Miss Manners: Friend who drops by unannounced should no longer have a key

January 21

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a good male friend who I once shared a house with (quite platonically) for six months. He is pleasant company, has provided me with good advice, is extremely considerate and has helped me run errands on several occasions. I value his friendship and have no wish to offend him.

However, I am now living with my boyfriend, and it is only a matter of time before my good friend’s previously charming habit of dropping by unannounced to say hello results in deep embarrassment on all parts.

If he continues to drop by unexpectedly of an evening (with no warning or pattern), inevitably he will one day find my boyfriend and me preoccupied, not sufficiently dressed to receive visitors, or simply in the middle of an argument.

How do I ask this good friend to call me by telephone before coming around, without causing offense or implying that I don’t value his friendship? He is extremely shy and proper and would be deeply embarrassed, shocked and offended to accidentally intrude on any private moments between my boyfriend and me.

GENTLE READER: We’ll get to that in a moment. First, is he using the house key he had when he lived there?

If so, change the lock without explaining. Should he ask, do not apologize, but say vaguely that it was a matter of security. Above all, do not offer to supply him with a new key.

If that is not the problem, Miss Manners would like to address your habit of opening the door while otherwise preoccupied, insufficiently dressed and in the middle of an argument.

Unless a visitor is there to warn you the building is on fire, or shows signs of being in immediate distress, do not answer the door under such circumstances. You need not be “at home” to visitors as long as you can resist the temptation to peek through the curtains.

When your friend brings it up later, say you are so sorry you missed him. If he were to give you warning next time that he is coming by, you will be sure to listen for the doorbell.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed that during New York Broadway shows, there is an increasing habit by usually wealthy, older patrons to open candy and eat/chew during the show.

These Broadway tickets are not cheap, and I am wondering what to do about this. I have tried the “stare,” asking ushers, etc., and still the shows are being treated as $5 movies by the patrons. It is very irritating and greatly detracts from the ambiance. What to do as the next step?

GENTLE READER: Your reference to $5 movies intrigued Miss Manners, who is not sure whether you meant to indicate a remarkably cheap ticket or were dating yourself by remembering a time when such things were common.

In either case, you are not alone either in believing that attendees at more expensive events should have better manners, or in observing that they do not.

However, while Miss Manners sympathizes with your frustration that rudeness, once addressed, is too often repeated, she believes that courtesy should be as common in the cheap seats as in the boxes.

The next step, when complaining to the ushers about the audience doesn’t work, is to complain about the ushers to the management.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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