Q. What is the etiquette of picture-taking?
Although I am attractive, I am not all that photogenic. I look terrible in most photographs.
My boyfriend, however, loves to take photographs of me. I am continually captured for posterity with my face all screwed up because of the sun shining in it. If I'm in shadow, my hollow (not at all model-like) cheeks make me appear emaciated.
Also, he has me standing and waiting forever while he sets up the picture. He doesn't warn me when he's ready to snap. By the time he does, my eyes are closed to get relief from the sun's glare, or my mouth is open (about to ask what's taking so long) or a frown of irritation has appeared.
But if I refuse to subject myself to this humiliation, I'm accused of selfishness!
A. Have you thought of taking up portrait painting?
Why don't you ask your artistic beau to assume an interesting but uncomfortable pose, and to maintain it for, say, two or three hours, while you stare, in a dither of aesthetic perplexity, at a canvas turned so that he cannot see it?
Miss Manners quite sympathizes with you in knowing that posing is not an agreeable task for everyone, despite the rampant exhibitionism for which this society is conspicuous. Sharing one's beau's hobby is, however, generally considered desirable. She suggests that the two of you work out some compromise, setting limits to this activity. Perhaps a more satisfactory way of enjoying his pastime would be for you to acquire a camera, and go on his expeditions with him, flatteringly profiting from his expertise.
Q. Before the girl across the street was married, her mother came over with her (the mother's) wedding dress of satin and lace, and asked me to make an altar pillow for the wedding. It was beautiful. When the second daughter was married, I made her a pillow, plus one for the ring bearer.
Now the first girl expects her baby in June, and I made a truly beautiful christening outfit--long dress of eyelet with ruffled edge, lace-trimmed slip and a bonnet. The dress has tiny smocking across the chest. It took me a week.
The girl comes home every day to have lunch with her mother, and I handed her the box as she got out of her car. That was two weeks ago, and I have not heard a word, not even a telephoned thank you, and I am very hurt.
Would it be proper for me to call the mother and ask her whether I can have the outfit back if the daughter does not like it?
A. Miss Manners wishes you would. She spends half her life cajoling people into expressing their thanks, and one of her techniques is to assure them that thank-you letters encourage the continued practice of generosity, while silence discourages it.
By being good for three presents without any appreciation having been expressed, you are undermining Miss Manners' threat. After the first present was ignored, you could have responded to hints or requests for the second by saying, "Why, I always thought you didn't like my work. You never said anything."
Your present suggestion is certainly proper: One never taxes a person directly with her bad manners. Going through her mother, with a pretended assumption that it was your present, not the daughter, that was at fault, is exactly the formula for doing this.
Copyright (c) 1983, United Feature Syndicate Inc.