Q. Whilst in Paris for my yearly sojourn, I happened upon an elegantly unpretentious hotel -- on the Right Bank, naturellement. It was an unmitigated delight and one which I am not eager to share with others.
However, during or apres tea, my acquaintances often ask the name of my latest hostelry discovery. This occasions agitation in my otherwise placid circumstance. How, Miss Manners, may I decline to reveal my little secret and still maintain my impeccable reputation for frankness and amiability?
A. No one is expected to remember the exact name of a Parisian hotel. It is enough to show your willingness to share your discovery with your friends, as follows:
"You know the Metro stop with the interesting entrance? Oh, yes, you do, it's very famous, the one with the carvings, you see it photographed everywhere. Well, you get out there, and then go across the street and you'll see the -- oh, what's its name? -- the boutique, the one with the frightfully expensive things? They have one in Nice, and I think London and Palm Beach, too, but I'm not sure. You'll recognize it. It has a silk scarf in the window, draped over a leather bag. Well, you go around the corner from that, and on the other side, about a block or two up, there's a parfumerie, and keep going and you'll come to shop with rare books and prints, and that's where you turn left. Keep going until you get to the glove shop, and then it's right across the street. I think it's the Grand something or the Petit Something, I'm not sure. You'll love it. And please remember me to Madame, who runs it. You'll be sure and remember that, won't you?"
Q. I have a question about ticks -- not the kind associated with bedding, clocks or eyes, but those that have eight legs and like to suck blood -- which I'm sure vexes many of your readers.
I realize that the simplest measure to take when I feel a tick crawling around inside my clothes is to excuse myself and hurry to a place of privacy where I can rip apart my clothes to get at the little devil. However, situations sometimes arise in which privacy is unattainable without considerable disruption and embarrassment; meanwhile, I can feel those little legs roaming around inside my skirt or pants and it starts driving me crazy.
It's not like having an itch, which through force of will can be suppressed; ticks are more than a sensation.
My question is, is it socially acceptable to reach into my clothes in company in order to remove a tick, or am I committing a gross breach of etiquette every time I do so? I want to be polite, but I also want to keep my blood to myself.
A. Miss Manners does not doubt that you had this problem once, but if you plan to have it often, she must point put that you are keeping the wrong company. An advantage of keeping the wrong company is that it doesn't matter so much if you rummage in your clothes. In polite society, you may only do so after shouting, "What's that coming down at us from the sky?"
Q. When eating individual pieces of baked or fried chicken and other similar foods at a formal occasion, what is the correct method of consumption?
A. You know perfectly well that you can't pick up chicken (what's a similar food -- frogs' legs?) at a formal dinner. You just want to hear her say so, so that you can say she's being stuffy, and then go ahead and do it anyway.