Miss Manners: Woman in flip-flops refuses to toe the line

October 31, 2011

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I find myself challenged by a young woman whose company I enjoy, but who apparently doesn’t own any actual shoes.

In four months of dating, I have seen nothing but an endless parade of rubber, leather and cloth flip-flops worn everywhere — restaurants, church, theaters, etc. I find this habit slovenly and don’t enjoy looking at her sometimes dirty feet.

She claims that “full shoes” are too “restricting.” I can’t imagine being married to a woman who flip-flops down the aisle in lace-embellished beach shoes. One summer I worked as a clown. Would it be wrong of me to wear the giant red shoes next time we go out to make my point that not all footwear is appropriate for all venues? She’s already lectured me on the women who wore their flip-flops to the White House as though that bestowed social acceptability on dime-store footwear.

GENTLE READER: You have more than a foot problem here Miss Manners fears. Watch out for the mouth.

The worse offense is your friend’s citing, as justification, an etiquette violation that attracted national attention just a few years ago. The youngsters who wore flip-flops when they were invited to meet the president at the White House drew the ire of their own families — one got a particularly scorching letter from her brother — and were ridiculed in the media.

With patience and a bit of research, you ought to be able to help the lady find conventional shoes that are comfortable. We should not discount the misery of pinched feet. But if she refuses to cooperate, Miss Manners suggests your walking away.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am baffled by the purpose of memorial notices in the newspaper on the anniversaries of a death. I personally do not like them and wonder what they are for.

Are these surviving families looking for additional sympathy? Wanting strangers to share in their misery? I do not respond to families I know, but should I?

This is becoming an issue for me because the 10th anniversary of my father’s death is approaching, and one of my siblings is encouraging the rest of us to join in a family newspaper post. I am trying to discourage it, but am not sure if it is proper or simply my own opinion.

GENTLE READER: Asking for sympathy is not quite it, Miss Manners believes. At most, the appeal to others would be to warn, “This is a difficult day for me.”

Rather, she thinks that such notices, like the notes that people now leave at the site of a sudden death or the messages on memorial Web sites, are a way of reaching out to the dead. Notice that many of them are directly addressed to that person, saying that he or she is not forgotten.

Is it a little strange and public? Well, yes. But Miss Manners is loath to condemn anything that gives comfort to the bereaved.

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

@ 2011, by Judith Martin

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