Q.Is there any method one can use to tell a friend she has told a story previously and that she should please desist?
Often we are told the same incident several times during one meal. The person is not ill but simply forgets to whom she has related the item. We certainly would not wish to hurt her in any way -- we just want to put our time to better use.
A.Ah, yes. Miss Manners has heard this question before, possibly from you.
There are different causes for the repetition of stories, and they require different defenses. All of them, however, should be tempered with knowledge of the frailty of the human memory.
If someone repeats himself only rarely, it is polite to let it pass. The person who says, "Stop me if you've heard this one before," is really too wound up to stop comfortably, so you may as well let him finish.
If it happens frequently, the hapless listener may break in at the beginning with: "Ah, yes, so you told me. That's a wonderful story." If you let the story go until the middle, you can only say, "Oh, now I remember -- tell me the punch line again."
However, as your friend forgets several times during the course of one meal, it seems that she has serious memory problems. In that case, you allow her to repeat herself without calling attention to her deficiency.
Reminding her won't help anyway, and informing someone suffering from memory loss that her handicap is also a social burden is therefore pointless as well as rude.
Q.I have a roommate who habitually leaves the apartment without saying goodbye to me. We're the only two who live here.
She also goes to bed without saying good night and enters the apartment without acknowledging my presence.
Am I being overly sensitive or am I correct in assuming that this is a breach of etiquette?
A.Polite people are taught from baby-hood to say "Good morning" and "Good night" to everyone in the household, and "Hello" and "Goodbye" when they go in and out.
So this is a breach of etiquette. That is not, however, your real question. Your real question is how to correct it.
Well, teaching manners to a roommate is also a breach of etiquette. But you are allowed to request specific living arrangements -- not because they are right but because you like them. In other words, you may not say, "Decent people always greet one another," even though it is true, but rather, "Would you mind saying good morning and good night -- the silence seems so cold."