Q. I was telling a story at a party about a trip that my wife and I had recently taken and some funny adventures that we got into. I know it was a long story. I don't usually hog the spotlight, but I think if people had heard me out they would agree that it was worth the time listening to.
(I'd tell it to you but they've got me so intimidated about being a bore that I'm not going to tell anybody anything.) Of course they didn't let me finish. In the middle of the story the host's daughter came in to ask him something and he said "Excuse me," so I waited until she'd finished, but then someone started another topic.
What should I have done? Maybe nobody else cared or noticed, but I felt uncomfortable all evening.
A. Truly, Miss Manners knows that feeling and sympathizes with it. Telling half a story and not being able to get the rest out is like having to sneeze and not being able to. When such natural phenomena are not allowed to run their proper course, the result is terrible frustration.
Miss Manners will not belabor the comparison with physical acts, but you understand the idea.
You must finish that story, for your own well-being, even if no one else notices what happened, although you needn't recapture the entire original audience. Address whoever is available with which ever of the following remarks will elicit the necessary encouragement:
"Did I finish telling you my iguana story?"
"Oh, yes, I was telling you about the iguana. Well, then we . . ."
"I suppose you are wondering what finally happened about the iguana. Well, imagine our surprise when . . ."
Q. What are some good games to make a party lively? We are a couple in our early 40s who like to have a good time.
A. Everyone likes to have a good time, so don't brag. The three party activities most likely to produce this, at an age when Pin the Tail on the Donkey has begun to pall, are Conversation, Flirtation and the Consumption of Food and Drink.
Q. Why is it considered gauche in America to say "pleased to meet you," or something equally pleasant after an introduction? In other countries you say "much pleasure" or "enchanted" when you first meet someone.
A. We are a cautious people. Enchantment first, testimonials afterward.
Q. We have a lovely dining-room set with 10 matching chairs and do not have a breakfast set, bridge set or any other dining furniture. In other words, we eat all our meals, including breakfast, at the dining-room table. Many of our friends have young children and we like to invite them as a family.
My question: Is it correct and proper for children to set on telephone books so that they can reach the table, or are we teaching them bad habits for later?
A. It is correct for children to be able to reach the table at which they are sitting, and it is proper for everyone at the table to take no notice of whatever goes on under the table. The children might as well learn this, as it is true throughout life.