Q: A very dear friend and I often go for Sunday walks in lovely old residential neighborhoods or among local shops, which are closed on Sundays. These walks are delightful to me except for one thing.
My friend, an ardent admirer of art, architecture and landscape, is constantly standing in front of private homes, pointing and commenting on this and that. Fences and hedges don't slow her down. She climbs up or pushes through and goes on pointing and exclaiming. She has even walked up driveways in her quest to see it all.
I am horrified. When we pass shops, she is not content to look at display windows on the street but goes around to the back and side windows to peer in. This frightens and embarrasses me.
She has said that my inhibition is ridiculous, overly precious and probably the neurotic result of an abused childhood. She claims that she is not trespassing, that people enjoy having their homes and yards admired and that shop windows are there to be looked into.
I have told her that I was brought up not to point or stare, that private property is private, especially when a tall fence or hedge surrounds it, and that backdoors and side windows of shops are for delivery persons.
Miss Manners, please tell me if I am being oversensitive. At this point, I am terribly reluctant to go out with my friend. The situation has spoiled my pleasure in our walks.
A: When people start telling you that your inhibitions are the neurotic result of an abused childhood, watch out. They are trying to induce you to do something immoral, illegal or vulgar.
Miss Manners agrees with you about the sanctity of private property. She hopes that your friend does not get badly roughed up when she finds out that people are not always charmed by trespassers, because admiration is not the only motive they can imagine for looking into someone else's windows.
However, Miss Manners disagrees with both you and your friend that it is necessary for two adults to mind each other's behavior or even that they need be embarrassed for each other's behavior.
It is quite possible to be friends with people with whom you disagree and even to take walks with them. Follow your principles, which will mean that you will remain standing on public property while your friend goes adventuring, and allow her to follow hers.
Q: My daughter is planning a wedding at a country inn. Since I am a judge, she would prefer that I perform the ceremony, which I am most happy and willing to do.
Is there any serious breach of etiquette or tradition in the father of the bride giving away his daughter and also solemnizing the vows?
A: There is a certain tradition against turning a wedding ceremony into a comedy, and although your motives are sentimental, Miss Manners fears this would be the result. Are you going to ask who gives the bride away and then run around to the other side and answer yourself?
Mind you, Miss Manners has nothing against a reasonable and graceful alteration in tradition, and thinks well of the one in which the father of the bride speaks for "her mother and I." Why not have her mother give her away in both your names?
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.