they are just for decoration. (They are always empty, except sometimes the toilet bowl cleaner tool has been placed in there.) It seems strange to me to leave my hair or other items for disposal in the garbage can for our host to empty when we leave — without a bag, it seems a much messier and unpleasant job.

But it is equally awkward to walk my items through the house to put in the kitchen/laundry garbage can, which is the only one that has a bag (and the only one that seems to be intended for regular use).

What would be the appropriate way to handle this? Should I bring my own garbage bag and use that and take it out when I leave? Should I use the garbage can provided and assume that the host understands there is a purpose to having a bathroom trash can and prefers it to be used as is?

Should I continue the current practice of surreptitiously carrying items to the one trash can in use? Or do more considerate houseguests just take their trash back home with them?

I always put a plastic bag in my bathroom trash cans. It’s easier to clean up and seems more understanding of the need to throw things away. I guess it’s not quite as neat-looking. Is there something wrong with that?

GENTLE READER: There is something seriously wrong with a society that does not understand the purpose of bathrooms — that thinks of them as places to tease guests by displaying practical items that are not intended to be used.

The guest towel fetish is bad enough. Miss Manners used to blame overzealous child-rearing rules that left people terrorized of using guest towels even when they grew up and became guests. But then she started hearing from hosts who proudly defend their guest towels against their guests.

And now you harbor the thought that a wastebasket might be considered too fetching to use. How about the toilet paper?

At any rate, Miss Manners does not accuse your hostess of this silliness. Lining a wastebasket may be convenient, but is certainly not necessary. One does not expect garbage in the bathroom. It is thoughtful of you to want to spare your hosts the sight of your trash (it is just trash, isn’t it?), but you can do that by emptying it into their garbage can once, at the end of your stay.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am planning a wedding for my friend and her fiance, but it has become very frustrating. They simply cannot agree on anything.

I am very curious as to exactly how much involvement or say a groom should have about his wedding. Other friends say the wedding is all about the bride so the groom should have no say, but others think the groom should have some say because it is his wedding, too.

GENTLE READER: Never mind whose wedding it is. Miss Manners’s advice is not to make any wedding plans for this couple that cannot be canceled without penalty.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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